: The Best Of AFP

The Flame FAQ

Date: 22 Mar 2000
From: Miq

Welcome to the flame FAQ (frequently asked questions).

This FAQ is designed to help you understand the newsgroup better before you post.

1. What, another FAQ?
Look, you want to play with the Big Kids, there's a lot to learn. Get used to it.
2. Wait a minute. Flames? I thought this was a nice friendly group?
And herein lies your first lesson. For most people who post regularly, it is. But there's a whole bunch of Ancient Farts who lurk just below the surface, who like to rise every so often like Cthulhu from the deeps, spreading madness and carnage wherever they cast their glance.
3. Why?
If you figure it out, let me know. There are some people who think the running of the group is something they have to have their say on even if they never post anything else, so they only show up in [M] threads.
4. But still I see all these posts from newbies in those threads...
Of course you do. First, it's their group. They're the ones who actually post from day to day, remember? Secondly, even the Ancient Ones need a common foe to snarl at, else they'd fall to bickering among themselves.
5. So they need us.
Exactly. You're like the input to the flamers' ecosystem.
6. But what's in it for us?
Entertainment value. You'll see.
7. How do I start to post?

The canonical answer to this is "read the RFCs, read the FAQs, lurk for three months, then carefully craft a post that will be ignored by everyone". But since you're a newbie you won't have a clue what an RFC is, never mind where to find it, and you won't know what lurking is, so just get on with it.

Of course you may get flamed to buggery at this point. If so, congratulations! You have provided entertainment for thousands of spectators all over the world! Think of it as like appearing on "The Jerry Springer Show" - that's worth a brief sense of embarrassment for, isn't it?

Alternatively, you might slip in unnoticed, or get a friendly message welcoming you and offering you chocolate. There is no actual chocolate, but accept it anyway. You'll understand one day.

8. So... flaming is allowed then?
All things are allowed, but not all things are advisable. That's what this FAQ is for, dammit.
9. How do I qualify as an Old One?
You don't. That's the whole point. It's a closed group. Your role is to be provocatively reasonable back at them, and watch the dragons tie themselves into ever more contorted fits as they try to bite their own tails.
10. Isn't that kind of unfair?
It may be unfair, but it's cluefully unfair, and that's all that really matters.
11. Do I need to know anything about Pratchett?
No. That's for [R] threads. The flame threads are always conveniently tagged [M], so that everyone knows what they should be reading. Any attempt to introduce Pratchett-related material into an [M] thread will tend to kill it prematurely, and that doesn't really work - all that happens is that it comes back in another guise a month or so later.
12. "Tagged [M]"?
See? I told you you had to read the FAQs.
13. Oh, all right. Then what will I be able to do?
Join in! Talk about anything and everything that interests you. Just reply to posts, start your own threads, learn from those around you, and pretty soon you'll understand how the whole thing works.
14. So basically I just act like everyone else?
You're a quick study.
15. How will I recognise the Ancient Ones when they appear?
They're not hard to spot. You might know their names from L-space: you won't see them in general discussions, because by definition they don't take part in those. They always post in [M] threads, they all know each other from Way Back When, they often talk about how much better the group was in the Great Old Days/Golden Age/Time Before AOL.
16. When was this Golden Age, then?
Sometime before you first heard of AFP.
17. Hey, how do you know when I first heard of AFP?
Look, don't push it. It was when rabble like you discovered the place that the rot set in. Ergo, the Golden Age was before then. That's all you need to know.
18. So, can I flame people?
Do you feel lucky, kid? Pick your target, pick your grounds...

Newbies make good targets. There's plenty of ammunition in the FAQs - it's almost impossible for a newbie to post without getting something wrong.

Good grounds for your first flame are: failing to snip, failing to tag, incorrect tagging (watch out for the shape of the brackets and the position of the tag in the subject line), asking a question answered somewhere on L-space, asking a question you've seen asked before, asking a question about Terry Pratchett, saying anything (however inconsequential) about any book or film (by anyone) without spoiler warnings, having a sig that's too long, having an improper sig separator, bad formatting of quoted material, gratuitous pedantry, flaming.

In the unlikely event that the group is running low on fuel, see if you can gull some unsuspecting fool into crossposting into it. It's not hard to start a Pratchett-related discussion almost anywhere on Usenet these days. If it gets crossposted, some member of the other group is bound to do something wrong - they haven't read all those FAQs, remember?

Your first flame will almost certainly attract counter-flames from older posters. Don't worry about it, they're just joining in the fun. Tack an [M] on the front and put the marshmallows on.

19. You said 'flames' are grounds for 'flaming'.
Well, I'd have thought that was obvious. Answering people in the same manner they address you is just common courtesy.
20. So if someone flames me, I should just flame right back?
Now you're getting the idea.
21. What if I don't want to defend myself?
Then you don't have to. Remember that. There's nothing these people can actually do to you. If you ignore them, they're powerless.

Remember in 'Nightmare on Elm Street', Nancy heard this theory that if she just turned her back on Freddie, he'd be powerless? Well, it turned out to be bollocks - but actually that principle does apply here. You're absolutely safe.

22. Great! What else do I need to know?

That's it. Go to it, tiger.

And remember, if it's not fun - don't do it. There'll be no shortage of others willing to do it for you.


with thanks to S*zieflame for the idea

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