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The "Fanboi Flame & Lock" - how it works and tactics to beat it.

GyrusGyrus Lost City of ZPosts: 2,413Member Uncommon

This is a post to describe the tactic of what I call "Fanboi Flaming" for the benefit of all at

Both posters and Moderators.

The tactic has been used on this site before in relation to the games Pirates of the Burning Sea, Darkfall and has reappeared today with a vengance in the Camelot Unchained forum.

The tactic in itself is simple - it is to start a flame war.  Usually by provoking others to flame or respond to subtle flaming.

The goal is to get Moderators to lock threads.  The threads that are targeted are threads that go against the popular opinion of the developer.

If you think about it - this means that the posters are manipulating and using the Moderators.


This is how the Fanboi Flame (&Lock) tactic works:

Poster A opens a thread on something other posters (fanbois) don't like:  "The developer has a history of failed games."

Maybe some discussion takes place... 

Posters B and C present different points of view.

The thread is "picked up" by fanbois.  Often, on forums where the tactic has matured a 'code phrase' will be used: Poster F1 "This thread should be locked."

I would note here that this is an attempt to Moderate by proxy.  If Poster F1 has an issue - Poster F1 should report the thread or post with the report button and not post at all.  But reporting is not the goal in this case.  Yet.  Also note that action may be coordinated off site (on a third party forum for example).

The post "This thread should be locked." helps others identify the thread - and also prevents them having to spend time actually having to read it!

Posters F1, F2, F3... etc.  (all fanbois) step in.

Now the goal is to provoke a flame war.

The object is to get the thread locked while not getting banned yourself.

For example: Poster F2 might post: "Poster A - you obviously live in your nanna's basement..."  Subtle ad hominem attacks are common.

But, as things become increasing desperate (the thread is not locked and discussion continues) attacks will escalate even to the point where Moderators are 'called out' for being bias etc.

The highest achievement is actually to get the OP to completely loose his / her cool and fly off the handle getting himself banned AND the thread locked! 

Once the thread is locked - the fanbois win.



Today we saw this in the Camelot Unchained forum

This appeared in the Kickstarter comments feed (offsite coordination):

City State Entertainment: "Okay, I'm actually really pissed right now which of course was the whole point of that thread."

Followed several people asking why... then this

Judy Tullier (Kyrana-Gareth) "@MJ You want me to go lose my shit on them? I will do it :) I do not care about getting banned. LOL"

And here on all hell broke loose.

Most of the tactics described above were used including insulting Mods and the site in general.


But the end result was that the thread was locked... so a win for the fanbois.


The problem of course, Staff and Moderators, is that they played you.  You were used.  Successfully.

And if you allow this to stand this will keep happening, with increasing frequency too.  Because if someone says something fanbois don't like - they will fire up fake accounts and flame until you lock.  Because they can and it works.


So, you must defeat the tactic and how to do that is make sure they never succeed with the goal - but I fully understand you must moderate your site.

This is my suggestion on how to do it (it has worked elsewhere).

Where you can prove "off site coordination" (as above where posters helpfully list their names on KS!) consider long term bans for those posters.

You must NOT permanently lock threads attacked in this way.  If required, lock the thread to give you time to catch up, then reopen it.  When you lock the thread put up a post like this

"Thread temporarily locked for Moderation... posters check your inboxes for MAs... the thread will be reopened within X hours / mins for continued discussion & debate... but please debate the points without personal attacks."

Posters attempting to Moderate By Proxy": "This thread should be locked" should receive MAs.

Posters accusing other posters of being "trolls" must recieve MAs unless their post also contained substance:

For example: "Poster A you are a troll because of the 4 games the developer has produced 2 are rated at 90%+ on Metacritic."



Posters, for their part, in threads that are attacked this way, must NOT allow themselves to be goaded into responding to the "fanboi flames".

debate the point... not the poster.


It's up to you  This tactic will be used again on the Camelot Unchained forum (and others).  How you respond will dictate whether it becomes Standard Operation Proceedure here or not?  

If you simply respond by locking threads - the fanbois win - and you become their tool.


Edit: and as a follow up - there is now a 'debrief' taking place on the KS Comments with regard to todays operation.

Nothing says irony like spelling ideot wrong.


  • MikeBMikeB Community Manager Queens, NYPosts: 6,164Administrator Rare

    If there is proof connecting posters to what you describe, I can assure you that we will take appropriate action against these users. We have a number of tools that allow us to detect when users are creating multiple accounts to do this sort of thing, but it isn't perfect.

    There is only so much that our moderator team can realistically do with regards to this, but I may need to check with the team with regards to some tech we discussed a couple of months ago. It may be uniquely helpful in situations such as these. :)

    If you have PROOF that X user is deliberately doing what you describe, please contact me privately at mikeb AT mmorpg DOT com. We take this sort of thing very seriously. Thanks for the feedback.

    Michael "MikeB" Bitton
    Community Manager
    Twitter: @eMikeB

This discussion has been closed.