Flamebait is a message posted to an Internet discussion group, such as a newsgroup or a mailing list, with the intent of provoking an angry response (a "flame"). Various motives or explanations can be sought for this puzzling behavior; from a commonsense point of view, the practice seems usually to be a cry for attention.
It should be pointed out that, of course, it is often hard to determine who is really responsible for the degradation of a reasonable discussion into a flamewar. Someone who posts a contrary opinion in a strongly focused discussion forum may be easily labeled a "baiter", "flamer" or "troll". Therefore, it seems especially important to make the rules and focus of a discussion forum public to avoid misconceptions about its accepted use.
The conclusion to a flamewar precipitated by flamebait is usually determined by recourse to Godwin's Law.