gaudior: (profound)
With the caveat that I have only (as of yesterday) been involved in two flame-flinging incidents (which probably says something about the circles I move in, and how prone they are to flame wars). But they went so well that I want to brag.

1) Be polite. Incredibly, scrupulously polite, not only in wording but in intention-- you're going into this to make things less heated, not more.

2) Explain clearly how what the person did hurt you.

3) Sincerely wish the person well, and perhaps express interest in further dialogue. (I mean it about the sincere-- don't wish him/her a wonderful, happy life full of puppies if the most good will you can muster is that s/he learn something about being nice to people. But find something.)

As I've said, I've only done this twice. But both times, the person apologized, thoroughly, with some explanation of his/her actions (and usually much more grammatically than in the original flame). I think this is muchly because flamers are seeing the internet as sort of fiction, a place to express aggression and stir up trouble without any real consequences. If you remind them that no, there are real people on the other side of the screen, they often begin to act more as they would if they were looking you in the face. (Which I suppose means it wouldn't always work-- there are plenty of people who have no problem with being rude to your face.) The really tough part is not doing the same thing-- seeing them as people on whom you are totally justified in unleashing your aggression-- because hey, they started it. But getting an apology is really satisfying, where flame-wars I've seen look like they often just keep going until they peter out or someone gets banned, and are more aggravation than they're worth.

--R
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