FEATURE: Update the Review Process to Empower Community Authors

I decided to create this forum topic before submitting a formal letter to Episode because:

  1. I believe this is a public issue that concerns the larger Episode community, and
  2. I do not think this request could stand alone without the clear support of many other Episode users
What prompted this thread?

In November of 2022, users @/baechulgi and @/tanyaepisodeauthor had their stories removed from the app due to “unauthorized internal code.” What does that mean? What was the code? The explanations that were handed down to us by our forum moderators were deliberately vague. Further, when requesting additional information or asking about a means to appeal the decision, Episode support refused to work with the authors further—effectively washing away years of their hard work. Though this example is far from a rare occurrence, it confirmed to me how unprotected community authors are when it comes time to advocate for their art.


So, what specifically am I asking for? I am requesting large changes to the TOS and story review process wherein:

I. Community authors engage in open conversation with reviewers throughout the review process for their stories. Community authors work intently and explicitly with reviewers to discuss the content of their work.

From start to finish, I want to know who looked at my story; what specific faults they found; how these examples were not in accordance with the guidelines; and by what criteria the reviewer(s) reached their conclusion. In accordance with each story’s unique portrayal, I want a personalized progress report. No more auto-generated messages with ambiguous allusions to parts of my work that require revision. There needs to be a living dialogue between humans occurring in these reviews. Lack of nuance in the review process leads to unnecessary censure and stifled creativity en masse.

II. Community authors are always alerted BEFORE their story is taken off the platform and given time to revise their work.

If, after undergoing this new, transparent review dialogue, Episode feels that a story—for ANY reason, big or small—should be deleted from public view, community authors should always be given a minimum of two weeks’ notice before their story is blacklisted or removed permanently. They should be given an equal amount of time to make revisions to their work.

III. Community authors are always able to appeal their story’s termination/removal/censorship to a fair judge.

If a community author believes they have abided by the guidelines and does not wish to revise their work, community authors always should be able to present their work before a rotating review board as an avenue to deter wrongful termination and potentially reinstate their work to the platform. The appeal review board should consist of at least four human individuals; half of these persons should not be Pocket Gems employees. I.e., in the pursuit of equity, the review board should NOT solely be made up of those under Pocket Gems’ payroll. These non-Pocket Gems review board members should be vetted (at least 18 years of age, reputable, able to reason and consent, etc.) readers/writers from the Episode community who are familiar with the platform and guidelines.

IV. Community authors have/know they have these updated rights as writers on Episode.

“Rights” include the implementation of the previous three points as well as any actions that ensure the creative autonomy and welfare of community authors. I want community authors to clearly know of these rights and the lack thereof. Veteran or novice—all community authors should be able to defend their work.


Attached below are a few excerpts from my conversations with other community members who are disappointed with Episode’s negligent handling of community authors and stories:


If you agree with these proposed changes, please like and support this topic. If you have questions, please ask them. I will do my best to give a thoughtful reply, but remember that I do not have all the answers—just a hopeful outline for the way I think things should be. Thank you for your support!

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For context, I’d been working on this post on and off for about a year. I doubt it’ll catch any fire with the forums closing, but since I’m not migrating to Discord, I thought it would be an equal shame to let this die in my drafts without anyone ever seeing the proposal. Best case scenario, someone else takes this idea and runs with it. Thank you so much to everyone who shared their opinions with me over DM! I wish I could have gotten this out under better circumstances :')

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