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A few months ago, I created a question about what adult entertainment would look like in the future. I deleted it quite quickly afterwards because people were concerned anti-porn filters would view it as offensive and we risked blocking the entire network.

I asked a question about this on this meta (should we add a NSFW tag?, where the question I created is also mentioned) and on the network-wide meta (What is the network policy on questions involving adult themes?, which also mentions the question I deleted). On this meta, I asked the wrong question (we shouldn't use a tag for such a thing), but on the network meta, there appeared to be somewhat of a consensus that self-imposed censorship is not the way to go to avoid external censorship, and that invidiual sites should determine their own policy.

So the Network Meta says that we should determine our own policy on adult topics. Could we come to a consensus in this meta questions? To what extent do we allow them, if at all? What ground rules should we have for such questions?

Please note that we already have some topics that could be considered adult aspects of worldbuilding, like inbreeding, interspecies sexuality, genital transplants, centaur breastfeeding and possibly other ones as well.

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    $\begingroup$ Seems odd to call a question about the breastfeeding of infants an "adult" theme; NSFW seems more technically correct terminology. $\endgroup$ – sumelic Oct 17 '15 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ If we are really going to have questions that are NSFW (I say that with the view that most of the questions given as examples are not "NSFW" tag-worthy), the only thing I worry about is that I'll click an interesting sounding question from "Hot Network Questions" - which won't show that tag. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Oct 21 '15 at 17:34
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    $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble That could be seen as a misleading question. If the question is named properly, you'll know that it is (or could be) NSFW. Either way, it's just going to be text, since linking explicit content is not allowed anyway, including images. You're not that likely to get into hot water unless your connection is being actively monitored. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Oct 21 '15 at 18:07
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I tend to agree with DaaahWhoosh. We're a little squeamish here in the US about sex; however, just because people want to keep their heads in the sand and more importantly keep their children's heads in the sand doesn't mean that I think sex should be avoided just to 'protect' some unspecified children from 'harm'.

I think if you have an honest question for building your world, you should ask it.

I do also feel that if the question feels deliberately offensive or for shock value only, it should be closed. Entertainment questions would be taken on a case by case basis.

As far as offensive goes, Stack Exchange had a site that made it to private beta that was specifically for questions about sex, techniques, vocabulary, etc. It failed but I don't believe it was because of the actual content.

If you are asking about a sexual practice you want in one of your books and are looking for how it might have come about or some other social issues it would create more power too you.

However, at no time am I advocating visual aids to accompany these questions.

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Very good question. Honestly, when I asked asked a question about a future society with slavery, I structured it in such a way that I didn't have to be too specific about exactly what a slave might be required to do (it really wasn't germane to the discussion; the question was how to justify slavery in general, not how to justify using a slave for more than manual labor, which has plenty of historical precedent saying, in effect, "just do it").

Despite the network-level consensus that self-censorship is not the way to go, I still think that if a questioner can edit out the sexuality from his subject matter on this site, not only is the question closer to PG-rated, it could end up more helpful to other people with a similar question who might be dissuaded from reading your thread if the subject matter is too explicit.

Some questions, however, simply can't be expressed in such a way. While there might have been a slightly more tactful way to ask the question about centaur breastfeeding, there really isn't any way to dodge it.

I would propose the following guidelines:

  • If you can scope the question in such a way as to avoid sexual connotations, that would likely be best, not only to avoid tripping filters, but to garner answers, that, while applicable to an adult theme, are equally applicable to other scenarios.
  • If you can't avoid the topic, keep the language of the question and all answers clinical and anatomical; no slang or other vulgarities as those are extremely likely to trip content filters.
  • Use as much tact as possible while being clear about the question being asked, especially in titles; users don't have to browse into your question if they know it's NSFW from the title, but the title itself must be PG.
  • No explicit illustrations or animations of any kind, no matter how clinical. People have been fired for browsing blogs on breastfeeding during lunch break; we don't need anyone being forced to world-build because they've lost their day job and have "fired for watching porn at work" on their employment record.

I debated suggesting the use of spoiler tags for explicitly NSFW content, but ultimately decided against it; spoiler tags can't be used in titles, which should be the first thing keeping someone from browsing NSFW questions from a work or public computer, and ultimately using spoiler tags for non-spoiler content just pollutes the intent of the feature and makes the question harder to read.

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  • $\begingroup$ Let's not beat around the bush here: do you think I could get my question about adult entertainment in a futuristic world fit into these guidelines? I want to ask about prostitution, erotica and toys specifically. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Oct 16 '15 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ If that's the question you want to ask, and you follow my guidelines, it should be acceptable to the general audience of this site. Just don't get too explicit in language or subject matter, avoid trying to graphically illustrate any of these concepts in your question, and be straightforward but tactful. $\endgroup$ – KeithS Oct 16 '15 at 18:03
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    $\begingroup$ I just want to be able to follow the NSFW flag so I don't have to read through all of the rest of these questions. ;) $\endgroup$ – Steve Barron Oct 20 '15 at 17:07
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I say as long as it's on-topic and isn't just trying to be deliberately offensive, it should be allowed (see my answer to this question).

For a longer answer, what I'm saying is that there are good questions out there that some people may find offensive or may trip some filters, but to outright reject these questions can lead to a slippery slope. We don't want to turn away good, intelligent, honest folk just because they have questions we don't feel comfortable answering.

That said, I don't want this site to become a den of scum and villainy. We already get way too many 'Hey, what if I replace the Moon with whipped cream?' kinds of questions, and things like that are just as likely to turn away good users and attract bad ones as any NSFW question.

Thus, I think that we should be somewhat more critical of questions, especially those we feel are only asking to be entertaining, shocking, or outright offensive. We should endeavor to keep both our questions and our answers professional, no matter the subject. At the end of the day, if an 'adult' question has run the gauntlet and remained open and answered, then we'll know that anyone who sees it will either respect it for being intelligent, professional, objective, and well-thought-out, or not respect it because they're immature and/or ignorant. That second option really shouldn't describe our target audience, so it's a win-win.

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    $\begingroup$ Building on what you've put here, I'll cite the Tour Page: "Focus on questions about an actual problem you have faced. Include details about what you have tried and exactly what you are trying to do... Avoid questions that are primarily opinion-based, or that are likely to generate discussion rather than answers." If someone legitimately needs worldbuilding help on an NSFW topic, they should be able to write a Good Question™. If they're just curious/speculating, they probably won't. $\endgroup$ – Dan Henderson Oct 26 '15 at 22:52

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