Xfiend's Guides to RPing and OOC Posting

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Xfiend's Guides to RPing and OOC Posting

Post by Balsa »

Xfiend1013’s Guide to Roleplaying, Writing, and Star Wars: Exodus

Are you new and wondering what's going on? Do you want to learn how to roleplay, and how to avoid being labeled a godmoder? Do you just want tips on writing? Worry no more! This will help you master any IC thread, be it closed, open, semi-private, or just plain mean! (Note: Mastery not guaranteed. See threads for details.)

Part I: Getting Into A Thread: Open, Semi-Private, Private. Or; Can I Come In, Please?

Most IC (that means In Character) threads contain a story, posted by the participants of the thread. On SW: Exodus, the IC threads are on the top, and the OOC threads sink to the bottom, like the dregs they are. Your first step on the roleplaying boards (after registration, reading the rules, etc…) is to find a thread you like, and read up on what’s going on!

Check out who the characters are, how to spell their names, what equipment, skills, etc, they have! See what type of people they are and see if this is the kind of group you want to get involved with. If the thread has more than one part, read the others so you know what's going on. If the thread is part of some bigger storyline or campaign, check out the handy Roleplaying OOC forum.

Now post an OOC (out of character) message asking to join. You’ll want to do this in the corresponding “Roleplaying OOC” forum, assuming the thread has a sister thread. If it doesn’t, then you’ll just need to post a reply in the forum itself. (You show everyone that it's an OOC message by putting the letters "OOC" in front of the message). In this brief message you will ask (politely, and with proper punctuation, without ALL CAPS) if you can join in on the thread.

If the thread is labeled (Open thread) then you can often skip that step. If it's NOT, then assume it's a private (kinda like members only) thread, and ask. Usually, private threads will reply with either "no" or "You can come in on a 'test basis'." They may also give you a rude response. If you don't like their attitude, go to another thread. Your reputation is important here, and you don't want to be known right off the bat as someone who wastes most of his time with nasty OOC remarks. Once you get accepted, or find a good open thread, you're on your way, and past the usual part that kills newbies!

Now, what do you do? You write!

Part II: Writing vs. Roleplaying, and, the Godmoding Question - Or, Well Written Godmoding

Roleplaying – to play a role, obviously. Sometimes shrinks (which never can catch me!) use roleplayed situations as a catharsis or diagnostic tool. In roleplaying, you assume the (hopefully) fictional identity of another character, someone (or something) with a unique history, life, body, self and mind. You are not yourself when you roleplay (unless you’re playing yourself), and you’ll need to “get into character” while interacting with other people trying to do the same thing. As the Buddha knows, suppression of the ego is a difficult thing – RPing ain’t easy!

Roleplaying doesn't require you to write well. It certainly helps, since part of writting well is setting up descriptions and character reactions, two things that give readers a better feel for your character. The essence of roleplaying can be seen with simple "play-action" style, though!

Xfiend1013: *Unholsters his blaster under the table* Yeah, you trandoshans are all full of it
Trando1: *Jumps over table* Grah!
Xfiend1013: *Is knocked to the floor*

See, that was all good roleplaying in that there was no GODMODING. What, preytell, is GODMODING? And why do I keep writing it in capital letters? Godmoding is the thing that most people find the most annoying on the boards. It is the "ultimate sin." Simply put, godmoding is bad - but what is GODMODING?

Godmoding is taking control of someone's characters and doing things for them. For instance...

Xfiend1013: *Unholsters blaster* You trandoshans are all the same!
Trando1: *Grabs fiend as he tries to fire and bites his head off*

There, we have... godmoding. (Godmoding takes it’s name from the “God modes” of video games, the cheats that allow you to be ridiculously cheap) Trando1 (lets give him a big hand folks!) said I did something when I didn't state that I was doing it (firing my blaster) That's one method of godmoding. The second thing he did, he injured or killed (in this case, killed!) a character without expressed permission to do so! ALWAYS let the other player show his own damage/death, like this!

Xfiend1013: *Unholsters his blaster*
Trando1: *Attempts to grab fiend in his scaly hands*
Xfiend1013: *Is grabbed by the scaly hands! He struggles valiantly!*
Trando1: *Goes to rip off his head!*
Xfiend1013: *His head is yanked from his body. He falls to the floor dead in a sticky pool of his own blood.*

There we have it! Thanks trando1!

Trando1: *bows*

But, that's just an example of how these things work! You'll notice that most of the roleplaying here on the SWG board takes place in stories, not in short "action" posts! Avoiding godmoding (GMing, in net ‘speak – not to be confused with a GameMaster) in a story is much, much harder, since it's hard to write a decent post from only one point of view, without any conversations! (Since it would be godmoding to have someone talk!)

I recommend that you AVOID GODMODING ALTOGETHER. Did you get that? Do you want it in bold?


However, once you've been in a thread for a while, and you know the people you're RPing with, you can start to infringe on the boundaries of GMing!

Why?! NOT because you're now a vet who knows better than the lowly n00bs, but because you've been with these people for a while, and you know how their characters tick! This allows you to craft dialogue with other characters. If no one protests, then feel free to set up reasonable dialogue - you don't want people to sit there thinking "My character would NEVER say that!"

Giving other characters actions is trickier. Most people don't like that, even when they've been playing/writing together for a while. Here on Space Patrol, Part 90 we rarely post each other's actions to any extent, unless one of us has told the other via AIM or ICQ (get both of them, now!) that such is acceptable, and without the expressed written consent of a player (and the NFL) it is never acceptable to write about another players' characters being killed or maimed!

However, Silverwuulf of Space Patrol, the resident grinning noghiri, would like to remind us all of a time when it is acceptable to play other people's characters and GM!

Take it away Silver!

Silverwuulf: Be aware, that sometimes, for certain reasons, you may have to do what I like to call "moving other players."

For instance, if I'm about to slam my ship into the evil guy's ship, I'll want to make sure that I dont have any player charaters, other than myself onboard, otherwise they would most assuredly die with me. So we see something like this:

Silverwuulf: As the Wanderer lifted off, Silver set a course straight through the Wartapper. Heading for the control tower of the massive ship, his daring sacrifice rendered the enemy vessel useless.

THEBETTS: OOC: Hey! I was on your ship. You cant do that, it'll kill me!

So we would do something like this...

Silverwuulf: After dropping off THEBETTS in the main hangar, silver set a course straight through the Wartapper. Heading for the control tower of the massive ship, his daring sacrifice rendered the enemy vessel useless.

I just moved THEBETTS without asking. Why? becuase had I not done so, I would have done the ultimate godmoding sin: pk'ing.

Xfiend1013: Thank you very much, Silver. For those of you who don't know, PKing is "Player-Killing!"

Now that we've touched on the touchy issue of godmoding, let's move on to writing!

Part III - Writing Things Down

Writing is complex. It isn't easy. Yet you don't have to write well to roleplay! It's just a matter of personal taste, and mine leans towards writing well. Although I'll mention that writing well will never get you kicked off a thread whereas writing poorly can.

First off, let me just say that you should follow the rules of the english language. For those of you who do not speak english as a first language, that's too bad, just keep learning.

The most important thing is to take your time and correct what you've screwed up! If you have enough respect for your readers, if you think that what you have to say is important enough to be read, then you should think that your readers, who are taking time out of their lives to read what you have to write, deserve something that is easy to read!

Always put punctuation in. Begin each sentence with a capital letter, like your first-grade teacher made you do! Spell check if you know your spelling is bad.

When you want to describe things, metaphors are great! Given a few metaphors and similes, you can describe anything in much more vivid detail! Just don't use too many, or you'll end up sounding like a bad dimestore detective novel.

Now, the subject of dialogue. Dialogue is speech between two or more characters. One person speaking is a monologue, yet a speech with three characters is not a trialogue – it’s still just dialogue. The first thing to remember when writing dialogue is to make a new paragraph every single time the speaker changes!! It is imperative that you do this! It makes things so much easier on the rest of us! Show some respect, willya?!

The second most important thing is to make it sound natural. That may be harder than it seems, dear devoted diehard dialogian! Take, for example, the following unnatural exchange between our two token talkers, the suave and smooth slicer Garrett G. Granth and the cold Corellian Frank Ryan.

"Frank, we meet again. The pleasure is not mine."

"Dispense with the pleasantries, sniveling slicer. Cameo has fallen into the dread pit of the rancor, and without our aid, he will be devoured by the beast."

I feel sorry for the reader in this situation - they'd probably rather be in the pit with Cameo than have to read through dialogue like this.

So, what should you do to make that dialogue shine? Take a look around you! Writing hinges on your ability to communicate what you see, and to communicate what you observe, you have to observe it first! A keen eye and an acute ear are vital. The reader reads with his eyes, and then sounds out the words in his mental ear. You should do so as well when you write.

Take note of how people talk. You want to strive for realism, though often, alien civilizations may have different mannerisms in their speech. If they do, (R2D2 comes to mind...) then you want to emulate the examples you’ve seen/heard. Let's take one final lesson. Here's a sample of what might happen in real life...

"[edit], man! What the hell is up?"

"[edit] Cameo fell in the [edit]ing rancor pit, man! We gotta [edit]ing get him out!"

"What the [edit] is a rancor?! Who the [edit] is Cameo? What the[edit] is wrong with you?!"

(edits provided by Xfiend1013's Orwellian Boot Services)

Okay, so let's modify that for the Star Wars world (and the PG rating...)

"Frank, man, what's going on?"

"Frelling hell, Gar! Cameo fell in the friggin rancor pit! We gotta get 'em outta there, now!"

"Spast! That's some deep shavvit!"

Always remember to start a new paragraph when you change speakers. I figured I'd say that again, you can't hear it enough. Always hit [enter] after you finish a line of dialogue. Then, for good measure, hit [enter] again. Like this:

"Bing, what are you doin' here?"[enter]


"Bing, pow, zak!"

Just thought I'd make that exceedingly clear.

Part III B: Did He Just Say "Exceedingly Clear?"

Do bombs ever just explode? Every bomb rips though something, or tears through something. Is it just me, or does pain always seem to shoot up limbs? Can't it just hurt?
The issue is the cliché. A good rule to use when describing something is to ask: "can you finish the description without reading it?" Once I see "bomb rips," I'm fairly certain of what follows. A second rule is "if you hear your 6 o'clock news anchor say it, don't write it." They are notorious for having tearing bombs, slamming bullets, brutal beatings, and innocent bystanders.

Be original, wily writer! Don't have that blast tear through a building. You can do better! Physical descriptions always work best - explosions don't really tear, they tend to annihilate, devastate, pulverize, char, crush, shatter, crumple, burn, and destroy. An original description with a vivid metaphor always stands out more than that tearing explosion.

Describing one specific detail in how that stormtrooper died (maybe there was an interesting burn in his helmet, or something strange he yelled as he went to that great white-armored haven in the sky) or how that X-wing evaporated will make the image stick in your readers head for longer than you think. For the love of God, don't just have another stormtrooper simply slump to the ground – or lose a limb. We’ve all seen mucho arm carnage in Star Wars. I believe George Lucas has something against arms and hands.

Get a thesaurus. Learn the subtle differences between words. Know the difference between a cohort and a colleague, between inferring and implying. Know that disinterested people are probably, but not always, impartial. Know that conniving is just not the same as conspiring. 99% of the people on the boards won't care if you flaunt your ignorance by flouting proper english. But, for those of us who care, or for that lucky english student who catches your intelligence, it can make a pitiful day brilliant.

Part III C - Certain Sexy Sounds

The reader reads with his eyes, and hears with his ears. Yes, it's true. If you didn't know that, I cannot help you. But there's more to this than that! The reader reads, then - if he's involved and interested - sounds out your words in his mind! To reel the reader into a lush and lurid land of poetic prose, the writer must conquer the concept of sound, silkily stringing syllables into sentences while making sure that the meaning is concrete. To do this, the writer must have an impressive vocabulary at his disposal, so that he can draw out the words that have the proper connotation and consonance.

Let's take a look at some of the ideas behind this. You're trying to have the reader see a green meadow in his mind. You'll want to pick words that accurately depict a spring meadow, sure - but you'll also want to work with the sounds to draw a subtle picture in the ear... Words like streaming, rolling, flowing, phrases like "swishing grasses," and "soft sun" will draw a musical, poetic mural in the mind.

"The spring grasses swished in the warm wind, creating a gentle rustle like a light rain falling on a wooden plank." This sentence uses gentle, rolling, lively noises, as well as a metaphor that also brings out a "springtime" image. If you were describing something on Coruscant, you might use harsh, hard sounds like "concrete and iron," and "black bars, rusting railings," to describe the repetitive and ugly landscape. I think, for Star Wars, "duracrete" sounds appropriately industrial and hard, but "transparisteel" has a whimsical sound that's fairly out of place. "Steel glass" sounds ugly and crude, but "iron glass" has a much cleaner feel. You'll get the hang of it if you just think about it when you write.

And there is the trick, thinking about what you're writing. I urge you to do so, to not just jot down a quickie. Take your time. Like anything you love, you only have fun doing it if you do it right. Respect your reader enough to take some time and let them enjoy your writing - they are, after all, taking time out of their day to read what you wrote.

Part IV - You Cheater!!

Now, another subject. Why is it that soooo many people rant and rave about godmoding when players are not taking control of other people's actions?

Here is a sample of what has been - and I say mistakenly - called GODMODING.
merc this is thorne i should have with me 50 wookies &50 mon calamarai regiments here with me in a moment im here to protect you and im ticked over this persons after you for i have my battle armor on and know merc what do you wish my armor is undeystroyable and my power is more 20 milion vaders for i have the most force power of all that will ever come for am with my armor not thore m. pavalon but i am warpavalon he says all in a mildly angry voice iam unstoppable
Is it godmoding?

Not via my definitions of godmoding, but this is more along the lines of what I call cheating. The guys who start off with a thousand ISD's and a SSD, etc - they aren't godmoding, because they aren't roleplaying your characters. However, they are... cheating. They are using powers unavailable to anyone, and powers that prevent the rest of the posters in that thread from having fun, which is the main point of any thread. (Xfiend1013’s one and only steadfast RP rule)

Here is what I think should be a good general guideline:
  • Characters should not have powers that make them invincible and/or out-of-reach of the other characters participating in the thread.
    If you’re in a thread with jedi masters, fleets of star destroyers, and massive armies, then don’t be afraid to be a hardcore character. In a RPG-language statement: Stay within the “level” of the campaign (or thread, in this case). If it’s a thread with luckless mechanics, faulty R2 droids, and a dimwitted thief as the main villain, your righteous jedi master isn’t needed.
Don’t try and make your posts in a thread simply to establish the supremacy of your character. Most threads are collaborative efforts, not contests. Even if it is a contest, your character should be battling characters and/or obstacles of comparable power – it should be a challenge. You don’t get to be a great sith master just by slaughtering dozens and dozens of unskilled padawans.

Finally, make sure that you aren’t the only one having fun. You don’t want to be the guy who’s ruining the thread for everyone!

The above post is also a great example of someone ignoring my suggestions and using God-Awful Writing.

And God-Awful Writing, or GAW, makes me angrier than godmoding cheaters griefing my thread. The only problem is, most cheating griefers godmoding in threads also tend to use GAW. There are two main reasons people use GAW.
  • One - they're idiots and/or third graders. Although, I'd like to add, even when I was in four-year old kindergarten, I could use punctuation, and I began each sentence with a nice big capital letter.
  • Two - they don't care enough about the post they're making to bother with putting such things, which their warped minds consider unimportant.
Now, I realize that alot of you out there aren't great writers. Hell, some of you aren't even good, but most people that make any attempt at roleplay avoid using GAW.

Now, I am going to totally rewrite this rather offensive and unreadable post. Then, I want you to compare the two (for ease of use, I will post the original at the bottom,) and ask yourself: "Which do I want in my thread?"

This is a good example of how to play a powerful character, on the borderlines of cheating, but not griefing, not godmoding, and not using GAW.
"Thorne! We have an incoming message!" The comms officer shouted. "It's from Merc. He's in trouble sir."

Thorne looked at the officer, rolling his eyes. Of course he knew Merc was in trouble, he had felt his fear through the force. Merc had come to him for help though. It was time to show these fools who to fear...

"Open a comms channel!" Thorne bellowed.

"Merc, this is Thorne." He said. "My personal bodyguards are now at your disposal." He motioned to the noghiri in the shadows as he looked at the burly wookie in front of him.

Thorne sighed, wondering who this newest annoyance to his plans could be.

"I am here to protect you." He said, staring into the holocamera. "And this fool who chases you... he angers me. Forget the bodyguards, I think I shall come to you, Merc, and solve this." Thorne said, abesent-mindedly running a finger over the ancient body armor he wore.

"I have my battle armor on, Merc." Throne said, glancing down at the gleaming body armor. It was so ancient, yet so immeasurably powerful. The mandalorian design had been improved on tenfold, reinforced with the most powerful durasteel/neutronium alloys, lightened by fibres of carbonite and phrick metal. The armor could slow a lightsaber and lessen the blast of a thermal detonator...

"Merc, my power is equal... no, perhaps.. greater than that of the infidel Vader." Thorne said, his eyes glowing. Those fools fear the "great" Darth Vader, but soon they will fear me, for I am the more powerful. The force is with me more than it shall ever be with that insignificant Sith!"

He shouted the last part, his fist squeezing tightly, his knuckles straining against his shining black gloves as he contemplated why Vader, who was weaker than he, was so feared. "Once I put on my armor, I am Thorne M. Pavalon, no longer... I am Warpavalon!" Warpavalon said in a maniacal tone, throwing his hands to the air in an egotistical fashion.

"And I am unstoppable."
There you have it. A guy with power around that of Darth Vader, and some nice armor. Now, would you rather RP with the author of that or the author of THIS:
merc this is thorne i should have with me 50 wookies & 50 mon calamarai regiments here with me in a moment im here to protect you and im ticked over this persons after you for i have my battle armor on and know merc what do you wish my armor is undeystroyable and my power is more 20 milion vaders for i have the most force power of all that will ever come for am with my armor not thore m. pavalon but i am warpavalon he says all in a mildly angry voice iam unstoppable
I think the choice is fairly apparent, yet let’s go (briefly) into what I changed (not grammatically; I think those changes are obvious and self-explanatory).

First off; fifty wookie and fifty mon calamarian regiments? I’ve never even heard of an organized wookie military force, and I doubt the mon cals would just up and support some egomaniac with fifty supporting regiments. The change to a more subtle pair of bodyguards is better for story purposes AND they’re still a force to be reckoned with. I’d never make a wookie mad.

See, it helps to know your Star Wars. If you come up across something that requires a greater knowledge of Star Wars than you possess, simply go to Theforce.net and check it out there.

Now, as for an indestructible body armor: How’d they mold that metal into it’s current form? Also, possessing indestructible armor isn’t that great of a cover in battle – you still need to take it off sometime, and a vial of acid spilled down inside it will make sure that the armor survives longer than the guy wearing it. Still, think carefully about phrases like “indestructible” and “unstoppable.” It’s a sign of egomania at least… And twenty million vaders? That’s a lot of Darth Luvin’, there – you’d think such a powerful being could kill whoever was bothering them with their mind from wherever they were. Usually the writer with the most supposedly “powerful” character uses those powers in the most unimaginative ways.

Be creative, not overwhelming.

A Final Note; or The Final Note

You don't need a Star Destroyer, an army, or anything like that. You don't even need a ship or a gun to roleplay (though it might be a good idea to get a gun and a fast ship, seeing as how most threads have violent content that may not be suitable for children under the age of 9.)

Don’t godmode. Don't cheat. Write reasonably well - enough to make it easy and enjoyable to read. Have respect for your fellow writers and thread members. Don’t attempt to become the most successful person on the thread/board, and you’ll do just fine.

Go with the flow of the thread, but if you don’t like it, make your own thread - don’t spam. (Spamming is the nasty practice of making incessant OOC remarks that no one wants to hear. Actually, it’s the repeated writing of anything no one wants to hear!!)

Well, I hope that this has been helpful! May the force, and the farce, be with you!

Epilogue: Who is Xfiend1013, and Why Does He Think He's Qualified For Telling ME What To Do?

Xfiend1013 is a dedicated reader, roleplayer, and writer, the author of roleplaying guides for Ultima Online, EverQuest, and Dark Ages of Camelot. His first post to the SWG RP boards was in the successful thread Space Patrol, (then SPITFire) where he has remained ever since. He is the author of several incarnations of Xfiend1013's Roleplaying, Writing, and SWG Advice, including this one. He is a frightening man who has to be hunted down, tranquilized, and brought back to Space Patrol if he is found on the rest of the board. He currently lives in Mississippi and spends his spare time with boring cerebral activities such as reading.
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Re: Guide to RPing and OOC Posting

Post by Balsa »

Xfiend1013’s Guide to OOC – Halting the Flames of Oblivion

Editor's Note:

For those who feel this post is too long to read, basically, if you're being trolled or baited or being the target of inflammatory remarks, do not retaliate. Instead, ignore the transgressor and report his or her actions to a Moderator. Let the Moderator take care of the problem.

Prelude: A Word on Pronoun Usage

Since most of the people on the internet, and a majority of the problem-causers on it, are male, I originally considered using masculine pronouns throughout. However, there are females (I can’t honestly use the word ladies in this case) who burn, bait and bash with just as much glee as the guys out there. So, I alternate. One example I use he, the next, she. It may seem a bit confusing, but you’ll get used to it. If I can go through the trouble to write it, you can go through the trouble of reading it!


We all love our OOC forums. Here, we can come to discuss many things, and get opinions from a variety of people around the world. I’ve seen art, biology, death, freedom, God, hunting, jokes, literature, money, n00bs, philosophy, religion, science, television, the universe, video games, and world peace all discussed at one time or another. From the serious and sad to the happy and light, we come together in these OOC forums not to talk about our online personas, but to talk about ourselves.

Needless to say, the rules here are different. Feeling pain in a roleplaying world is different than feeling pain in the real world. Here we are no longer shielded by unreality – this is it. Here we are vulnerable, and unfortunately, there will always be those who want to take advantage of that – be it for their personal gain or for some strange love of hurting others.

This thread goes out to those who would bait, troll, flame and counterflame. This thread also goes out to those who are trolled for, to those who would take the bait, to those who would light the fires – not out of maliciousness, but out of a sense of duty and revenge. This thread goes out to everyone – because it takes two people to ruin a good time. You may say it only takes one, but we’ll get to that in a moment…

I do not think that these forums really need this warning. I do not think that, compared to what could be, there is a fire-hazard on these forums. But we do have our quarrels and ridiculous moments that lead to real pain.

But, even though I don’t think these forums need this warning, I do think that many places on the internet do. I urge you all to take this advice to any other forums you visit, hell, you can even recopy them anywhere you want. I put them here so that they can benefit us first, because while we may not need too much help, we do make mistakes – and I hope, deep down, that this can help.

Part One: WTF is He Talking About?

Let’s get a few things cleared up. These definitions are my own. They may not be universally used, they may be somewhat wrong, but they’re the words I’m going to use in this guide, so let’s be sure we know what I’m talking about, here.

Bait – to try and draw someone into making a mean-spirited or insulting remark. It takes it’s name from the fishing metaphor that gives us…
  • Trolling – to “cruise” a forum and find potential hotspots that could become flamewars – with a little bit of bait and incentive. Since those who troll are called trolls – and not trollers, the fishing metaphor has been lost, and some sort of fantasy metaphor assumed. This, I think, has done some harm, as trollers are therefore seen as unthinking brutes. In reality, trolling is an extremely efficient, if not somewhat unsporting, manner of fishing. Trolling is a fishing technique in which many baited hooks are put into a body of water on a single or multiple lines. The troller then goes off for a while and comes back to see which hooks have a fish on them. It’s remarkably similar to internet trolling, where the troll will bait potential threads, go do something else for a while, then come back to see where fires have erupted.
  • Flaming – to use the Supreme Court’s decision on pornography; “We may not be able to define pornography, but we know it when we see it.” Replace “pornography” with “flaming,” and you’ll get the gist. Flaming is, basically, an argument where, instead of trying to convince people, the participants attack one another, using insults and rhetoric instead of well-thought-out ideas. Counterflaming is when someone flames a flamer. A flamewar is when everyone involved starts flaming.

Part Two: They’re Trolling for Me!

So you’ve been baited. You see a post obviously designed to spark up a fire. It may be addressed to you directly, or it may be directed at people like you, those who, say, think the Xbox is better than the Playstation 2. (Video game flame wars are the worst.)

What should you do? Should you take up arms or ignore them? Should you leave the thread or post away? You’ve got options – but which one is gonna be the best?

I say – ignore them. Nothing is more effective against a troll than ignoring them. It prevents off-topic remarks, it keeps the discussion on the friendly side, and, if you’ve got a revenge jones, it really, really annoys them. Is there a better way to thwart his plans and simultaneously keep yourself and your friends having fun? No. The troller is looking for any negative response. You might want to try to lure her in by making a friendly remark that draws her into the discussion. (e.g; well, yes, the Xbox is superior hardware and has an excellent software library, but the Playstation 2 offers a better selection of games. It depends on which games you like, really…) Still, if you’re pretty sure you’re dealing with a troll, it’s best to just ignore him.

"But wait!” you cry. ”I come to this forum and act appropriately! I won’t stand for people coming in here and acting like this! I don’t even want to READ that garbage!” This, my understandably angry aquaintance, is exactly the attitude that keeps trollers around. Yes, you’ve got a right to be angry. Yes, you’re right, ideally, everyone would keep flaming on forums that appreciate that sort of thing. (Fanboy sites, for example…) But by responding to the troller, you’ve made his day. By responding with great vengence and furious anger, you’ve made her week. And by flaming away, you’ve made a very happy troll that’s sure to come back to such a prime spot. It’s just like a lazy fisherman. Bait, troll, walk away, and come back to the spots that respond, with the bait that gets the most bites.

If no one bites, then the troller can’t troll anymore. Perhaps he could continue to adapt his bait in more and more subtle ways to try and get a response, but then, he’d be totally manageable and a good sort to have around. A good argument is fun. A flamefest is not.

Sometimes the troller doesn’t bait – she just throws the TNT in the water and waits to see what floats to the top after the blast. This is more of an all-out-flamer attitude. Flame first, see who fires back. Juvenile, but unfortunately effective.

So you’ve been flamed. What now? Stop, drop, and roll (away). In my opinion, flamers are easier to deal with than trollers. A troller uses bait, he looks to see what’s going to rankle the ranks – he doesn’t just flame his way in, because then, people might unite against him. The flamer, on the other hand, usually isn’t concerned about that sort of thing, she’s just there to start a flame war. (Usually, that’s the motivation of a troller, too, but he has a bit more patience.)

But back to the “so I’m on fire, what now?” question. First things first, the best advice anyone has ever given to me. Don’t panic. There. If you can follow that advice and not respond hot-headedly, then you’ve defeated 99.99% of all trollers and flamers, who know that people are not patient. (Look at the rush for high-speed internet, and tell me that internet people are patient!)

In a flame situation, everyone should ignore the flamers. If you see a guy with matches, gasoline, and an insane grin, what do you normally do? Rush him with flamethrowers, or step back? What people don’t realize is that, by responding to someone who bursts into a thread and yells U sUxx0Rz, l@m3rz!, you’re making everything much, much, much worse.

To paraphrase our President: when you react, the terrorists win.

”But no, X, you’re wrong!” You may shout. ”If we don’t do something, then the world will be overrun by idiots who think they can do whatever they want!”

No. I am right in this case. Call me a dirty hippy, but look at your internet experience. Sure, in the real world, you do have to respond to people who would rob, kill, and steal. But this isn’t the real world. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to hide the truth from you. It is a prison for your mind. Oh, no, wait, wrong speech. Ah… errr, yeah. This isn’t the real world. This is the internet! You can ignore flamers, trollers, baiters and dolts. The rules here are not the same. Some of them can be bent, others broken entirely…

Seriously! Has the internet troll situation ever gotten better? Despite billions of bytes of counter-flame over counter-strike and bitter argument about “who shot first,” have people stopped fighting? If fighting isn’t working, then why do we continue to do it?

Ignore the flames. Don’t take the bait. If someone is desperate enough to continue to flame and/or bait you, then, eventually, a moderator will step in and delete their posts. Nothing bad is going to happen to you if you see that flame ten times a day. Sure, at some point you may get angry, but don’t panic! Don’t reply. You’re only making things worse when you do. You don’t want to be the person who makes things worse for everyone else, do you?

Part Three: Taking the Bait Without Being Hooked…

By now, you may be thinking “Man, X is just a crazy, unrealistic, ivory tower peacenik who thinks we should all get along and vote for Ralph Nader…” (And what’s wrong with getting along and voting for Nader, I might ask?)

No, I’ve got a pretty good knowledge of how the world works. It’s the “why” I’m working on, but as for how, well, I’m getting that down.

Sometimes you’re gonna fall for bait. Sometimes you’re going to want to argue with someone. Sometimes, you may be confident that you can convince this girl that, hey, the New Jedi Order books were just plain bad. A lot can happen!

Also, a civil argument, a reasonable debate – that’s fun, damnit! Talking about things, getting opposing viewpoints, learning things – it’s travel for the mind, without any illegal substances. (Or, with them, if you prefer.)

Insulting people, assuming that they’re stupid for taking a belief, that’s no fun for anyone. Sure, you can tell people things, throw out your opinion, but why be an ass about it?

So use a little tact. Use a little thought. Disagree with ideas and ideologies all you want, but for the love of Humanity, lay off one another. Don’t assume the negative. If I think that Terminator 2 is better than the original movie, some people would say it was because I was a rube who was easily impressed by flashy computer effects.

Those people aren’t helping the reader out. It might as well be because I liked the idea of a helpful machine helping mankind against harmful machines. Being negative isn’t good for you. High blood pressure, all that. Have a drink. Relax. I’m not saying you can’t be cynical – I’ve probably got most of you beat when it comes to cynicism – but cool your fires, people…

Argue. Refine your ideas. Be smart. You’re being smart when you argue ideas. You get to hear the objections, you get to learn more, use other ideas to plug up the holes.

Yeah, you hear that right, you get to be disagreed with. It’s not bad! Why do you think that despots and dictators take away the freedom of speech? Certainly, so that the people cannot talk bad about the government – but also, because it’s hard to refine an idea or strategy, it’s hard to improve, if the only opinion you ever hear is your own.

Typically, people react negatively when they think they are in a precarious position. (Don’t panic.) If you are confident and knowledgable in your ideas and opinions, then you can factually and reasonably refute your attackers. If they use half-truths and lies, then state the truths, don’t attack them for using falsehoods. Someone could be wrong – and it could be you.

When I see personal attacks, I see two things – impatience and fear. If something angers you, let yourself mellow before responding (don’t panic). If someone attacks your ideals, refute them and attack theirs – not them. After all, if you’re right, you’ll be okay. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a gift for exposition and explanation – take some time, write out your reply in notepad, and check it again. Yeah, you may have a life to get back to, but if your offline life is important, then the people online can wait for you to get it right – after all, you do need to spend some time with your friends, why should you let your schedule be dictated by online needs?

Epilogue: For the Love of Humanity…

The next part is a short plea to you flamers out there. I am not too proud to plead, if it will result in less pain and anguish for everyone on the boards. If not, then at least let it be shown that I tried.

My plea is this: Whatever is on the internet, especially in a forum, we put there. There is enough pain and suffering in the real world. There is no need to bring more here. You do have a right to say what you want – but you should weigh out the cost of doing so, because we also have the freedom of silence. If everyone were to talk at once, no one could say anything. Give others the same respect you give yourself.

This isn’t just an internet thing, though. We shape the world through our actions and our perceptions, we mold our thoughts, we have power. Reality certainly holds powers over us, and we hold powers over it. Use them wisely. Use your words wisely, they influence other minds, other perceptions, others actions, and therefore, your reality these minds share with you.

Hurting others does not help you. Even if you think there is no negative effect, know too that you cannot see everything.

So be nice to each other, sheesh. How is that any harder than being mean to one another? Is there any good reason?

Not if you think about it, I say. Especially here – but hey, if you take some good into the world from the internet, then I, for one, feel better.

Thanks for reading;