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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.[1]

In fandom, the term has fallen out of use in favor of wank, which denotes the self-indulgence or self-righteousness involved in a flamewar.

See Letter War.

Flamewars in fandom

Fannish flamewars may take place between individual fans, between groups of fans, between fans and non-fans, or between fans and professional authors or TPTB.

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 yes, fans argued before the internet. Fights usually happened in lettercols of zines, or letterzines. Those controversies were called fan wars, letter 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, and whether one's One True Character is the best.

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?" [2]



Sung to Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire":

Slingbabies, Vividcon,
You won't say it unanon
Awesome Ladies, Chopping onions, Unofficial Poll!
Piledriving, Scandanonnies, Fungus Poet, Shetland Ponies,
Extra credit, Shameless begging, Same-anoning trolls,
Countrywank, Ship wars, Banhammered, Pinboard
Mod call, The Meme Police, Western fandom versus East,
Lunar bases, Tinhats, Indoor versus outdoor cats,
We didn't start the flamewar
But it burned so brightly
That we gathered nightly
We didn't start the flamewar
And when the flames are gone
We'll still be memeing on ...

Goat of terror, same anon, kudos, wankers, Shonanons
SJ warrior, epithets and your thoughts on yaoi
Guano, con report, reccing, tracking
learn to scroll, idfic, paper bag, trans!pterosaur
Wool Sweaterly, please ban me, Teen Wolf's on MTV
Trigger warnings, fandom wank, make up threads, sfda is that way
femslash, dog pile, work in progress, Yuletide
MRAs, surveys, America is so diverse!
We didn't start the flamewar
It was always burning
Since the meme's been posting
We didn't start the flamewar
No we didn't light
We might try to fight it"[3]


  1. Wikipedia:Flaming (Internet)
  2. from Southern Enclave #4
  3. With (no) Apologies (whatsoever) to Billy Joel anonymous posts on Fail-Fandomanon dated April 4, 2013;reference link.