6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars

There are certain topics everybody knows are going to start a fight - politics, religion, abortion, video game consoles - important things like that.

But there's a lot of topics not on the standard hot-button list that are guaranteed to stir a forum thread into a white-hot frenzy. Topics that you would think people could disagree on reasonably, like dog poop disposal or tipping, that somehow drive people to threaten physical violence.

Here's a few:

Declawing Cats

Now, declawing cats is a pretty serious surgical procedure (it involves surgically removing the last knuckle of each "finger"), so it's understandable that people can have serious disagreements on it. What you wouldn't expect is people to start suggesting that the fingers of people who disagree with them should be cut off.

From a pro-declawer.

alt.cats newsgroup
From an anti-declawer.

Or their testicles:


And what hyperbolic discussion is complete without bringing in Hitler?

alt.cats newsgroup

Or making up imaginary laws?


If a cat drawing blood was a death sentence, the feline race would have been extinguished by now. That's what they do. Eat, poop, appear in funny pictures for the internet, and claw you.

Not only do people attempt to claw the eyes out of people on the other side of the debate, sometimes they get so worked up that they can't tell who's on their side. In this thread, a bunch of anti-declawing people start arguing with each other before they realize they're all on the same side.

But I get it. Getting the word out about the negative side effects of declawing is important to anyone who cares about cats, and as we all know, the best way to inform and educate people and get them to listen to you is to make multiple posts in all caps.

Petco Community Forum
Well, I'm convinced!


The most famous tipping debate is probably in the opening scene of Reservoir Dogs, where Mr. Pink stuns the table by stating he "doesn't believe in" tipping. I haven't watched the whole movie but I believe later on they all shoot each other or something. This is remarkably similar to how most tipping discussions progress.

This entry on Passive Aggressive Notes triggered a yearlong argument with hundreds of replies.

Which is remarkable considering how the arguments on both sides can be boiled down to:


- Tips make up most of a server's take-home pay because their pay is often (legally) below minimum wage, so you owe them the tip or they will not have enough money to live.

- Serving is hard work!


- I don't owe you anything! If you're not getting paid enough you should get another job! Or change the system.

- Serving is not a very hard job!

Somehow you can keep repeating those things over and over again for hundreds of replies if you keep spicing it up with assumptions that the complaining waitresses are bitches...

169 thumbs up for that one, to boot.

... throw around words like "entitlement," cuss out people from other countries who don't know how tipping works in America, and suggest people who don't tip be beaten.


Even when moderators are quick about cutting off the discussion before it blows up into a flame war, someone always manages to get their punches in.

Penny Arcade Forums

And of course, Hitler.

alt.disney.disneyworld newsgroup

That was in a discussion about a family's trip to Disney World by the way.

Does 0.9999... = 1?

Technically, that should be a 0.9 with a bar over the 9, but I think that would cause the site formatting to explode so we've got what we've got.

Anyway, this is apparently one of the great mathematical debates of all time, if you go by number of forum posts. The answer has absolutely no practical application whatsoever and it's just a theoretical exercise. So you'd expect the argument to be a dry exchange of proofs and, "I respectfully disagree, I think you erroneously invoked the transitive property in line 3," but actually you're more likely to get this:

Bodybuilding.com Forums

Bodybuilding.com Forums

But okay, I'll admit those are bodybuilding forums. Maybe the roid rage makes them get upset over everything, even math.

You can find people going overboard about htis everywhere, though, like in a 500+ reply thread on the Bungie forums, or a 1000+ reply thread on the Escapist forums.

The Escapist Forums

There's no Hitler comparisons here, but we do get introduced to the word "math-tard," which is almost as good.

The Escapist Forums

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