What constitutes SFW? May 29, 2003 3:38 AM   Subscribe

Since when are links to phone sex sites and "adult video news" safe for work?

A fair question - what constitutes SFW?
posted by backOfYourMind to Etiquette/Policy at 3:38 AM (46 comments total)

Some employers may have a more liberal internet policy than mine (the rule is, it's OK to visit non-work sites on lunch), but I would be beaten like a gong for visiting any of the linked sites from work, even if the individual pages may have been innocuous enough.

Firewalls and tracking software do more than view images ya know...
posted by backOfYourMind at 3:40 AM on May 29, 2003


I don't see why people who shouldn't be surfing at work still do, and why we help them out by warning? If you aint allowed to surf at work, then uh.. don't...

;) just an idea...
posted by dabitch at 4:22 AM on May 29, 2003

If someone designates a link NSFW, then I would never follow the link at work.

However, if someone actually says it is SFW, I would hover and then use my judgement, after all, however well intention the poster, how do they know what my work communications policy is? In the above case all those links would have got many people in trouble at work.

If in doubt don't click, you just hand your employer a convenient stick to beat you with.
posted by johnny novak at 4:37 AM on May 29, 2003

i work in an adult video store ,
so i get pulled up for any religious right links.
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:38 AM on May 29, 2003

heh... you don't want to know what's safe for work in this place. The wonders of the pornography industry. ;)
posted by twine42 at 5:07 AM on May 29, 2003

Some of us can go anywhere we want-but the NSFW warning lets me know i don't wanna go there.

Now if we can just get folks linking to upsetting images, etc. to post spoiler warnings, we'll be all set.
posted by konolia at 5:43 AM on May 29, 2003

That would ruin the fun of posting upsetting images.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:06 AM on May 29, 2003

Goddammit I'm tired of all you people who work in the porn industry bragging about working in the porn industry. You're worse than the Harvard people in the college related threads.

posted by vito90 at 6:48 AM on May 29, 2003

I find I can usually get a pretty good read on what kind of material a link goes to based on the comments posted about it. If a link goes to something unsuitable for work, or something vile or upsetting, it doesn't take too long before the comments act as forewarning.
posted by debralee at 6:52 AM on May 29, 2003

I've always interpretted NSFW as meaning that there were images on the page that someone might find objectionable if they glanced at your screen. If you work in a place where the actual URL of a site could get you in trouble, than you should be hovering over all your links and erring on the side of caution anyway.
posted by GeekAnimator at 7:05 AM on May 29, 2003

konolia, nobody's sense of moral outrage is going to get them fired from their jobs. NSFW tags are necessary for a specific and limited purpose, but omnibus warnings for subsegments of the population are tantamount to censorship.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:09 AM on May 29, 2003

omnibus warnings for subsegments of the population are tantamount to censorship.

huh? You lost me there. Not-Safe-For-Work warnings are wonderful, but Not-Safe-for-the-Weak-of-Stomach warnings are censorship?
posted by GeekAnimator at 7:13 AM on May 29, 2003

Well, it's really common sense. You shouldn't click on any link in a thread about the Stile Project if you're at work, or if you have a weak stomach. Same thing with links about the pr0n industry.

If there's a thread about modern art and one of the links depicts nudity, a NSFW is appropriate. But if one of the links contains violence, or upsetting text? We may concede that NSFW is also appropriate for images of violence (which it may well be.) But the intent of NSFW is to protect the viewer against repercussions from employers, not to protect the viewer from a challenge to his or her value system. That's the crucial distinction.
posted by PrinceValium at 7:27 AM on May 29, 2003

Aw, come on, Valium, all i was saying was that I used the NSFW as a guideline for ME. Some people want to see this stuff, some don't, and I appreciate the warning.

You may not remember, but a year or two ago someone linked to a photograph of a practically naked woman being horribly molested by a whole crowd during (I think ) Mardi Gras-in PUBLIC.

There was no mention in the original posting of what the link went to at all, and a number of us were totally taken off guard. At least if we had known what it was we could have made a choice and/or been better prepared. I am sure this site has a number of people who have endured sexual assault in their lifetime. That sort of photo with no warning could have been extremely emotionally upsetting. The whole thing set up a massive debate here at the time.

I go on Snopes occasionally and they post spoilers for some photos-at times I have ignored them at my stomach's peril ;-)
posted by konolia at 7:31 AM on May 29, 2003

the intent of NSFW is to protect the viewer against repercussions from employers, not to protect the viewer from a challenge to his or her value system


Aw, come on, Valium, all i was saying was that I used the NSFW as a guideline for ME.

NSFK then ...
posted by walrus at 7:36 AM on May 29, 2003

Oh, and one more thing- I always considered the NSFW as a "red light" so to speak. I filter the "yellow lights" myself. I don't click on most Bushfilter or political filters (because I am usually bored by them) so why is it bad if I don't really care to see something I would consider objectionable ? It isn't like I am blocking YOU or anyone else from the link.

As for the queasy or violent stuff-I don't mind seeing some of it, but having a warning helps me mentally prepare for what I might be seeing. Some of us need that, and there is nothing wrong with that at all.
posted by konolia at 7:37 AM on May 29, 2003

Just as a secondary guideline: anyone who tags the snow penis as nsfw is officially not a fun person.
posted by Space Coyote at 7:39 AM on May 29, 2003

you people ranting about 'NSFW images" have limited imaginations. my favorite examples of NSFW include a visually innocuous flash which screams at full volume "YOU ARE AN IDIOT" while opening like 1500 one-inch by one-inch browser windows and cruising them around your screen randomly. another visually innocuous NSFW link loudly regales anyone within earshot "HEY EVERYBODY! I'M DOWNLOADING GAY PORNO!".
posted by quonsar at 8:07 AM on May 29, 2003

oh, and can you say 'farm sluts'?
posted by quonsar at 8:13 AM on May 29, 2003

'NSFW' is the stupidest new web fad to come down the pipe. The sooner it disappears the better.
posted by rusty at 8:21 AM on May 29, 2003

vito90 Sorry... I would have replied earlier, but I had a naked model on my desk. (Okay, that's a lie, but I can hear one moaning for an audioline in the studio downstairs)

Did anyone else meet NSFW before Fark?

Right... have to go... they need someone to rub ice on some nipples... ;) *duck*
posted by twine42 at 8:44 AM on May 29, 2003

someone set this man up with a blog!
posted by PrinceValium at 8:52 AM on May 29, 2003

rusty, I take it you don't have a job?

omnibus warnings for subsegments of the population are tantamount to censorship

Find a dictionary. Look up "censorship." Rethink.

NSFW is just plain politeness to the community. Please continue to use it. Thanks.
posted by languagehat at 9:10 AM on May 29, 2003

Look up "tantamount".
BTW, Rusty is self-employed.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:21 AM on May 29, 2003

NSFW is just plain politeness to the community. Please continue to use it. Thanks.

My whole point in the thread in question was to say "hey this is a thread about porn, but the links themseves aren't porny". Not having ever had an office job where certain URLs [as opposed to images] were off-limits, I always thought NSFW was basically about graphics or loud noises, i.e. "not safe for cube farm." I honestly don't think the Adult Video Network is any more unsafe than the Fox News wesbite though I guess your sysadmin might disagree.
posted by jessamyn at 9:25 AM on May 29, 2003

Risky posts should clearly state "NSFW" at the very beggining of the texts. Perhaps something glaring like fark's "B(o)(o)BIES" would be too much, but at least a clear sign identifying the nature of the post. In the past, I've had someone comment that he clicked one of the links I posted before reading the nsfw advisory at the end.
ps: when in doubt, it's probably nsfw somewhere.
posted by 111 at 9:49 AM on May 29, 2003

images on the page that someone might find objectionable if they glanced at your screen

Yep. That says it for my office. No skin. No gore. No big, flashing swear words, please. Even a site that has too many flourescent colors will attract attention, and is probably obviously not work-related. But I hate it when a link says "SFW" because the woman is wearing a bikini, not naked. That doesn't cut it.
posted by scarabic at 11:38 AM on May 29, 2003

I browse the web in several contexts. NSFW is helpful if the gf is near, if I'm borrowing access from someone, if I fear I'm being monitored, whatever. It's courtesy. So is "popups," "flash," "realmedia," etc. Some heads-up is nice, since you can't see through a link to the content that's about to take over your browser.

I had a really awful debate with a relative who emailed the bloody Rachel Corrie photo to our family-wide mailing list, with no warning attached. I said that some advisory was appropriate, so that people could choose to view the link or not, or at least choose a good time to view it. She was unsympathetic, going on about how "the truth can be disturbing but it needs to be told."

In other words, she saw this as censorship.

But what it boiled down to was: she wanted our eyeballs, and she wasn't willing to take a risk on not getting them. I think that sucks.
posted by scarabic at 11:51 AM on May 29, 2003

interpreting a polite warning about graphic content as censorship is incredibly misguided.
posted by GeekAnimator at 12:07 PM on May 29, 2003

So is "popups," "flash," "realmedia," etc.

I'm happy to do the flash and realmedia (or java, or whatever) ones, but with Mozilla-users and several other program users not battling the pop-ups anymore, I really don't know when something I link to will have a pop-up or not.
posted by Ufez Jones at 12:51 PM on May 29, 2003

Speaking as someone who has had the job of looking over monthly access logs and forwarding suspicious items to department heads based on the computer that was doing the accessing, the answer to the question Are there employers that are anal enough about this sort of thing to even go after people just based on the URL or the appearance of naughty words on a page? would be "Yes."

Thus the NSFW warning is simply a courtesy to other members of the web forum. Even if you think those rules are stupid, you're not helping anyone by pretending that they don't exist. There are plenty of folks who are able to get away with "reasonable and judicious" internet use by making sure they stay away from dodgy links.

I have a .sig file for my mail that uses the phrase "dancing naked". When I send mail to my friend at the VA, I omit the signature, because otherwise the mail would get flagged for manual review. This lets my friend and I continue to e-mail each other, helps the VA continue to let their employees have limited net access, and saves some junior admin from reporting my friend as opposed to the guy who really is sitting around all day looking at pr0n.
posted by dhartung at 2:16 PM on May 29, 2003

Unlike rusty, I believe that courtesy is always "in style" and I appreciate dhartung's great example of why it's important to use it - to make life easier for others.
posted by Lynsey at 2:40 PM on May 29, 2003

Courtesy is most certainly always in style and the warnings about NSFW do not harm those in a position to surf unrestricted, but do let those who either are not able to or do not wish to do so, avoid at least some of the questionable content. Depending on your particular work situation, links with sound can be more of a problem than any image.
posted by dg at 3:57 PM on May 29, 2003

I'd like to hear more about this dancing naked .sig file of dhartung's.
posted by onlyconnect at 9:04 PM on May 29, 2003

I want to know more about his job as network fascist.
posted by jonson at 9:21 PM on May 29, 2003

Dancing Naked Network Fascists ... now *thats* a party waiting to happen.
posted by dejah420 at 10:58 PM on May 29, 2003

Nope, I wasn't trying to make an argument. I just personally think "NSFW" is stupid. It's not going to ruin my life if everyone keeps using it or anything. Just wanted to wave the flag and say that some people think it's dumb. Or at least one person does, anyway.
posted by rusty at 7:29 AM on May 30, 2003

Keep the NSFW tags coming.
My employers "police" have sent please explains
for Essex cricket scores & bitch as inappropriate.
posted by johnny7 at 7:56 AM on May 30, 2003

.sig file: "If dancing naked and playing the bongo drums is wrong, I don't wanna be right." -- Fred Pyen

jonson: Key word, job. I didn't like it, but legally your employer is 100% entitled to surveillance of your use of its equipment. The point was to watch for slackers, like the secretary who played video poker all day long, and avoid sexual-harassment lawsuits by preventing porn or obscenity from getting onto the network in any way. Disciplinary action was in the hands of the department head, and I never heard of anyone getting fired because of it, but generally I only had to report someone once. In a couple of cases I was tasked with blocking a workstation's access outright.

This is nothing compared to a friend's situation, which involved her knowing that someone had a list of dirty jokes, which had been e-mailed around, saved onto a floppy disk in his desk drawer. An anonymous sexual harassment complaint was lodged, the disk was found, the gentleman in question resigned, and the people who knew about the disk were docked pay. In another case, one employee was conducting an affair with another married employee which involved bogus timecards, unauthorized after-hours access to buildings, unauthorized network access potentially uncovering customer data (which may simply have meant letting his girlfriend sit at a server and play solitaire, but I couldn't know for sure), and e-mailed mash notes. Again through circumstantial evidence the affair was uncovered, the incriminating e-mails were retrieved from the server, the involved individuals were fired, and the friends who knew (again derived from e-mail) were disciplined for personal abuse of the system and concealing fraudulent and illegal activities. So you can see why I consider my experience mild, and sympathize with those facing similar oversight.
posted by dhartung at 12:10 PM on May 30, 2003

rusty, is it labelling a link NSFW you're pronouncing stupid or is it posting those links in the first place.

BTW, even at home, I don't want to click on a porn link unawares. I do not need that kind of grief.
posted by timeistight at 1:18 PM on May 30, 2003

timeistight: It seems like nannying to me. Like, "NSFW" triggers this sense of the poster getting all giggly and going "Tee hee! Naughty!" I hadn't really thought about why it annoyed me until this thread, but I think it's because it seems so childish, like passing notes behind the teacher's back.

Plus it's totally imported from Fark, which is hardly ever a good thing.

And perhaps most importantly, because in Soviet Russia, work is not safe for you.
posted by rusty at 1:56 PM on May 30, 2003

Uh, and to actually answer the question, it's the labeling, not the linking.
posted by rusty at 1:57 PM on May 30, 2003

Rusty, I really cannot come to a logical understanding of why you object to "NSFW". Next I suppose you'll be saying that link descriptions of any sort are annoying and should be done away with.
posted by konolia at 6:19 PM on May 30, 2003

You won't get there if you try to logically analyze it. It's just a mannerism that annoys me. I'm not Descartes over here.
posted by rusty at 9:44 PM on May 30, 2003

Well, I'll back up ol' Rusty. Although I respect that people sometimes choose to use the internet in a limited way (often on their employer's time), many of us love the internet because it is unbridled, uncategorizable, surprising, and inappropriate. This is Metafilter, not Good People of America Loving Kittens.

I don't agree with community/work-safe standards: like any kind of unilateral categorization they don't apply evenly to everyone, and members can't divine other members' particular needs. The internet itself is not safe for work.

That being said, this is a community group, and I choose to scream *NSFW* in recognition of your crippled internet-viewing needs, particularly when I link to a scat transexual fisting orgy site. Also, link descriptions of any sort are annoying, and "NSFW" is tacky, although until standardized color-coded morality filter links are institutionalized, it's all we have.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:57 AM on May 31, 2003

link. link. link.

So is this what you want it to come to? *heavy sarcasm warning*
posted by konolia at 11:00 AM on May 31, 2003

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