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.

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Here's a few:

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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.

City-Data.com

From a pro-declawer.

alt.cats newsgroup

From an anti-declawer.

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Or their testicles:

Onison.net

And what hyperbolic discussion is complete without bringing in Hitler?

alt.cats newsgroup

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Or making up imaginary laws?

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.

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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!

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Tipping

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.

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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:

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- 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.

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- 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!

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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...

Passiveaggressivenotes.com

169 thumbs up for that one, to boot.

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... 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.

Passiveaggressivenotes.com

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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

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And of course, Hitler.

alt.disney.disneyworld newsgroup

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

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Does 0.9999... = 1?

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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.

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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

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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

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

The Escapist Forums

Circumcisions

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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."

soc.sexuality.general newsgroup

Essential Baby Forums

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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."

City-Data.com

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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.

sci.med newsgroup

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And of course, here comes Hitler.

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.

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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

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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.

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

Network 54

Network 54

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

Network 54

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

Wickedfire

Wickedfire

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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.

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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:

The Healthy Home Economist

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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.

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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.

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Dog Poop

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.

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

PhiladelphiaSpeaks.com

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

MTBR

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

2coolfishing.com

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

rec.pets.dogs.misc newsgroup

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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.

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That's right. Hitler.

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.

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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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