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Computing (FOLDOC) dictionary (also found in English - Vietnamese, English - English (Wordnet), )
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messaging To rant, to speak or write incessantly and/or
rabidly on some relatively uninteresting subject or with a
patently ridiculous attitude or with hostility toward a
particular person or group of people. "Flame" is used as a
verb ("Don't flame me for this, but..."), a flame is a single
flaming message, and "flamage" /flay'm*j/ the content.
Flamage may occur in any medium (e.g. spoken, electronicmail, Usenet news, World-Wide Web). Sometimes a flame
will be delimited in text by marks such as "flame
on...flame off".
The term was probably independently invented at several
different places.
Mark L. Levinson says, "When I joined the Harvard student
radio station (WHRB) in 1966, the terms flame and flamer were
already well established there to refer to impolite ranting
and to those who performed it. Communication among the
students who worked at the station was by means of what today
you might call a paper-based Usenet group. Everyone wrote
comments to one another in a large ledger. Documentary
evidence for the early use of flame/flamer is probably still
there for anyone fanatical enough to research it."
It is reported that "flaming" was in use to mean something
like "interminably drawn-out semi-serious discussions"
(late-night bull sessions) at Carleton College during
Usenetter Marc Ramsey, who was at WPI from 1972 to 1976,
says: "I am 99% certain that the use of "flame" originated at
WPI. Those who made a nuisance of themselves insisting that
they needed to use a TTY for "real work" came to be known as
"flaming asshole lusers". Other particularly annoying people
became "flaming asshole ravers", which shortened to "flaming
ravers", and ultimately "flamers". I remember someone picking
up on the Human Torch pun, but I don't think "flame on/off"
was ever much used at WPI." See also asbestos.
It is possible that the hackish sense of "flame" is much older
than that. The poet Chaucer was also what passed for a wizard
hacker in his time; he wrote a treatise on the astrolabe, the
most advanced computing device of the day. In Chaucer's
"Troilus and Cressida", Cressida laments her inability to
grasp the proof of a particular mathematical theorem; her
uncle Pandarus then observes that it's called "the fleminge of
wrecches." This phrase seems to have been intended in context
as "that which puts the wretches to flight" but was probably
just as ambiguous in Middle English as "the flaming of
wretches" would be today. One suspects that Chaucer would
feel right at home on Usenet.