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Five Ways To Avoid Major Conflict in Online Forums

There you are, on a forum or chat room, minding your own business and then without warning someone either approached you with an inflammatory topic, or makes some comment that just gets your hackles up. Maybe you try to respond politely, mildly, but the continued stubbornness of the other person drives you into a rage unlike any other. Next thing you know, flames are shooting back and forth as an epic battle of wills coalesces right there in the electronic medium.

Also, given there’s even the smallest chance at least one person reading this has willfully perpetuated, or even instigated, such an argument, it couldn’t hurt to include a few tips for you as well.

1. The Ignore Button: Seriously, pretty much every chat room has one. It’s right there, so why is it that the automatic response of many are to engage the troller in cyber combat for hours on end? Well, actually, this might have something to do with the audience that typically accompanies such conflicts; if this was an argument in a private room, or over Instant Messenger, maybe you could just block the other person and go about your day. Surrounded by so many watching, judging eyes, however, you cannot bear to show such a sign of weakness; your mating opportunities could diminish and your standing in the clan would suffer. No, wait, you don’t have a clan or mating ritual to worry about. Just use the damned button!

2. “No, You Didn’t.”: A typical element to chat room trolling involves the asterisk accompanied ‘attacks,’ like *kicks u in groin.* For some reason people seem drawn to lend this attack power by trying to ‘counter’ it, like *blocks it with knee* or even *is wearing cup.* If you don’t want to get into a roleplay battle, just mention how pointless it is to try physically attacking someone in a non-physical medium. Or, if you want to be really irritating, answer every single attack with ‘No, you didn’t.’

3. It’s A Damn CONSOLE: This pretty much applies to the inevitable 360 vs. PS3 wars, in which each side names a list of reasons their console is not only superior in the ways it is actually superior, but is basically the best thing since sliced bread. I have witnessed arguments on this subject far more heated than religious debates, and I find it fairly difficult to take it seriously, even though I happen to own one of the above-mentioned consoles. (No, not telling any of you which.) Seriously, you’re not really showing the world the good side of the gamer audience when you run around like five year olds insisting that your toy is bigger.

4. Does It Really Matter?: This applies to arguments that seem to arise over really inconsequential subjects. For example, I witnessed one such conflict where two people in a chatroom jumped another who had ‘marine’ in his name. They refused to believe that he was in actuality a marine, and spent the next hour and a half grilling him with questions, trying to seek out the lies. Evidentially they seemed to believe that exposing him as a fraud would earn them a cash prize or some such, because they were certainly determined. My point is, whether someone is really a marine or just happens to use it in their title is a fairly small issue to argue about; if you know for certain that the person is, in actuality, a Pizza Hut employee, then maybe you’d have a case, but just basing your argument off ‘You can’t be one because I said so’ is just plain petty.

5. Take It Outside: If you really want to continue the argument, then fine, go nuts. Just take it to a private messenger, another thing most chat rooms or forums have. Having the entire thing play out in detail right there for the public is only entertaining when the argument about whether Spongebob Squarepants or Fairly Odd Parents are superior. Any other subject is just going to get very old, very quickly. This is particularly irritating in chat rooms, where individuals might actually want to have a quasi-decent conversation not interrupted every five seconds by “n00b!”

Behold, my suggestions for a happier, healthier, less homicidal Internet. Spread it around to any you think needs its wisdom; Hell, if you find a troll on some chat site or forum, pass it along to them. Might do them a bit of good, and you could use the time they’re distracted to sprint away.

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