Similarly, a normal, non-flame message may have elements of a flame -- it may be hostile, for example -- but it is not a flame if it is seriously intended to advance the discussion.
Interforum flame wars
While most flame wars occur within a single message board, forum, or community, sometimes flame wars will erupt between two separate forums (especially when both forums are centered around similar subjects). This may happen in a variety of ways:
- A member of Forum A leaves on bad terms, joins Forum B and flames Forum A. Members of Forum B side with their new member, then proceed to also bash Forum A (regardless of any personal knowledge of the workings of that forum). Members from Forum A may then begin to flame Forum B, et cetera
Causes of flaming
There is no general agreement on the causes of flaming, although a recent study has led to somewhat conclusive evidence. Some common hypothesises are:
- Egocentrism causes us to think we know a writer's tone 90% of the time, although we only are correct about 56% of the time. This leads us to misinterpretation of the writer's intended meaning, causing flame wars as well as serious litigation.
- The lack of body language and voice inflection make it difficult to show emotions in a nuanced way, and the relative anonymity means that it is felt less dangerous to use heated language.
- In forums and chats, there is usually no other way to express your opinion than by writing. Not writing can be interpreted as "giving up". And opinions and ideas stated a long time ago can be forgotten, causing a need to repeat them. According to this view, a good system for Computer Supported Argument Visualisation (CSAV) might help to clarify the issues without repetition. Sometimes, however, there is a disagreement on so fundamental criteria, that it is not even possible to agree on a structure of the issues and arguments.