WOLF Rating Adjustment: 3-1-3
October 27, 2020, 10:31 AM
Sadhbh
Approved Members

Hello, WOLF pack!

Over the course of 2020, the Community Management team has received numerous questions and concerns related to sexual content and the age of some of our players. To be clear, WOLF has always been an 18+ community; however, minors are able to join with parental permission (which they agree to upon registering and joining the game, per our guidebook) and players that meet this criteria have become an integral part of this community.

As the person that pays for the domain and hosting, thereby the "owner" of WOLF, this scenario truthfully causes me a lot of anxiety related to my liability and accountability. Each time a member reaches out to us with a concern related to this, my anxiety increases. At this point, I do feel it's time that I take a firmer stance — not only to protect myself, but to protect the players here as well. Ultimately, that meant two real choices: a strict ban on minors, with no "loophole" via parental permission, or a strict ban on sexual content.

I'm 32 years old, and I have been participating in play-by-post roleplaying since I was about 13. Many of the people here at WOLF are friends I made way, way back then and I learned so much writing and growing with them. Considering that, I would not feel authentic in placing a strict ban on players under the age of 18, and I would not feel authentic telling the minors that are here with permission that they are no longer welcome. Further, considering that we truly cannot know someone's legal age or approval from guardians without substantial paperwork/overhead, I have made the decision to adjust WOLF's rating to avoid problematic scenarios altogether.

Going forward, WOLF's new rating will be 3-1-3. This means the following level of mature content is acceptable:
  • Language: Swearing and mature language is permitted.
  • Sex: Mild sexual innuendo and references permitted.
  • Violence: Explicit violence is permitted.

While this was discussed briefly by the rest of the CM team, I ultimately gave them no choice due to my assumed legal responsibility as site owner; so if you have concerns about this change in policy, please message them to me directly via PM or on Discord (Melee#0666). I hope you can understand that my goal is to keep problematic situations from occurring on WOLF, whether they be intentional or not.

If you have questions about what is or is not allowed going forward, please ask here so that we can clarify and others can benefit from the answer.
  • What will happen to existing threads with explicit content? It has always been important to the CM team at WOLF that we preserve the creative efforts of our players and that we never remove your access to your writing. All existing threads will remain in the archives.
  • How far can I take sexual content? If you wouldn't feel comfortable writing it, knowing your thread partner may be a thirteen year old, it's probably best to avoid it. Writing out the explicit, physical act(s) of sex will no longer be permitted going forward.
  • Do I still need to mark my threads as mature? Yes; when there is violence, mature language, or even mild sexual innuendo/references, please continue to mark these threads as mature.
  • Will there be a specific forum where sexually explicit content can still be written? Not at this time, and unlikely in the future. Once again, my goal is to reduce the risk of problematic situations involving minors (intentional or not) to protect myself and thread participants from potential legal action, and minors from predatory behavior.
  • So, are we still a community meant for adults? Absolutely. WOLF continues to be a community with a target audience of 18+; we are simply doing what we can to reduce the risk of predatory and unlawful behavior.
  • What about conception threads? These will still be required; make use of those innuendos or fade-to-black. Round over round of explicit detail describing the physical act(s) of sex will no longer be permitted.
October 27, 2020, 10:42 AM
Keres
Firefly Glen
Zeta
Asking here in case I am not the only one with questions/desiring clarity.

What do you, @Sadhbh, count as mild sexual innuendo/references, and where is the line that tips things past "mild"? I have no intention of toeing this line, I would just like to know for my own reference and knowledge. <3

10055/50000 (10055/50000)
October 27, 2020, 10:45 AM
Wylla
Lone Wolves

I had the same question, and was thinking it might be a lot easier and straightforward for you guys to leave it at "must fade sexual content to black" because innuendo and tasteful suggestion is so, so subjective. What's mild in my opinion might cross the line for someone else. Or, more importantly, for someone else's parent who stumbles upon what their child has been reading.
October 27, 2020, 10:49 AM
Sadhbh
Approved Members

It's definitely still a grey area, and one that is going to be difficult for us to give a definitive answer to, but my guiding principle would be what I stated in the original post: if you wouldn't feel comfortable writing it, knowing your thread partner may be a thirteen year old, it's probably best to avoid it.

This isn't a perfect example, either, given that WOLF still allows explicit language and violence, but think about the type of sexual content in PG-13 movies; that's about what I'd consider appropriate for this new rating.
October 27, 2020, 10:57 AM
Erzulie
Sapphique
Obsidian*
<3 i love & support u. ty for continuing to make WOLF a safe place for everyone here, even if that means making decisions that may be tough.

[Image: veve3.png]
October 27, 2020, 11:03 AM
Aibreann
Neverwinter Forest
Eta
(October 27, 2020, 10:57 AM)Erzulie Wrote: <3 i love & support u. ty for continuing to make WOLF a safe place for everyone here, even if that means making decisions that may be tough.
this! x100
October 27, 2020, 11:13 AM
Astraeus
Sagtannet
Dirk
Thank you, Melee & .co! This is important to me for obvious reasons so thanks for making the site a safe space to the best of your ability while making hard choices without having to boot members.

please note: only eye scar is visible presently contrary to art in profile. — join rivenwood!
October 27, 2020, 11:20 AM
Rosalyn
Sapphique
Tanzanite*
(Want to toss some love the other way in here too.  Thank you all for being such an amazing and understanding community <3)
October 27, 2020, 11:24 AM
Nyx
Moonspear
Zeta
(October 27, 2020, 10:57 AM)Erzulie Wrote: <3 i love & support u. ty for continuing to make WOLF a safe place for everyone here, even if that means making decisions that may be tough.

This! Thank you.  :)
October 27, 2020, 11:26 AM
Keres
Firefly Glen
Zeta
(October 27, 2020, 10:49 AM)Sadhbh Wrote: It's definitely still a grey area, and one that is going to be difficult for us to give a definitive answer to, but my guiding principle would be what I stated in the original post: if you wouldn't feel comfortable writing it, knowing your thread partner may be a thirteen year old, it's probably best to avoid it.

This isn't a perfect example, either, given that WOLF still allows explicit language and violence, but think about the type of sexual content in PG-13 movies; that's about what I'd consider appropriate for this new rating.

<3 I guess my confusion is that like. I don't think about who I'm writing against/their age/etc. I just write in response to the thread/post/words/what have you. I don't explicitly think about "how old is this person" so to me the vagueness makes me a little more unsure.

And please don't take this as me arguing the change! I'm all for it, I just... need a clear grasp on things lol. Sorry if I'm coming across as difficult :sob:

10055/50000 (10055/50000)
October 27, 2020, 11:26 AM
Osiris
Firefly Glen
Alpha*
(October 27, 2020, 10:57 AM)Erzulie Wrote: <3 i love & support u. ty for continuing to make WOLF a safe place for everyone here, even if that means making decisions that may be tough.

This!
October 27, 2020, 11:29 AM
Sadhbh
Approved Members

I want to echo Starr: thank you all for your support on this topic. We want to be an inclusive and sex-positive community of adults and give you as much creative freedom as we can, but at the same time need to recognize that we do have minors participating and WOLF needs to consider their safety as well. I was admittedly a little nervous to post this announcement, and I can't put to words how much I appreciate that the community understands that and the intention behind this decision. You're truly the best.
October 27, 2020, 11:34 AM
Sadhbh
Approved Members

(October 27, 2020, 11:26 AM)Keres Wrote:
(October 27, 2020, 10:49 AM)Sadhbh Wrote: It's definitely still a grey area, and one that is going to be difficult for us to give a definitive answer to, but my guiding principle would be what I stated in the original post: if you wouldn't feel comfortable writing it, knowing your thread partner may be a thirteen year old, it's probably best to avoid it.

This isn't a perfect example, either, given that WOLF still allows explicit language and violence, but think about the type of sexual content in PG-13 movies; that's about what I'd consider appropriate for this new rating.

<3 I guess my confusion is that like. I don't think about who I'm writing against/their age/etc. I just write in response to the thread/post/words/what have you. I don't explicitly think about "how old is this person" so to me the vagueness makes me a little more unsure.

And please don't take this as me arguing the change! I'm all for it, I just... need a clear grasp on things lol. Sorry if I'm coming across as difficult :sob:

Not at all, Gina! It may take us a little time but the CM team has discussed putting together a more comprehensive guide; we're working out how to do that without writing examples of content we're trying to avoid. I'm not sure if this make it any less vague, but basically, if it could be considered pornographic in the eyes of the law, avoid writing & report it when you see it going forward.
October 27, 2020, 11:47 AM
Niamh
Redhawk Caldera
Regent*
For reference, here is a site that has the scale of escalation between one rating and the next:

CLICK HERE

So the differences for the second category are:
0 = No sexual content is permitted
1 = Mild sexual innuendo and references permitted
2 = Some sexual content is permitted, with some limitations
3 = Sexual content may be described in detail

So what this shows is a line between "innuendo" and "References" which are both fine, but that the actual "content" falls in the land of a 2. Innuendo means an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one so...Basically yeah, you can reference the act, while being vague and careful about details, but you can not write it out. That would be content, not a reference. 

This help? :)
October 27, 2020, 11:50 AM
Stjornuati
Pledged
Greymoor Watch
(October 27, 2020, 11:47 AM)Niamh Wrote: For reference, here is a site that has the scale of escalation between one rating and the next:

CLICK HERE

So the differences for the second category are:
0 = No sexual content is permitted
1 = Mild sexual innuendo and references permitted
2 = Some sexual content is permitted, with some limitations
3 = Sexual content may be described in detail

So what this shows is a line between "innuendo" and "References" which are both fine, but that the actual "content" falls in the land of a 2. Innuendo means an allusive or oblique remark or hint, typically a suggestive or disparaging one so...Basically yeah, you can reference the act, while being vague and careful about details, but you can not write it out. That would be content, not a reference. 

This help? :)


yessss thank you <3

10055/50000 (10055/50000)
October 27, 2020, 12:03 PM
Sadhbh
Approved Members

Also wanted to stick a comment from Discord here: the CMs are pretty forgiving especially on the grey areas like this. We do a lot of guiding before we even get to a strike, and then it takes three strikes for a ban. The line is really just... avoiding anything that could be construed as pornography. We'll reach out and work with you if we feel you're crossing it and usually that won't be paired with a strike, so please don't stress about accidentally breaking a rule!
October 27, 2020, 12:43 PM
Merrit
Easthollow
Family
I wanted to voice my support of this change as well, and thank you for your dedication to making this community safe and comfortable for everyone who writes here <3 I never spoke up about the rating myself, but many of the breaks I've taken over the years have been driven, in part, by my own discomfort with the level of sexual content that has been allowed here, even as a 26-year-old adult. I am pleased that you decided to make this change, and thank you again for showing all of us, regardless of our age, such thoughtful care <3

with quiet words I'll lead you in
October 27, 2020, 01:04 PM
Cyprin

Big support for this and completely understand the anxiety of any issues that may come- especially when a minor is involved in any of those specific scenes, which can be hard to control.

I definitely like this rule.
10/10
October 27, 2020, 01:14 PM
Sadhbh
Approved Members

Thank you all for your questions! For now, I'll post the answers as separate replies, but these will all eventually get consolidated to a guide.

Is explicit violence still okay? Yes. Violence is still rated as a 3. I understand that this is still considered mature content and not everyone is comfortable reading it, hence the continued requirement of marking threads and posts with a mature warning. There is nothing illegal about writing about this content in a fictional setting. WOLF is also about, well, wolves -- and violence is very much a part of their nature.

Why isn't there simply a zero-tolerance policy on anything sexual? I am not implementing a zero tolerance policy because the goal of this change is not to completely censor the community from writing or talking about these topics. Referencing the fact that your character has gone through sexual trauma, or connected with another character, is within the guidelines. Implying that it occurred in a thread through the use of metaphor is within the guidelines. There is nothing illegal about that. However, explicit details of the acts occurring round over round between multiple participants, is no longer allowed; given that we never truly know the age of thread participants, the goal is really to avoid anything that could be construed as illegal activity OOC (i.e. abuse of a minor).

Why is there still a #nsfw channel on Discord? The short version is that there are different legal protections in play between these forums and Discord. I self-host these forums. Discord is a third-party with controls built-in and a ToS that users agree to follow, regardless of what server(s) they belong to. If minors lie to gain access to these channels and violation is discovered, it could result in a ban from Discord itself, as well as our server.

What about content in past threads? These threads are "safe", in that you are not required to modify them and you will not receive a strike for following the rating guidelines WOLF had at the time of writing. We do not delete threads or posts as a hard policy on WOLF, as we consider your writing and creativity to be pretty sacred; we also do not want to break continuity by doing so. If it is your personal preference to update your past posts to meet the new guidelines, please request revivals in maintenance so that you are able to edit and can then archive them again on your own.
October 27, 2020, 02:59 PM
Brouhaha
Legion
Denizen
I wasn't aware anyone was raising concerns; I'm glad to know it! In all honesty I can't say any of this much changes anything I've ever written or done with characters in the past, but it is a good thing to be mindful of and does potentially mean some significant tweaks going forward (which is possibly mildly disappointing but not the end of the world or even all that meaningful character-development-wise, tbh). I'd always found the "just label it, yo!" ruling to be sufficient but I am pleased if this lets others be more comfortable in this community. <3 Like most here I started RPing at a young age, before the internet or most any community on it had anysuch rules, and even now I appreciate not running across explicit anything (sex or violence) with no warning. I'm glad if younger people also can enjoy what was a big part of our childhoods, too!

Not to mention I don't want CMs to be losing any sleep over managing this community, eesh! Most of us are adults; ALL of us are of an age to pretty reasonably be expected to exhibit some self-control and maturity. This is a pretty sane ruling to be making and I'm glad it also reduces legal liability pretty significantly; the awesome volunteers who keep this place afloat should not be having to suffer (or worry about potentially ending up suffering) problems IRL because of our collective wolf-writing funsies.

I don't think it's actually possible to have much more concrete lines drawn around this, either; it's always going to br at least somewhat subjective of a call. "Would a PG-13 movie have this" or "would I be okay with a 13yo reading this" is a pretty good guideline. (And remember, once upon a time sexual/explicit content included things like talking about tables having "legs" or allowing female elbows to be on display—things which in some super-conservative cultural pockets of the world might still be considered too vulgar even now. And we do have and want a diverse community at Wolf! In general I'd rather exercise a little judicious self-censorship within reason than chase people away.)

One additional, somewhat tangential suggestion, though: while this too isn't likely to be able to be implemented perfectly, it would be nice if there was official encouragement of people labeling their older more explicit threads too if possible— in practice, probably just a nudge to have anyone who happens to have older threads falling outside these bounds to please bring it to CM (or PM??) attention to have it updated with an appropriate warning label, as well as if anyone happens to run across others' threads in need in the archives. Not that it's hugely urgent or going to catch everything, but it would be helpful and appreciated by me (and I think others) as players, and particularly in light of the presence of minors in the community. Just a thought!
October 27, 2020, 03:15 PM
Maegi
Yuèlóng
Rénmen
^ Agree with Bryn on the above flagging of old threads. . .please, if anyone runs across any writing of mine that wasn't properly tagged, at least within the title or first post of the thread, do let me know so I can go back and tag it properly! I try to be mindful but there could have been slips.

NaWoWriMo Word Count:
October 27, 2020, 04:40 PM
Taikon
Lone Wolves

I support an overall rating change and appreciate the effort put in my both our CMs and our member responses.

Clarification on where the line is will probably be something that will be learned and adjusted over time, but I'd like to point out that just because one person is uncomfortable does not mean that the line has been crossed. Even the MPAA that rates films does not have explicit criteria for what constitutes sexual content, except that sex can't be referenced in G movies.

PG-13 implies "sexual situations", which is why you often see actors doing sensual movements while partially nude. I'd like to see this type of freedom granted given that writers often experiment with sexuality in their characters at Wolf. I'm not sure where the line should be, but I do worry about policing creative writing (partly because it's more work on y'all).

I think the 3-1-3 rating is a stretch and would like to see a 3-2-3 rating to be consistent with what "PG-13" implies, or else change the language to "PG"
October 27, 2020, 05:44 PM
Sadhbh
Approved Members

I think hairs are getting a bit split. For a reference point, the way I think about the RPG ratings is that 3 is about the equivalent of NC-17, 2 as R, and 1 as PG-13. That being said, MPAA ratings are a familiar reference point but they are not a direct mapping, and I did outline in more detail here what specifically I would like us to avoid. I am very against a zero tolerance policy in regards to sexual content precisely because I don't want to infringe too much on creative freedom. The situation you described will still be acceptable at WOLF, but the requirement is that it is not done in a way that could be construed OOCly as illegal behavior if a minor is directly involved/engaging. Exploration can still be had without requiring turn-based, graphic descriptions of sexual acts.

Because it is a bit subjective, I prefer to err on the side of too conservative. This isn't a moral judgement. This is risk reduction. The adjusted rating is 3-1-3. I understand that this may not be for everyone, but when it comes to protecting members of this community as well as my IRL assets, I'm drawing as hard of a boundary as I can, while still giving as much creative control to the writers here as I can. It's a balancing act.
October 27, 2020, 06:13 PM
Taikon
Lone Wolves

(October 27, 2020, 05:44 PM)Sadhbh Wrote: I think hairs are getting a bit split. For a reference point, the way I think about the RPG ratings is that 3 is about the equivalent of NC-17, 2 as R, and 1 as PG-13.

Thanks for clarifying - I think the PG vs PG-13 boundary is harder to define so that was my only concern.

For the record, legality-wise I can't think of a single state that includes writing as sexual activity or contact, so even if a parent got upset you'd be fine. It's obviously still something worth preventing, just thought I would mention that so maybe you lose zero sleep.