kate: Kate Winslet is wryly amused (Default)
kate ([personal profile] kate) wrote2016-01-23 06:46 pm
Entry tags:

Warnings and tags - haven't had this discussion in a while.

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.)
lucifuge5: (Default)

[personal profile] lucifuge5 2016-01-24 01:55 am (UTC)(link)
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) 2016-01-24 01:57 (UTC)
pensnest: tuxedo cat draped over computer monitor (Cat stop posting)

[personal profile] pensnest 2016-01-25 10:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Interesting discussion.

I come from popslash, and when I learned the ways of that particular fandom, it was pretty normal practice to post new stories in one's LJ with little more than a cut tag to protect the innocent. I suppose some people would put up a header with rating, pairing, etc, but it wasn't universal. (I still mutter curses when required to put ratings on fics for rec communities, podfic etc.) I don't do ratings on my stories, which is, I realise, as much a wilful lack of advertising as anything else, but I figure that most readers are old enough to see a 15-rated movie, and that'll do for me.

Warnings, though... I decided a while back that I would warn for death or rape/noncon/dubcon. Not that any of these crops up very often, for I am a soft and fluffy writer, by and large. However, like someone else in comments here, I often use 'Choose not to warn' if there is an issue in the fic that isn't really an issue—a death that isn't real, for instance, that I don't want the reader to know in advance isn't real. Also, I'd rather have a 'Choose not to warn', ( I think of it as 'caveat lector') than a warning that's misleading.

I usually go for minimal spoilerage rather than maximum tagging. I wonder if this style of presentation is rather 'old school' now that we're more generally aware of the audience's potential vulnerabilities? It's quite possible that if I were writing in a fandom with any actual readers, I'd be more up to date on it all.
lightbird: http://coelasquid.deviantart.com/ (#1 Gators gonna gait)

[personal profile] lightbird 2016-01-24 02:06 am (UTC)(link)
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.
lightbird: http://coelasquid.deviantart.com/ (#1 Gators gonna gait)

[personal profile] lightbird 2016-01-24 08:13 pm (UTC)(link)
The small amount of onscreen stuff I've written is more dubcon but people have found the way I write dubcon extremely triggering. I don't really write rape/non-con so much as dubcon. I have a really hard time writing (and reading) graphic rape/non-con, plus I think I bring my own issues to it...so yeah, it gets really messy. Unless it absolutely needs to be in the story for a purpose, I tend to stay away from both in my writing.
jesse_the_k: those words in red on white sign (be aware of invisibility)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2016-01-24 02:55 am (UTC)(link)
I'm someone who uses tags, and I thank you for your approach.
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[personal profile] monanotlisa 2016-01-24 03:46 am (UTC)(link)
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.
adafrog: (Default)

[personal profile] adafrog 2016-01-24 03:50 am (UTC)(link)
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.


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

[personal profile] adafrog 2016-01-24 09:41 pm (UTC)(link)

Thanks. And tell her I'm sorry for her experience.

angrboda: Viking style dragon head finial against a blue sky (Default)

[personal profile] angrboda 2016-01-24 08:55 am (UTC)(link)
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...
auburn: stop sign against hilly background (Stop)

[personal profile] auburn 2016-01-24 11:06 am (UTC)(link)
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.
angrboda: Viking style dragon head finial against a blue sky (Default)

[personal profile] angrboda 2016-01-24 05:07 pm (UTC)(link)

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?

angrboda: Viking style dragon head finial against a blue sky (Default)

[personal profile] angrboda 2016-01-24 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)

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.

spikedluv: (hansel&gretel: hansel - badass by angelu)

[personal profile] spikedluv 2016-01-25 05:01 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, that gluten-free analogy is spot on!
jesse_the_k: Slings & Arrows' Anna offers up "Virtual Timbits" (Anna brings doughnuts)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2016-01-26 04:16 am (UTC)(link)
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..."
anatsuno: a women reads, skeptically (drawing by Kate Beaton) (Default)

[personal profile] anatsuno 2016-01-24 10:56 am (UTC)(link)
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".
reginagiraffe: Stick figure of me with long wavy hair and giraffe on shirt. (Default)

[personal profile] reginagiraffe 2016-01-24 02:28 pm (UTC)(link)
Yes, this!!
reginagiraffe: Stick figure of me with long wavy hair and giraffe on shirt. (Default)

[personal profile] reginagiraffe 2016-01-24 02:27 pm (UTC)(link)
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.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2016-01-24 04:58 pm (UTC)(link)
I think the AO3's system is a great compromise for people who want content labels, whether readers or writers, and authors who do not want to give away plot points. And your point about the tighter relationships between readers and writers inside fandom is great, as well as the reminder that unlike published work, which becomes fixed in form, authors of fanfic can always go back and tweak tags and category markers as trends change in fandom, or based on feedback from readers.

I treat "Choose Not to Warn" as a great big red flag, because I do have some pretty severe squicks for certain things that fandom loves as kinks. I don't have anything that I would describe as triggering, but there are definitely things I do not want to read and so I appreciate the chance to skip it or ask someone about the content.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2016-01-25 12:33 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, this is why the AO3 in addition to "Choose Not To Warn" offers "No Archive Warnings Apply", so if you don't want to tag everything but you want people to know there's nothing big to worry about (I thought the narrow list of Archive Warnings that AO3 settled on was a good one), you can use the latter.

But some people who are against warnings as a matter of principal, I guess, would go ahead and put "Choose Not To Warn" on everything as their default. Usually, though, based on the rating plus that, I am generally guessing that the "Choose Not To Warn" fics are probably violent in some way or have elements that people might want a warning for in other circumstances. Educated guesses are what we do in profic, too. And reading reviews and asking friends!
celli: a woman and a man holding hands, captioned "i treasure" (Default)

[personal profile] celli 2016-01-24 09:26 pm (UTC)(link)
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.
celli: a woman and a man holding hands, captioned "i treasure" (Default)

[personal profile] celli 2016-01-24 09:59 pm (UTC)(link)
I mostly went from my own experience and dramatized from there, but if I think of anything I'll let you know.

I'm gluten sensitive and have to be, not allergy careful, but pretty darn careful, and I do the same thing!
jenna_thorn: an apple with a heart shaped bite (apple)

[personal profile] jenna_thorn 2016-01-25 04:32 pm (UTC)(link)

My specific squicks and one trigger are not Archive warnings and I'm blessed with (generally) a small readership, most of whom I know, so I can warn for animal harm (which is a squick specific to me as well as for several people who I know have me bookmarked on AO3, but is not one of the AO3's warn tags (reasonably! I'm not arguing the official tags be extended.) ) in the notes at the *top* of the story.

(Yes, it's a squick; yes, I've written it. But poking my own scars should not result in G following the email to my newest posted story and having to click back and leave the computer to calm down.)

But I recognize that's a luxury that better read authors don't have, and I'm happy to edit tags / warn in notes / add warnings when after consideration (and often discussion with others), I consider the request reasonable. I'm not going to "warn" for a background pairing or specific positions.
akamine_chan: Created by me; please don't take (Default)

[personal profile] akamine_chan 2016-01-26 03:57 am (UTC)(link)
I'm not going to "warn" for a background pairing or specific positions.

Ugh, yeah, no.

When I first got into fandom, there was still the trend of warning for slash. Which I was kinda like...really? We need to warn for that? I've also seen warnings for het and rolled my eyes and backbuttoned the hell outta there.
jenna_thorn: little girl reading to her teddy bear (reading)

[personal profile] jenna_thorn 2016-01-26 03:15 pm (UTC)(link)
tagging for something, I can see - because hey, sometimes you're just in the mood for a certain something, you know? And I love people who tag for certain acts, even as I myself fail at it, because I tend to think in gen terms.

But I co-write with a friend who is in SPN/J2RPF and twice now she's gotten comments of "Please warn for bottom!character, because I only read top!character" to which we gave an appropriate amount of thought and then went back to our tea.

So I don't know that it's fandom-specific, but it might be.
akamine_chan: Created by me; please don't take (Default)

[personal profile] akamine_chan 2016-01-26 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm all for tagging for specific acts (and I'm REALLY bad at it myself, too) because yeah, when you're in the mood for a particular [something], it's nice to be able to search by that [something].

I've heard that warning for who bottoms/who tops was a thing in SPN/SPN RPF, and I know I've heard of it happening in Sherlock fandom, as well as some anime/manga fandoms. I stick pretty close to home, fandom-wise, so I don't know if there are others.

The strangest thing I've ever heard being warned about was Blair's hair in the Sentinel fandom. Apparently his hair is a THING for a lot of people, and there was a story in which he cut OFF HIS HAIR and people got really upset, and from that point on, Blair's hair being cut needed to be warned for...

Fandom is an odd animal. :D
spikedluv: (hansel&gretel: h&g by angelus2hot)

[personal profile] spikedluv 2016-01-25 05:06 pm (UTC)(link)
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.
akamine_chan: Created by me; please don't take (Default)

[personal profile] akamine_chan 2016-01-26 03:52 am (UTC)(link)
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.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)

[personal profile] silverflight8 2016-01-26 06:26 am (UTC)(link)
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.
silverflight8: bee on rose  (Default)

[personal profile] silverflight8 2016-01-26 06:33 am (UTC)(link)
aaaaand I see that my comment was a duplicate basically of another. Should have read the comments first!