Hiding IC Content

Discussion in 'Management' started by Zozma, Dec 27, 2013.

  1. Zozma

    Zozma Resident Game Owner

    Normally, I dislike it. If I'm going to join a site, then I want to see the way people write on it. But as I'm getting older, I've become increasingly uncomfortable with having my site's IC stuff right out there in the open for any old guest to see. I've been giving some serious thought to hiding the IC forums because we're rated 3-3-3 and limited to adult players because I just don't feel 100 percent comfortable with having kids on board or reading our stuff. Some of it is really adult oriented! And I realize that it's out in the open and that despite all the warnings in the world, kids are going to stumble across the site at some point and read what's there.

    I've seen other adult oriented sites do the same and it's common practice in places like LJ but people in the forum world say junk like "I won't even JOIN a site if I can't read the IC areas!" That doesn't really matter to me anyway because I've become increasingly picky about who I want on my forums lately. (So many flakes, I'm so freaking tired of them...)

    I'm already turning away people who don't like this or that: we're RL faces, so anime people won't join, we don't have an app process, so app lovers won't join, we don't have a word count so word counters won't join, etc. So to me, it's more about what I want than who I'm turning out. People who are more like me will be more apt to join and those are the people I want to write with. Regardless of input, I've already chosen to limit my IC forums to members only (along with blogs and the cbox, which also contains adult content....)

    I was also very curious about how legal it is to have the content viewable to minors. I knew that I was fine with having the content with my host and we're on SMF, which has a couple of topics discussing adult content (it's allowed) so I'm all covered there. But as I was advising somebody else with an adult content matter, I realized that although I did warn in several places that the site was 16+, it wasn't going to stop minors from reading some of the violent and sexually graphic material on the site... All my current members are 18+ but one of them JUST turned 18 and that was fine for me at the time because the site was 16+. However, after reading about how the age considered adult in California (where I live and where my server is located) is 18, I upped the age limit. (Lucky for that player that just turned 18, I didn't have to kick her off--and no, I knew her age before the decision, so I'm fairly sure she's not cheating.

    Anyway, I read several conflicting matters on it all over the net when somebody suggested a website where you can ask lawyers yourself over the internet. Here were the answers I got: HERE. My ToS already stated members had to be 16+ but I've since edited it for 18+ so I think I'm covered there. I'm also planning on speaking directly with a lawyer (was unable to over the holidays) for more answers.

    To me, it's not just a matter of not breaking the law--although I don't want to be fined or arrested for my HOBBY, so I'm not going to play games there. It's also the fact that I myself am just not comfortable with the idea of RPing with kids. I like to write very dark things, it's how I explore fears of my own, my own version of exposure therapy. I also dislike being censored, so to me, it just seemed smarter to close off IC content and require registration. My butt's covered and as far as I know, the people I'm writing with are all adults. Of course, I can't check everybody's background and it's possible for kids to still slip through but it's not on my ass if they do.

    What do you think when it comes to hiding IC content? Of course, if you're a PG-13 game, then it wouldn't matter but I mean when it comes to sites with adult content, do you take steps to keep kids from looking at the darker or sexual content? I was curious and looked around at sites with the 18+ label slapped on them and I didn't see many that hide their content, so I was wondering why they bother with the labels if they're still going to offer the material. Maybe they just didn't think about it--I know I didn't until recently. Or maybe they feel they gave the warnings and that's enough. But for most adult content, such as videos, there are birthdate inputs or a splash page forcing you to admit you're older than 18 to make sure there's a step in between kids and the adult material. With threads, not so much.
  2. Kitsufox
    Caffeine Fix

    Kitsufox Resident Game Owner

    In the end, if you've warned people and not put the adult content on the front page there isn't much more you can do without hurting your ability to recruit. After you've warned, it's up to the parents to monitor and control their own children.
    Elena likes this.
  3. whu.

    I would never ever ever hide IC content, personally. It is not my responsibility if others stumble on my site and read naughty or nasty stuff. Seriously, it is not. People who browse the internet and read stuff should be old enough to either know where the red X is situated, or be able to handle whatever they want to read.

    Kiddies? Kiddies should NOT be online unsupervised. Period.

    Kiddies therefore will never be able to read our IC stuff. Or gruesome news items. Or watch youtube videos of animal abuse.

    Because, as I said: kiddies should not be online unsupervised.

    This is not a children's playground. This is a public and adult playground space.

    There are no laws in the Netherlands that can make me assertain the age of my visitors. In fact: I can't. I mean, anyone with a computer and internet access can see the site. I am not going to hide anything.

    You know who hide things? People who have something to hide. I don't. There is nothing illegal going on at my site.
    Elena likes this.
  4. Zozma

    Zozma Resident Game Owner

    Guess I have things to hide because there are definitely things I wouldn't want kids looking at. And honestly, like I said, I made the choice for myself, not for new members I probably wasn't getting, anyway. I'm tired of feeling like I have to cater to what random "potential" members might want. So yeah, I know I'm turning a lot of people around but I honestly don't care. I didn't want those type of people on my forum, anyway.

    ETA: As for children on the internet, I get what you're saying and I agree but they're still here (with or without parental consent) and I personally want nothing to do with it, no matter how inadvertently.
  5. VirusZero

    VirusZero Resident Game Owner

    I disagree with that notion entirely.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting privacy. Too many people are quick to dismiss or discredit value of privacy as "having something to hide" when that may not be the case at all.

    You can want privacy without being a criminal, being involved in illegal activity or anything morally dubious. The idea that wanting privacy itself is wrong or otherwise indicative of illegal behaviour is false. I mean what you've written could be g-rated and family friendly, doesn't mean you want it available to everyone. Nor are you, by any stretch, obligated to make it public. And no one should feel like they have to make it public.

    Let's put it this way...
    Would you want someone filming you 24/7? Probably not.
    But does that mean you have something to hide simply because you don't want to be filmed 24/7? Again, not likely.

    In regards to the law, I'm not familiar with the law from the Netherlands so I can't really comment there. But I do have some familiarity with US law. And in it there is an obligation to take steps to prevent minors from accessing obscene or questionable content.
    Under US law you can't have it all out there and then claim "Oh, it's the internet they'll get into it anyway". You do have to take some measure to prevent them or else you are entirely responsible (because as the web host you are a content provider/publisher and without you providing the platform, they would never have accessed it) for them getting into it and then your arse is on the line. (You could potentially be sued or if they feel there is enough of an issue, criminal charges. I think the likelihood of this happening is rare... but I don't want to push my luck and try it.)

    Will those under 18 get into mature content? Of course some will. (Hell, according to the law, how many sites exist now that are directly violating it because the owner is less than 18 and posting 18+ content? My bet, given how roleplayers love 18+ content, quite a lot. ) But if you have measures in place to prevent or discourage or warn off underage users then you are protected.

    "Should" does not equal "are" or "is".
    Nor does "should" alone protect you at all (at least according to US law).

    In regards to the original question, I think it would be of some benefit to have a section visible where some roleplay happens so people can see if they're interested. Perhaps make a stipulation of that section be that it's PG-13 (just so people aren't posting the 18+ stuff there and so people aren't wandering into that level of content). I mean there are plenty of people who wouldn't join a site if they couldn't see some IC stuff. (I'm in that group too, simply because I want to know that the site is active and will likely remain so before I commit to joining. And if I can't see any IC content, it makes me wonder how active a site really is.)

    Though it is also your call on whether or not you want to allow it at all. If you're comfortable with not having IC sections visible? That's your decision. People will take it or leave it. It's like anything else to do with being an admin, like you mentioned up front... every decision will turn someone away. And no matter what you pick it has a cost. Someone won't be happy no matter what choice you make.

    As for looking around, I've noticed that most sites claim to allow 18+ content with no thought or consideration what that means or what they're getting themselves into. Many likely just want the option to write it rather than to actually write it. (Could also be the "trendy" thing to do. Or they're anti-censorship.)
    Kiwixpop, Xexes255 and Zozma like this.
  6. Meushell

    Meushell Resident Game Owner

    Can you have an 18+ section? Of course, this depends on what percentage of your threads are 18+, and members may have issues knowing when to post there. Threads will have to be moved when they take an unexpected 18+ turn.
    Xexes255 likes this.
  7. Zozma

    Zozma Resident Game Owner

    I actually very much like this idea and I'm thinking of implementing it. As I said in my original post, I'm not a huge fan of boards hiding all of their IC content. Somebody else mentioned to me that perhaps there could be public areas that are open to guests to read. The more public the area, the less likely some higher rated content will be. (There could be gore, though, so the sections would have to be carefully chosen.) I'm definitely giving the idea some consideration.
    Elena likes this.
  8. VirusZero

    VirusZero Resident Game Owner

    I fully admit I'm biased here in that I think it's a good idea to do (if you haven't already).

    I think that you stand more to gain than you risk losing.
    If that section works, then it could be a way to showcase the level of talent writers on your site has. (Or at the very least it might cause fewer people to close the tab instantly.)
    I mean if it doesn't work then it's an extra section that you can either close it down or repurpose it to use for something else (another in-game location).

    Perhaps to help keep a PG/PG-13 rating for this section you could make it a public area that's heavily patrolled by your world's equivalent of police? This way there it'd have a good story reason for not allowing higher levels of content. (I mean in real life you can't have sex in a public park in front of a police officer and expect nothing to happen right?)
    Zozma and Elena like this.
  9. Zozma

    Zozma Resident Game Owner

    Yes, I'm definitely going to go with this idea. Thank you for the input! I've still been agonizing over location but the world's equivalent of police idea also sparked something for me, so I think I'll probably have something fully fleshed out by next week. I'll also be adding in a note on that forum to remind members that it needs to stay clean. There's no reason people shouldn't be able to move onto another thread if they want to take the thread into adult territory.
  10. Draegon

    Draegon Newcomer

    As a roleplayer, as long as I'm not aware that there are hidden areas, I wouldn't mind even when I created an account and could see them. What I find more annoying is when it's broadcast all over the forum that as a guest you got the short-end of the stick and couldn't see something for X, Y or Z reasons.

    I think if I ran a site that had mature threads on it, I would just have it as a private board, but goodness knows how private boards get members other than word-of-mouth recommendations XD
    Elena likes this.
  11. Zozma

    Zozma Resident Game Owner

    I think I'm trying to have my cake and eat it, too. I mostly consider us a private board with an open enrollment, pretty much. Like we're not invite-only at this point and we welcome new members. But I admit, I've been thinking of closing the ad board. I'm just really tired of trying in that regard. I like the people I have. Doesn't much matter to me if we ever get more members or not.
  12. Helixagon

    Helixagon Resident Game Owner

    Here's my two cents: if kids want, they can easily find hardcore porn on the internet. If they wanna see smut, horrendous gratuity, violence or whatever - they will find it. I'd never hide my IC board - if anything, the debate for me is whether to display it up top or not, to place emphasis on the more-used OOC boards but potentially draw attention away from IC awesomeness, or not (in that case, there's no right answer).

    It's a different debate if you're hiding it because it's personal and intimate writing. But nonetheless, I think it's overall better for a website to have the main draw out there in the open, even if you're not desperately recruiting new members. You might miss out on awesome new people because they don't see what you're about. Someone might very well join because of something they read in IC boards really hitting home for them. But honestly, in the case of kids, stumbling across adult fiction is probably one of the less-bad things in the grand scheme of terrible stuff you can run across on the internet.
    Elena likes this.
  13. Kohana

    Kohana Newcomer

    I personally get irritated when I visit a site and I am unable to see how often threads are made, if only three of the one hundred members are actually posting, or if I can't see the play styles on the board to know if they match my own or I would feel out of place. An option is to have a javascript, or something similar, type of splash that requires people to verify their age before looking at your site. Sure, kids can get around that by putting in false birthdays, but they can do that when they are signing up for your board as well. I feel guilty when I am forced to make an account, often times when the account has to be my character's name, when I am not even sure if I am interested in being a part of it. To me, making an account on a site is a commitment, and if I am forced to do that just to see if I'm interested, I will turn away and not look back.
    Elena likes this.
  14. We have vacillated on this so much. We opened it then we closed the IC part. Now we're opening it again. Our RPG is a 3-3-3. And while we're comfortable with that if it leads in that direction we both are hyper aware of the problems that could arise. At the same time, it has limited our ability to get recruits or anyone to get interested without some examples of the play.
    Zozma likes this.
  15. Zozma

    Zozma Resident Game Owner

    Yeah, it's a tough line and I think it's up to those who run the site to do what is most comfortable for them. I have noticed we don't get a lot of new members but to be honest, we never did anyway. :P So I don't think it really hurt us much.
  16. espatier

    espatier Newcomer

    Question: Are you doing your plan for yourself or other people?.

    I can say that I'm old as dirt, quote this and that but in the end... I'm just a dog behind this computer. Yes.. some people don't watch their kids, but be true to yourself and happy, role play and ask simple questions that most adult know.

    Ask "open ended questions"!!!

    Iif your posters are active.. what do they post about? kid things?, lollipops and butterflies?

    You will learn alot about a person in less than six month if they are active posters. Becuase this place becomes your second home
    Elena and Zozma like this.
  17. espatier

    espatier Newcomer

    You just got a new one...
    Elena likes this.
  18. espatier

    espatier Newcomer

    Thank you for the quick reply. Looking over your factions.
  19. Zozma

    Zozma Resident Game Owner

    I'm doing this plan for both myself and my current members (since I did speak with a few of them privately about the matter before making the decision). As for people not being the age they claim to be, that's not on me unless the player outright tells me they're too young for the board (which has happened) and then I have to show them the door until they're the right age. If I make a rule, I need to stick to it.
    espatier likes this.
  20. kaz

    kaz Newcomer

    I will say that I've seen sites in the past that have a separate board for adult content--so if your post is going to go above PG-13, it goes there, but other things can go in the regular boards and be seen by guests. I think that works pretty well, tbh. As for the whole putting-your-birthday-in thing... I think as far as covering your own butt, it's a good idea, but I don't think it actually does squat in keeping kids out. It's not like carding people in a movie theater--there's no picture ID or system of any sort to make kids tell the truth. At the end of the day, the internet just isn't super safe. Parents need to hold their kids accountable, because we can take all the measures we like, but we don't know if kids are telling the truth.
    Elena likes this.