Coding Horror

programming and human factors

Which Online Discussion Archetype Are You?

If you've participated in usenet, mailing lists, or web forum discussions for any length of time, you're probably familiar with Godwin's law:

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.

The Flame Warrior website offers deeper insight, based on a particular all too common forum incident.

Some years ago a minor spat ignited a searing flame war that threatened to consume a once-placid discussion forum. While the forum burned I amused myself by caricaturing the chief antagonists. Confounded at seeing themselves thus revealed, the combatants fled the field in disarray.

Over time the roster of online belligerents expanded and eventually congealed into the netizen's guide to Flame Warriors. My own bad Internet behavior would certainly have provided sufficient material to populate an extensive rogue's gallery, but suggestions and comments from astute observers continue to enrich the Flame Warriors collection.

What Mike created is a brilliant deconstruction of the various archetypes you'll encounter in any long running discussion group, along with some great caricature art:

Acne Admin ALLCAPS Android Archivist Artful Dodger Artiste Atheist Big Cat Big Dog and Me-Too Bliss Ninny Blowhard Bong Capitalista Centurion Coffee Klatch Compost Crybaby Cyber Sisters Deacon Diplomat Duelists Eagle Scout Ego Enfant Provocateur Ennui Ent Ethnix Evil Clown Fanboy Ferrous Cranus Filibuster Fragile Femme Furious Typer Garble God Godfather Godzilla Grammarian Grenade Grunter Howlers Ideologue Imposter Innocence Abused Issues Jekyl and Hyde Jerk Klaxon Kung-Fu Master Lamer Lonely Guy Loopy Lurker Nanny Necromancer Netiquette Nazi Net Rat Newbie Nitpick Palooka Patois Perv Philosopher Picador Pinko Pithy Phrase Profundus Maximus Propeller Head Rat Rebel Leader Rebel Without a Clue Rottweiler Puppy Royals Stealth Strumpet The Swarm Sycophant Target Therapist Tireless Rebutter Toxic Granny Troglodyte Troller Typhoid Mary Weenie Whisper Xenophobe Yuk Yuk

I've been accused of being a Tireless Rebutter and Ferrous Cranus at times, but that's all part of my boyish charm.

Written by Jeff Atwood

Indoor enthusiast. Co-founder of Stack Overflow and Discourse. Disclaimer: I have no idea what I'm talking about. Find me here: