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I have asked two questions with disturbing content.

Should I warn viewers with NSFW?

Did the Free Syrian Army take a (pictured) toddler hostage?

Is ISIS beheading children in Mosul, Iraq?

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The StackExchange network does allow for spoilers on images.You just have to preface the image with an '>!' Greater Than followed by Exclamation Point. This will create a spoiler-block quote. As seen here

Warning: NSFW

Puppies http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/nightline/wp-content/uploads/puppies.jpeg

  • Thank you for a practical solution that doesn't degrade information! – user20862 Aug 13 '14 at 1:33
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The immediately visible post should not contain any NSFW images.

We want to give visitors a choice whether they want to view such content or not. And it doesn't really require much of a compromise on our part, we simply should link instead of embed images that are potentially disturbing. Anyone that wants to view them just has to follow one link more.

Rephrasing titles is something that should generally not be necessary, but might be a good idea in some very rare cases. Questions titles can be shown across the entire SE network, which can cause some trouble as we're addressing a much wider audience with different expectations.

  • We actually filter out questions which contain trigger words from the hot questions feed. – Sklivvz Aug 8 '14 at 20:24
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    @Sklivvs I'm not sure that's a good idea by itself, without also letting people know what those trigger words are, so they can know to avoid them if they want their question to be able to be on the hot questions feed. It would be really awesome if they were warned before submission in some way. – trlkly Aug 11 '14 at 8:12
  • @trlkly get an idea here. – Sklivvz Aug 13 '14 at 0:58
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Normally it's better to either leave a link with a warning, or leave an address without a link (for example by adding a space after http://.

Also, it is good practice to prefix posts which contain known trauma triggers with a warning, and not use trigger words in titles.

In other words, make the posts "safe", even when they talk about NSFW material.

  • I'd rather not diminish the content. Having PTSD myself, those pictures get me a little crazy, but I still think it's worth it for rigor. Is there some kind of middle ground? – user20862 Aug 8 '14 at 19:59
  • No, it's a company wide policy, sorry. – Sklivvz Aug 8 '14 at 20:01
  • Can I speak to a manager? – user20862 Aug 8 '14 at 20:05
  • Sure, meta.skeptics.stackexchange.com/contact is the way to go. – Sklivvz Aug 8 '14 at 20:06
  • Oh, you were being serious. OK, what do you mean by "company wide policy"? – user20862 Aug 8 '14 at 20:07
  • Meaning that it applies to the whole stack exchange network, if you want to debate it, you'll need to go to Meta Stack Exchange – Sklivvz Aug 8 '14 at 20:13
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    “it is good practice to prefix …” – is it? Where does it say that? And where is the evidence to support having such a rule? Last I looked, trigger warnings were highly controversial – and probably next to useless. – Konrad Rudolph Aug 10 '14 at 9:23
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    @KonradRudolph, it's about as simple as this: If a lot of people claim that it's useful to them to get some warning before being exposed into a possibly disturbing or trauma-inducing posts/terms/etc., and doing so costs us little, and doesn't eliminate the ability to still have healthy discourse, we're likely to do it. It seems odd to ask someone saying something bothers them to prove it. – Jaydles Aug 10 '14 at 22:12
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    @Jaydles 1) “it seems odd to ask …” – Well, this is what we do on Skeptics.SE: It’s kind of the site’s sole purpose. By your argument we should also throw our hands up and say “oh alright, let them eat sugar pills”. 2) You’re implying that I doubt the existence of trauma triggers – I’m not. Triggers are well established, they’re just not as simplistic as “picture of dead child”. Anything and everything can be a trigger, hence people suspect that trigger warnings are worse than useless. 3) “… and doesn’t eliminate the ability to still have healthy discourse” – this is also contested. – Konrad Rudolph Aug 11 '14 at 6:42
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    @KonradRudolph Only statements of fact are challengeable. You can't challenge whether or not something makes someone feel bad or whether not having it makes them feel good. You can challenge whether sugar pills actually work, but not how they made the person feel. And while I see claims that it harms discourse, I see no evidence of such, let alone proof. In absence of such, we stick with the null hypothesis, which, in this case, is that it causes no harm. – trlkly Aug 11 '14 at 8:08
  • @KonradRudolph While I see no inherent flaw in trigger warning, I do see a possible flaw in implementation. If we don't let people know what the trigger words are, that could be a problem. See my reply on Fabian's answer. – trlkly Aug 11 '14 at 8:14
  • @trlkly “how they made the person feel” – That is a statement of fact. Remember, we’re talking about deep psychological trauma here, not some vaguely queasy feeling. – Konrad Rudolph Aug 11 '14 at 8:29
  • @KonradRudolph There were a few complaints from other sites about specific titles that appeared in the hot questions list or in network ads, though it's quite a while since this has happened. If that blacklist means that we don't have to change any titles because they would be problematic on other sites, I can live with that. – Mad Scientist Aug 11 '14 at 8:35
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    @Fabian That’s different from having trigger warnings – and I do have to admit that I’m even more uncomfortable with that: what is and what is not appearing in the hot questions list obviously changes exposure, and thus shapes discourse (it’s similar to Google scrubbing their search results). Furthermore, the one case I remember was about having “boobs” and “tits” in the title, and these were removed in a gratuitous bit of (frankly, offensive) censorship (the question was about vocabulary). – Konrad Rudolph Aug 11 '14 at 8:41
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    @Sklivvz What I’m worried about is that we give potentially important/interesting topics less exposure just because they are about sensitive topics. This is actively harmful. An example of this can be seen in the recent Richard-Dawkins-Twitter debacle, which has led people to conclude that certain topics are simply taboo to discuss, regardless of their importance. This is the anathema of Skeptics.SE. – Konrad Rudolph Aug 11 '14 at 10:39

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