Emotional And Protracted Internet-Based Discussions Are Called What?
Answer: Flame War
Into every discussion a little bit of disagreement inevitably creeps, but when the discussion is anonymous and the parties are remote a little disagreement can rapidly devolve into a bitter battle of words most commonly known as a flame war.
The term flaming, used to describe the actions of highly opinionated and inflammatory individual on early discussion boards, was first used in the early 1980s by engineering students on east-coast U.S. colleges–those students may have in turn cribbed the term from The Hacker’s Dictionary published around the same time. From there the term spawned a host of related terms including flame trolling (purposefully posting an offensive message, or flame bait, to provoke a reaction) as well as flame wars (the heated and emotional discussion of a topic among a group of internet posters).
Although political, religious, and technological topics are the fuel that drive most flame wars, one of the earliest examples of an extended flame war started as the result of a poorly designed email client. Tandem Computers, a now defunct late 20th century computer company, was one of the earliest adopters of global corporate email system. The reply-all button in the earliest version of their email client replied to every employee (not just the employees already participating in the email discussion). Until the email client was revised this led to some spectacularly awkward discussions and outright flame wars between people within the company who had never even met. The disagreements proved hard to put aside and the flaming continued long after the reply-all button was fixed.
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