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The Acceptable Use Policy has been updated. Among other changes, it now allows sexually explicit content in certain circumstances:

Sexually Explicit Material. You may not post content, or links to content, that is sexually explicit in nature, unless it falls within a reasonable interpretation of a Network site’s scope and purpose. However, you may never post content portraying the sexual exploitation or abuse of minors. For the sake of clarity, sexually explicit content is “material that is explicitly sexual, pornographic, prurient, or lascivious in nature,” as defined in our Code of Conduct.

With regards to this, I think there are 2 things to be discussed here:

  1. Does sexually explicit content "fall within a reasonable interpretation of Arqade's scope and purpose"? Put differently: do we want to allow questions regarding adult games?
  2. If the answer to the above is yes: what rules do we want to introduce to avoid accidentally showing pornography to minors? Remember that this site is still considered 13+.
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4 Answers 4

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In my personal opinion, sexually explicit games are probably in-scope. Mainstream games like Baldur's Gate 3 have included sexually explicit material, so I think we can reach that conclusion without even considering Newgrounds Hentai Game 2 or whatever.

However, the key thing to consider is images. I think sexually explicit images should:

  1. Be included in a post only if absolutely necessary (which, frankly, is not likely)
  2. Be included as a link only, making clear that the link contains sexually explicit imagery
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    Beyond this, I think that the title should be kept as decent/professional as possible. See also this discussion about offensive words in titles—different site, slightly different focus (as there are titles we probably don't want on Arqade even if each individual word isn't profane itself), but similar logic applies.
    – Laurel
    Commented Jan 30 at 4:48
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    I couldn't have made a better recommendation - seems quite reasonable. One point of advice, don't put up with trolls who might be pushing boundaries with this. I had to deal with it on IPS forever ago... they start out seeming like they're reasonable users but they're clearly pushing the boundaries in tiny ways, making small "errors"... If you see a pattern of content from first-time users that's all sexual in nature - start checking for sock puppetry or pull in a CM for help to identify it. As @Laurel suggests, keep titles in check and remove anything like this from the HNQ.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 30 at 15:15
  • In addition, on the most StackExchange websites >! ("spoiler") syntax exists: meta.stackexchange.com/a/72878/1242229
    – Artfaith
    Commented Feb 4 at 10:51
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We have always allowed posts about romance options in RPGs. Arguably, descriptions of those scenes could be considered sexually explicit. Note that sexually explicit material isn't limited to photos or video. However, we've always taken the stance that posts, especially on main, should be PG. IMHO, this should include links to any NSFW content as well, sexually explicit or otherwise. The only exception I would make would be for clearly marked links to content which is critical for adding context to the post. As @Unionhawk mentioned, this should be very rare if at all necessary (censored images or descriptions are almost certainly possible).

We should maintain the stance that posts should contain PG (ESRB Teen or PEGI 12) content and that sexual or nudity content falls within the bounds for those rating categories.

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    To be clear, I'm talking about the content of the post, not necessarily about the game. We are going to get questions about games with ESRB M/PEGI 18 ratings, and that's virtually unavoidable, But posts for those games should try to stay within the content guidelines for ESRB T/PEGI 12 games, i.e. limit graphic violence, sex, nudity, and drug use.
    – MBraedley
    Commented Jan 28 at 3:56
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We should allow questions about “Adult Only” or adult-themed games on Arqade, as long as the posts do not contain any sexually explicit or pornographic content.

As you may be aware, we currently prohibit questions about “Adult Only” or adult-themed games. These are games with sexually explicit content that are meant for an adult audience. On Steam, these games are categorized as “Adult Only” (NSFW link). This does not apply to games that have some sexually explicit content but are not considered adult-themed or categorized as “Adult Only”, such as The Witcher or the GTA series; questions about them have always been welcome on Arqade.

This policy was established in 2010, based on this meta discussion: Are questions about adult-themed games allowed? and reaffirmed in 2019, based on this meta discussion: What is Arqade's current stance on adult games? Both discussions refer to the SE policy at that time, and the 2019 discussion also quotes Grace Note, who was a community manager.

However, I believe that this policy is too restrictive and outdated, especially in light of the new AUP. I suggest that we revise our policy to allow questions about adult-themed games, as long as the posts do not include sexually explicit or pornographic material in any form. Sexually explicit text descriptions, images, videos, or other media should not be allowed in any posts. Links to sexually explicit content are to be allowed, provided that it is made clear in the link that it leads to sexually explicit or NSFW content. This would also apply to games that are categorized as “Mature” by Steam, such as The Witcher games or the GTA series, which contain sexually explicit content but are not mainly about it.

By doing this, we would follow the AUP’s rule of allowing sexually explicit content that fits within a reasonable interpretation of a Network site’s scope and purpose. We would also respect the preferences and sensitivities of our users, who would not have to encounter pornography or other sexually explicit content while browsing Arqade. At the same time, we would help users who have valid questions about adult games to ask and get answers to those questions.

Science Fiction & Fantasy SE has been accepting questions about adult-oriented works (even identification questions) for a while now. Movies & TV SE also accepts questions about adult-oriented works. If they can handle it without any issues, I don’t see why we can’t do the same.

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It is my modest opinion that the change to the AUP was made with very little-to-none thinking. It seems like it was introduced to cover sites where it is indeed required to talk about potential nsfw topics - Medicine&Health, Skeptics, some may even say Religion and so on. The effect this has on sites like Movies, Anime, Arqade etc wasn't probably considered very well.

Obviously this opens a Pandora's box and I am not very entusiastic about going to the site to look for new interesting question and end up with the new "please identify this adult game for me" question. It gets already VERY annoying on Anime - and those aren't even OT in the first place (doesn't stop users from asking..)!

I think that the base minimum should be requiring to post explicit images as links. But the topic should be monitored. You probably don't want anything from Madmind studio end up on the HNQ list because someone played the oldie "funny out of context title" game. Nor you probably want titles about maid catgirls or volleyball themed vacation islands. Or adult mods for normal games too.

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  • I believe moderators can remove questions from the HNQ list, so this shouldn't be a problem. Problematic questions in the HNQ list can just be flagged. Commented Jan 29 at 10:57
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  • That’s not a good example, because 1.) it has no relation to sexually explicit content, which is what we are talking about, and 2.) that incident occurred before moderators could remove questions from the HNQ List. In fact, that was the very reason why they got that ability, among other solutions like title blacklists. If a problematic question got into the HNQ list, it could be easily resolved by editing it or by removing it from the HNQ list. Commented Jan 29 at 12:18
  • @galacticninja that was more about the example titles in one of the answers, the fact that misleading titles apparently are a meme and people advising titles to not be misleading being downvoted to oblivion. I suggest trying to put some guardrail before the train goes down the cliff - yes, the mods can fix the think afterward but I don't feel the site needs more bad reputation because some Mr. Smart Guy post went viral. We are fully capable to have a bad reputation for other things already (see for example reducing CM numbers...)
    – Ꮢedacted
    Commented Jan 29 at 13:17
  • The HNQ system has several safeguards to filter out inappropriate questions. The community can edit them to remove any inappropriate content, close them (which will remove them from the HNQ list), and lastly, moderators can manually remove them from the HNQ list. The scenario you mentioned (“banned from HNQ because of a Twitter post”) is hardly possible now, as the HNQ system has undergone many improvements since then. I agree with not allowing sexually explicit images (or any explicit content, including text) in posts to avoid exposing anyone to them unintentionally. Commented Jan 29 at 14:59
  • By the way, Science Fiction & Fantasy SE has been accepting questions about adult-oriented works (even ID questions) for a while now. If they can handle it without any issues, I don’t see why we can’t do the same. Commented Jan 29 at 15:00
  • @galacticninja ..yes, already saw, already noticed.... Actually that is one of the sites I expect this issue to blow up first.
    – Ꮢedacted
    Commented Jan 29 at 16:37
  • @Ꮢedacted ... so, while it's not up to me any more, I was the person who got the tools built to prevent stuff like IPS's removal from the HNQ and that decision was, to be blunt, short-sighted and wrong... fortunately, none of the people involved in making it are still at the company. As galacticninja says, y'all have all the tools you need. Edit, flag, close, delete... use them and there shouldn't be any issues.
    – Catija
    Commented Jan 30 at 15:18

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