Forums are one of the oldest forms of social networking. On the surface they are excellent marketing tools and provide a valuable knowledge base for any given subject. But hidden within every forum are landmines. Members get blown the hell up due to their careless navigation of forums. This post will define the pitfalls that forum members face.

While forums record the most accidents, the evolution of social media presents additional obstacles that could slap your net cred with a fatality. Twitter, facebook, comment sections on popular sites are danger zones. Tread careful as you maneuver through the Net. And heed this advice…

Don’t piss the wordsmith off

Words kill. Keyboards are the second leading cause of death of the Internet persona. (I’m not sure what the number one cause is, but I’m pretty sure it’s watching Justin Bieber videos on Youtube.)

You may think that slight, thinly-veiled jab at the wordsmith, in passing, will go unnoticed. It will not. Wordsmiths are like sharks. They swim the Internet looking for opportunities to exert their knowledge of the written word. Mention the wordsmith by name and you’re chumming the waters, asking to be Quint from Jaws.

Pissing of the wordsmith is no different than disturbing a hornets’ nest. Before you know you are being stung by a string of words and wit in perfect cohesion.  If this happens prepare for welts to your ego.

What to do?

The simplest answer is to run. Unfortunately, the human ego does not favor the flee option in a fight-or-flight scenario.  But, when you’ve be burned bad enough to have Richard Pryor’s ghost appear next to your computer and say, “Look motherfucker, fire hurts. Think this shit out before you mix up a mess of words and hit that send button.”

You should listen to him.

But you won’t.

You should scurry over to another board in the forum. Usually forums have boards that certain members never leave. This is an opportunity to let your wounds heal. Just blend into a thread about the new Testament album and hope no one recognizes you as the person that got clowned on another board.

But you won’t.

You will concoct a response – a retaliation that will have you gleaming when you hit send. That’s a false sense of security. You are about as safe as a camera lens in Kayne’s presence.

But since there is no stopping you, here are the guidelines to surviving a second attack.

I. The Diversion

Throwing in a third party as a diversion is a tactic that can prove to be successful if done properly. You must bring something funny and witty enough in hopes that the crowd’s attention will wander from your floundering. If you fail to do so, the spectators will start placing bets on when you will suffer the same fate as Apollo Creed in Rocky IV.

II. It is not necessary to dissect and rebut the ENTIRE thrashing.

This just gives the wordsmith more opportunities to exercise her mind and gives the crowd an instant replay of the beating.

III.  Do not (under any circumstance) quote a sentence and respond with an emote.

This will cause several problems. One, it will show you have no reply, but you’re too stupid not to acknowledge it. You should have played like Genesis and sent “No Reply at All.” Two, and this problem is two-fold, you will bring attention to the flame that obviously left you speechless. This will also highlight it for readers who may have missed it the first time. In turn, this will cause them to re-read the entire post while your beating is replayed in their minds.


The solution to a flame that leaves you without words is to ignore it. This will give you time to construct a proper response while making the wordsmith question the potency of the flame. If it is not mentioned again, be glad you dodged a bullet.


IV. If your response does not smell of vengeance, do not quote the sentence.

If you actually muster up a response that involves words make sure they have bite. Responding to a critical hit requires a retaliation that is an equal deduction of life points. Otherwise you might as well walk around with “Finish Him” written above your head.  A few generic put downs followed by questionable pictures lifted from the Internet  in hopes of diverting the crowd’s attention from the reality that you have not returned with an acceptable burn will not work. The wordsmith knows this tactic all too well. She has seen it many times. She may choose to call you on it if your gibberish doesn’t provide her with enough material.


Pictures have been proven to be successful in flame wars, but must be chosen carefully. A quick Google search has a success rate of 0.00002%. Put some effort and thought into it. Photoshops are excluded from this rule. They are always welcomed (and encouraged).


V. Threatening Violence is the Endgame.

Everyone can bench press air. Never forget that you are in cyberspace. Being a third grade thumb- wrestling champion holds no weight on the Internet. For every twenty bicep curls you can do with your keyboard, there is a WOW veteran who can do twenty-five.

Threatening violence does two things. One, it shows everyone watching that the wordsmith is under your skin, no matter how many times you cry that she isn’t. It’s just fun, it’s all jokes. You try to validate this by portraying violence in a cartoon manner. By this stage, you’re transparent. Two, once the violence gauntlet is thrown down, the fight is over. The wordsmith didn’t beat you. You beat yourself. It’s the boomerang effect. You threw the words, he laughed, they came back to you, and knocked you the fucked out.


You must learn and accept the fact that the wordsmith is smarter than you. You’re not the first victim of her vocabulary beatdown. You’re not bringing anything new to the table. Each reply is an opportunity for her to polish her skills as she prepares for more formidable opponents.  You’re the 1976 Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You cannot win.  But all is not lost. The Internet is full of people who would like to play emoticon flaming with you. Stick to that game. And secretly study a thesaurus. But don’t just memorize words that will help you win at Words With Friends. Actually learn the meaning of the words and maybe one day you’ll say goodbye to the little, yellow smiley face.

Remember, Ivan Drago doesn’t lose. That’s only in the movies.