Forem Creators and Builders

Abenet Tamiru
Abenet Tamiru

Posted on

Add dedicated trigger and content warning tags

As forems are getting more and more diversified, I think it might be a good idea to allow users to mark their posts as containing triggering content and specifying what these triggers are. This would allow users to filter posts they don't want to read or to prepare themselves for what they might read.
Triggers can come in all shapes, forms and sizes so trigger tags might also be added by other users that are not the author if they notice there is triggering content, although a mechanism should probably also implemented then preventing the abuse of this feature. Otherwise the author can just be contacted via the comments or another way informing them of the trigger contained in their post.

Discussion (15)

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

I totally agree with @lisasy that this is a great idea and am excited to think about how this might best work when the time comes to offer something like this.

For instance, I've spoken with fellow teammates (@ioscasey & @ellativity ) here about the potential for allowing authors the ability to customize a warning label to place on their work + perhaps us providing a preset of labels for moderators to use. For instance, I could see us providing a label for mods to pop on articles that use affiliate links as we require people to disclose affiliate links in our terms.

Anyway, there could definitely be some overlap with that idea and filtering like you're describing. I really like the idea of empowering users to better filter out content that they don't want to see!

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abenettt profile image
Abenet Tamiru Author

Hey, thanks for the comment!
I like the idea of automagically slapping labels on the posts, but I'm not sure how well this would work for triggers and content warning, for some a keyword search might be sufficient but for others it might be more complicated and could lead to false positives and / or false negatives. To be honest, I'm not sure myself what the best approach here is, the idea of using tags was just the first one that came to my mind, I'm sure there is a more elegant solution for this also. I just find this is an important issue and hope to start a conversation to deal with this.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

Absolutely!

I'm not sure yet what the best solution is either. Tags? Labels? Maybe some 3rd idea that we've yet to think of?

I really appreciate ya starting this conversation! I do think it's important and if we get it right it could really help folks to find what they're looking and avoid what they aren't.

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Chiming in here to suggest that we add in 2 (maybe more) check boxes before the row of Save/Publish buttons that ask

Does this post contain affiliate links?
Does this post contain potentially triggering content?

checking the boxes could either prompt specific verbiage. such as

Ensure that the following phrase appears at the start of this article: “This post includes affiliate links; I may receive compensation if you purchase products or services from the different links provided in this article.”

I'm fully aware that this is not the highest technical priority at the moment, but just wanted to submit this suggestion so we either can reject it outright as nonsense, or I can find it for future discussions 😅

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abenettt profile image
Abenet Tamiru Author

I like this idea for the affiliate links, one could provide a forem instance wide default message, that can be overridden by the user for example. But having thought about this for the trigger warnings, I'm not sure this is the right approach, at least not just this. I would like to give the user the ability to completely filter out posts that contain their triggers, this way they won't even have to see or check the post.
A message can maybe still be put on top of the post automatically generated by the trigger warnings that have been set, in case one gets sent a link.

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle) • Edited

If I understand fully, the purpose of a solution like this would be to completely remove any potentially triggering content from a user's feed without them even knowing it existed. Am I correct in thinking this would have to be implemented flawlessly, where triggers won't slip through the net due to erroneous self-reporting? Do you have any examples in mind of a community that manages to get this right?

I would be hesitant to over-promise and under-deliver, so would love to speak to someone who has figured out how to do this in a way that doesn't overly depend on the author self-reporting.

Other than having a TW and a tag automatically applied if the author checks the box, we would need to have a reliable way to mute tags. As of now, we don't have that, so I would advocate for that being the first step to any of this.

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abenettt profile image
Abenet Tamiru Author

The purpose of the solution would be for the user to know exactly what kind of trigger the post contains, only saying that a post contains a trigger is not really helpful to them as the user does not know whether they are impacted by this trigger or not, so they would either have to abandon the post entirely or read it to find out, risking to be triggered.
A consequence of knowing what kinds of triggers a post contains would be the ability to filter those posts out or marking them in someway so that the user is forewarned.

I think self-reporting should be part of any system that is being implemented, the author can then be aided by other systems, whatever they may be, although I am not sure how useful a fully or even semi fully automated system would be, as triggers come in so many shapes and ways.
The easiest of those semi automated systems would probably be a keyword based search that would recommend triggers based on certain words and phrases found, but this can also easily lead to false positives.
Another way would be to basically crowd source the trigger detection, letting users add trigger warnings to posts, but here we have the problem of abuse that must be addressed.
No system will catch everything we want, and we should of course state that, but having even just a self reporting system would help users avoiding things they do not want to see.

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Thank you so much for exploring this idea further with me.

In terms of implementation, I keep coming back to the tag mute conversation. I know it's not perfect at this point, but I would love us to look at how we can find ways to improve on what we have to release the functionality faster for communities where it would be game-changing, with a view to refining or re-imagining it down the line. Also, we've already started discussing tag mute in a broader context, since we see value for in other applications, so it has momentum on its side.

It also ties in with giving Trusted Users and Tag Moderators more scope as well, which is another adjustment we'd like to promote. Crowd sourcing is effective as long as we can trust the crowd we're sourcing from, and that's where giving tag editing privileges to a small group of proven trusted users can be a powerful tool for both rewarding trust and generating crowd-sourced data.

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abenettt profile image
Abenet Tamiru Author

You're welcome, and thank you for the conversation, I'm enjoying it very much.
The most trivial approach to tag muting I think would be using the existing system, so that instead of following a tag it is being muted and removed from the feed. People are using tags to indicate the language of their posts so one could filter out posts in languages that they do not understand.
But the question here is also, what does muting mean, to what extend do we mute this post, does it only not appear in the users feed or do we also hide it from search results, do we warn the user when they're visiting a post having a tag that they have muted, is the user allowed to set which, if any, of these scenarios should happen.
Some platforms allow users to mute certain keywords for a certain amount of time, is this something we want, or even useful for us?
Also I like the idea of using moderators and trusted users to add certain tags, I have not thought of them!

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

Hey @abenettt I wanted to touch base again to let you know that I've not abandoned our conversation! My attention got pulled in another direction, but I am still here! Let me think about this for a second and get back to you soon?

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abenettt profile image
Abenet Tamiru Author

Of course! There are many demands of your time! Thank you for coming back at me!

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lisasy profile image
Lisa Sy

@abenettt

Hello, this is Lisa here (lead product designer at Forem).

I think this is a fantastic idea, and we see this commonly on other platforms that may show a content warning before someone continues to watch/view a photo, video, or text.

Given the immediate priorities of Forem, this is not something we're going to focus on anytime soon, but that doesn't mean we can be observant of people's workarounds for this. We can observe how people accomplish this with our features to help us understand how we might develop new features improving this in the future.

For example, what if people marketing "[WARNING]" in their post title? Or tagged their content with #warning? We want to observe these workarounds that people are using in their communities before we invest in productizing this so that we can truly validate the need for this when that time comes.

Another thing I want to note is that abuse comes in many forms, but one of the most visceral ways it shows up is through visual content (photos, videos). Because the Home feed showcases primarily text-based content, this already acts as a filter before people come in. We want to enable communities to eventually enable different feed types (for example, feeds that prioritize showing photos in a grid), and in that time, this is where looking deeper into these content warnings will be more critical. I hope this is helpful context.

Cheers. 🌱

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abenettt profile image
Abenet Tamiru Author

Hey, thanks for the comment!
I don't think, that simply adding [WARNING] to the title of a post or as a tag is sufficient. What might be a trigger for one person might not be for another, it tells you nothing about the content you're about to encounter. Another solution might be a disclaimer over the actual blog post content that would warn of potential triggers that the author could display.
And of course, the feed as it currently is is a filter against triggers contained in video and photo formats, but that does nothing for the contents that might be mentioned within the blog post itself in text form, which can be just as harmful for a person.
Having a mechanism that prevents people from seeing such content or even just warning them of it might help a lot with that I think.

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michaeltharrington profile image
Michael Tharrington

You know, what I was calling a "label" below is probably much better described as a "disclaimer" like you're mentioning here.

For instance, if you look at our terms you'll see the phrase:

If a post contains affiliate links, that fact must be clearly disclosed. For instance, with language such as: “This post includes affiliate links; I may receive compensation if you purchase products or services from the different links provided in this article.”

I was thinking of this when mentioning the affiliate label, but this is totally more of a disclaimer than label.

Just wanted to clear that up as we're thinking about something quite similar.

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ellativity profile image
Ella Ang (she/her/elle)

This is such a constructive and mindful suggestion @abenettt - thank you for taking the time to write it up as a request!