[uf-discuss] rel="nsfw"

Angus McIntyre angus at pobox.com
Fri Dec 29 06:26:59 PST 2006

At 07:43 -0500 29.12.2006, B.K. DeLong wrote:
>Intriguing, yes....but it would be even more valuable if tied to a
>rating system of some sort. ie a user picks from a series of de facto
>rating standards which give a ranked value to whatever is labeled as
>NSFW ...

I guess that PICS <http://www.w3.org/PICS/> is pretty much dead, huh?

I briefly tried to add ratings to one of my websites (on the grounds 
that I had a mix of content, some of which was kid-friendly and some 
of which was not). PICS didn't help itself by being agnostic on 
exactly how content was to be rated, so that you had to choose from a 
list of 'self-rating vocabularies', none of which received any 
official blessing. If I recall correctly, I tried to use RSACi, found 
it inflexible and poorly thought-out, and - like everyone else - gave 
up on the whole idea.

Firefox and Safari don't seem to have any provision for this kind of 
thing; I don't know if Explorer still does, but I have the impression 
that enthusiasm has all but died. It's been a long time since I've 
heard anyone actually talk about the issue.

RSACi now seems to have been absorbed into ICRA 
<http://www.icra.org/>: even their website design says "Web1.0".

I think there is scope for self-rated content and it would be nice to 
have a content-rating system that didn't scream 'time stopped in 
1999' quite so loudly. The bottom-up approach of microformats might 
actually offer a better chance of success than the ponderous 
bureaucratic style of RSACi, but anyone who wants to go this way 
should probably be aware that this is a topic that has been something 
of a tarpit in the past.

>  ... perhaps then using CSS or Javascript to appropriately color
>links. something to think about as NSFW can be quite vague.

I think that there are practical objections to coloring links 
(accessibility, the fact that 'nsfw' colors might already be used for 
other purposes by a particular design, etc).

A possible alternative could be a distinctive marker. Assuming that 
the widely-used convention of writing '[NSFW]' isn't adequate, you 
could always start a project along the lines of 
<http://www.shareicons.com/> or <http://www.feedicons.com/> to 
popularize a particular icon.

There's room for debate about what the icon should look like, but I 
personally favor a stylized 'goatse' image. Set in white on top of 
one of those Web2.0-ish 'glassy-look chiclet' backgrounds - like the 
feed and share icons - it could look quite stylish. ;-)


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