[uf-discuss] rel="nsfw"

Dougal Campbell dougal at gunters.org
Fri Dec 29 11:26:20 PST 2006

Andy Mabbett wrote:
> In message <00957E60-6AD5-41C8-80A9-463230CE5EAF at placenamehere.com>,
> Chris Casciano <chris at placenamehere.com> writes
>>>> many  people are publishing "NSFW" warnings.  So vague as it may be,
>>>> it's  apparently communicating something useful on the live web
>>>> today.
>>> That's "something useful in a large judeo-christian western
>>> democracy",
>>> then...
>>> What's "safe for work" in China, or Iran?
>>> Is a nude picture of a 17-year old safe for work in Holland? Or the
>>> UK?
>> I don't think that matters AT ALL to the discussion at hand
> On the contrary - it matters a great deal, unless you want uFs to only
> codify a sub-set of judeo-christian western behaviours.

I disagree. I think that the people who are likely to produce/consume a
'nsfw' tag have a moderately similar (though vague) notion of what is or
isn't safe for most people's work places. Such a designation doesn't
necessarily have to be specific or agreed upon in a wide, cross-cultural
fashion, any more than the concepts of 'friend', 'acquaintence', or
'spouse' in XFN have to be defined. Alice might flag something as
'nsfw', whereas Bob might consider the same content 'sfw'. That doesn't
invalidate Alice's personal opinion and her desire to warn others that
the destination link might be questionable in some way. In fact, the
designation might not even reflect whether or not the content is 'safe'
in Alice's workplace, but merely that she recognizes that it might not
be appropriate for *some* workplaces.

If it was called rel='nsfw:imho', would that make it more palatable,
just because it explicitly states that this is an opinion? You'll never
get any sizable group of people to agree on exactly what 'nsfw' means.
But you don't have to. Just make the definition state that it reflects
an opinion that may or may not apply to particular individuals.

There's no reason to paint this as a "judeo-christian western" idea,
either. There are definitely going to be differences in opinion on
exactly what constitutes 'safe' content between different cultures
(Christian, Muslim, Hindu, athiest, whatever), and even *within* those
cultures. So what? There are different opinions about what exactly a
'spouse' is, too. Polygamy? Same-sex marriage? Common-law marriage?
Nobody had to specify limits on that when XFN was designed. And they
shouldn't have to. Microformats are a convient way to codify metadata.
Some metadata represents subjective opinions, not objective facts (e.g.,
hReview). Opinions vary. Ergo.

Dougal Campbell <dougal at gunters.org>

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