Metaphor reframes the scene
In his response to mens_rea's objection of text-speak, Drusus excuses the OP and blames the "evolution of language" for persistent grammar errors. He closes by stating, "Its a tough one ain't it, whoops I said ain't, I do beg your pardon professors [sic]." With this, Drusus constructs a critical metaphor, described by Garmendia (2010) as one that "communicate[s] criticism via implicatures" (p. 415). Each community member posting to this thread would be aware that (s) he is not a professor (if someone is a professor then it is not revealed). In other words, members would not take the statement as a literal apology to a professor, so Drusus would not be believed to have committed himself to the literal meaning of the statement.
When a hearer identifies a non-literal utterance, he will express that the speaker has "said" a metaphoric meaning, though he would not express the same of sarcasm (Garmendia, 2010). Camp (2006) argued that "metaphor makes the speaker's intended content explicit, in the sense that hearers can respond to the speaker's intended content by echoing her words" (p. 282), whereas sarcasm would be assigned new or opposite words to describe it. To clarify the difference between a metaphor and a critical metaphor that contains elements of sarcasm and critique, Garmendia (2010) offered the sentence "You are Samson" (p. 415). If by "Samson" the speaker means that the subject has shown great strength, then the expression is merely metaphoric; however, if the speaker meant that the subject has shown too much strength, then the expression is critical. For Garmendia, this meaning would vary depending on the context of the expression and not merely on the speaker's intent, but the variety of meaning for the expression indicates that a metaphor could also be construed or conveyed as sarcasm. As a critical metaphor, Drusus's statement is simultaneously metaphoric and sarcastic.
The vehicle and tenor of the metaphorBontekoe (1987) describes metaphor as a means of making sense of an inappropriate or improper naming. The two essential parts of a metaphor, named by I.A. Richards, include the vehicle and tenor: the former being the improper name applied to a term and its associations, and the latter functions as the "background against which the improper naming occurs" (Bontekoe, p. 210). While the tenor is the forum community itself, Drusus's critical metaphor uses the vehicle 'professor' to describe the group of individuals who are speaking out against traversman's misuse of the English language. This assumes there are students opposite these professors, and those individuals would be any member who disagrees that proper English is necessary, including traversman.
The vehicle is inspired both by the topic and scenario. The term 'professor' is 'topic-triggered' as well as 'situationally-triggered' (Semino, 2008). When the topic turned away from video games and toward the quality of written contributions, the terms "spelling," "school," and "illiterate" surface. This change in topic then supplies the metaphor 'professor.' And not just any professor, but the inference is that of an English professor. To students, few are as draconian about grammar as an English professor. The metaphor implies this label is not unlike the "grammar nazi" moniker more commonly seen in forums. Yet, the choice of vehicle is also inspired by the situation: a community who makes rules about and engages in writing is not too dissimilar from any other learning community. Though there exists recognition of this community's functioning as a group of learners, the metaphor implies resistance to this dynamic.
Drusus makes an assumption about the perceived meaning of the term when he labels his opponents "professors." The meaning of a metaphor is tied to the listener's past experiences (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980). When used to arouse emotions, a metaphor becomes a "vehicle for feeling" (Bontekoe, 1987, p. 218), and if it is tied to their past experiences, then this feeling could have negative connotations about learning experiences. For community members, Drusus's metaphor would create a divisive atmosphere not unlike that created by mens_rea when he scapegoats traversman as the source of abjection. However, in this division, it is not everyone against one outsider, but a split that could create two opposing factions: those who impose proper grammar rules (professors) and those who are imposed upon (students).
Rejection of the classroom metaphorBeing called 'professor' does not sit well with at least one of our grammarians. Veteran member _SpUtNiK_ (with nearly 2,000 forum posts) responds with "You make it sound like were being ass-h*les [sic]." This suggests Drusus may have succeeded if his intent was to imply that professors are not wanted in this community-a community of equals. Implying a hierarchy is most likely to upset those who will be placed at the bottom, and StoneColdSanchez indicates as much when he writes "if this was a piece of coursework then of course i would take care with grammar and punctuation. however i feel like i should be able to express my opinion about a game, without having my writing skills evaluated [sic]." This, again, shows that some members have begun to place themselves within the hierarchical (new) order that Drusus has imposed with his metaphoric expression. To regain peace, the professors will have to give up their title and refrain from further rebuking grammar and mechanical errors. If the grammar argument's goal is to codify a language rule within this community, Drusus's metaphor now has members wondering if some individuals have more influence over the vote.
If we agree with Semino (2008) that metaphor's "main overarching function is to do with the representation or 'framing' of some aspect of experience" (p. 217) then Drusus's metaphor has also reframed the event to oppose that which mens_rea put forth. From a dramatistic perspective, Drusus assigns the action of the disturbance to the 'professors' or agents. The scene is recast as a classroom where grammar correction is more suitable. However, his flaw in changing the scene absolves the agents of errors in judgment (Tonn, Endress, & Diamond, 2010). After all, it is customary for professors to establish and enforce grammar rules in a classroom setting. Likewise, students characteristically protest the rules in a traditional teacher-student dichotomy. Here, the problem with the metaphor is its designation of the professor as agent. Because the action of error reprimand is an inevitable part of professorial behavior, the metaphor inherently absolves the agent of responsibility in this perspective of scene. As a result, it is ineffective at placing blame on the "professors" since their actions could be considered a normal response to error.
Predictably, not all members accept Drusus's "new order." In fact, some take advantage of the 'professor' label to do just that: profess. And what they profess constructs the new grammar rule for the forum community. The rule's most vocal opponent, Drusus, actually invites the conversation as if to suggest the grammar-enforcers cannot verbalize their new rule or will be silenced by angry 'student' members. He asks simply, "where is the line drawn?" Perhaps to his dismay, members reply with many ideas: "When letters get turned into numbers" (CraicxXx), "Swearing on an internet forum isn't a good idea either" (mens_rea), "Aside from the spelling, let's look at the actual content" (cjw101), "I wouldn't mind the odd "k" or "u" or whatever" (mens_rea). I find cjw101's contribution about content to be particularly interesting since it indicates that members notice higher order issues related to purpose and audience as well as lower order.
Veteran member _SpUtNiK_ approaches the metaphorical front of the classroom to make a rather definitive claim about the role of proper grammar in this forum community and demand an end to the text-speak used by traversman:
"The grammar is completely wrong, yet the spelling is fine. Is this what counts as 'evolution' of our language, or is it just lazy? IMO, StoneCold's reply is acceptable, this being a games forum, but an overall evolutionary step of English!? certainly not! Evolution is a mutation that INCREASES efficiency. Do you know what happens to transitional species with a counter-productive mutation? They become extinct! txt/1337 (leet/elite) is counter-productive on a discussion board and shouldn't be tolerated."This entry makes several interesting points: 1) the problem goes beyond spelling/text-speak, 2) the community will no longer tolerate text-speak, and 3) those who use text-speak are part of a counter-productive mutation that leads to extinction (banishment pales in comparison). The argument draws to a close as members repost answers to the OP's original question. The topic has returned to gaming and peace to the community. It may be that _SpUtNiK_'s post has summarized the new rule well enough to bring closure to this argument.