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

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars

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.

And vet you make no comment about the cats being fixed. Its ok for them to have surgery to take away their ability to reproduce, but declawing is muti
City-Data.com

From a pro-declawer.

This says SO much about the girlfriend that it makes me want to vomit I think the term scum is looked for here. If the roommate knew she had a cat w
alt.cats newsgroup

From an anti-declawer.

Or their testicles:

Posted 21 May 2010. PM Tant pro-animal mutilation people spend the night t my house, I'm going to have their testicles surgically removed to end the c
Onison.net

And what hyperbolic discussion is complete without bringing in Hitler?

So? There is a particular little Austrian fellow who was known to be a nonsmoking vegetraian who loved animals. Is that enough to justify the murder o
alt.cats newsgroup

Or making up imaginary laws?

cleb, on 18 June 2010- 12:00 AM, said: If a person lets their cat put dotn because of J simple scratch, then that person is an idiot So maybe itis nec
Onison.net

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.

SENS BOC. STATES BTATE TO YA A SEE LLAIN 20 E NINCTE L 0 THNI
Petco Community Forum

Well, I'm convinced!

Tipping

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars

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:

Pro-tipping:

- 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!

Anti-tipping:

- 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...

what you're doing, then apply for an unskilled office job. I'm guessing you're too bitchy for people to put with which up you, though, is why you're s
Passiveaggressivenotes.com

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.

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars
Passiveaggressivenotes.com

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.

You're fucking kidding yourself if you think tipping on take out expected. Stop iryino to make your job sound more important than it really '5 You do
Penny Arcade Forums

And of course, Hitler.

>Wrong. If you can't afford to tip appropriately. you shouldn't be dining in >sit-down restaurants. Take the food to go or eat elsewhere. WoW another
alt.disney.disneyworld newsgroup

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

Does 0.9999... = 1?

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars

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:

You can't put .01 after an infinite, that makes no sense at all. You need to defipe finite a amount of numericals before the 1. Dumbass Also OP is 100
Bodybuilding.com Forums

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars
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.

Sporky111: This isn't even about the numbers anymore. After 23 pages it turned into a Logic VS. Math flame war. repeat themselves. no matter what kind
The Escapist Forums

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

No mathematician wolna to look OA this thread, see the desperate. illogical ranting ofthe non-math tards and suddenly have a revelation that this conc
The Escapist Forums

Circumcisions

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars

Cutting off the foreskin isn't for everybody. Jews and Muslims do it. Women can't. For lots of other people, it's a case-by-case choice. Or at least most of us think it should be a choice.

Start a discussion on it in any public forum, though, and someone's going to pop up tearing into anyone pro-circumcision as a "mutilator" or "child abuser" or "butcher."

Yes! Mutilating infants builds character & makes them more tolerant to pain. That way theyll grow up to be better warriors. It also allows parents to
soc.sexuality.general newsgroup

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars
Essential Baby Forums

There's definitely drawbacks that are worth looking at (Cracked previously covered some reasons it might not be a great idea) but it seems like a bit much to suggest women who circumcise their babies have their vaginas removed en masse.

Or call them a "promiscuous dirty person."

Quote: Originally Posted by miu > I prefer my men circumcised. I agree that it's the parents' choice to make, not outsiders. Maybe it is better for pr
City-Data.com

You can't start a flamewar without effort from both sides, and there's always a bunch of pro-circumcision people willing to add fuel to the fire.

Gary Burlingame <n7044...@rowlf.cc.wwu.edu> wrote >To many men who become aware of the function and value of the prepuce, the fact that this genital >
sci.med newsgroup

And of course, here comes Hitler.

Quote: Originally Posted by Gplex >> Children are not your property, you can not abuse, mistreat, or mutilate them. That is not your right. Yes, I am
City-Data.com

You don't have to even start a thread about circumcision to invite these people in. Unlike vampires, they can wander into competely unrelated threads uninvited, like this thread about what the Jehovah's Witnesses spend their money on. I don't even know how that turned into a circumcision debate.

It's not just "those internet debates" either. There are anti-circumcision people moving to outlaw circumcision for everyone. San Francisco managed to get a law on the ballot for this upcoming November before the governor quashed it Sunday.

Veganism

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars

Now, I think we can all agree preachy vegans are annoying, and that if someone tries to badger you into converting to veganism, you have the right to uppercut them. (Just once. Those are the rules.)

But what's inexplicable is that should a person just announce they themselves are going vegan, without trying to convert anyone else, I guarantee someone will feel the urge to pop up and attack them.

All this person said was they were going vegan and wondering if anyone had any recipes. And in response?

Re: Going Vegan August 8 2011, 4:49 PM 1 was going to respond, but Maddox already said it for me: http:/lthebestpageintheuniverse.netlc.cai?u=bsitu sp
Network 54

Re: Going Vegan August 9 2011, 12:13 PM I'm going to stand outside of hackeysack tournaments and incense stores holding a sign that says. GOD HATES V
Network 54

Not that the thread didn't get a visit from your average Angry Vegan too:

There are no accurate studies in the USA about dairy cow mortality. The reasons are if you knew what hell these animals went through, and the fact tha
Network 54

Another forum had some interesting things to say to a guy who was going vegan:

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars
Wickedfire

if you go vegan you may as well go gay as well.... neither are healthy lifestyles.
Wickedfire

I don't even know what to say about that last one.

One of the ways people justify these attacks is by saying that veganism is dangerous and they're doing a public service by quashing it.

One blogger reposted a news story claiming a mom's vegan diet killed her baby. Here's the actual story from an actual news outlet, if you want it without the crazy person spin.

When one person in the comment dared to mention that many vegan moms breastfeed and don't end up with dead kids, so maybe veganism in itself doesn't directly kill children, but poor attention to vitamin deficiencies, the blogger lost it:

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist March 31. 2011 at 5:31 pm Hi Heather, I have never read or heard of a single meat eating mother whose breastfed baby
The Healthy Home Economist

You'd think this was some ultraconservative person against the hippy dippy ways of vegans, but no, their site goes on about how all you need in your diet are "traditional fats" and "sacred foods", including the mysterious "Activator X," which sounds like a Six Flags ride.

Anyway, the point is that this person is a nut who is annoyed that other nuts are getting all the good press. Most of the time vegan hate comes from general hippie hate, but sometimes you'll find these types mixed in there too.

Dog Poop

6 Innocent-Sounding Topics That Are Guaranteed Flame Wars

How can something that brings joy to so many teenagers when set on fire in a paper bag also cause so much strife among adults? It is a mystery. But dog poop makes people really really angry.

One person's measured response to a dog poop problem in their neighborhood:

10-15-2010 12:04 PM Join Date: Oct 2009 Newbolder Location: Newbold Member Posts: 81 leave a bowl of anti freeze out for them to drink. Dog owners wil
PhiladelphiaSpeaks.com

Another person's reasonable suggestion regarding a couple who bagged their dog's poop and left the bag on a bike trail:

Best to find their car and smear a blue bags worth on the handles of the door and windshield of the driver side. as a reminder of doing your civic dut
MTBR

Of course, people complaining about dog poop sometimes get yelled at too:

Newbiefisher 05-11-2011, 08:26 AM put a sign in your yard So everyone knows youre crybaby a Cee must live in the rich part of town to complain and whi
2coolfishing.com

That thread had over 200 replies, by the way. And let's not forget physical threats:

>Nor does your right to a trail give you the right to be an obnoxious prig >>the second a dog squats. And, buddy, you have no clue what would happen t
rec.pets.dogs.misc newsgroup

I mean, this is obviously a vital, life-and-death issue. Extreme measures are called for.

Like apartment complex homeowner associations (HOAs) collecting DNA samples of all resident dogs, so they can pin poops on the guilty parties with DNA analysis.

I think you can guess what's coming here.

That's right. Hitler.

5 Another HOA run by former Brown Shirts from the Hitler youth movement.
The Hull Truth Boating Forum

Now I'm not saying everybody's wrong or these aren't important issues to argue about, especially dog poop, but it just seems like there's a switch that goes off in a lot of people's brains that turn potentially reasonable debates into screaming matches full of physical threats and Hitlers.

Maybe none of these set you off, but I'm pretty sure we all have a thing. Maybe for you it's whether the toilet paper should go over or under the roll, or what really counts as "techno," or whether skinny jeans are an abomination, but you should probably figure it out before you kill someone over it or smear their car with feces.

For more from Christina, check out The 5 Biggest Mistakes Women (Like Me!) Make On The Internet and The 6 Most Insane Crash Diets of All Time.

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