1. What do you do if you read a story that violates guidelines?
It depends on what aspect of the guidelines it has violated.
In my time reading, I have reported three stories in total. Those reasons included CLEAR plagiarism, and graphic scenes that made me, a 35 year old woman who writes difficult topics, nearly throw up (especially with no trigger warning).
I have read a few I knew violated guidelines, like the 5 f’s and the victim/weapon/blood restrictions, and I message the author to let them know their story violates guidelines, and I would hate for it to be reported.
1.a. Should you message the author privately or report the story straight away?
As stated above, for me, it depends on the violation.
2. What do you think the process should be for readers to report stories?
I think there should be a marker for when the person reports the story, like at which line number, so that Episode can closely examine what part of the story was flagged. This would help them better identify violations, but also weed out those people who report a story for stupid reasons. Obviously, if the story was grossly offensive to the reader, the story should be reported at the exact time of the violation.
3. What do you think the process should be for authors once they’re story has been reported?
I have been flagged before for my story, and I had no problem with the process. It was removed from ranks, I was emailed with specific things including line number of things that violated guidelines. In question of certain issues (portrayal of emotions tied to self-harm) I worked WITH Episode to formulate better wording that still was impactful, but did not violate guidelines. It was stressful to be reported, but I the interaction with the review team was pleasant.
4. Should every story that gets reported go through the same process?
Yes. Saying that, if someone violates guidelines in the SAME manner several times, there should be a strike policy.
4.a. Should ALL authors of reported stories be given a chance to amend it or are some violations just too bad that they don’t deserve a second chance?
I think it depends on what the violation is. I believe in three strikes, but it has to be the same issue. Perhaps one time was language, another time blood, another time sexual content. Perhaps the author was not fully aware of the specifics of those individual guidelines. Now, if an author keeps getting reported for graphic sex scenes or excessive vulgar language… then it deserves to be removed.
4.b. Should ALL reported stories be removed from the app while they are being reviewed?
Depends on the violation. If it is something vulgar and offensive, it should be removed.
If it is something minor, like the 5 f’s or wording of certain things, I think removing from ranks is sufficient.
5. Should trigger warnings and/or the choice to skip violent or sexual scenes be taken into consideration when a story is reported?
Trigger warnings do not give an author permission to violate guidelines.
Trigger warnings and skips give readers that MAY be triggered the opportunity to be forewarned, or to skip a scene that may be triggering. It does not have to be graphic to be triggering. I have recently told a friend not to read a story because she recently lost a child and certain aspects of the story may be triggering to HER, but in no way shape or form violates guidelines.
Trigger warning and skips do NOT excuse violations.
6. Should reporting stories be treated similar to reader retention? For example… If you have 1 million reads, but only 1000 people have reported it, that’s only 0.0001% of readers who have reported it. But if you have 100 reads and only 1 reports it, that’s 10% of your readers.
I think if the number of reports in relation to number of reads is high, it should be a priority to look into violations.
7. Have you had a story of your own reported? If so, what was your experience? You don’t have to share it if you don’t want to.
Yes I have. Yes, I was stressed out, panicked, but I now tell people that have been reported to not stress too much about it. Make the changes, and don’t make the mistakes again. If there are any questions on if something violates guidelines, ASK. I have NUMEROUS times, just to make sure.
I sent Episode my complete list of possible questionable crude humor in my comedy to make sure they did not violate guidelines. Each time I have a difficult scene, I ask if I can say “…”.
It is always better to be safe, than sorry.
8. Anything else?
It would be nice if Episode published some of the specifics on the guidelines that only those who have violated or those around them know about. Example: 5 f’s rule and the victim/blood/weapon rule.