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ATPM 2.10
October 1996




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Shine On

by Chad Poland,

To Flame or Not to Flame

In reaction to the recent barrage of articles predicting Apple's demise, Macintosh users have taken it upon themselves to stand up and carry the banner in support of their platform. This is not a bad thing. However, lately many Macintosh enthusiasts have advocated (and practiced) the "flaming" of journalists who denigrate Apple. So many people are sending obnoxious e-mail to reporters, the situation is deteriorating, not improving.

When you see an article, column, or editorial defiling Apple, your first reaction may be to respond from your gut. When you do, you will be tempted to use harsh language, question the lineage of the author, or just scream in general. After all, knee-jerk spamming is quick and easy e-mail.

A more productive approach is to take a step back and reflect a moment or two. Yes, it takes more effort to sit down a write a calm, convincing response, but ultimately, the dividends are far greater than the investment.

One question you might ask yourself is whether a response is warranted. Obviously, you can't respond to every bad word written about Apple. If you did, it would take over your life! Battles need to be chosen carefully.

Consider the writer's skill and frame of reference. If you write to an author outside your expertise, you might see your e-mail printed next to the words, "Look what some idiot sent me!" I'm not saying, "Never send anything to an advanced user," I'm merely advising caution. Stick to stuff you know. If the article is reviewing a particular machine or software program with which you are familiar, write about it. Avoid giving others the opportunity to use you as a negative example.

Once you've decided which battle to fight, spend some time considering your approach.

Remember the golden rule. Since more stories have been reporting the downfall of Apple, more Macintosh users have become outraged. If someone doesn't agree with you, do you listen to insults or reasonable discourse? Reporters are no different. They do not appreciate receiving an e-mail that calls them a "spineless, brainless, PC bigot that wouldn't know an SCSI port from his/her own butt." Regardless of your personal opinion about the accuracy of this description, don't share your outlook. Chances are, an author has already received multiple derogatory and offensive e-mails. Your goal is to get your message across. That can't happen unless it gets read. Even well-thought out, logical, precise, and clear arguments won't be read if they are preceded by insults. The old adage, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar," still holds true today.

When you do finally sit down to write your e-mail, letter, or FAX, make sure you are relaxed. Being tense and upset will only hurt your writing. Start your message with a formal, polite salutation. After all, this person is a published writer; it helps to respect that.

Be positive. Let your writing tell them that you think you've discovered the best computer on the planet. Focus on the real reason you are writing. You want them to try a Macintosh! Show them we're not all crazy, fanatical cult-types and "kill them with kindness" instead.

Ask questions. "Have you had a bad experience with a Mac?" or "Have you tried one of the newer Macs?" work nicely. Most journalists have used DOS for years. Maybe they tried a Mac once and didn't like it. There are people that don't care for the Mac interface. Or maybe they just couldn't get the machine itself or some critical software working smoothly. Even Macs aren't free of problems. We can try to convince them, but we can't expect to win them all. The choice of an operating system is personal. We must respect honest opinions and everyone's right to choose a platform.

Be helpful and responsive to their questions and concerns. If, in their article, they wrote, "There is no Macintosh software for...," then find examples of companies that specialize in Mac versions of that type of software. Web addresses are particularly good because PC users can visit them! For example, if they say there are no good Mac games, forward them the URL for Apple's Game Sprockets.

Support your arguments with facts - always. If the author wrote something like, "Apple only has 0.0001% of the education market," find (and cite!) sources which show this is untrue. Apple's own web site is a treasure trove of pro-Macintosh statistics and facts. Another good source is:'fbeaver/pro-mac.html

E-mail lists are invaluable to the Macintosh "Evangelista" ( There are several excellent lists out there that can help you flesh out your e-mail with facts. All you have to do is post the question you are researching, and you'll probably have several responses within 24 hours. Not only will they help you prove your case, but many responders will send their own e-mail directly to the reporter. (Remember to encourage politeness and restraint in your posting to the list!).

Some of the best Macintosh Activist mailing lists are Apple's SemperFi, MacTalk (, and CarpeDiem ( A very complete reference of mailing lists is available at Just send them an e-mail with the word 'help' in the subject and body.

In this Internet era, it's easy to "flame." As Macintosh users, we need to understand this is not a fight that can be won with the sword. If we want to see our platform progress, then we will need to swallow our pride, smile when we want to snarl, and be convincing. We chose our platform because we believe it is the best. Naturally, we want to vehemently defend our choice against Macintosh detractors. Relax and consider that some PC users may just be under-educated. Possibly, you will become their teacher. You only need to plant the seed.

"To Flame or Not to Flame" is ©1996 Chad G. Poland [apple graphic]

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