At the moment, so long as what we see on SFF is SFW, it is acceptable.

However, I'd like to discuss clarifying the scope of what is considered on-topic for SFF. Specifically requests for identifying erotica (usually in the form of fanfic).

Science Fiction & Fantasy Stack Exchange is for questions targeted towards science fiction and fantasy enthusiasts. This includes questions about:

  • Plot, character, or setting explanations
  • Historical or societal context of a work
  • Behind-the-scenes and fandom information
  • Story identification
  • Franchise/series reading or viewing order

Some examples of the content I am refering to:

And a couple non fanfic that also exhibit an erotic nature

At the moment it is considered on-topic because it is "story identification" and not explicitly forbidden.

To be clear, I am not asking for a clarification of policy, but a discussion and creation of policy.

Either we explicitly allow erotic story ID questions, or we disallow them.

  • 6
    In order to have a meaningful discussion here, we need to ensure that we're all on the same page with what we mean by the word "erotica". Presumably we're not talking about anything that contains a sex scene. Could you clarify (perhaps with examples from the main site) what does and doesn't qualify for the set of questions you're asking about?
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 19:57
  • I remember a question asking specifically for nudity. Since the it was nudity of SFF characters it was considered on topic and left open. The answers as i recall them where then hidden with spoiler formatting.
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:02
  • I'd like to muddy the waters a little more, so ... how about "alien warrior romance" (sci-fi!) or "werewolf romance" (fantasy!) story-ids? Some of the latter even contain substantial speculative ideation about the fusion of human and animal mentalities. Um. Or so my friend tells me. Yes. My friend tells me this.
    – akaioi
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 0:24
  • @akaioi - I don't see why those wouldn't come under the umbrella of SFF.
    – Mithical
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 9:38
  • What about the HNQ? Commented Aug 4, 2019 at 6:50
  • 2
    @marcellothearcane keep the title relatively safe for work, have the body hidden in spoiler if needed. Plus there are some words that are filtered so that if a question's title includes one, it won't hit HNQ
    – Jenayah
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 11:11

5 Answers 5


They should be allowed.

  • As long as it's SFF, it's fine.

    We are a site about science fiction and fantasy. And, let's face it... there are very often explicit scenes in SFF. And sometimes there is a book that is erotica that is a SFF story. It is about SFF, so that's one point in its favor.

  • Context matters.

    It's been mentioned that it could potentially violate the TOS of SE. I disagree; that's not talking about cases like this. If you slipped in a porn link on SO, you would be heavily punished. Here too. However, on SFF adult material can relate directly to the site's topic. It's SFF; that's the point above. And would you consider every question on English Language & Usage asking about offensive words to be in violation of the policies? The context in which the questionable posts are being posted matters.

    Also — and this is important — such questions are not linking to or including sexually explicit things in the posts themselves. While there may be some inappropriate content in the story being identified, we're hardly going to link to videos because of a question. If all we are posting is that description of the story, perhaps a quote or two, and how we found it... I don't see why it should be a problem.

  • This entire site is unprofessional.

    You're on a site about Harry Potter and Star Trek. I'd say that's about as far from professional as you can get.

  • Young users

    This is a valid point. There are certainly young users who are on our site (I think it's relatively well known that I'm 15), but I don't think this should prevent the explicit questions. I might consider the use of spoiler markdown, but I don't think that young users really affect anything. It's an occupational hazard of browsing the Internet, unfortunately :/

TL;DR: As long as it's Science Fiction or Fantasy, it should be on topic.

  • 6
    This of course does not mean that I particularly care for such questions, but that's not a reason to close.
    – Mithical
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 20:28
  • 1
    This raises the question how SFF elements should be necessary to deem something SFF. I think that bar should higher than simple lip service to SF or F in terms of setting. Basically, if the setting can be replaced without changing the story, then it is not really SSF.
    – amflare
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 21:30
  • 8
    @amflare I'd argue that any work set in an SFF setting is SFF. Is Firefly not SFF because it's just a western set in space, or Harry Potter not SFF because it's just a high school novel in a magical setting? See also.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Oct 19, 2017 at 21:48
  • @Randal'Thor - So... "Looking for a story where Harry shags Hermione fanfic" is going to be on topic, so long as they give enough details to enable identification?
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 23:01
  • 2
    @JohnP - scifi.stackexchange.com/q/161160/33591
    – Mithical
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 23:03
  • 3
    @Mithrandir - Fair point. Eww, but fair point.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 21, 2017 at 23:05
  • @Randal'Thor: On Harry Potter specifically: JK Rowling didn't even realize she was writing fantasy until after The Philosopher's Stone got published. But we certainly still call it on-topic.
    – Kevin
    Commented Oct 22, 2017 at 17:52
  • 2
    I think it's relatively well known that I'm 15 That is why you want to allow questions about erotic stories! I bet the security of adult sites (those "Do not enter if you are under 18" messages) is too hard to beat and you are trying to find a workaround... :-P
    – SJuan76
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 21:11
  • @SJuan76 - *snort*
    – Mithical
    Commented Nov 1, 2017 at 21:14
  • I broadly agree with this answer, although perhaps there should be a caveat about answering questions that are looking for certain things: works depicting explicit sex involving children, for instance, or works generated with images of non-consenting participants (no helping people find sci-fi deepfake pornography of celebrities, please).
    – Adamant
    Commented Mar 16, 2023 at 1:58

If a question is overtly offensive, it should be flagged as such.

Gratuitous NSFW pictures, links to porn, unnecessarily graphic language ... all of these are at best things to be edited out of a question immediately, and at worst might be forms of trolling. These are the kinds of thing which really need to be off our site. I know nobody will disagree with this; I mention it only to highlight the contrast with the kind of content you're asking about.

Mature discussions of NSFW content are fine.

We have hundreds of questions which are about sex in one way or another. As pointed out in previous meta posts on this topic, things like Kirk's sex life in Star Trek, Jabba's intentions towards Leia in Star Wars, or the too-many-to-count rape scenes in Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire are all perfectly on-topic SFF questions and can be discussed in a mature and reasonable manner. Often sexual things are an integral part of a sci-fi or fantasy work, and as such are fair game for questions and answers on this site (provided they're not being discussed offensively, of course).

So, coming back to your question ... story-ID is acceptable, and (reasonable) sexual questions are acceptable. Why shouldn't story-ID questions about sexual content be acceptable?

(I could maybe get behind the idea of using a tag for such questions, so that people can put it on ignore if they don't want to see any posts about erotica, but that's a discussion for another meta.)

Just to address the specific counterpoints from your answer:

  1. There are many places on the internet that one can find this sort of content. There is no reason SFF needs to be one of them.

    This isn't an argument in favour of disallowing anything. There are many place on the internet that one can find Q&A about sci-fi and fantasy, but that doesn't mean we should shut the whole site down.

  2. Erotic literature is several levels removed from the universe in question. First it is a fanfic and not canon in any sense of the word, and second, it is not intended to expand, continue, or expound on the universe.

    But your question isn't about fanfic - it's about erotica in general, not all of which is fanfiction for a different canon. Again, consider A Song of Ice and Fire.

  3. For various legal and SEO reasons, we are not allowed to post or link any sexually explicit or pornographic material. Any properly sourced answer to a story ID question looking for erotica would be pushing the boundary. And a question that goes into any sort of detail could be seen as explicit content.

    Re. sexually explicit or pornographic material, see my first paragraph above. If people are clearly posting in bad faith, then they can be dealt with accordingly, but most of the community is able to discuss erotica sensibly. Re. detail in questions or answers on the topic - again, let's trust our users to be Nice and reasonable. Offensive content can be flagged and removed. It would be kind of disrespectful to ban discussion about sex on the assumption that the community is unable to handle it maturely.

  • I think there was a meta about putting content tags on questions and the result was in short "no".
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:04
  • maybe i am just thinking of the answers here
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:07
  • 2
    @Skooba It wouldn't necessarily be a content tag (to be put on all questions involving sex - which sounds like overkill), but could potentially be a genre tag (to be put on ID questions about erotica - does that count as a genre?) In any case, the tag issue would be something for a separate meta post - it was just a parenthetical comment here.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:32
  • 2
    I agree it would be overkill to have mature content tag or similar. An erotica tag could be useful as that is a distinct style of writing and story-id typically has lot of descriptive tags that really are not useful elsewhere.
    – Skooba
    Commented Oct 20, 2017 at 17:35
  • I agree that A Song of Ice and Fire should be considered on-topic, but I think the question is about outright pornography that just happens to include SFF themes. There's a distinction between a story that includes sexual themes and a story whose sole purpose is sexual themes. Personally I'd prefer we left out the latter, not because they're offensive but because they're not really on-topic. (Same goes for Duck Tales, for example.) Commented Dec 11, 2017 at 20:15

The fact that this site has decided (regrettably) to make fan fiction on topic does not mean that fan faction has to be on a par with professional science fiction and fantasy. Let's just ban all questions about erotic fan fiction. (If that gets rid of the majority of fan fiction questions, I don't see that as a problem.)

  • 3
    Fan fiction is fine, erotica is fine. Ruling out fan fiction erotica doesn't seem sensible. Sure most of it belongs in the fiery depths of hell but disallowing it just because we don't like it is only going to lead to more problems. Not liking something is a reason to downvote not make off topic and in fact most erotica fan fictions ids do get downvoted.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Aug 5, 2019 at 8:25
  • @TheLethalCarrot That argument isn't valid. You might not agree with this answer, but it's a valid response to the question. "Not liking something is a reason to downvote" - unless we happen to be on a meta post discussing whether or not to make something off-topic, when we can perfectly validly discuss reasons why we might want to make it off-topic. Not liking something is not a reason to close-vote in general, unless there's a policy that the community as a whole doesn't like it and wants it gone.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 12:45
  • 1
    @Randal'Thor I think you understand the sentiment that my comment was made in but you are turning it to mean something else. My point was we should come up with something more than "me no likey" for making something off topic.
    – TheLethalCarrot Mod
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 12:49

They should be allowed (but....)

This answer is primarily intended as a supplement to the current top answer. Erotica (including pornography) with speculative fiction themes should be allowed for all the reasons laid out there.

However, certain very narrow categories of story identification questions should be disallowed on ethical and legal grounds (not topical ones):

  • Explicit pornographic works involving unwilling participants. With this, I am primarily thinking of works involving images of celebrities or ordinary people that are used without their approval to make pornography. These do exist, and some of these works may have speculative themes, but we should not direct people to them on both ethical grounds—it's dubious to help people find works that were produced in such an unethical manner—and legal grounds—such works may run afoul of laws against revenge pornography or misappropriation of image in many jurisdictions around the world.

  • Pornographic works involving explicit depictions of sex involving children (or characters that appear to be children but are really 1000-year-old immortals or whatnot), particularly visual works, particularly non-cartoon works. Again, such works may constitute child pornography in many countries and run the risk of exposing SE to legal action. Ethically, such works may in some cases be produced by the exploitation of actual children, or if not, foster communities where such exploitation is justified or normalize such depictions. In any case, the possibilities here are much too dubious to allow such questions.

We should be reasonably strict when deleting such questions: if people are asking to find, for instance, a cartoon with sex between "little kids" or "a fan video with Angelina Jolie and an alien having sex," we should require them to explain how their work does not fall afoul of these requirements, rather than giving them too much of the benefit of the doubt.

  • I'm neutral here. In general, I'm hesitant to ban particular types of media that don't involve direct harm to another just because "it could be harmful". It makes me think of all of the various "obscenity" laws that were used to ban books or birth control. But I do agree that Stack Exchange needs to stay on the windy side of the law (presumably the law of where they are incorporated/hosted) and there are potential advertising repercussions to allowing undesirable material, as TV Tropes learned.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 14:30
  • @FuzzyBoots - I understand your hesitation, but the first category does involve harm to people. Not physical violence, sure, but revenge pornography can be very emotionally damaging to people, which is why it's done, and pornography with images of celebrities—though not created with the same purpose—is conceptually similar. Child pornography involves the exploitation of actual children, and even though non-live-action works might not, I have seen places where they fostered online communities that were accepting of the previous category, so I think such works are best avoided altogether.
    – Adamant
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 16:46
  • Not to mention that some such works may use children as models or voice actors, which is also morally questionable. Note that I am not saying that we should prohibit any discussion of these works in the context of a question, only that we should have a strong policy against answering story-identification questions about them. We just should not be directing people to them.
    – Adamant
    Commented Mar 21, 2023 at 16:49
  • Both of your bullet points describe works that are against the Code of Conduct under "Non-consensual imagery" and may also be illegal in some areas. I would suggest flagging for moderator attention (or pinging any mod in chat) if you see either of those. This may also be a situation where it's appropriate to vote to close even if the question is otherwise on-topic to prevent any objectionable answers (or maybe something stronger than closing?). If it turns out that was an overreaction we can always reverse it.
    – Laurel
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 12:07
  • @Laurel - Well, I am arguing that they should not be allowed.
    – Adamant
    Commented Aug 24, 2023 at 15:26

Disallow Erotic Story ID Questions.

There are several reasons we should do this:

1) While adult content is tolerated, SFF - and the SE network as a whole - are still professional, work oriented sites. There are many places on the internet that one can find this sort of content. There is no reason SFF needs to be one of them. Users are allowed on this site once they reach the age of 13. While we don't have to cater to people of that age, neither should we ignore the existence of that demographic.

2) Just because something is set in an SFF universe, or has some of the qualities of an SFF world, does not mean that it should be on-topic. Intent should be taken into account. Erotic literature is several levels removed from the universe in question. First it is a fanfic and not canon in any sense of the word, and second, it is not intended to expand, continue, or expound on the universe. It is simply hijacking the names and places and applying them to content that has a completely different purpose.

3) Its an acceptable continuation of the Stack Exchange Network Content Policy. For various legal and SEO reasons, we are not allowed to post or link any sexually explicit or pornographic material. Any properly sourced answer to a story ID question looking for erotica would be pushing the boundary. And a question that goes into any sort of detail could be seen as explicit content.

In short, it is unprofessional, unnecessary, not really SFF, and significantly raises the risk of violating SE rules.

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