I think much of my issue around the Content Warning culture on Mastodon, is the vocabulary. "Content Warning" has a very specific meaning in other contexts. Here, it is more like "Content Filter" or "Subject Line," to give readers a choice to expand or not.

This feels wrong, because of other contexts where majority folks have tried to express trauma or pain at even having to hear about the racism that impacted me. Feels very much like "Ban teaching civil rights, so white kids don't feel bad."

ยท ยท Tusky ยท 41 ยท 288 ยท 558

The issue of "Most white folk don't want to hear about your racism" is a related but separate issue. I don't think forcing people whose ears aren't open (or aren't open right now) to hear what they don't want to hear is fruitful anyway.๐Ÿคท๐Ÿฟโ€โ™‚๏ธ

Over the years, a bunch of folks said I helped them become less racist. That's not true. I don't have that power. I wish I did! They made themselves less racist.

What happened was, they opened their own ears, and then they could hear what I was saying.

@mekkaokereke which thing feels wrong, the UX mechanics you're describing or the name/description as a content warning? (I agree there's a mismatch, it's more like a heads up.)

@knowtheory Two things feel wrong:

The name of "Content Warning." This puts using the feature in the same bucket as not showing depictions of gore, or content that can trigger PTSD.

And the guidance to use the feature. Someone saying "Put a content Warning on that!" on issues of describing racism, feels a lot like "Descriptions of you existing as a Black person cause me trauma on the same level as other stuff that should be behind Content Warnings! You just harshed my vibes!"


You'll notice that in US society, Black people experience more repercussions for speaking about racism, than racists get for being racist:

* Kaepernick, fired and unhire-able
* Jemele Hill, fired
* Black employees at Coinbase, let go/asked to leave
* Inmates at Rikers who complained, email and letters taken away

So the "Hide your distasteful Black experiences" message gets mixed up in the "Use subjects" message, in a way that makes people understandably upset.

@mekkaokereke Oh yeah, i agree completely. I think the fediverse has some serious unresolved issues with what it means to be in a community with people experiencing different things than you. It manifests in other places too, but the CW features bring it to the fore here.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory agreed mate. I tend to think that for certain topics, it really should be on people to use Mastodon's powerful filters if they insist on maintaining a blinkered experience here.

@mekkaokereke I totally understand that. It's just that a lot of the Fediverse is non-American (at least in its origin, especially Mastodon) so some of your concerns might be rather new to a lot of people.

If it helps to rephrase CW as Content Filter/CF, maybe suggest this to the admins. For me, if I see a CW warning I read the title and, in 9 out of 10 times I open the stuff, when I'm in the right headspace.

@thisNina @mekkaokereke @jynersolives the problem is that it is trying to be too many things. I would love if all toots had to be wrapped in some kind of topic. It would make it so much easier to scroll past things I wasn't interested in. But it's optional, and called a content warning, which has cultural baggage. (also bugging people because they post things you aren't interested in is an AH move)

@jynersolives @mekkaokereke @StatsJew I agree that if everything needed to be labeled it would make a huge difference.

@thisNina @mekkaokereke @StatsJew You can of course just choose it as a courtesy without much regulation. That was the culture of the Fediverse (which is obviously changing by all the influx). Some instances have this in their server rules btw.

@StatsJew @thisNina @mekkaokereke @jynersolives

The idea of wrapping *all* posts in a headline is pretty interesting.

@siw that is what I have been doing, aside from replies. It's even a setting as the default on my app.


Right, but what if it weren't a choice, and it were called a headline. That would be a lot more compelling.

@StatsJew @siw I've been using the feature in that way, too. I'm not sure how a "title" or "subject line" such as "table tennis" or "trombone" could offend anyone. It occurs to me someone who has bad intent will make that clear one way or another. I think CW is just a technical feature, not a direct cause of problems.

@thisNina @mekkaokereke @StatsJew @jynersolives The combination of words are loaded for those in the United States. Most people think they mean only certain things so get understandably upset when their own experiences are equated with those.

Describing this badly.

Best I can do.

Maybe someone else willing would like to try.

@cainmark @thisNina @mekkaokereke @StatsJew @jynersolives i think you described the issue perfectly. ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ

@jynersolives @mekkaokereke not all non Americans miss the issue. In Australia we kill our First Nations people regularly and there is ZERO cost to the policeman or prison officer who is usually white.

530 Aboriginal people in custody have died at the hands of guards and police since we had a royal Commission look at the problems. Nothing has changed.

25% of our prison population is First Nations. 3% of our overall population are black.

We jail 10 year old First Nations children. We take them from their mothers and give them to churches as something to rest on.

Ah the lucky cuntry.


Sorry, should've made it clear: the non-Anglo, non-settler colony country people. Most of the Fediverse is in and from Europe (probably 80% of the tech infrastructure and over 50% of its users). And the situation here is different. I did some series of posts where I talked about this.

I'm curious how the Anglos (and people from Anglo countries) and the Euros (Continentals) will mix here. Twitter was much more Angloamerica than this is.

@jynersolives I've been an African citizen living in Africa, an African citizen living in the UK, an African immigrant living in the USA, and a US citizen. I've visited Europe quite a bit (although admittedly, not Germany).

* The racism I describe (punishing Black folk for speaking up about it more than the perpetrators) exists everywhere
* Yes systemic racism is worse in the US than EU
* But Europeans are even less likely to acknowledge racism in their countries than in the US

@mekkaokereke No objections whatsoever on the existence of systemic racism in Europe. It is a problem and we shamefully lack the vocabulary (and sometimes even the awareness) to talk about it. At the same time, systemic racism in Europe might well be rather different from the US. Eg in Europe, I experience a strong Anti-Migration racism especially in the educational system (this is the case in Germany). In my country, that would be a good starting point to understand and combat systemic racism.

@mekkaokereke What do you think, can Mastodon and the Fediverse be a good (a better) place to discuss these topics on a more global level? Because Twitter wasnโ€™t such a great place for that, and it always crowded out non-US/Anglo perspectives.

@jynersolives I honestly don't know. But I'm excited to find out!

I've heard some really good perspectives from you and others on this. Makes me think that at least it's not an absolute no.

If I were forced to make a guess today, I'd guess "Yes! If we can reach a critical mass of the folks that do the 'work for good' stuff active on here, and protect their speech from the things that harm it."

It's a tall ask, but I'm an optimist!

@mekkaokereke @jynersolives
Australia is a bit like that. No one accepts the inbuilt racism to a point where they say "yes we are a nation of fucking racists".

Sad really because not all of us play banjos and have 6 fingers.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory Well-stated, and frankly, with this last read, I'm out. Mastodon promised a curated local thread, and I intentionally only followed like 12 Black people for some relief from the incessant mainstream neediness and fragility and control and insistence on being affirmed and exonerated and euphoric at all times of every day. It hasn't been a week, and my timeline already is filled with Black people defending speaking about daily life. To each other. Out.

@planetdma @mekkaokereke @knowtheory ๐Ÿ˜ž I understand, and honestly, I am starting to feel the same way. That article with the headline Home Invasion really made me feel angry and uncomfortable. Have checked out almost every format and it is getting kind of demoralizing.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory I agree. I am new here, and I canโ€™t log-into the browser (no idea what is wrong!) to see all of the features, BUT, I think that I read you can turn off the trigger warning label for posts you receive. It is in the settings. I intend to turn mine off for the very reason you discussed. P.S. Use hashtags so more people will see your posts. #BlackMastodon

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory

Whilst I don't live in the US - maybe there are lessons to be learned by looking at cultures where, in general, racism isn't tolerated by the majority (e.g., the UK). Of course, there are odd minority individuals that form minority groups.

However, I have noticed the insincere online folk who accuse others of racism - even when it's evident that the speaker is criticizing racism.

I assume that racists don't value honesty-humility. hexaco.org/

Mentions some nasty subjects 

@knowtheory More frustration on my part. But, yea! Satire is a healthy defence mechanism against prejudice.

Is ridiculing #racists a hate crime? Is it cruel to mock immorality? Not to be misconstrued as mocking implicit ignorance. The difference tends to be arrogance & intentionally causing harm.

Have you ever met a person, a personality, that laughs when they witness or do something cruel. #SocioPathology #PersonalityDifferences #psychology

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory I'm a journalist with PTSD who supports content warnings as the term has commonly been understood, but on Mastodon I've been scolded for questioning whether this feature should be used as a subject line on "political" and other posts. If Mastodon Content Warnings are really just subject lines, then Mastodon has no mechanism for effective content warnings.

@coreypein @mekkaokereke @knowtheory I was told in the spec it is called "topic" and if people just called it that I would be fine. People could then use cw: for actual content warnings

It was a poorly thought out interface change, imo

@coreypein @mekkaokereke @knowtheory What would be key characteristics of an effective content warning, distinguished from a subject line? How do you see it looking/feeling?

@davenicolette @mekkaokereke @knowtheory if the current CW feature was renamed "subject line" or something, a new CW feature might work like a redaction bar, hiding an arbitrary string of text in the post and replacing it with a few words of the user's choosing until clicked upon. Maybe this could be misused in ways I haven't thought of, however.

@coreypein @mekkaokereke @knowtheory I suppose someone who is determined to abuse the platform will find a way. But I like your idea. The distinction between the concepts of labeling and warning is meaningful and useful, I think.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory I hear you and fully understand.

A good few defending CWs, and I agree that it reduces relentless exposure to everything, keeping in mind a lot of peopleโ€™s psyche is wrecked from Twitter.

But, putting a headline/subject like โ€œracismโ€ is a clear call out. People choose to engage with it, which makes it more meaningful, and from my experience on the .ie instance, weโ€™re here to support minorities and inclusion. I ask that ye keep calling out your trouble whichever way ๐Ÿ’ช

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory I understand that, thank you for explaining. I always felt weird about the term "content warning" on mastodon, but I could not tell why. Now I can.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory I think thereโ€™s an issue to change the name from Content Warning to Content Notice. I still think thatโ€™s not the most descriptive option.

@richburroughs @mekkaokereke @knowtheory Sorry. That was ambiguous. I was suggesting the line be called โ€œSubject:โ€

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory if the string 'warning' was replaced with 'screen' and otherwise functioned the same, would that land different or better?

@mekkaokereke I've heard it referred to as Content Wrapper rather than warning

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory Thank you for posting what I tried to post earlier.

I think there's a difference also between "Ok, let's fix the problem" being seen as dismissive when "Listen!" is sometimes more important.

Both are true but people bring their own experiences to them.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory

Maybe they meant put content warning cause it's white cops beating up black guys. Nah I dunno, I wanna swear and put up content warning, discuss things like drug sex assaults at Cornell put up a warning, it isn't right that you are told by people they'd rather not see your post. It's like would you let your kids see this? Yes - no CW, no - yes CW.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory I use friendica and when writing a toot the CW-thing is called abstract which matches a lot more what I think it should be used for. But in the output (in friendica/Mastodon) the button is named with content warning. Maybe a unique and better labeling could do a step. It should only be some entries in translation files.

@mekkaokereke @knowtheory as a white person I can totally understand & respect your perspective. I also say โ€˜supportโ€™ it too, but I donโ€™t want to offend you accidentally.

@mekkaokereke Even a wider "please put CW on politics" feels distasteful to me - too much of the Twitter classic "I follow you for your professional output, not your personal politics" feel.

@mekkaokereke "content warning" does seem like a good umbrella term for the whole range of "potential trigger" to "spoiler for some ancient TV show". Just because in one context it has mostly been used for more serious topics, it still feels wrong to sort of "monopolise" the term for that context alone.

@mekkaokereke If it's some random person asking you to add content warnings, I'd just ignore them or tell them where to go; and if it's the server admin or server rules, find a better server.

It's not a great mechanism, would be better I think if each user can specify how they want to filter their feed and what they want to see or don't, without requiring people to add content warning headers, which isn't reliable anyway.

@mekkaokereke if I didn't want to hear about some topics I can always filter them (especially since there seem to be filters that can add content warning on the receiving end, not sure if that's an official feature but still), we definitely need to get rid of this effort of silencing people's lived experiences even if they aren't pleasant

@mekkaokereke ๐Ÿ’ฏ for all of this - so many of the problems ๐Ÿฆ ies have here could have been hugely mitigated with better explanation/wording. ๐Ÿ˜ฌ

But also, our (people like me) need/entitlement to go be cops & missionaries at strangers needs to stop.

The absurdity of evangelicals trying to force the holy word of consent onto everyone we see would be hilarious if it wasn't being used as straight up harassment. ๐Ÿ™

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