While we have a long-standing policy that it's OK to ask about adult topics here - everything from sex to rape to bestiality - there have also been quite a number of questions in recent years which have stirred up controversy and disagreement within the community as to how they should be handled. Even mods exercising their discretion to close or delete such questions has often been met with resistance. For example:
Has George R. R. Martin described the color of Daenerys' pubic hair in any book? - VTCed, deleted, undeleted; ensuing meta discussion.
Did Draco Malfoy sexually assault Hermione Granger? - closed, deleted, reopened, undeleted, closed, deleted, undeleted, deleted; ensuing meta discussion.
Mod-deletion of such questions isn't a new thing: e.g. see What's the stamina of Wolverine on bed? from 2015, although in that case the community seemed fairly unanimous against the question and it didn't cause much controversy. On the other hand, we've also had many questions about sex and even rape and bestiality in children's books which have been well-received. Even recently, we have a clear policy that being about erotica shouldn't be a reason to consider story-ID questions off-topic.
Many of these questions have attracted custom moderator flags going both ways: some people flag to say "this question is inappropriate and should be deleted" and others flag to say "this question is bad but on-topic and should be reopened/undeleted". With so much disagreement among the community on each individual case (as evidenced by the close/reopen and delete/undelete wars on many of these questions), it's hard for moderators to know how to handle such flags. Obviously we won't be able to keep everyone happy no matter what, but ideally it would be nice to have a clear meta policy on questions of this type, which we can point to when taking action on them or handling people's flags.
Ideas I've seen proposed in comments include:
- that there should be some form of notability (e.g. "was Umbridge raped by centaurs" is OK because this is a widely-known fan theory, but "did Sirius Black have sex with female dogs" isn't because it's not a notable claim that he did) - but we don't have any such requirement for any other types of question, so this unprecedented criterion would require a clear meta consensus;
- that the question should be asked in good faith (e.g. questions which appear to be posted just for shock or titillation value aren't OK, but questions springing from genuine curiosity about a work of SFF are) - but judging an OP's motivation is always difficult, and even mods, who are more used to making such judgement calls, have often been called out on meta for exercising their discretion on such questions.
What should our policy be on how to treat questions on 'adult topics' like this? When should they be closed or deleted as opposed to simply downvoted?
Please propose and vote on possible policies below!
EDIT to summarise the conclusion
- adult topics should never be a reason to close or delete an otherwise on-topic question;
- as always, downvotes are yours to use as you choose;
- any unnecessary prurience can be edited out if it doesn't affect the thrust of the question.
Following this policy, I've reopened the two Harry Potter questions from the bullet points above. In future, if you see questions of this type getting closed incorrectly, feel free to flag them (perhaps with a link to this meta) for mod reopening and locking if necessary.