Flame Wars

This week we had our first flame war in the live chat. It was painful.

On Missed Apex Podcast we have a feature that I haven’t seen on any other F1 show, namely we have a live video stream of our Skype call and a live chatroom.  I’ve seen one show use Spreaker to stream audio which has a chat feature but something about having the video feed as well, seems to foster a higher level of interaction. We make the chatroom conversation an integral part of the podcast, often allowing the comments to lead discussions. Some of the comments posted are hilarious and savage. Having them there makes the recording so much more interesting.

Chatroom, you add something so special. Instant feedback and inspiration. They provide a sense of comradely, and practically they provide actual support that makes hosting a show a lot easier. We aren’t talking to wall and wondering how it will turn out. We aren’t editing a masterpiece after the fact. The live stream is there in real time. They hear all and see all. It’s been fantastic and fun and awesome until…

Well it was still fantastic fun and awesome but… We had our first flame war and it was ugly. I define a flame war as when two parties are not only debating but have become emotionally entrenched. They dig in and they get beyond the point of reasonable and friendly debate and start trying to anger the other party. Facts and logic are replaced with insults and provocation. Once you get into a flame war you are deliberately causing another human stress.

This happens all over the internet and it has its place. There are sites that actively encourage it by writing inflammatory headlines to provoke bitter exchanges that cause their readers to refresh the page multiple times to see what their enemy has replied with. I’ve certainly been involved in flame wars. Not so much now but there was definitely a time when I thought I had to personally win the internet. But why on a little live stream where you’ve come to enjoy some F1 chat. Why in a chat room of 10-20 people would you choose to muddy the water. It’s like shitting in a lift and I don’t see any reason why I should allow it to continue.

The conversation got so ugly so quickly over, predictably, a Lewis Hamilton issue. Lewis divides fans in a manner unlike any I’ve ever seen before. What makes it different is that it’s not fans of one team vs. another or fans of one driver vs. another. It’s fans of Lewis Hamilton vs. people who hate Lewis Hamilton. Had Rosberg never been the team mate of #44 his support would be a fraction of what he sees now.

There’s a genuine hate of Lewis and there is also a barmy and over the top reaction to that hate. I don’t get why Lewis’ fans get so upset over people who are motivated to constantly attack him. For all the talk that he is lucky or dumb (or whatever the claim is this week), there are 3 WDC Trophies in the cabinet and only one season where he has been outscored by a team mate. So why the mass hysteria every time someone makes a claim against him. Just walk tall and point out that no other driver has won a race in every single season of their F1 career. I think some get wound up because they feel that some of the hate is motivated by race issues. I agree. At least some of the hate is racially motivated. But that’s a reflection of society. We will not defeat racism on Missed Apex Podcast. Sorry. That’s outside the #squadgoals. (Am I using that popular term correctly?)

And this is how it played out. The Hamilton camp was sparked of by a, subtle but, very clearly racially motivated comment and then all hell broke loose. Both parties lost sight of one thing. We were here to have a fun time. You’ve made the effort to go to a website to interact with a live programme. You didn’t do that just to end up in a row did you? I think Tony dealt with it well. He tried his best to put the fires out but as result the show was denied any genuine feedback and comment from the live audience  for the last part of the show.. This is not something I can allow to happen again.

The whole point of the considerable effort it takes to run a live stream is to gain that interaction in order to improve the podcast. Watching folk argue and upset each other to the point that the useful and fun comments dry up is not why I do it. Therefore I will now appoint admins that will boot people out if they are killing the conversation with flame wars. Not because I’m Johnny big nuts. Just because I don’t want you to be a big ruiner who ruins everything. I am a parent. My free time is precious.

I don’t care if that someone has the most correct argument in the world, we will now remove them if it’s causing stress to the other participants. Just chill and have fun. Make your point and let others make theirs. You’re not going to win the internet in an intimate chatroom on a podcast recording by a guy sat in his shed hiding from his wife.

You don’t know what kind of day the guy you’re arguing with has had. His kid could be sick. His wife could have left him. You don’t know their world. Please, I ask you that in this tiny corner of the internet you try to be a positive part of the game.



Man hiding from his wife in a shed.