So what's the deal with what I'm going to go ahead and call 'overwarning' with regards to fic? It used to be that you just had to put a rating on a story, and whether it was gen or slash or ship, and what pairing if there was one. But now... I don't know if it's the influence of AO3 or if they took it from somewhere else, but...
I understand warning for character death, I guess. Torture, I suppose. Graphic violence, maybe... but isn't that something that should be covered in the rating? I mean, if I go to a rated R movie (or watch a show on premium cable), I don't get to complain when folks get hacked up or there's naked people. When I go to read a fic and it's rated Mature, I don't need to be warned that there's violence and bad words or... gosh, what else have I seen warnings for. Racism. Bullying. 'Temporary' Character Death.
I read a book a few months ago that was a sequel to another book I really enjoyed. The sequel was darker, which wasn't a huge surprise since it takes place during a war. There's a scene in the book where one of the main character's uneasy allies tries to rape her, and she's forced to kill him in a rather gruesome way. It was kind of shocking and one of my first thoughts was "man if that was in a fic the author would have been expected to warn for it." And yet if the author of this published work had put in a forward with "oh hai btw warnings for attempted rape/non-con and character death lol!"... well, it wouldn't happen. Even if it did, it would have taken all the punch out of that scene. And books don't even come with ratings. And this was a YA book to begin with.
So why are the expectations so different for fic? Yes, it's not fun to read about stuff you don't like. Yes, there's a lot of it out there. And yes, especially when you're using AO3, it can be kind of addictive when you start tagging stuff. But there's also something to be said for being a responsible consumer and not expecting to get a CliffNotes version of the story before you even read a single word.