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Anatomy of a Mass Internet Argument (aka “Blog Drama”)

Every so often, people in online communities turn their attention toward one thing and argue heatedly. Here’s how it generally goes.

  1. Initial controversial statement (This is usually something that can be interpreted as “You and everything you value? It all sucks.”)
  2. Initial “Hey, who do you think you are anyway? And by the way, you suck” response.
  3. Mass internet pile on
  4. Later, in no particular order
    • Sporadic “That controversial statement wasn’t controversial. It’s been said/done/thought since the beginning of time” interjections
    • Sporadic “That initial statement was spot on” interjections (mostly ignored or decried)
    • Summary blog posts for newcomers to the argument
    • Meta blog posts talking about the experience of the argument (ahem, You Are Here)
  5. Argument is named something catchy (usually a catchy acronym or some reference to Watergate)
  6. People wax nostalgic about the argument, getting all heated up about it in short bursts
  7. Argument becomes point of comparison in the next mass internet argument
Published inBlogs and Blogging


  1. And that is why these days I mostly stay quiet and as far away from those arguments as I can. You did catch the basic formula quite well.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  2. Aw, sometimes the games are kind of fun, even if they are a little distasteful.

    And I hate to break it to you, but over on friendfeed there are two more classic moves being nominated for addition: “I haven’t been paying any attention to/participating in all that stuff” and “I may agree with what you are saying, but I am appalled at the low tone of this discourse among so-called professionals.” I’m afraid you’ve just participated by not participating. You can’t escape! ;-)

  3. Oh yea, FF is pretty much becoming the place for me to stay away from these days. Already have enough things to worry about without the drama. Then again, having an insult or two slung your way because you refuse to go in the mud with the rest certainly does not help (don’t ask. You are better off not knowing).

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  4. I’m sorry that’s been your experience, Angel. And I’m sorry if I hurt your feelings just now. That certainly wasn’t my intent.

    I hope things even out for you soon.

  5. Esha Esha

    A coworker of mine just referenced your post on facebook and I was like, wait a minute, this is Iris’s blog! Tiny world. #3 and the last point of #4 are hilarious

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