Moderator AMA About Content Guidelines

Hi Hi,

While some of you have noticed my presence already, I thought I’d properly introduce myself!

I’m Nika! I’m the new Forum moderator and I’ve read more Episode stories than there are stars in the sky #jokingnotjoking :rofl:. I especially love a good fantasy story (as you can guess from my avatar :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:)!

I’ve been around for a while and I’ve noticed that there is occasionally some content guideline confusion or misconceptions. So I thought it would be fun to have an AMA about the content guidelines! :grin:.

Warning!!!:

I can’t answer specific story questions. I can engage with general questions or general story ideas that you may be unsure about. For specific questions, please contact the Support Team.

This thread is for general clarification on our guidelines. And of course, please follow our Forum rules , Code of conduct, and be respectful! :heart:

Common Questions [section to be updated]:

1. Why was my blood overlay approved, but when my story was reviewed, it was found to be too violent?

If you haven’t read it already, here is the guideline on blood and violence. Blood overlays are often approved and later found to be in violation of the guideline due to the context in which they are used. Stories can have blood, but the issue begins when the blood is excessive (ie. large pool(s), more than 2 instances, there is a weapon + body + blood. etc.).

2. Can I use song lyrics?

Yes! BUT, there is a limit. Incorporating song lyrics into your story can add depth and emotion to your narrative. Copyright rules on fair use is 5 lines of song lyrics.

It’s important to be mindful of copyright laws. You can use up to five lines of song lyrics per song in your story. This allows you to enhance your writing while still honoring the creative rights of the original artists. You can see our guidelines on copyright here.

However, your story can’t just be song lyrics!

It’s crucial to recognize that crafting a story entirely from song lyrics would constitute a violation of copyright laws. Your story should primarily consist of original content, with song lyrics used sparingly and appropriately to enhance the narrative.

So what does 5 lines look like?
Song lyrics are formatted in a specific way (like poetry). Here is an example from Taylor Swift’s song Shake it off:

“I’m dancin’ on my own (dancin’ on my own)
I make the moves up as I go (moves up as I go)
And that’s what they don’t know, mm-mm
That’s what they don’t know, mm-mm
But I keep cruisin’“

Looking forward to your comments! :heart_eyes: :star_struck:

-Nika!

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Me don’t have any questions but helloooo! It is so nice to meet you Thenks for being here :blush::smiling_face:

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This is the easiest comment to respond to haha :rofl:

Thanks for the welcome :star_struck: :grin:

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Hello and welcome! I like the idea of this thread, and I’m sure many others will appreciate it too. Will we be able to ask questions indefinitely, or will this AMA be shut down after a certain amount of time?

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Hey Hey and thank you! :heart_eyes:

Good question! The thread will eventually be closed, but that is still tbd !

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Got it. After reading over the guidelines again I do have several questions.

  • The first is about section 5.b. “No depiction of torture or parental abuse on screen”. Can you clarify what “parental abuse” and “on screen” mean in this context? Does this rule include all forms of abuse (emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, etc.)? What is the delineation between “on-screen” and “off-screen” when everything is technically “on-screen” for a visual story-telling app?
  • The second is about official stories. Do you know if Episode officials must adhere to the same content guidelines as community authors?
  • The third is about section 2 and genre. When stories are reviewed, is the use of profane language judged differently depending on genre? For example, because a drama may have a more serious tone than a comedy, does this affect whether profane language is viewed as “explicit” or not?
  • In the case that a story is found to violate the guidelines, what criteria is used to determine whether an author will be able to revise and reupload a story or whether their story will be deleted without room for appeal?
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Thanks for you questions! :grin:This should help clarify! :sunglasses:

  1. I’ll break down your first question in two parts:

A) YES.

When it comes to emotional/mental/ spiritual abuse, the context, severity, and frequency in which it occurs will determine if it is indeed Parental abuse or an argument/disagreement between the parental figure and child.

B)

On screen: What is directly being showed.
Off screen: What is implied to have occurred.

For example: If a mafia story shows a character get shot, and the character is bleeding, and the MC says they died - then the death was On screen.
If the same character gets shot, but immediately the screen fades to black as soon as we hear the gun shot - Then the character’s death was off screen.

  1. All stories must adhere to the Content Guidelines.

If you see a story that you firmly believe may be in violation of our guidelines, regardless if it is an Episode official story, please report it to our Support Team to be investigated!

NO.

All profanity must be censored, and the actual profanity itself would be the violation, not the frequency. I also recommend checking out our FAQ on this.

However, even when all the profane words are correctly censored, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t limit. All stories must adhere to a PG13 rating, and a story that consists primarily of profane dialogue may no longer be considered PG13.

  1. I will again break down this question in two parts:

A) For the vast majority of cases, after a member of our team reviews a story, they will contact the author with a list of violations present that they need to fix. The story will be blocked, but still present on the app, until the required changes are made. Reviewers are also happy to clarify the guidelines to help the authors’ with their edits.

Please note that the author in question will need to respond/acknowledge the email within 72hours, otherwise, depending on the nature of the violations, the team may have to remove the story from the app.

B) Cases where a story is removed from the app without room for appeal is when the story is found to contain excessive severe violations and where editing the story will not be sufficient to bring the story in line with the guidelines.

This includes, but is not limited to, cases where the story contains multiple severe violations and/or is completely thematically inappropriate for a PG13 audience.

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Yesss, the official intro! Welcome again! :smiling_face_with_three_hearts::smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

Question 1:
We recently received the embarrassed animation where the person is hiding his/her intimate body parts. Do we need to use censor bars either way or with this exact animations it’s not obligated?

Question 2:
When do we need to use censor bars? Like if the character is in the bath and the top of the boobs can be seen, is the censor bar necessary?

Question 3:
What are the rules about story reviewing, cause every time people say different things?

I have had one question for a while, but I don’t know if you can answer it since it’s about covers not content.

Question 4:
How can knives be showed on cover or they can’t at all? (Asking this as an artist.)

Question 5:
Will stories in the app be divided in more genres? Like making a mafia genre because people are looking at drama or action story and only thing they find is mafia.

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I do have some questions also welcome!
Question 1: Will you guys be updating the guidelines? I mean they are from way back and it’s 2024 I mean for example will there be a way to lock a story so the adults can read it but not kids under age?

Question 2: Will there be a section for adults I mean the app is for teens and adults…

Question 3: Will we be able to add guns to the covers? I mean we dont need to add blood or anything inappropriate but I’ve seen alot of covers with guns and the higher authors get less rules then the lower…

Question four: What are the plans for episode in the future?

Question five: I mean this for everyone, will there be a way to report bullying because from what i’ve seen a lot of people bully others because they dont have customization or what they want and etc

Question six: Will you guys bring the mobile writing thing back or will it be retired for good?

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Or maybe they can bring Ivy back :face_holding_back_tears::face_holding_back_tears:

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That does help clarify things, thank you! :dizzy:

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What read threshold triggers a review ? My story now has 700 reads, more than doubled from 300 and the beginning of April and it has earned 1408 gems to date. It also consistently remains at 101-110 depending on how busy the app is but still no review from the episode team. So i know if i need to change anything.

My story cover contains a knife but I believe the rule is it can’t be a threatening way so you can’t have a cover of a character stabbing another character but you could have a character holding a knife with no problem.

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I really hope so, cause I got a request where girl has a knife in the hand (the arm is just like in idle pose) and as I didn’t know if episode would approve, I told the requester I’ll make one version without it.

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Glad I could help :grin: :innocent:

Thank you for the welcome again :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:! I got you your answers! :sunglasses:

I’ll answer questions 1 and 2 at the same time:

The guideline for nudity is:
“c. No nudity without censor bars or scenery to censor”

The censor bar should thus be present even if the animation is being used. However, the censor bar can be swapped with another scenery censor. In the case of the bath, a lot of fog or plenty of bubbles can act as the censor bar. There are many ways that you can censor the scene so that the nudity is implied but not actually shown! Be creative :slightly_smiling_face: :grinning:!

Unfortunately this is not a Content Guideline clarification question. If you wish to know more about the reviewing process, you will need to contact our Support Team. There is also this article that I think is interesting and relevant.

With that said, what I can say is that there are several reasons a story may be added to the story review queue, one of which is consistently trending in the top 100. If your story qualifies to be added to the story review queue, it will be done so automatically.

Story covers is indeed still part of our guidelines (Section 1). :grin:

Knives can be shown in a cover story, unlike guns that cannot. However, the context in which the knife is being used is crucial. If a knife is being pointed at another character, or has blood on it to indicate it has been used on someone, then it will likely be considered too violent which would be a violation this guideline.

While I appreciate the feedback, this is not a Guideline related inquiry. Maybe I will need to make a feedback thread in the future. :thinking:

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Thanks for the welcome and questions! :heart_eyes: :grin:

Unfortunately, most of your questions are not related to the Content Guidelines. While I appreciate the general feedback, I will not be able to answer most of your questions. The app is currently rated PG13, and I can help clarify the guidelines for this. As for future plans, I can only encourage you to keep an eye out on our platforms for future announcements.

With that said, should you see a bullying situation, please contact our Support Team and provide them with as much information as possible (especially screenshots). In the pursuit of a safe space for all, we take all claims of bullying very seriously. All reports made to support are fully investigated and your report will be treated with complete confidentially

Hey hey!

Thank you for your question, but please note this is not a Content Guideline clarification question!

Here was my answer to a similar question above:

Keep up the good work! :grin: :sparkles:

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Oki, understand, Nika! And thank you for answering as much as you could! 🩶🩶

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Welcome @Nika_mod

I have a couple questions that have been bothering me for some time and I’m hopeful that you can provide some clarity.

  1. You’ve already mentioned a couple times that the app is “PG-13” and this is stated with the guidelines as well. Given that this app is created in the US, and the app is a visual storytelling medium like movies, that would suggest that the guidelines are meant to be in line with what the Motion Picture Association (MPA, formerly the MPAA) considers to be PG-13, as opposed to video game ratings which have a different scale. If this is the case, why is it that material that would be approved for a PG-13 rating is regularly rejected for breaking guidelines? I’ve even had imagery less harsh than the G rated animated film that inspired it get rejected.
  2. Are there any plans to update or clarify the guidelines? As written, the guidelines are extremely vague in areas and it makes it difficult to abide by them when they aren’t specific. Especially when whether or not something breaks a guideline is entirely dependent on how the reviewer chooses to interpret that guideline. It would be helpful for the guidelines to be more specific, such as with the MPA. For example, the MPA PG-13 guidelines allow very brief nudity provided it is not in a sexual context. Also, so long as the blood isn’t red (such as the black blood of the Orcs in Lord of the Rings) you can show large amounts of it. Having more clear guidelines would be very helpful to all of us.
  3. How exactly do you determine what is considered “obscene language” that needs to be censored? There seems to be the obvious ones, hateful slurs and the Seven Words, but beyond that there isn’t much clarity. I’ve seen some words that are forbidden that seem to ignore varying meanings depending on context, while also seeing other words I’ve always seen considered as more offensive allowed. Is there any chance we can just get a comprehensive list of what must be censored?
  4. If guidelines are supposed to be applied evenly to ALL authors, why aren’t they? I had a mini-game I was forced to change because it broke an “unwritten” guideline (which is a whole other issue). When I pointed out that there was an official story that did exactly that, and much more blatantly, I was thanked for reporting it (even though I wasn’t actually “reporting” it) and told it would be changed. Months later I noticed it was still the same, so I asked Episode if that reviewer was mistaken and the element was allowable under certain conditions/context. I was once again told it wasn’t and thanked for “reporting” the story, which I was told would be fixed immediately. To this day, that story is still unchanged and I’m still forced to abide by the “unwritten” guideline. This is just my personal experience. I’ve heard similar stories from other community authors as well. It doesn’t exactly inspire trust in the system when said system keeps making claims that are demonstrably false.

Thank you for your time. I look forward to your response.

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