|Synonyms:||wank, fan war, fan feud|
|See also:||flame, concrit, imbroglio, pairing war, sockpuppet, The Lurkers Support Me in Email|
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A flamewar constitutes two or more parties exchanging violent expression of their disagreement, i.e., several flames, traveling in both or many directions. Although heated arguments have taken place as long as there have been people, the term flamewar refers to an Internet cultural phenomenon prevalent on discussion forums like usenet, mailing lists, and now LiveJournal.
Flamewars in fandom
Not all disagreements are flamey. Concrit, which is meant to assist a writer, and imbroglios, which expose underlying societal attitudes, may be carried out without untoward behavior. However, people often react badly to criticism of any kind, so it is possible for concrit or an imbroglio to lose its dignity and become a flamewar.
Sometimes the personal perception of when a heated discussion has crossed over into a flamewar differs between fans. For example if fans identify strongly with a favorite pairing, and that pairing is insulted, some may describe that as flame, while others will only call ad hominem attacks against fans themselves a flame. A contributing factor to this is that drawn out fandom divisions are often referred to as "wars" even if these aren't engaged in with a hostility level of an outright flamewar all the time, e.g. a pairing war.
Fannish disagreement before the web
It's hard to believe, but fans argued before the internet. Fights usually happened in lettercols of zines, or letterzines. Those controversies were called fan wars, fan feuds, and other names lost to posterity. Some of the biggest controversies of pre-internet fandom were: sexually explicit material in fandom; zine pricing and zine piracy; to slash, or not to slash; Star Trek vs. Star Wars; and which is better, pro writing or fanzine writing.
From the letterzine, Southern Enclave: "I stated in the first issue that I didn't want a letter war to be carried on in these pages, but that is what's rapidly forming. I have had to zap more and more offensive statements in LoCs -- things like 'racist' and 'stupid idiot' with names attached to them. I have printed letters that hotly attacked the viewpoints of others, either arguing for the Fall of Luke Skywalker or against it... It is not worth ending friendships over. We are supposedly doing this for fun, but attacking other people who don't agree with your viewpoint and hurting other people's feelings is not fun. So, can we please back off this subject for a while and let our tempers cool down? If you feel that you can't drop it right now, then can you please submerge it to a private correspondence level?" 
- SJ Flames White Wolf For Bad-Faith Behavior
- The Ray Wars (Due South fandom)
- Ordover Wars (X-Files fandom)
- "Tara's lesbian spell on Willow", courtesy of alt.tv.buffy-v-slayer (Buffy fandom)