The term Fisking, or to Fisk, is blogosphere slang describing detailed point-by-point criticism that highlights perceived errors, disputes the analysis of presented facts, or highlights other problems in a statement, article, or essay. [William Safire, [ "Blargon"] , The New York Times, February 19, 2006.]
Eric S. Raymond, in the Jargon File, defined the term as:

A point-by-point refutation of a blog entry or (especially) news story. A really stylish fisking is witty, logical, sarcastic and ruthlessly factual; flaming or handwaving is considered poor form. [Jargon File entry [ "fisking"] ]

The term is named after Robert Fisk, a British journalist.

More broadly, the British newspaper The Observer defined fisking as "savaging an argument and scattering the tattered remnants to the four corners of the internet." [ [,6903,1509575,00.html Archbishop on end of a good Fisking] , The Observer, Sunday June 19, 2005] The technique also has its critics. Andrew Orlowski in The Register commented that "Many of today's debaters prefer 'Fisking'—line-by-line rebuttals where facts are dropped like radar chaff—to rational debate or building a coherent argument." [" [ How computers make kids dumb] ", The Register, Monday March 21, 2005]


"Fisking" in its current meaning was coined by bloggers in December 2001, following a short three-paragraph attack by Andrew Sullivan [ The Daily Dish] , Sunday, December 9, 2001, Internet Archive] in response to a The Sunday Independent article written by Fisk earlier that month that recounted Fisk's beating at the hands of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.cite web
url =
title = My beating by refugees is a symbol of the hatred and fury of this filthy war
author = Fisk, Robert| authorlink=Robert Fisk
accessdate = 2008-03-09| date = December 9, 2001| publisher = "The Sunday Independent". Independent News & Media
(Internet Archive, posted and archived the day after it was written and responded to, perhaps due to time zone differences)] Though the term was not coined by Sullivan at that time, it appeared soon after on Instapundit and Sullivan's weblog.

Irish journalist Eoghan Harris had in 1999 used the term "fisking" with a different meaning; "To fisk is not to face the facts for as long as possible and, when found out, to divert the public from your mistake by spinning shiny stories in the air."Fact|date=August 2008 However, no one else appears to have used the term in this sense, and Harris later remarked that he had "lost a coinage." [Eoghan Harris, [ "Web man beat me to 'fisk' verb"] . The Sunday Independent, (Ireland), June 29 2003.]

Comparisons and distinctions

Fisking can be compared to the Usenet style of responding to an argument's specific points by quoting lines prefixed with the ">" character (which contrasts with the style often found in e-mail of top-posting a reply, all in one piece).

Fisking is different from flaming, with which it is sometimes confused. Fisking is not merely verbal abuse, although it may contain a substantial amount of derision, scorn or even profanity.

Fisking is similar to the line-by-line method in policy debate, where one debater addresses each point of an argument in turn, as opposed to addressing the entire thesis of his or her opponent.


External links

* [ "There's a reason we left you in the wilderness, so please stop shouting"] etymology by The Word Detective

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