Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software

And for roughly thirty years, almost any description of mailing lists of any length has mentioned flaming, the tendency of list members to forgo standards of public decorum when attempting to communicate with some ignorant moron whose to stupid to know how too spell and deserves to DIE, die a PAINFUL DEATH, you PINKO SCUMBAG!!!

Yet despite three decades of descriptions of flaming, it is often treated by designers as a mere side-effect, as if each eruption of a caps-lock-on argument was surprising or inexplicable.

Flame wars are not surprising; they are one of the most reliable features of mailing list practice. —Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software (

Shirky extends the well-trodden ground of flamewar analysis to weblog and wiki environments, and touts the Slashdot user moderation solution (and the meta-moderation, which polices the moderation system).