We choose that you can no longer choose to choose not to warn for–wait, I’ll come in again.
Based on your feedback, we’ve decided to eliminate one of our previous Archive Warnings: “Choose Not To Warn for Some Content.” While it was meant to give users additional flexibility, feedback revealed that it was just too confusing. So there will now be only one opt-out tag, represented by a new icon, (which combines and clarifies two previous ones): “Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings.”
But what are Archive Warnings exactly? There are two answers to this question.
1) There are six in all. Four designate particular content: major character death, underage, rape/noncon and graphic violence; the other two are “No Archive Warnings Apply” and “Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings”. All stories in the AO3 must carry at least one of these descriptions.
2) They are enforceable; that is, if a story in the AO3 features major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence without being labeled as such (or without you being told that the author has chosen not to warn for these tropes in this story), you can report that story to Abuse.
So why this system? To allow users to roam the AO3 with reasonable confidence that they will not encounter these four things if they don’t want to. (But click on a story labeled “Author has Chosen Not To Use Archive Warnings” at your own risk!)
More Info Under The Fold! (Full post)
Q & A:
“How does this affect stories I’ve already posted to the Archive?”
If you warned for Rape/Non-Con, Graphic Violence, Major Character Death or Underage, then those warnings will stay exactly as they are. If you chose Choose Not To Warn or Choose Not To Warn For Some Content, these will be merged into Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings. We hope this makes the choice easier for the author and more comprehensible to the reader; we also hope that it makes clear that this field doesn’t represent all warnings: just the four the AO3 enforces.
“Why these four “Archive Warnings” and not others?”
We chose those four for a mix of practical, historical, and technical reasons, but the bottom line is enforceability. The AO3 allows for an infinite number of customizable warnings through additional tags, which allow users to search for content they want and avoid content they don’t want. But Abuse can’t be responsible for the accuracy of all those tags. By limiting the number of Archive Warnings to four–major character death, underage, rape/noncon, and graphic violence–we can provide broad categories of content for people to seek out or avoid. We think it’s better to have four than none, since we can’t have all warnings be Abuse-enforceable.
“And if I don’t want to warn for anything?”
We’ve got you covered: you can choose “Choose Not To Use Archive Warnings” when you post. Readers who absolutely must know if a story contains major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence might avoid your story.
“What if I don’t have major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence in my story?”
Choose “No Archive Warnings Apply.” Please note that this doesn’t mean that the story is “safe” or that there’s nothing to be warned for. It just means that there are no Archive-enforceable warnings: i.e. no major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence. But there could be additional author-added warnings in the tag field, or listed in the summary or notes of the story, or there could be something else that offends or squicks you. But there shouldn’t be major character death, underage, rape/noncon, or graphic violence; if there is, please report the story to Abuse.
“I want to warn for something beyond those four things.”
Please do! You can add any other warning you want to any story, either in additional tags or in the summary or notes. We also encourage everyone to develop their own warning (or “don’t wanna warn”) policy and post it to their profile page.
“What about dubcon?”
Dubcon, or dubious consent, is probably the number one additional warning requested by users, and while we’ve discussed it many times, we just don’t think it’s enforceable. The label “dubcon”, by definition, is applied to dubious cases and blurry situations, and we don’t think it’s possible for Abuse to judge if a story fits the criteria. That being said, a story’s author tends to know if her own story is dubcon, and so we encourage authors to warn for dubcon when appropriate through the tag system. Readers can also use bookmarks, or comment to the author, But we don’t feel comfortable potentially subjecting the author to a penalty over the definition of dubcon.