Content Guidelines


#1

Hello Episode Community!

You’ve been asking for more specifics on our content guidelines and clarity on many of the points. At the end of the day, it is not possible for us to provide a list of everything that is (or is not) allowed on the Episode platform as many scenarios are heavily context-based and will need to be reviewed on an individual story-by-story basis.

What is or is not acceptable on the Episode Platform and in the Episode Community?

Our Official Content Guidelines are as follows:

If stories contain objectionable or offensive content, we may not be able to feature or host them on Episode. Stories must always be appropriate for readers ages 13 or older, which means content would be objectionable if it, among other things:

  • promotes or depicts excessive violence or assault, including but not limited to sexual assault, murder, and torture against humans or animals;
  • includes hate speech or content that promotes hatred or discrimination against individuals or groups, on the basis of race, ethnic or national origin, religion, marital status, disability, gender, age, or sexual orientation;
  • promotes suicide, self-harm, abuse, or bullying;
  • promotes excessive alcohol, tobacco or drug use;
  • promotes gambling, betting or casinos;
  • portrays adult themes, including pornographic content, nudity, or prostitution;
    slanders or libels a person or third party;
  • includes excessive use of profanity or sexually explicit phrases;
    advertises for outside products or services, including but not limited to website links, reviews, and promotional language;
  • excessively promotes the use of firearms, explosives, and ammunition; or
  • excessively promotes a political agenda.

In addition, by publishing your story, you agree that it does not include any content that infringes the intellectual property rights or rights of publicity or privacy of any third party. This may include using any of the following without permission:

  • any works of authorship of other parties, including excerpts or passages taken from literary works, television or film;
  • any trademarks or references to corporate or business names; or
  • any references to real persons or places.

To clarify, let’s break it down.

Censor Bar Use, Nudity, and Sexual Content:

  • Depiction of sex (or anything suggesting that sex is occurring at that moment) in any form, including but not limited to, gyrating bodies, oral sex, or moaning/groaning is not allowed.
  • Explicit details of what is happening or has happened off-screen is also not allowed.
  • Any nudity on cover art is strictly not allowed.
  • Frontal nudity is allowed in a story if it is not excessive, only used in non-sexual situations, and always accompanied with censor bars or scenery to censor.
  • Posterior nudity in a story is only allowed in a tasteful and non-sexual context.

References to Drugs & Alcohol:

  • No graphic / explicit / detailed descriptions or glorification of the use of drugs / alcohol.
  • Characters can consume alcohol, tobacco or marijuana as well as make references to these drugs.
  • Characters can make references to harder drugs (cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, etc.) but they cannot be depicted or consumed on screen.
  • If a story references characters consuming these substances, it cannot be glorified or encouraged.
  • Characters can be addicts or addicts can be referenced provided the representation is respectful, contextually appropriate and doesn’t glorify being an addict.

References to Assault, Violence & Torture:

  • No graphic / explicit / detailed descriptions of rape / assault / violence / gore / etc.
  • Authors can give general descriptions or broad strokes, but not details.
    • Ex: they can say a rape / murder / assault happened, but cannot describe the details, injuries or physical sensations.
    • Physical or sexual abuse can referenced provided the representation is respectful, contextually appropriate and doesn’t glorify being a victim / survivor.
  • Torture cannot be depicted on screen. References to torture, and evidence of torture are allowed, but cannot be explicit or gratuitous.

Suicide & Self-Harm:

  • Themes of suicide and self harm are allowed on the Episode platform, but must be presented respectfully, maturely and in a non-glorifying way.
  • No graphic / explicit / detailed descriptions of suicide / self-harm / etc.
  • Authors can give highlights or broad strokes, but not details
    • Ex: they can say a suicide / self harm happened, but cannot have in-depth descriptions of the details, injuries or physical sensations.
      • Suicide and self harm cannot be depicted as feeling good, being a relief, or as a means of escape.
  • Creators cannot show blood, gore or bodies resulting from a suicide.
    • Ex: blood dripping down the wrists, cuts, gunshot wounds or a body hanging in a noose, etc.

Hate Speech:

  • Hate speech - in any form - is not allowed. Specifically, references of – including but not limited to – any slur made on the basis of race, ethnic or national origin, religion, marital status, disability, gender, age, or sexual orientation.
  • References to persons who promote hate, and notorious political figures are only allowed in historical context and passing reference to communicate setting, era, theme, and / or time.
  • Promotion or honoring of hate symbols is not allowed at all.

Advertising/Promotion:
*Authors may promote their story, Episode related website and / or Episode social media account.

  • They may not advertise or promote other services or platforms on the Episode services.

Songs, Brands, Celebrities and Children:

  • Songs and Brands
    • One-time use of a very limited amount of song lyrics may be allowed. Characters may sing these or they can appear coming out of radios, etc.
    • Passing references to brands are allowed. An example being: “I love Oreo cookies.”
    • Brands cannot be a plot point or drive the story.
  • Real People and Places
    • No celebrity images or illustrated likenesses are allowed on backgrounds, overlays or story cards.
    • References to celebrities are allowed in stories, e.g.,: “Taylor Swift is my favorite singer.”
    • Celebrities may NOT appear as characters.
    • Celebrities cannot be a plot point or drive the story.
    • Story cards, backgrounds or overlays cannot contain brand references or celebrity likenesses
    • Story cards, overlays or backgrounds cannot have children (under the age of 16) be the focus. A parent holding an infant is okay. The focus is the parent. Children playing on a playground would also be okay as the focus is the playground. A close up of a child on a swing would not be.
    • Copyright Policy & Take Down Requests

If we find that a story does not conform to our Content Guidelines listed above, we will contact the author via their portal account email and may suspend and/or remove that story from the platform. Authors who repeatedly violate Content Guidelines may be temporarily or permanently suspended from all or part of our platform.

Hopefully this clarifies some of the questions and concerns we receive around what is appropriate in our app. As always, please reach out to our Support Desk with any questions you have about content within your story. We’re here to help!

Thank you all for your understanding and for continuing to write for Episode!

Love,

The Episode Team

UPDATED 8/21/17
Thank you for all your feedback! These are some of the points that we’ve received the most feedback on-

  1. While we appear “12+” on the Apple Store and “Teen” on the GooglePlay store, our platform is intended for teenagers 13+. In fact, players under the age of 13 are prohibited from using our service. If there is a case where you know about an underage player, please report them, and they will be removed from our platform.

  2. Additionally, we do not allow romantic stories about teenagers under the age of 16 and no stories that focus on children under the age of 13. If there are romantic stories about children under the age of 16, please report them to us.

  3. We do not have the ability to display a story before review, and a story after review without the author’s permission – as every author owns their own written story. Additionally, we are committed to respecting the privacy of players accounts.

  4. As a platform we are not prepared to remove a story simply because it’s unliked or makes us uncomfortable if it doesn’t violate our guidelines.


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#2

#3

These guidelines seem to be more specific and detailed than the ones available in the TOS. This is definitely helpful.


#4

I really appreciate that these more specific guidelines, that have been available on zendesk for a while now, are now being placed in an easier to find location. Thank you very much!


#5

This is very clear and detailed! Thank you for this!


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#6

Thank you so much for this. A lot of doubts concerning what can or can not be added in a story is pretty evident now. :raised_hands:


#7

This is definitely more clear and concise than before. Thanks!


#8

Thank you! This is definitely clearer than the old forum’s guidelines.

What about swear words? I know there’s a limit of 5 F-words, does this still apply? Also what about other swear words? Eg. shit, crap, bitch?

Also what about minimal sexual references like: “I can help you with it… winks”? It’s just I have a very dirty-minded character and wondering what would be allowed for her to say.


#9

what about the cameron dallas story? :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

and how many swears can you say in a chapter/story? i love having my charas swear but i’ve been a bit unaware of this rule…can you elaborate?


I can make perfect cover arts for you
#10

I definitely agree with all of the other guidelines, but I do have a question: does this mean that we cannot have a story in which the protagonist/MC experiences racism? I would love to see stories which depict racism as a bad thing and attempt to find ways to deal with it appropriately without promoting hate speech.

For example, I would love to write a story which is about 60s civil rights, or the struggles that the LGBT community may go through. Would these be prohibited?


#11

Hi! We appreciate your questions, but we do recommend contact suppose and requesting a story review if you are worried your story does not meet the guidelines. Thanks!


#12

We worked closely with Cameron Dallas to have him appear in an Episode Official story, much like how we did with Demi.

Swear words are allowed, as long as they are not excessively used. If you feel like you may be crossing the line, I would recommend trimming down the swear words or submitting a story review request via a ticket. :slight_smile:


#13

These are very good questions, and we do not want to block you from working on or exploring sensitive stories. We agree that there are stories that need to be told.

With that, we would recommend submitting for the story review if you feel like it may be portraying strong themes of racism or abuse. That way we can work with you on portraying these cases appropriately. :heart:


#14

I apologize for playing Devil’s Advocate here, but for each of these topics, what’s the most explicit content that someone could get away with?


#15

What is defined as ‘excessive’ use of profanity?


#16

I believe it would be constant use. Like dropping an f bomb more than like 10 times in an episode.


#17

It may be different, that is just my guess lol


#18

I have an important question (again).
If background or cover has a watermark, is it allowed to be used in story?


#19

Depends whose watermark it is I think, if you have made/got somebody to make it or the person gave you permission to use it, I think it will be fine. Although, if it’s copyrighted or something then you may not be able to. If Episode has approved it, then I guess it’s fine to use? I don’t know a lot about it all, but I hope this has helped a bit :slightly_smiling_face:


#20

“Depends whose watermark it is”
I don’t believe this is how it goes, this would then mean double standards.

There must be one one answer for all. @Liz @Trinady?