Sep 22, 2010 1:57 AM GMT
It's the Bread/Ham/Bread approach:
http://www.simple-talk.com/community/blogs/philfactor/archive/2009/01/09/71609.aspxShould you insult posters on newsgroups, forums or online discussions? This may be a strange question to ask, and the answer is generally "no". It is a bad idea, even though your target is usually too far away to exact retribution: Occasionally, however, the urge to insult someone who posts on a forum is irresistible.
There will come a time however when one feels provoked beyond endurance and the desire to let a person know what you really think is irresistible.
What should one do in these circumstances?
The answer, I think, was given to me a long time ago when I worked for an eminent consultant pediatrician in a hospital. He had the delicate task of writing letters to doctors who had referred patients to him. Often he had to give them the news that they had misdiagnosed the patient, wasted a lot of time, caused suffering unnecessarily, or even hastened the patient’s demise. In private, behind closed doors, he would wax vitriolic about the dangerous incompetence of the doctor concerned. The letters, however, would be effusive with compliments; any criticism was hedged about with lashings of thickly-spread flattery.
I was a young hothead, and I eventually asked him why his letters were so mealy mouthed. I didn’t get it.
"Nobody is immune from politeness and flattery", he told me. "In fact, there seems to be no upper-limit to the amount of flattery that a person can absorb. If you can compliment and encourage the person that you must instruct, then any reproach is accepted more readily. There are ways of phrasing a painful truth about a person’s skills or conduct that will deflect hurt feelings, and therefore be accepted more readily. All you get by haranguing people for their foolishness is resentful resistance."
I highly recommended application of this technique in forum posting. When the urge to flame somebody strikes, rephrase your thoughts in such a way that the person is impelled into doing the right thing, but does not feel insulted. A nice fringe benefit to this process is that it provides a wonderful way of managing one’s anger and frustration.
Having mastered this subtle art, you will find life on the forum far less stressful, and more rewarding, and those "in the know" will understand that you are writing is not necessarily the same as what you are thinking.