Comment on August 2020 Newsletter, Volume 149

  1. Good points all around! Though I think the conversation about law was more about why AO3 will not remove offensive works, which they otherwise might have to if they were incorporated in a country with very strict hate speech laws. But anyway...

    1) Will users use it? If we're treating archive warnings on the level of any other tag, then yes. Racism is already tagged in a lot of works. Granted, many of these stories are probably critical of racism, but they contain depictions of it, and therefore it is tagged. This is the case for the other archive warnings as well. Major Character Death doesn't distinguish between grisly murder and dying peacefully of old age. And that's fine, that's the way content warnings should work. They're not there to make value judgments about the content, but just acknowledging that such content is something a large enough portion of people would like to filter. Even if the Abuse Team can't forcibly apply warnings, the fact that they can select Chooses Not to Warn is at least one more tool than we have now.

    2) This is trickier, and I don't have an answer for it, haha... If AO3 were a large corporation, sure, let's set up a whole panel for it. But as a volunteer-run site, I don't know how well it would turn out. I think any enforcement would likely be limited (at least at first) to only the most egregious cases like the obvious trolls, or things that are simple to notice such as the use of racial slurs. Perhaps it might be possible for AO3 to consult experts or partner with other nonprofits that specialize in this sort of thing.

    No matter how it ends up being defined and enforced, it's not going to be able to please everyone. The fact that people are seriously considering how to improve matters is in itself a step forward, though. :)

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