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As pointed out recently, there are a set of stories that while interesting and on-topic are maybe sensitive in various work contexts.

We’ve also previously covered a similar concept for classified material–things that might show up here that while not a potential HR issue might instead result in trouble for having been read by cleared personnel.

At any rate, maybe it’s time to add a way of filtering stories that might raise eyebrows for employed lobsters (at least until they get home).

What do folks think?


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    I think nsfw better captures the sentiment.

    Obviously, I am strongly in favor. Most of us with jobs don’t control the environment in which we work, and given the choice between (1) considering these stories off-topic, (2) excluding lobsters who happen to be at work (or forcing them to potentially risk their job), and (3) adding a tag, I think the costs and benefits very clearly point to 3.

    (The classified tag would have been useful to a much smaller portion of users, and much harder to apply correctly, as noted in the linked discussion thread.)

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      Yes there’s actually nothing SENSITIVE about dildos, there is something NSFW about it. There’s nothing wrong with sex, but there is something wrong with our workplaces and we have to accommodate that or we’ll be punished and that’s the short and skinny of it. NSFW helps communicate that it’s about the workplace and is not an attempt to censor, but rather to help those under censorship.

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        Do any employers simply block sites that may have nsfw content (of course!)? How do they discover it? Like, do they just crawl through proxy logs and search for pages that have keywords? Rely on blacklists? Presumably, there’s no danger in “nsfw” flagging lobsters as an inappropriate site, right? Especially since I can think of just a few submissions that the tag would apply to over the last couple if years… But, I don’t run an IT organization where I have to think about this, either…

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        Original linker here.

        I think it’s ridiculous. Literally every link aggregator and forum that has NSFW/“sensitive” tagging quickly realizes that nobody defines it the same and they should have been more specific!

        If you want to filter out anything having to do with sex, then have a sex tag. Same goes for graphic/gory images. Also, we should differentiate between the word “sex” in writing and photos of people having sex, so we’ll want a sexual imagery tag (and then, to be fair to the weebs, hentai, yaoi, yuri, futa and the rest so they can still see just the types they approve of). Plus a tag or, better yet, trigger warnings for my acute trypophobia. And then a tag for profanity because I might have children walk behind me while I’m at a bus stop and I don’t want some kid picking up new words because of me. Oh, and tag anything mentioning my employer’s competitor, because I don’t want to be caught with their logo big as day on my screen when my boss walks by. Plus any posts linking to Linux newsgroups will need a threats of physical violence tag because of that truculent Fin!

        Or we can just remain a technology-focused link aggregator and flag+remove anything off-topic and leave the things that are reasonable for that site description, even if they have the horrible, no-good, very bad word “sex”.

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          Please don’t get overboard. This response draws in a lot of unrelated things that didn’t happen here and we generally react on actual issues. Many of the things you describe have not happened, so it’s no use to bring them into the discussion. For example, no one mentioned trigger warnings, it’s you introducing them. (we can have a trigger warning discussion elsewhere, I find them useful for $reasons, but have had no practical need here)

          As useless as I find an NSFW or sensitive tag, keeping the discussion at a serious and constrained level is also important. It’s a valid point to raise, please don’t make it seem like is not.

          My stance on the issue is that your title made it sufficiently clear what the topic of linked post is.

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            This is not about what any of us may think—it’s about what our respective employers may think, and I’m pretty sure they are, with few exceptions, pretty conservative on the issue.

            I don’t think your slippery slope is very compelling. What’s being proposed is a single tag to broadly indicate to employed lobsters—most of us, by all indications—that a given story could generate awkward conversations with one’s boss. I think it’s pretty clear what “NSFW” means, and objective criteria aren’t required—the suggestion mechanism will handle edge cases just fine.

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              Yep. So, I look at aggregators on my phone so nobody can see any stuff that pops up. Few workplaces would ban smartphones but allow people to goof off on computers. Seems like it’s easy to solve for people worrying about it. Plus, I dont force others to put work into meeting my preferences that came with the job I chose.

              I dont object to a nsfw tag, though. It’s pretty common practice on social media. Im for courtesy. Im just also for realism. People concerned about a web page getting them fired should take precautions cuz this is random people on the Internet posting stuff.

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                What is Not Safe For Work? Here in the United States, nudity is pretty much Not Safe For Work, but in Europe, maybe not (I don’t know, I don’t live in Europe). Conversely, violence is okay here in the United States (sadly) but it’s probably Not Safe For Work in Europe.

                Much better then to have tags like “nudity”, “sexual imagry”, “violence” etc. than just one NSFW tag.

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                  If it’s not safe for your work, suggest the tag. If it is don’t worry about it. I’d rather get some false positives than some false negatives. After all I can always open on my phone with the tag not hidden. I think tagging with nudity, sexual imagery etc is way too complicated, and frankly I don’t care why it’s not safe for work. I just care that someone felt that they couldn’t show it at their job.

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                  it’s about what our respective employers may think

                  I’ll bite - your employeer’s unreasonable work-monitoring policies should not be our problem or nuisance.

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                    I completely fail to see how an nsfw tag rises to the level of a problem or a nuisance.

                    This is not about “work monitoring”. My workplace is fairly permissive, but it would still be awkward if my boss happened to see an article about smart dildoes on my screen. Many, many workplaces would go beyond just an awkward moment. I think it’s safe to say that most users here are employed, and I think it’s also safe to say that most are not employed at a workplace so free-wheeling as to be completely unconcerned if its employees are visiting inappropriate pages.

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                      Sure, but if an article about smart dildoes is on your screen, you already clicked a link that says “Deldo is a sex toy control and teledildonics mode for Emacs”. How would the tag have helped you? It’s not like someone hid the nature of the content.

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                        That title is on the front page of lobste.rs regardless, and there’s nothing resembling a guarantee that titles are always so explicit.

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                  A rather sanctimonious response to someone who just wants to be able to look at a programming site at their job. If you think it could be NSFW, then mark it, if not and someone does they’ll mark it. I was the one who made the comment on your post, and I read the article at home. It’s really great that you work at a place where you can scroll through titles about dildos or are willing and wealthy enough to get fired out of principle. To those of us without those liberties, you sound like an asshole.

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                    I find that problem description weird. If you can run into problems of getting fired for the link titles on a news page, we cannot reliably save you from that.

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                      Cool to ignore the thing that I said would work, and works for literally nearly every site on the web. Why is there push back on this? I’m not saying we should hide content, or censor anything. I merely would like to be able to filter out NSFW things at work. I find this whole conversation super weird. If there’s no way to filter NSFW content on lobsters, then I’m going to have to start reporting every “NSFW” article and that seems frankly draconian. A lot of american jobs are like this, you are the one in the bubble. I don’t think it’s right that our workplaces are like this, I think its shitty and regressive but I also am not in denial about the reality of the average american workplace.

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                    I agree. It’s impossible to come up with a consensus about what is “sensitive” and what’s not. I think that by looking at the title and the URL that is being linked to, a reasonable person should be able to decide if it’s “safe” for them to open the link. If it’s borderline, then don’t open it or click the “save” button and view it at home.

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                      The linked poster wants the tag so that the title itself can be filtered from the homepage, not as a warning not to open it.

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                        I understand the purpose of a filter. The filter will always be flawed because it will filter out what the hivemind/mods/vocal minority think is sensitive, not what the user thinks is sensitive and it will generate all sorts of low value meta discussion about whether an article is/isn’t sensitive.

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                          Sensitive is fundamentally the wrong direction to go. Instead NSFW is much better. There is no debating if it is NSFW or not, you merely say this is not safe for my work and the poster tags as NSFW. Anyone who is at work will be grateful to be spared a potential risk. False positives here are not a problem, if you don’t want any false positives don’t filter the tag. Anyone who is not at work can read it without issue and life moves on.

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                      Hey, I agree with your position–just running the process. :)

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                        It’s already tagged with emacs; that should make most reasonable people not want to open it anyhow 😉

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                      I’m pretty skeptical that it’s of any use. What I think we need - and already have - is accurate titles. If a story title is something about remote-control dildos, it’s reasonably likely to contain pictures of dildos and maybe discussion of them. Best not to click it at work just in case. If somebody links something with big adult imagery pictures without a title clearly indicating so, then the title should be edited, or story deleted, or user banned, etc as appropriate for the situation.

                      If your workplace is so sensitive that viewing a link aggregator with a titled link to a story that mentions dildos somehow is enough to get you in some sort of trouble, then maybe you shouldn’t browse non-work-related sites at all. I don’t think we could ever come up with enough filters to keep you completely safe at such an environment.

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                        I’m conflicted a bit – I don’t care about the inclusion of a nsfw tag, really, but I kind of find it pointless.

                        it’s highly subjective and the broad spectrum of content on this site does not include typically nsfw content – IE sex, violence, etc – for it’s own sake. instead, material of that nature is usually only posted when there’s a specific intersection with technology and being informative on a somewhat deeper level. And even then, the titles are usually pretty clear and informative about what will be found in the article and the domain is listed. If it’s questionable, the article can be saved for later perusal, and/or maybe the title updated to reflect more accurately the article in question.

                        If your workplace would have serious repercussions for simply displaying a title that relates to an inappropriate-for-your-workplace-topic, perhaps it’s not best to risk it, and view a website like lobste.rs at work at all? Otherwise, aren’t you taking responsibility for what happens when your workplace catches you?

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                          Maybe there should instead be a set of “content notification”-style tags, in a different color (to indicate that they’re flags rather than community topics in themselves): One for sex, one for violence, one for classified material, maybe one for politics, and so on. This would let people decide for themselves what is NSFW in their particular context.

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                            I think adding several tags, or a tag infrastructure is going too far. I’d much rather have a simple NSFW tag, that if it catches too much I’ll figure out later when I get home. Most of the time on lobsters there won’t be any NSFW articles, we don’t typically post NSFW things. If you wouldn’t like to see it in your workplace mark it NSFW, and if you don’t care, then don’t mark it. This is not a trigger warning solution, this is a “There are possible job consequences that would mean I can’t read this site at work”, I’d much much rather have false positives than fail to filter something because someone put it under (content warning: very specific nsfw thing that I didn’t know to filter). Adding a content warning infrastructure is a much bigger request than just a single tag.