Russian Language Blog

How To Argue on Russian Sites Posted by on Feb 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

I have noticed some passionate opinions in comments to some of the posts on this blog. This blog is not unique in this respect; many websites are home to heated debates. So I thought it might be interesting to learn to navigate online arguments in Russian.

1. Learn the etiquette

First of all, you want to follow the rules of online arguments. A lot of slang words referring to Web comments come from English, but they have taken on a slightly different meaning in Russian. You want to avoid a бан. The word бан comes, of course, from the English “ban” and signifies being blocked on a site. The verb is ба́нить/заба́нить. Actions that will get you in trouble include флейм — inflammatory comments and флуд (from the English “flood”) — rambling.

2. Know your memes

If you ever read the comments section on the Russian site you might lose your faith in humanity come across some words not usually found in dictionaries. While I don’t encourage you to use some of these words, which are not very respectful of other posters, it is certainly useful to be able to recognize them.

Just as in English, a person who is thought to deliberately post inflammatory comments is called a тролль (troll). The usual advice goes “Не корми́те тро́ллей” (“Don’t feed the trolls”). If a post is suspected of being a paid one, people will say it is заказно́й or пропла́чен. If some of the comments look like they were posted automatically, the poster is suspected of being a бот.

Depending on the poster’s and the commentator’s political orientation, politeness, and overall mood that day, the following things may come up:

Ва́тник —  the word itself refers to all special type of winter wear, a quilted coat, if you will. Since this is a typical Russian item of clothing, it has come to signify a person who is blindly pro-Russian in their beliefs.

Госде́повские пече́ньки — this literally means US Department of State’s cookies. If said seriously, this is supposed to mean the kickbacks or perks Russian people who support “Western” interests receive. However, more often than not, this expression is actually used to mock people who think that Russian opposition must have been bribed by foreign interests.

Наши́ст — this word comes from “На́ши,” which was a formally independent yet fairly pro-government youth organization in Russia.  This word is used to criticize people who support the Russian government unquestioningly. Нашист sounds like фаши́ст, which is the Russian word for Nazis. Obviously, this word is used by people who do not support the current government.

There are many more of these, and you are welcome to add them in comments.

3. Find a platform

If you would like to see some of the comments for yourself or maybe engage in some of the discussions, here is where the action is. Live Journal (Живо́й Журна́л) may be known as the home of angsty teenage diaries elsewhere, but in Russia it is still the main platform for many political and business figures. Slon and Snob often repost articles that first appeared as blog posts.

I am not endorsing any of these outlets, but they are a good place to start exploring the world of comment wars. Let’s leave comment wars there and be respectful to each other on this blog.

Tags: ,
Keep learning Russian with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Mike:

    Interesting, Maria, I enjoyed your take on etiquette.

    For years I have been devoted to Twitter and have been following many Russians on different sides of the issues. It’s actually a good way to pick up vocabulary and get a feel for the vernacular. Sometimes, however, I know the meaning of every word and yet have no idea what the tweet means (then again, I can say the same of many tweets in my native language!) I must say, though, I have been shocked at some of the racial and ethnic slurs — maybe you could speak to that issue.

    If you’re interested, get a twitter account and search for people using the terms ‘русский’ or ‘россия’ and follow a few who look interesting.

    • Maria:

      @Mike Mike, thank you for your comment. Some of these tweets may be referencing certain Russian events or works, which is what makes them hard to decipher.
      As for the slurs, as I wrote in this post, unfortunately, some of threads will make you lose your faith in humanity.