Moderator AMA About Content Guidelines

Hey! Thank you for the welcome and questions! :smiling_face: :sunglasses:

  1. Episode is rated PG-13 as that is what is shown when downloading the app. While it can be argued that all rating systems are inspired by the MPA (seeing as they have a long history), all stories must abide by our guidelines - not the guidelines of another entity.

While MPA guidelines may share some general similarities with our own, Episode stories are always subject to our specific Episode Content Guidelines.

  1. Given some confusion I’ve seen, I have created this thread for the exact purpose of clarifying any guideline related questions. Often the guidelines may come across as a bit vague, since the context of a scene will greatly determine if it violates our guidelines. For example, parental abuse is against our guidelines, but what consists of non-physical parental abuse? The answer (as written above):

Rest assured, should the guidelines need to be amended for additional clarity, I will make an announcement. However, if you need clarification, please ask here and/or Support.

  1. We do have a list of profane words that do not need to be censored, which you can find here

If the word you are referring to is not on that list, then you are likely referring to our guidelines that say that you cannot use derogatory-based words or discriminatory language (2a), and/or Hate Speech (8a).

A word may be considered derogatory/discriminatory and/or hate speech depending on the context. In most cases, the understood meaning of a word will determine if it is in violation of our guidelines. However, some words may be considered tame/non-derogatory in certain cultures; whereas it may be viewed as derogatory in other cultures. In this case, the cultural context of the story will help us determine if it is a violation.

In other words: To determine if a word is in violation of our guidelines will depend on the history of the word, the cultural use of the word, and how the word is being used.

  1. ALL authors must abide by our guidelines. While the team does their best to catch every content guidelines issue in stories, sometimes things might get missed. The review team conducts spot-checks to address this, but should you see a story that you believe has a scene that is in violation of our guidelines, we really appreciate your help when you report it. Rest assured that the team will investigate the situation, and if needed, will contact the author of the story to make edits.

Unfortunately, there are too many unknowns for me to give you a proper answer as to why your similar scene was in violation. As stated in my first post, I cannot go into specific situations. I can only encourage you to contact our Support Team to get more clarification on your issue.

With that said, while two scenes may be similar, the context of each scene may still make it so that one scene is in violation, whereas the other is not.
For example: Two stories may have near identical scenes where a parental figure accidentally pushes their kid causing them to get hurt. This may be a violation if the context of the story has already explained that the parent is abusive/overtly neglectful. Thus the context will make the exact same scene go from an accident to Parental abuse.

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I very much appreciate your response. But there are a couple of points I would like to make because I think it’s important to be specific about certain issues.

When I go to the Google Play store the rating on the app is “Teen”. Now, while this could be seen as equivalent to 13+, it is not the same thing as PG-13. PG-13 is a specific rating within a specific rating system with specific rules attached to it, as well as specific expectations that are invoked when the term is used. This is like telling a kid you bought them a Lightsaber for their birthday, only for them to unwrap a Space Laser Sword. They may be very similar, but one is definitely not the other. Given that so much of what is allowed under a PG-13 rating is not allowed on Episode, it may be best if you stopped using the term when referring to the guidelines. It’s inaccurate and is clearly causing confusion as to what should be allowable under the guidelines.

I’ve found asking for clarification to be essentially useless. This is because in the past I’ve gotten conflicting answers as to what is allowable depending on who is answering the question. As written, the guidelines are so vague that these contradictions are to be expected and why I think it’s necessary for there to be more clarity applied, not just for the community authors looking to them for guidance, but also to the reviewers responsible for interpreting them. I’m sure you can understand how frustrating it is to be told something is allowable and approved only to then be told by someone else that it’s not a few weeks/months later.

Personally, I have found this to not be the case. I fully acknowledge that in specific context and time periods some of the words I’ve had to censor could be considered naughty or crude. But when I explained the context and other meanings for these words in this day and age (or in one case a story set 300 years in the future), I was still told no, I suspect because the reviewer thought it was a bad word regardless of any current meanings/context. Since context doesn’t seem to matter, it would really help if Episode would just give us a comprehensive list of what words we must censor rather that a short list of words that barely anyone would think needs censoring, but clearly don’t.

I completely agree that context should matter. In fact, I in no way think the Episode Original story I’m referring to should be censored or “fixed” in any way. Context makes it very clear what is happening and what is going to happen as a consequence. The same was true for the portion of my story I had to change. That said, I was told that the specific “unwritten” guideline that was broken was always forbidden regardless of context. It was something that was deemed should never be allowed, ever, under any circumstances. And since I’ve heard it from two different reviewers, that seems to be the case. Even though it’s utterly ridiculous to ban an element regardless of context, I accepted it so long as it was applied to everyone equally. But it wasn’t…twice. I can’t comment on other things I’ve heard from other authors regarding what they’ve had to change but seen allowed in original stories. Perhaps in those cases context did matter and made the difference. But for the specific case I’m talking about, the Episode Original is clearly being given a pass while others are not. I find that unacceptable and trust destroying.

Unfortunately, I cannot properly address your comments as it has devolved more into a feedback statement, rather than a guideline-specific inquiry. I appreciate your feedback and for sharing your experience with support. Perhaps in the future I will make a thread for guideline-related feedback, but at this time, this thread is for more specific related inquiries. Please see the above examples.

While I cannot comment on your experience with Support, nor can I comment on your experience with the violations of your specific story, misunderstandings can happen. I can only encourage you to ask for additional clarification in your correspondence(s) with Support! :slightly_smiling_face:

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I completely understand and appreciate you taking the time to try to address my concerns.

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Hi! I have a question.

-No reference to orgies, sexual fetishes, and specific sexual positions

Does this also means no poly relationships? I just want to be sure.

Hey @Sharma_ep !

Thank you for your question!

A poly relationship is not against our guidelines, as long as it is not fetishized. The context, dialogue, and narration will determine if the MC is in a poly relationship (seeing as the MC can have multiple partners) OR if polyamory is being used as an excuse to demonstrate: orgies, sexual fetishes, and/or specific sexual positions.

On that note, while threesomes can be brought up, it can never be depicted.

Hope that helps clarify!

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Hey everyone. Just an FYI, I will be closing this thread in a few days (say Friday, June 15th). I appreciate all the questions and the welcome. :slight_smile: