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Poorly labeled story content

fxrnyc

I've been a reader her for a few years, done a little editing and I've been working on my own stuff to eventually post. So I was unpleasantly surprised whe I started two new(to me) serials in the same day that were not tagged with a content warning but both had water sports / golden showers in their first chapter. I could understand a minor omission but something like that is bound to be a major issue for a lot of people. I personally will no longer consider reading material by either author because of this.
Has anyone else come across situations like this? Do you think it was an "honest" mistake, and if so, how could someone have it be so prominent in the story and not have a tag?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

I'm with you, if they don't code properly then I have to wonder how bad the story is overall, because code errors are just plain sloppy work or deliberate misleading. There is one exception, that is with the older stories. When SOL started it had about half the codes it has now, many have been added in the last four or five years, but very few in the last year. Thus, any really old story may have been fully coded when it was first posted, but not had a code update since. Some authors check this now and then, but many don't.

edit typo

Replies:   Dominion's Son
Dominion's Son

@Ernest Bywater

There is at least one author on SOL who has deliberately not coded everything in the story. However, that author put a warning for uncoded activity in the story description. The stated reason was that he didn't want to give everything away.

Now I'm with you that uncoded content is annoying. Thought for me it's more than just squick avoidance.

As a reader I am actively looking for certain kinds of content. I use the category search page a lot and even on the new and updated story lists, I tend to look at the codes before I even read the description.

With uncoded content, I might pass over a story I would have enjoyed.

Switch Blayde

@fxrnyc

People here criticize authors who have a large number of story codes on their stories. Their opinion is the code should only be included if it's significant. So if there's one instance of anal sex in a 10 chapter story, you shouldn't include the story code of "anal."

But it seems, if you don't include it, you're going to piss someone off who is squicked by anal sex.

I don't know how predominant the water sports is in those stories, but maybe that's why it wasn't included.

I've left out a story code when I thought it would ruin a surprise in the story. And I've gotten punished for doing so. But the story is more important to me than the score so I do it anyway.

I think of story codes as a way to find a story I'll like. I've learned most people use them to avoid a story (squick).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

People here criticize authors who have a large number of story codes on their stories. Their opinion is the code should only be included if it's significant.


The only advice I've seen on what codes to use are they should be included unless they're a very minor part of the story and not a known major squick item. I took that to be less than 1% is very minor and can be avoided in the coding, but to include everything else relevant. I'd also extend that to look very closely at any codes in the Fetishes and Sexual Activity sections of the Code Definitions sheet because they're where you're most likely to hit a squick. Some codes do tend to be redundant as well, once you code Gay people won't get uptight if you have anal sex in there without its code because they kind of expect it.

The most use I make of the codes is to find stories to read or to locate a story when someone posts about having trouble finding it.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


and not a known major squick item


That's so hard. I never thought cheating was a squick to so many people. If I wrote a story that wasn't a cheating story but someone in it cheated, I wouldn't include the code. I then found out that many readers hate any story that has any kind of cheating.

I guess I'm more tolerant than most readers. If I come upon something I don't like, I skim it. If it occurs a lot I realize the story isn't for me. But I don't hold it against the author.

Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

I never thought cheating was a squick to so many people.


I agree, and it's not in the two areas I say to be careful of. However, I can see how some people will get upset with cheating if they'd been cheated on, but I still wouldn't see it as a squick point.

Dominions Son

@Switch Blayde

That's so hard. I never thought cheating was a squick to so many people. If I wrote a story that wasn't a cheating story but someone in it cheated, I wouldn't include the code. I then found out that many readers hate any story that has any kind of cheating.


I'll make it even harder. I'm exactly the opposite of the readers you mention. If I read a story and I encounter something I don't like it won't particularly bother me unless it's central to the story.

On the other hand, if I go looking for a story coded for say water sports as an example and I find a story coded for water sports, but it only gets a 1 line mention as a reference to something that happens off stage in a long story, that will piss me off.

Replies:   anim8ed  Switch Blayde
anim8ed

@Dominions Son

On the other hand, if I go looking for a story coded for say water sports as an example and I find a story coded for water sports, but it only gets a 1 line mention as a reference to something that happens off stage in a long story, that will piss me off.


As far as sex tags are concerned my view is if it is a central theme or the act is graphically detailed in the story it should be tagged. Minor mentions of off stage action can be ignored. Those that leave out a tag due to giving away a story twist should use the 'caution' tag and an warning that not all tags are listed.

Known squicks should also be mentioned just to be cautious. I know most of the authors in the forums are aware of major squicks as you discuss them often. New authors and those not on the forums may be unaware and need a nudge to add those tags to a story.

For the record I am about 50/50 in using tags for both finding and avoiding certain topics.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

On the other hand, if I go looking for a story coded for say water sports as an example and I find a story coded for water sports, but it only gets a 1 line mention as a reference to something that happens off stage in a long story, that will piss me off.


That's me exactly!

That's what I meant by using the codes to find a story rather than avoid a story.

Dominion's Son

@anim8ed

Known squicks should also be mentioned just to be cautious. I know most of the authors in the forums are aware of major squicks as you discuss them often.


Remember, every squick you have is someone's kink.

Personally, the only things I actively avoid are pedo (in the strict sense, prepubescent kids) and male/male.

Replies:   Grant
Switch Blayde

@anim8ed

Those that leave out a tag due to giving away a story twist should use the 'caution' tag and an warning that not all tags are listed.


Good point.

For the record I am about 50/50 in using tags for both finding and avoiding certain topics.


I just realized that when I use the Category Search I do check the exclude box for some codes so I sometimes use the codes to exclude stories. But I don't do that often.

ian181

One of the best time travel story I have read on SOL did not include time travel code.Making it damn hard to find doing a category search.

Grant

@Dominion's Son

Remember, every squick you have is someone's kink.

Someone previously mentioned every known squick, the fact is that would be each and every code possible.
Some people would have a squick about gay sex, others about straight sex, some would be OK with M/M, but not F/F, some would have a squick about S&M, yet be ok with B&D.
If something is a one off and not described in great detail then I don't see that it needs to be coded for. If it's a one off, described in great detail, but essential to the plot and coding would give something away it doesn't need to be coded for.
But if it's something that occurs 2-3 times but described in detail it should be coded for. Or it if isn't described in detail, but occurs often it should be coded for.
Of course even then, people will disagree on what is or isn't descriptive, and what is or isn't often.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Grant

people will disagree


Those three words are all that needs to be said.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Dominions Son

And they all are convinced they are right.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

And they all are convinced they are right.


Which is impossible because I'm always right.

docholladay

I can see an author only listing codes as they currently apply to the story as posted. Then as new chapters or parts are posted updating the codes to fit. It seems that has been made possible but underutilized to advantage. Heck I only need codes as applied to currently available chapters not for future planned chapters (which are subject to change). Sometimes a story goes in unplanned directions.

JohnBobMead

@docholladay

Heck I only need codes as applied to currently available chapters not for future planned chapters (which are subject to change). Sometimes a story goes in unplanned directions.


Presuming the story is being posted as written, rather than completed prior to posting.

Crumbly Writer

@docholladay

I can see an author only listing codes as they currently apply to the story as posted. Then as new chapters or parts are posted updating the codes to fit.

That's the ASSTR method (coding each individual chapter), but it doesn't really fit SOL, where readers use codes to both find stories they like, and avoid those they don't. Thus if you don't code a story until chapter 12, you may have already lost your core audience.

Replies:   tppm  Perv Otaku
Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

I was following a story that was being posted like that. after about twenty chapters they posted one that was real dark bdsm stuff - if I'd been warned they were going that way at the start I'd have not started it. The result is I now distrust everything that author posts and avoids all his stories because he can't be trusted not to add crap later.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


I was following a story that was being posted like that. after about twenty chapters they posted one that was real dark bdsm stuff - if I'd been warned they were going that way at the start I'd have not started it. The result is I now distrust everything that author posts and avoids all his stories because he can't be trusted not to add crap later.


The problem is the author has to be up front about the codes used. If they intentionally leave some out then say so in the story's blurb it will warn that some codes have been left out intentionally. Of course sometimes after doing that readers and or critics cause the writer to add one or more codes to the coding list. Trick is what ever methods are used for coding for the writer/poster to be honest about their usage.

edited to add:
I also believe firmly that a reader has to have an open mind. The reader should only make suggestions as they fit the story and characters as written in the story.

docholladay

Codes are a tool in a storytellers tool chest. Used properly they will actually help a story. They can also harm a story if used wrong. My main suggestion is like one story where the author used every possible combination of incest relationships along with the "incest" code. In that case the codes probably hurt the story more than they helped it. The incest code told it all, along with the standard MF, mf etc codes that was used. My suggest is for writers or posters to list the codes that apply to the story then where needed simplify their usage.

Switch Blayde

@docholladay

where the author used every possible combination of incest relationships along with the "incest" code. In that case the codes probably hurt the story more than they helped it. The incest code told it all,


Not so. Let's say I'm looking for a mother/son incest story. In the Category Search, I go to the incest section and check the "mother" and "son" boxes and hit Search. If all the author had for his story was "incest," it would not be found.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

The incest code told it all, along with the standard MF, mf etc codes that was used. My suggest is for writers or posters to list the codes that apply to the story then where needed simplify their usage.


I sort of agree with this, but not fully. If the story has incest with the whole range, or most, of choices, then just the incest code should do it. But it it's incest with just a sister or mother then the incest and the relationship code should be used to narrow the field for searchers.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

I sort of agree with this, but not fully. If the story has incest with the whole range, or most, of choices, then just the incest code should do it. But it it's incest with just a sister or mother then the incest and the relationship code should be used to narrow the field for searchers.


The story I was thinking of had just about every possible combination listed accept for the m/m ones. It was almost like he wanted to include every possible code there was. Turned me off big time since in order to do that, he would have to write nothing but sex acts with maybe a little story as background.

Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

he would have to write nothing but sex acts with maybe a little story as background.


I kind of feel the same way about anything under 150 KB. I frequently see stories with a several line blurb but the story is under 25 kb - that's hardly enough space to introduce two characters, let alone have a story. The few I've looked at seemed more like an outline for a story to be written than a story.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@docholladay

It was almost like he wanted to include every possible code there was.


That was what I was referring to in the discussion about leaving codes out.

The author can't win. When he leaves them out, he gets blamed. When he puts too many in, he gets blamed.

In this example, what if all he put in was "incest" and the reader got to a part that had sex with a grandmother which happens to be a squick for that reader?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Switch Blayde

In this example, what if all he put in was "incest" and the reader got to a part that had sex with a grandmother which happens to be a squick for that reader?


I've seen that handled on another story where they simply coded incest and in the blurb mentioned it was family fun over three generations and that got the concept across well.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

I frequently see stories with a several line blurb but the story is under 25 kb - that's hardly enough space to introduce two characters, let alone have a story.


I disagree. My short story "Last Kiss" is 21KB. It's a complete story. Two main characters and several minor characters. A conflict with a resolution (plot's climax).

Short doesn't mean it's not a complete story. I've quoted Mark Twain before, but I'll do it again. He wrote at the end of a letter to his friend something like: "I apologize for the length of this letter. I didn't have time to make it shorter."

Switch Blayde

@Ernest Bywater

I've seen that handled on another story where they simply coded incest and in the blurb mentioned it was family fun over three generations and that got the concept across well.


That's assuming the author knew it was a squick. Does he put something in the description for each pairing? Or does he do it the clean short way -- include them as story codes.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


That's assuming the author knew it was a squick. Does he put something in the description for each pairing? Or does he do it the clean short way -- include them as story codes.


he doesn't need to know it's a squick for anyone. Most people read the blurb before going to the story, so by saying (in the blurb) the incest takes place across all the family members of three generations someone would have to be exceedingly dumb not to get the meaning of that, and see it as all the combinations or almost all the combinations of the three generations.

edit to add: if they are that dumb, then they deserve to get caught out. There's only so much an author can do to protect people from themselves.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater

That is why I said simplify. In some stories the codes are a necessity in others they can potentially hurt the story. I have the impression at times a writer uses the codes without thinking about the potential conflicts. I like that about the three generations as it includes all the possible combinations within the gender codes used. Of course there will always be someone who will complain about the inclusion or lack of codes. I use codes at times to help me pick stories but usually I go more by the story's blurb.

edited to add: Maybe a code that mentions or includes several generations would help. I can't figure out how that code would be used however, so it is just a crazy idea on my part.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

Maybe a code that mentions or includes several generations would help. I can't figure out how that code would be used however, so it is just a crazy idea on my part.


Use the webmaster link on the home page to suggest Lazeez consider it. I've made suggestions for codes in the past he he's included some and rejected some on how he thinks they may help.

Replies:   docholladay
docholladay

@Ernest Bywater

Its just that when the codes are several times longer than the blurb's. Which is the real story description?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@docholladay

Its just that when the codes are several times longer than the blurb's. Which is the real story description?


from my experience, the answer to the question is - - neither

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

Maybe having a review done as you post the story would add details that would help readers understand what they are going to read. I don't think a review by the author would be independent enough, but some reviewers would be pleased to be the first to review a new story. Perhaps you as author could help specify what the average reader of your story would like to know about it. Even if the reviewer your solicited to do the review gave it a fairly restrained evaluation, it would help gain readers the story was intended for. Think of the reviewer as a beta reader with influence.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
tppm

@Crumbly Writer

I can't speak for others, but I use codes to find, and reject, stories on ASSTR. (I don't use ASSTR's search engine (which isn't worth the paper it's printed on) to do it, but eyeball the codes in the headers.)

You're main point is valid though.

Perv Otaku

@Crumbly Writer

That's the ASSTR method (coding each individual chapter), but it doesn't really fit SOL, where readers use codes to both find stories they like, and avoid those they don't. Thus if you don't code a story until chapter 12, you may have already lost your core audience.

Readers on ALL sites use tags to find or avoid stories.

Different sites handle the chapter issue differently. It seems to be more common that chapters posted individually are filed essentially as separate stories, with or without some mechanism on the author's story page to explicitly show that they are related to each other. Thus they have individual story tags.

Places like here where new chapters are added to the existing story file, I guess you have to ask which is worse, having a tag for something that doesn't happen until a future chapter and causing a reader to be confused or upset about that, or for the reader looking for a certain tag to not start reading your story until you've posted the chapter containing that content.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

I don't think a review by the author would be independent enough, but some reviewers would be pleased to be the first to review a new story. Perhaps you as author could help specify what the average reader of your story would like to know about it.

Richard, that actually sounds like an Excellent idea. Not only would the review attract readers to the newer stories (and reveal how many chapters it is and whether it's finished), but it could specify any story weaknesses or issues (deals with black families, so may not appeal to a majority of white readers--if you want to ignite an online firestorm!).

If you're interested in getting some advanced stories, drop me a note at vincentberg vincentberg com.

I don't use ASSTR's search engine (which isn't worth the paper it's printed on) ...

tppm, or the paper isn't not printed on!

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