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 01:55 am (UTC)
lucifuge5: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] lucifuge5
I don't have triggers but I do have some squicks that are hardcore. FWIW, they tend to be mostly associated with darker fic (character death, for example). Like you said on this post, a quick glance at the tags does give me a clearer idea of whether or not I can handle something that's been tagged "Choose Not To Warn".

If it's Bandom fic, then I ask my BFF to read it (like you, she had very few squicks and no triggers) and then give me any/all warnings I need.

Things got v. interesting for me when I got into MCU. Basically because, for the most part, I had no one checking fics for me (my BFF didn't fall for MCU's charm as much as I tried, LOL!). My compromise, if I'm still unsure about the story, is to scan the comments. I don't mind being spoiled because I have tons and tons of fic bookmarked to read so I won't remember any spoilers. A bonus is that I get to make sure that I'll enjoy the fic too.

As far as my own writing, I do tag for things that I know might be squicky or triggery to people. The way I see it, just like there are fic readers who might not like a type of kink or trope, there are others who do. If I tag it, those who don't like it will avoid it and those who do will find it.

Also, yeah, I think I read an average of 1 book for every 20 fics I read? What's super fascinating to me is that there's A BIG crossover between fic and profic going on since the past 3 years or so (at least in the M/M genre). Tropes such as pretend dating and knotting have begun to pop up in enough books for me to notice. Also, some publishers are going as far as acknowledging that XYZ book is based on a fic in ABC fandom.

FTR, I do know some people (who aren't in Fandom) that have always been outraged at fic writers daring to sell their stories by filing down the serial numbers. A good story is a good story, imho so I simple roll my eyes.
Edited (Had to fix my grammar) on 1/24/16 01:57 am (UTC)

on 1/24/16 02:06 am (UTC)
lightbird: http://coelasquid.deviantart.com/ (#1 Gators gonna gait)
Posted by [personal profile] lightbird
I tend to use the "Choose Not to Warn" and then include relevant notes in the Notes section at the beginning of the fic. A lot of my fics are more suggestive/implying than anything else. There aren't any graphic rape scenes, for example -- the rape is implied as having happened off-screen, etc. So I won't use the Rape/Non-Con warning and I won't tag for that, because on the flip side of people not wanting to read it there are people who do and I don't want them to think my fic is something it isn't. I do try to be as specific as possible in tags and/or notes because I have had people triggered by one of my old dubcon fics, which I felt really bad about. I made an effort to tweak the notes and tags on that one to make sure everything was covered and now I'm very careful to be as specific as possible about what my fic is about and that it may contain content that could be upsetting.

As far as approaching fics like this as a reader: I won't get my nose out of joint at the author because they have every right to write whatever they want, and to use the "Choose Not to Warn" option -- it's there as an option for a reason. But I may choose not read the fic or save it until a time when I feel better if there are no clues or info about what might be in it in the summary, notes or tags. Sometimes comments on the fic can help too.

on 1/24/16 02:55 am (UTC)
jesse_the_k: those words in red on white sign (be aware of invisibility)
Posted by [personal profile] jesse_the_k
I'm someone who uses tags, and I thank you for your approach.

on 1/24/16 03:46 am (UTC)
monanotlisa: Diana as Diana Prince in glasses and a hat, lifting the rim of the latter rakishly. HOT! (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] monanotlisa
This is a well-thought out response; I like it. I have a very similar policy, especially regarding Choose Not To Warn. Tags are the best, though I developed them slowly -- in our classic Post Fic To Livejournal days we didn't do it, and while I love it conceptually I often struggle with finding the right tags. There's a tag cloud for AO3, thankfully, but it's not fandom-specific, which I'd prefer.

on 1/24/16 03:50 am (UTC)
adafrog: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] adafrog
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.

ITA.

And as someone who has had part of their day ruined by an unexpected death fic, I thank you for warning.

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 10:56 am (UTC)
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] anatsuno
Choose Not To Warn is a warning in itself, to me - it means the author didn't know how to tag/warn or didn't want to for whatever reason. I don't fault authors for using it, no matter what their fic contains. It means "readers beware" in an unspecific way, and if a reader chooses not to "beware", it's their responsibility. I get my nose *seriously* out of join when authors pick, say, "No Archive Warnings Apply" for a fic that has dubcon or noncon in it, though, or other "it has X common trigger in it but I didn't warn for it even though I marked this fic for other common triggers and picked certain Archive warnings".

on 1/24/16 02:27 pm (UTC)
reginagiraffe: Stick figure of me with long wavy hair and giraffe on shirt. (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] reginagiraffe
I'm actually kind of baffled by using "Choose not to warn" AND using warning tags. The whole point of CNTW is that you're not warning. And you're saying the reader needs to either take the responsibility of making sure the story isn't triggering (by having a friend read it or what have you) or not read it.

Once you start putting any kind of warning tags on it, people will start to expect that they are comprehensive.

on 1/24/16 09:26 pm (UTC)
celli: a woman and a man holding hands, captioned "i treasure" (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] celli
Another option that I've seen/used is "Additional warnings in notes." I had a scene of PTSD once that I was worried about, so in the notes I put which part you should skip if that triggered you.

I have occasionally tried a "choose not to warn" fic and at least I was braced when things started heading for my trigger buttons, you know? But it *is* exhausting to check every time or ask for help every time. Sometimes I just make an educated gamble, and it's not my "stupid fault" when I lose, but at least I knew the risks going in.

on 1/25/16 05:06 pm (UTC)
spikedluv: (hansel&gretel: h&g by angelus2hot)
Posted by [personal profile] spikedluv
Very interesting replies. I'm just gonna say that I'm in favor of warning tags. As an author myself, I don't see the harm in it to the author. Unless it spoils something in the fic that's a major point, in which case, I've used end notes before in case anyone wanted to know ahead of time, but saved those who didn't want to be spoiled. I may forget a tag or not realize a tag was needed, but, like you, I would rather err on the side of not triggering someone if I can prevent it. As a reader, I appreciate knowing what I'm getting into before I start a story, even if it's not a trigger, but a general dislike.

on 1/26/16 03:52 am (UTC)
akamine_chan: Created by me; please don't take (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] akamine_chan
I'm the Bandom (but not MCU) BFF [personal profile] lucifuge5 mentions above, and in general, she's right - I mostly have no real triggers or squicks - and yet...

I got triggered a few years ago by a podfic that had graphic talk of animal harm - and there was no warning for it. If there had been, I would have skipped over the story because I'm not comfortable with animal harm in stories.

I went to leave a comment about the lack of a warning (politely, of course) and someone else had beaten me to it (also politely). The author added a warning, but also remarked that they thought the "talk of genocide - light-hearted, I swear" author's note had covered the animal cruelty parts.

But even before this, I always tried to warn for the most common-ish triggers. I don't usually use "Chooses Not To Warn" - I don't care about spoiling the plot/ending of the story, I mainly don't want people to have to go through what I went through when I was triggered.

It never occurred to me to use that as a way of saying "none of these warning apply."

I'm not the best tagger of my fanworks, in spite of being a tag wrangler at the AO3 for a number of years. I've been wanting to go back and review the tags on my work, make sure that possible triggering content is listed, but I've been putting it off, because it's sort of daunting (I have a lot of fanworks up at the AO3).

At the same time, the warning system isn't as flexible or as useful as it could be.

For instance, I write a lot of fics that take place in a universe where death is not necessarily permanent. So...when a character dies, they often come back. Do I warn for Major Character Death? I know for a fact that that warning will keep people from reading the story. What about consensual sexual contact between two underage characters? Does that warrant the Underage warning?

Just to be on the safe side, I tend to over-warn and then add notes at the beginning to explain.

*hands* No easy answers.

on 1/26/16 06:26 am (UTC)
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] silverflight8
I guess for me it is very much on the reader to decide what they're okay with reading or not. I think there is only so much a writer can do - I understand triggers are often very idiosyncratic and different for everyone, and I just do not think it is possible to warn everyone via tags. (For example, there's regularly discussion about what is enough to warrant a tag - sometimes people looking for X kink or Y trope are disappointed because it doesn't feature prominently, or there's untagged this or that).

On the flipside I think it's fair that if you took the risk and got triggered, of course you can be upset or angry or whatever you feel. It would be unreasonable to say "well, you can't have feelings" even if it was clearly warned for. But to me, if it's been tagged "Read at your own risk" then going after the author rudely, guilt-tripping, etc is uncalled for. The decision rests eventually with the reader whether or not to go past the warnings. A polite note saying "can you could warn for common trigger X" would be okay to me personally; it's something concrete for the writer to do something with and possibly help others (whereas unloading their feelings on the author will...what? Make them feel better? Try to make the author stop writing whatever?)

Personally since there are people who surf tags (seeing them as enticements) I prefer to tag the prominent things and then use the endnotes to content warn, saying "Content warnings in endnotes" in the front-notes to avoid spoilers. Kinda complicated but I think it avoids the problems of over-promising on the tags, still letting people know what's in it, and not spoiling the plot.

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