kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)
[personal profile] kate
A friend of mine posted this over on tumblr: If someone marks their fic “Author has chosen not to warn”, do you get to get your nose out of joint that it’s not tagged with things that you bother you?

#not a rhetorical question


I don’t. But I have no triggers and few squicks. I also am able to protect myself and stop reading things that may upset me, and then manage the upset myself without too much trouble or emotional damage.

I like to think that if I had triggers or squicks, I would ask a friend to vet the story for me, but I can also imagine I’d look at the tags and go, hm, that looks okay to me, and give it a whirl. It’s exhausting looking out for that all the time, and I think everyone deserves the chance to mess up by being a little optimistic about the lack of *personally* disturbing tags on a fic. And I think it’s fair for them to be upset. I even think it’s fair for them to mention it, and I also think it’s fair for them to be a bit unreasonable in their language, if you’ve hit an honest to god trigger.

I also think that you are not required to tag or warn based on their needs, or their comment. It is your creation and your decision, and I can also understand that it might be upsetting to receive a comment like this, because it can feel like an attack. It may even be worded like an attack.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have received a comment like this and I made a choice to add the thing the person was talking about to the tags. It took me two days to respond to it and make the decision, though, because I felt like I had been attacked, and I felt it was unreasonable. In the end I decided to do it, because I wanted to protect anyone else who might have triggers about the thing I hadn’t tagged.

These days, I use warnings and tags very purposefully to try and make my stories as safe as possible for others. I want people to be able to make educated choices about what they’re consuming, giving them tools so they can protect themselves. It doesn’t hurt my work, and to me, it is one of the great advantages to fanfiction over books. We’re writing for other fans. We often give gift fanworks because we love other fen. It’s the interaction that makes it better than books. And because of that interaction, I try to protect people who might want to consume my fanworks.

Honestly, holding books up as the end-all, be-all of the way writing should be is bullshit anyway. I read fic that’s better than published books all the time. So why should the way we think tags, warnings, and consumers of our fanworks/other fen should emulate the way books do things? (Not to mention - every OTHER entertainment has a ratings and warnings system. Music, movies, TV. Why not books?)

(And all that said - I *do* use the “Choose Not To Warn” option when the warnings are too complex to really get into or I can’t figure out WHAT to warn/tag for. I figure better safe than sorry - I am hoping that people with triggers will look at that and go “Hmmm, better not risk it.” But I don’t count on that, and if I get a comment, I try to respond gracefully and address the situation as much as I can. *shrug* It’s a complex topic, but in general, I am on the side of protecting others as much as I can. That’s just me, and I don’t judge anyone for thinking or believing differently.)

on 1/24/16 08:55 am (UTC)
angrboda: Close-up of hedgehog bristles, with my username written above (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] angrboda
I find the whole warning system a bit flawed, really, because you can never, if you look at a group of warnings on a story, be certain that the story doesn't have your particular trigger in it. Anything can potentially be a trigger to someone out there and the author of the story might not even know that something could be problematic to someone. You just can't tell and you can't compile a list of every possible trigger out there or every possible squick or turn-off or anything. It would be unwieldy at best.

Warnings for more common ones, character death or abuse or violence or, I don't know, eating disorders, those are fine, but you just can't cover everything.

'Choose not to warn' is, in my opinion, a warning in itself really, and sometimes it's used because the author feels that warning against something in the story gives important plot points away, so if someone with actual problems with triggers reads it and is triggered, well, honestly I feel it is a bit their own stupid fault and it doesn't give them any right to behave rudely towards the author. Like you said, they could have asked someone to check it first for them. Perhaps they could even have contacted the author about it. At the same time, though, I agree that it can be an understandable knee-jerk reaction for the person who was triggered, and although it can be hurtful, authors would do well to try and remember that it's not so much a flame as it's evidence of someone who was accidentally made to feel very uncomfortable and treat it as the misunderstanding it is. Like you did, really, when you eventually decided to add the tag for that particular warning in your story.

I think I've just reached the conclusion that I'm in two minds about the whole thing, really...

on 1/24/16 11:06 am (UTC)
auburn: stop sign against hilly background (Stop)
Posted by [personal profile] auburn
I use Choose Not to Warn as a warning when I post, both because sometimes tagging the specifics would ruin the suspense/surprise and sometimes because I suspect that while nothing in the story triggers or squicks me and I can't think of a warning tag, there's stuff there that will bother someone.

I'm considering (if I ever finish and post something again) adding an author's note at the beginning in conjunction with the Choose Not to Warn, urging anyone with a potential trigger to contact me and ask about their trigger specifically. Not only would I happily answer, since I don't want reading my story to result in anything hurtful, but it may alert me to a trigger that I will add a warning for once I'm made aware of it.

Because it's true, fanfic isn't the same as books in print or even ebooks, and one of the ways it's better is the intersection of readers/writers and that you can always edit both your text and your tags.

on 1/24/16 05:07 pm (UTC)
angrboda: Close-up of hedgehog bristles, with my username written above (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] angrboda

his is a bit out of order, here. If you are neurotypical, and have no squicks or triggers, then saying this so derogatorily is very much your privilege showing. Leads directly back to 'choose not to warn' being a warning in itself that this may not be safe for you and therefore you should take precautions by asking someone to look it over for you or ask the author or even some of the other people who have commented on the story "does this story contain xyz?". If you simply choose to ignore it in spite of you knowing you have triggers, well, then, yeah, you could have avoided that, couldn't you?

on 1/24/16 08:40 pm (UTC)
angrboda: Close-up of hedgehog bristles, with my username written above (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] angrboda

I'm not trying to mince words here, but I never said they were stupid. I said it was their own stupid fault, which is not the same thing. We all do things now and then which we shouldn't and it'll be our own stupid fault through lack of care, lack of attention or whatever. Doesn't mean we're actually idiots.

I will also just mention that at no point did I encourage unpleasant replies to such comments. I did in fact say, or at least tried to say, that the author in question should try to recognise it as the misunderstanding it is and work from there.

on 1/25/16 05:01 pm (UTC)
spikedluv: (hansel&gretel: hansel - badass by angelu)
Posted by [personal profile] spikedluv
Oh, that gluten-free analogy is spot on!

on 1/26/16 04:16 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna offers up "Virtual Timbits" (Anna brings doughnuts)
Posted by [personal profile] jesse_the_k
I try to be that gluten free menu

Aha! From another celiac, that is the best. It carries through to the "big 8" ingredients which must be labeled in the US; "choose not to warn" is like the "this product was produced in a facility where there are tree nuts, soy, dairy..."

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