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24 March 2010 @ 06:53 pm
[mod] Ratings and Warnings: How To  
There are a couple of things that I've seen done incorrectly on the community lately, and I think it's about time to address both of these issues, and hopefully clear up some of the confusion people have over them.

These issues in particular are: ratings, and warnings.

Firstly, let us deal with

It is important to correctly rate a fic because it lets your potential readers know what's in store for them, and allows them to decide whether your fic is to their reading tastes or not. It's the same reason that movies and games have ratings. Imagine, you come across a fic that sounds quite promising and you decide to read it, but as you read through it you find an almost obscene amount of swearing, or a graphic sex scene, jump out at you unexpectedly! How would you feel in that case, that you didn't know it was going to happen? A correct rating would have allowed you to know what was to be expected in the fic.

Not rating properly can anger people, or upset people, and this is how many readers might feel if they unexpectedly come across something that they'd rather not read. You might assume that everyone loves some smut as much as you do, but this isn't true! Many people choose not to read anything with intense sexual situations, no matter how OMGSMEXY!!!11 you think it might be. Opinions, and tastes, vary greatly, and this is why we rate.

So, now that we've covered why you must rate your fics, let us cover which ratings go with what themes. It's tricky sometimes to decide what rating a fic deserves, and it's made trickier still by all the different ratings that a person might come across in their browsing. Because of this, there are two systems, and two systems only that you should be following, and those would be either the official US film ratings, as they are the most common that you'll come across on the internet, or the Fiction Ratings equivalents to those.
(There are a couple exceptions we would allow, but I'll cover those after).

So, let me explain each rating, and what it means, and what should be in your fic to earn them.

G - This is the lowest rating, and it means 'general'. A story with this rating should be appropriate for a person of any age, and should contain no adult language, no sexual situations, no violence or frightening scenes, and no references to drugs or adult themes. Basically, the way to decide if something deserves a G rating or not is to just sit back and think: would you let a five year old read the story? If not, perhaps the fic needs the next rating up.
The Fiction Ratings equivalent of G is K, it means exactly the same thing, and you are free to use this system of rating if you choose.

PG - This is the next rating up, and it means 'parental guidance'. Which means it's still suitable for children, but they should be of an older age, and more mature. PG fics may contain very mild adult language, and even some mild violence (like an 'action' scene) as long as that violence does not end in serious injury. However, a PG should still contain no sexual or drug references, no substance abuse (drugs/alcohol etc) and no adult themes.
The Fiction Ratings equivalent of PG is K+.

PG-13 - As it suggests, this means the fic should be suitable to ages thirteen and older. PG-13 fics can include some adult language, some violence, and some adult themes. A fic with this rating may include brief mentions of violence, alcohol/drug abuse, sexual situations and adult themes, but none of this can be explicit. If you think your fic is suitable for, at the youngest, a person of thirteen years old to read, then this is your rating.
The Fiction Ratings equivalent of this is T.

R - This rating is for when fics begin to deal with more mature subjects. For movies, you must be at least seventeen years of age (I believe) to see something rated R, so keep that fact in mind when giving something this rating. In a fic with this rating, there may be more explicit adult language, sexual content, violence, and adult themes. Here, a fic can deal with subjects that may be more disturbing/offensive, such as rape, suicide, death, substance abuse, etc. Darker themes are allowed, and sexual situations may be more explicit, and violence can end in serious injury. But, for an R fic, none of these things may be graphic, which means detailed descriptions of these subjects, or extreme sex/violence/etc.
Use this rating only when you think something should be deemed an R, and not 'just for safety'. If your fic does not have more explicit language/sex/violence/adult themes, then your fic does not need to be rated R.
The Fiction Ratings equivalent of R is M, for mature. It's a good idea to remember this when rating, and decide whether your fic does infact deal with mature subjects, or not.

NC-17 - This is the last, and highest, rating. This means that a fic is suitable only for those older than seventeen years of age, which is something to bear in mind when rating your fic. Stories with this rating may contain graphic sex, violence, language, and adult themes. This means that, if there is sex in the fic, then it should be explicit in order to gain this rating. The violence can be serious and harmful, the language strong, and it can deal heavily, and graphically, in drug use/substance abuse, and adult themes. However, fics should only be given a rating of NC-17 if you truly think that no person under that age would be suitable to read your fic. If you think it would be disturbing/upsetting to a younger, less mature audience, then it should get this rating. But if the situations in the fic are not explicit, graphic and quite heavy, then it is not enough to warrant this rating, and is probably still an R fic.
The Fiction Ratings equivalent is MA, and the rating is pretty much interchangable with NC-17. You may use this rating instead, if you follow this system.

Now, the only exception you may find in these ratings is that of a 15. This is a UK film rating, and means only people of fifteen years and older are suited to read/see the content. In terms of fanfic, this means that a fic would be a little heavier than a PG-13, and contain a little more sex, or violence, or language, but not enough to warrant an R rating.
We will not stop people from using this particular rating if they choose, as it is quite obvious what it means.

However, bear in mind, that I am only familiar with the US film ratings, the Fiction Ratings, and the UK movie ratings, and know no other countries ratings system, and if I am not familiar with your rating, then the majority of members are probably unfamiliar with your rating, also. You should only be using the ratings I have listed in this post, as these are the most common, the most familiar, and the easiest to understand and to follow. Do not use your own countries rating system, if it is not listed here, and do not make up your own.

Here are some examples of ratings that are not real and should not be used:
PG-13+, PG-14/PG-14+, PG-15, PG-16, PG-17, R-18, R+, NC-13, NC-14, NC-15, NC-16
and anything else that isn't listed here. These are not ratings, so do not use them.

Beyond these, there are also the 'cutesy' type ratings that people sometimes make up, and however funny you might think the rating, it is also not real, and not allowed. Made up ratings can be anything, but a few examples might be:
C (for crack), PC (for pure crack), E (for everyone), H (for HOT!) TS (totally smexy!)
and anything in that particular joking style.
These give no real idea of what might feature in a fic, and are wrong, so anything like this should not be used.

It is in the community rules to rate, and if you have not done so properly a mod will warn you and ask you to fix it.

I'd like to note that almost all of these wrong examples I have actually seen used in fics on this community, which is why I have decided to make this post in the first place, so that those who are unsure of how to rate, or which system to follow, can be clearer.

It is admittedly sometimes a little more difficult to decide how to rate a story, compared to a movie, as with a fic, the scene is painted with words and not images. In this case it's a good idea to keep in mind the kind of language you are using, and the kind of words you choose to describe certain scenarios. Is your language harsh, heavy and explicit? Are there negative connotations or violent meanings to certain words? Or are they softer, lighter? Imagine the scene that your words are creating, and how it might look if it were a movie.

Words can be a powerful thing, so keep in mind how you use them, and how they might come across and sound to another person.

And now, onto the second issue that I've come across quite a lot recently at the community, and that is:

Generally the things you should be warning for are subjects that might be disturbing/upsetting/triggering/squicky to people. These are generally quite serious subjects, and the best way to think about it is: what would upset/anger you, if you came across it unexpectedly in a fanfic, and found it wasn't warned for?

There are a few subjects that should always be warned for, no matter what, and these are:

- Rape (or non-con)
- Dub-con (which means dubious consent, when it's not clear whether a person has consented to sex or not)
- Character death/suicide
- Incest
- Bestiality
- Young characters engaging in sexual activities together (consent is different in all countries, and is as low as 14 years old in many places, or as high as 18/19 in others)
- Paedophilia
- Abuse (of any kind, for adults or children)
- Sexual kinks (of any kind, the tried and tested Your Kink Is Not My Kink is a good thing to keep in mind)
- Torture/extreme violence/gore
- Older characters (over the age of consent) engaging in sexual situations with younger characters (it's not paedophilia if the character is not pre-pubescent, but still an issue for some people if the character is young/below the age of consent)
- MPreg.

Mostly, if you warn for any of these you should not upset anyone. But a few times now I have come across fanfics that contain incest, but as there were no warnings for this, I was both surprised, and squicked out, as I do not like incest, and will always choose not to read it. This is how others might feel, if they came across any of these subjects in a fic, and there were no prior warnings.

It does not matter if you want something to 'be a surprise' for the readers or not, if your 'surprise' is any of these, then you must warn for it, as for many people it is not a pleasant surprise if for example, Eeteuk and Kangin have been made brothers, and suddenly they are having quite explicit sex with each other. Likewise, it is not a pleasant surprise if Kyuhyun unexpectedly dies in a car accident, or if Eunhyuk suddenly comes down with a terminal illness. Or, another example, if Ryeowook is a wolf and Yehsung, a human, is having hard-core, penetrative sex with him.

Even if you personally do not mind some of these themes, many people do, and it is common courtesy to warn for such content. It is not OMGSMEXY to everyone, to read about Ryeowook/Yehsung wolf!pron, or Eeteuk/Kangin brother!pron.

If you come across something in a fic that should be warned for, but was not, please bring this issue up to one of us mods, and we will deal with it.

Additionally, if you are posting fics in other communities/fanfiction websites, you will generally have to warn, or at least mention, if the fic contains slash/femmeslash, or sometimes even het. It is not, however, necessary on miracle______ to warn for slash or het, as the pairing will give away if it is slash or otherwise, and the rating will give an idea how extreme, or non-existant, the sex might be. You should, however, mention if one of the members is suddenly turning into a girl.

I know that this was an extremely long post, but I really wanted to address these two particular issues in detail so as to clear up a few problems that I've seen occuring quite regularly lately. I hope that this post has helped for those who weren't sure about these, and if anyone has any questions, or would like further clarifications, or even thinks that there is something I ought to add to this, then please just leave a comment! I'm here to help and to ensure that all members here have as enjoyable a time reading as possible.

This post will remain, and will receive both tags like all of our helpful/advice posts, and can be found located in the community sidebar on the main page.
joccusabajoccusaba on March 24th, 2010 07:02 pm (UTC)
thank you for this.. :D i will take the advice.
luminous being: jessica - sing ittaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 01:11 am (UTC)
You're welcome, I hope it helps!
Meira: Henry Taiwanxkeirafanx on March 24th, 2010 07:15 pm (UTC)
it's a good thing that you explained this detailed again...it's useful
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
I hoped it would be, it's information that, although is very easy to find the answers to if people just googled, I thought would be helpful if it were all right here on the community too.
blackkikyoblackkikyo on March 24th, 2010 09:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for this, it cleared up a lot of confusion. :)
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 01:12 am (UTC)
I'm glad that it could help! I hoped it would :)
and there she flies;akihikaru on March 25th, 2010 12:58 am (UTC)
Thank you for the rating list. 8D It helps. 8D
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 01:13 am (UTC)
You're welcome, I hoped that it would! Although it's all information that is very easy to google, I figured it would be a good idea to have it on the comm, as many people seem to forget that google exists, and answers all questions XD Glad it's helpful though! :D
gummylovesmegummylovesme on March 25th, 2010 01:18 am (UTC)
Just to clarify, PG15 is allowed? It is said there that mods will not stop users from using the rating but it's also listed as ratings that are not real and should not be used. Or maybe it's just me. :))

Anyways, thank you for this post! :P
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 01:26 am (UTC)
No, PG-15 is NOT a rating, it does not exist in either the US film ratings for the fiction ratings, but 15 on its own is a UK rating, and as it is in the middle, and obvious what it means, we would allow the use of it.
Jessica ★13fireflies on March 25th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
ohhhh... i always thought R is higher than NC-17.

Thanks for the post! :D
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 09:35 am (UTC)
Nope! To see an R film you'd have to be 17, to see something NC-17, you'd have to be older than 17!
The Black Cloud to Every Silver Liningoatmeal_peril on March 25th, 2010 03:05 am (UTC)
Lol, the warning list will be longer than the summary and everything else put together for most of my fics ^^;; Thanks for pointing this out, as a user who has been using this comm for a while now, it can get frustrating when you see people doing things incorrectly- so I can only imagine what it's like for you guys D:
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 09:38 am (UTC)
Ahaha your fics include a lot of those subjects? Goodness, they sound loaded XD And yes, it is frustrating because this kind of information is readily available and easy to find on the internet (google is your friend!) but a lot of people don't take the time to understand it, so hopefully now people can!

And if you do come across fics where people should have warned for things but haven't, you can always mention it to us, and point the person to this post! I don't have the time to read fic much, so I can't often see when people do either of these things wrong :(
Renee Joy: donghohunni23 on March 25th, 2010 05:24 am (UTC)
i've been waiting for you guys to do something like this for a while, thank you~

has there actually been a fic with Bestiality in it??
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 09:41 am (UTC)
If ever there's something you think we could add to the community there is always our suggestion post! It's all screened, and we always welcome new ideas! As it is, I only made this post as so many people seem not to understand the basic rules of online fanfic, so I'm hoping this post clears all that up!

And yes, there has been! There was a smut series, a long time ago, with various pairings and members being various animals. That at least was warned for at the time though!
(no subject) - hunni23 on March 25th, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC) (Expand)
THE shadowtailmon: kibum cuteshadowtailmon on March 25th, 2010 07:23 am (UTC)
From a reader's point of view, this would help us lot ^^
Hopefully now the rating will match the content more

It's kinda sad since it feels like we're relearning the ABCs
We should know these stuff! *phails* DX

I've never written anything so I have yet to make any mistakes...yet...X3
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 09:43 am (UTC)
Sadly, people just seem to write fics but not know the basic rules of how to post them online, or take out the time to figure these things out, so I'm hoping having outlined everything here, people will now understand better! If you do ever come across fics that haven't been rated correctly, and had a problem with it, you are free to PM any of us mods about it though, and we'd direct the poster to this entry!

Hopefully then, if you do ever decide to write, this post will help you if you need it! :D
babycloud_aibabycloud_ai on March 25th, 2010 08:18 am (UTC)
These are really helpful coz I sometimes have trouble rating my fics SO THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! memming it for reference.
babycloud_aibabycloud_ai on March 25th, 2010 08:34 am (UTC)
I have a question. I have a Blohyuk fic it has insinuations of rape and incest in it but it was not graphic at all, just the mention of it towards the end. How do I rate that?
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 25th, 2010 09:54 am (UTC)
I read through your fic, and it also deals with quite violent imagery, and murder, as well as the incest and the rape, so I'd probably give this an R. It's not explicit, as you said, but the imagery is still quite strong, and if you imagined how your words might make these scenes look if they were a film, I don't imagine it would make PG-13, as it seems a little more mature than that.

If I were using my nice UK film ratings I'd probably actually give it a 15, as it seems to be in the middle, but this should probably get an R rating for the subject matter.
(no subject) - babycloud_ai on March 25th, 2010 11:28 am (UTC) (Expand)
daisychains555daisychains555 on March 29th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
I have 2 questions.

1) if there's character death does it have to be pg-13? Even if there's no violence?

2)if there's a sex scene but it's not graphic (like no intimate body parts are mentioned) does it have to be NC-17 or can it be lower?

btw thanks for making this post. I (who is made of fail) find this really helpful.
luminous beingtaylormercury on March 30th, 2010 11:21 am (UTC)
Depends on the way they die, and how much the fic in question deals with the death. If it's not violent, or traumatic/disturbing, then it can be PG-13.

NC-17 is only for graphic writing (not just sex, but graphic violence/adult themes, etc). If the sex is not explicit, dirty, and graphic, it's definitely not NC-17. As mentioned in the actual ratings sections, a PG-13 may contain brief mentions of sexual situations, and an R fic may contain more detailed (but not graphic) sexual situations.

It all depends on what you've written, and how you've written it, and in the end it's down to the writer to learn how to rate and decide which is suitable, but I hope that helps you ^^
(Deleted comment)
luminous beingtaylormercury on April 14th, 2010 11:20 pm (UTC)

In general, when people aren't sure of something, I tend to recommend google and wikipedia, as they are great ways to instantly find out the information for which you seek. But anyway, those should explain what both issues are, I hope that helps! ^^;;
helsichelsic_fangirl on May 17th, 2010 08:26 am (UTC)
adasdasdf. Sorry I forgot to do this with my last update Dx
because it was a doujinshi I thought it wasn't necesary, but well, I follow the rules for fics anyway :)
luminous beingtaylormercury on May 17th, 2010 08:46 am (UTC)
Thanks a lot for understanding and fixing it. As we are a community for fanworks, our rules apply not only to written fics, but fanart as well, and since fanart/doujinshi can contain content of different ratings, the same rules do apply to both! Just to confirm something, and avoid further confusion in the future.

But thanks again for being so prompt and understanding! :D
hitsu: HaeHyuk Heaven[TAKE IT AND U DIE! DO NOTiamhitsu on May 24th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
i'll keep in mind but if i make a mistake plz let me know kindly ^^ joining cuz i got so many haehyuk fics hehehe and kyusung ^^