Well I've seen a lot of it and I'm sure you have too, but do you really understand where it's coming from and what it does?

Okay, you've proven someone is a cheater... they deserve to be called a name, right? He's a PUNK! and the list could go on and on. In fact, PunkBuster is all about calling people who cheat a name, right?

The problem is, it becomes a cultural thing, that is, we all do it without thinking about it. Ultimately what we are saying is, "you are stupid, in some way, and I am better"... right? Think about it, you call someone 'noob' which implies you are not a noob... you're saying you are better skilled.

Sometimes we can call ourselves a name, like 'I'm totally a noob in this game' which in this context shows the person to be humble and realistic. All good, but when you, for what ever reason call another person a name you are 'putting them down'. When it gets bad, that is one person calls a name which is responded by the other calling a name it all turns into a flame war which I think we all can agree accomplishes absolutely nothing but personal frustration.

I know a guy in the real world who used to insult his employees taste in cloths, hair, etc. and act as if it was a big joke, as if he was joshing around... yeah he'd laugh about it assuming the other person was laughing too. I was curious how the employees were handling it, and over time noticed that their company had a quick turn over in employees. No doubt those constantly insulted moved on. Now I notice that guy toning it down quite a bit and in the last couple of years haven't heard any of his 'jokes'.

I do believe there is an ACO which welcomes flaming... Outriders, they even have a special section in the forum for flaming. That's certainly an approach that allows people to vent, but even there one sees many closed topics and people returning with new posts saying stuff like 'what, can't handle my insults...'.

The problem with all this flaming is this: you probably were trying to accomplish some goal, to say something, make a point, get help, whatever. Once the flaming starts anything you have to say is ignored by everyone as they focus on the insult. You loose, period, no matter how harsh your insults are. Any goal you had is lost... don't believe me? Look for examples and ask yourself, do you believe the person making the insults? So do you want to loose? Or do you get it, and want to find a way to accomplish your goal, even if confronted by someone who wants to prove to everybody in the whole wide world just how 'special they are' by showing (supposedly) 'how noobish you are'? Are you big enough inside yourself to move yourself beyond this behavior?

In the real world, there are ramifications when you walk up to a person and bad mouth them. I personally think that the way one should behave online should reflect the way you behave in RL. So, given that situation you can:

1) do the momma thing, that is 'your momma is so fat... ' and banter back and forth understanding the underlying humor, and hope your nemeses gets the banter part and smiley faces aren't enough to show intent in this case.
2) be insulted and insult back, which results in nothing more than a flame war leaving you wondering why you weren't able to accomplish your goal(s). That is not a good option and reflects on your own level of maturity.
3) keep your goal in mind when someone flames you, and move towards your goal ignoring the person doing the flame,
4) keep you goal in mind and change the course of the conversation of the flamer (you need skill in human interaction to actually get the flamer to engage in the conversation).

I personally prefer the last option, as it helps get everyone on the same page and focused on the goal at hand. It's not easy to accomplish sometimes, but my knowledge has told me that people are generally good and that their insults reflect a 'moment in time' most of the time... hell it could of just been the weather that caused them to lash out and none of that has anything to do with what my goals are.