How to handle sensitive content

There are times when we discuss things on this site that are sensitive, or potentially triggering. As a matter of courtesy, we ask that you clearly label these things, and if asked by the community, add them if you haven’t already.

It’s not our place to determine what is “okay” or not. It takes just a few minutes, and could spare someone real pain if you do!

How to label sensitive content

First, if you feel your post may be sensitive, please include the #trigger-warning tag. This will clearly label your post to those who see it as something to be aware of.

Next, if you include content that is especially difficult, such as an excerpt, or a question that you’d like to make opt-in, you can use the spoiler feature to hide the text! This is particularly important in threads where the thread itself isn’t an issue, but your post may be.

For example:

Potentially triggering content

This is content that could be triggering. By hiding it behind a spoiler, you’re allowing people to opt in to the discussion.

It’s very easy to do this by clicking the gear icon in the create a new topic window, and licking “hide details.”


Make sure the tags [details=“description”] and [/details] are on a line by themselves, or it won’t work.

How to Mute Tags

With properly labeled topics, participants who would rather not see such content can actually filter it out of their experience by muting the tag. To do this, first go to the tag page by clicking “tags” in the hamburger menu.

Choose the tag you wish to manage. This will show you a list of all the posts with that tag. In the upper right corner, click the circle to reveal the tracking menu. Select “Muted” (towards the bottom.)

This will suppress any notifications, and hide them from your unread and latest tab.

We ask this particularly here in the Reference Desk forums, but this applies site-wide. Trigger warnings are not a matter of being “pc” or “too sensitive,” it’s acknowledging that others have difference experiences, sometimes traumatic experiences, and being respectful of that matter.

We’re not going to ask you to hide silly things (I once had someone demand we remove references to “train wreck” because they had a friend of a friend killed in a train-related accident and they found the reference offensive) but try to be understanding and respectful when people try to tell you that what you’re talking about can be tough to deal with.