The original language of this debate asked fanfiction writers to warn for content that could be triggering. Those word choices bring to mind this:
WARNING! list of Very Bad Things; details on how the Very Bad Things are used in the fic.
(This is followed by the unwritten message -- go away, don't read my fic, run while you still can! And by the way, you know what happens now, so if you would have enjoyed it you don't need to bother anyway.)
Put aside your opinions, beliefs, and experiences for a moment, and try look at that from both positions in the original disagreement, regardless of where you stood then, or stand now. Do you see why there was disagreement, when it seemed so obvious who was right? <-- everyone, that's why it seemed so obvious
That shouting anti-advertisement of one's own art is neither what survivors need nor what readers want to see. It's certainly hurtful when part of the writer's personal identity is being shoved into the Very Bad Things list. Yet when those wanting labels asked, they didn't want that, weren't picturing that, didn't understand that many writers were picturing that, and certainly didn't understand what was so damn hard about slapping on a warning or why someone would think fanfiction more important than a human being in pain.*
(added: *note the italics -- italics are quoting/paraphrasing sides of the original argument)
These examples are more in line with what some survivors
(added note: since this was apparently not clear, we are still discussing how everyone was wrong. These examples are deliberately bad or unclear. Keep reading.)
Warning: violence, sexual assault
Warning: non-con, alcohol use
Warning: character death about half way through, but she doesn't stay dead, so it's okay
Warning: consensual bondage
Note that many survivors missed the implied negative connotation of the word "warning" which has been discussed in other threads. The suggestion was made in many cases that the warning be optional to read, so as not to spoil, but in many cases that suggestion was not made, or not made at the right point in the discussion to prevent certain unfortunate emotional reactions.
Everyone needs to pause and remember that many of the people reacting in this debate were reacting to emotionally weighted issues, often from a position of pain and hurt feelings. Everyone was on the defensive, because some felt attacked while others were defending their friends from what they saw as thoughtlessness.
Survivors of sexual assault and abuse have historically been silenced, and have historically been blamed for events which were not their fault, and have historically been called liars. Most survivors of sexual assault and abuse have personally faced accusations of lying, attention-seeking, putting themselves in harm's way, "asking for it," and other hurtful things, ad nauseam. That fact clashed badly with fandom's usual way of dealing with wank.
A lot of people caused other people pain on this issue. The number of people who meant to cause pain is statistically zero (it is within the realm of possibility that someone intentionally cruel said something somewhere, but if that person exists they are so outnumbered as to not matter right now.)
Everyone in a place of forgiveness? (You don't have to run around group hugging, just let it go in your own heart.)
Good. Now back to solutions.
Instead of a compromise, in which both sides loses something, it is possible to have a solution that is actually better for everyone. Both sides cease to be sides and gain a valuable tool. Here is an example, with the full header this time:
Title: The One With the Coffee
Author: Fan Doe
Fandom: Amazingly Great Show #47
Pairing: Hot Lover #1/Hot Lover #2
Warning: May be triggering for graphic violence and discussions of death. (Concealed details which, if the reader chooses to read them, say, "Hot Lover #2 sees a fellow Action Hero almost killed in the line of duty and has to deal with those emotions before hunting down the Bad Guy. Fight scenes. No sexual violence. Unrelated sex is consensual.)
Spoilers: Episode 67: Why The Protagonist Is Awesome
Other Content Disclosure: bondage, toys
A/N: I'm the author and I'm incredibly witty.
Summary: When Hot Lover #2 experiences Plot Convention 32B, s/he has Character Growth
Reader One is not concerned about triggers, skims this information, and eagerly plunges into the fic where Hot Lover #1 and Hot Lover #2 finally get it on.
Reader Two cannot read about rape, and would have bailed on a vaguely warned NC-17 fic, but clicks/highlights the detailed warning, and sighs with relief, because she really wants Hot Lover #1/Hot Lover #2 fic and these triggers don't apply to her.
Reader Three has PTSD from serving in Iraq, and might have ignored a vague warning by assuming that the bondage was the issue, and she likes bondage. She has just avoided a really unpleasant experience.
The writer gets great feedback from Reader One, and Reader Two (who wouldn't have read without the warnings), and gets silent karma points from Reader Three, instead of an angry and hurtful email from Reader Three's BFF. And all without pathologizing their own sexuality, because the bondage is on a line of advertisement where it belongs, and possibly attracts Reader Four, who didn't think they liked Hot Lover #1/Hot Lover #2, but just couldn't resist the thought of Hot Lover #2 and toys. In the meantime, Reader Five who hates spoilers doesn't click or highlight, and is perfectly happy.
See how everyone wins? That is what we want. It's not always easy to find the right words for either the vague or the more detailed sections of the warning, but it's worth the effort. And not all fic will require enough detail or explanation to require an optional section of warning, either. Sometimes the potentially triggery content relates to a canon event, and it's good enough to just say, "canon character death," because together with the episode name in the spoiler warning, the reader has enough information to proceed.
Any reader concerned about content should look over the whole header. The pairing label will tell you whether it's het, femslash, or slash, obviously. But it will also let you know if incest is an issue, or if one of the characters holds some authority over the other, which could be an issue for you.
All of your labels don't need to be warnings in order to convey the information readers need to make informed choices. You can call your content disclosure a Flurbuggle Tag for all it matters, so long as the information is there for the reader to see.
(More than one individual contributed to this entry. Also, help for creating reader-optional warnings and labels can be found elsewhere in this post.)
ETA: My apologies that attempts to be general and hypothetical erred on the side of too vague, and also excluded some possibilities and therefore made individuals or groups either feel marginalized, or like they were having words put in their mouth: there are survivors who never asked for warnings; there are survivors who don't want warnings; there are people who don't have triggers but do want warnings; there are survivors who are members of the bdsm community; there are as many different positions and viewpoints on these issues as there are individual human beings in fandom.
I've been trying to avoid saying things like "the pro-warning side" or the "anti-warning side" because referring to sides puts people in the frame of mind of a battle. This shouldn't be a battle. And I think we can all agree that "pro" and "anti" can carry unwanted connotations into a debate.
This post isn't the solution to all of fandom's problems. It's an invitation to an open dialog aimed at finding a solution, with an example of what kind of improvement can be reached through such a dialog.
ETA2: If you are triggered or otherwise upset by arguing, avoid the comments on this post. I will not be deleting any anonymous comments here, as I will not let a few trolls keep me from allowing people to speak safely, without worry about an angry mob following them home. Those wanting productive discussion on specific related topics can find it in other places on this journal.
ETA3: Commenting disabled on this post. This is not intended as a judgment call as to which comments were opinions and which were trolling. The conversation is simply no longer productive here.