Currently there's a question open requesting identification of a novel that has as a distinguishing feature a sex scene between two lesbians and a monkey:

A high rep user voted to close because either the topic or the forum the question inevitably leads to is inappropriate for age 13+ children. I have no idea whether this site is supposed to be child-friendly or not, though judging from the language in some of the posts, grade school children do read and post here.

Are there guidelines we're supposed to be following with regard to discussing material of a sexual nature? In this particular question I don't think we need to go any further into the sexual aspects to answer the question, but is even mentioning such aspects verboten?

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  • Hmmmm... I think a plain mention is fine, it's more about the details...? – Izkata Sep 21 '14 at 8:30
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    +1 to "judging from the language in some of the posts, grade school children do read and post here". I LOL'd – Valorum Sep 21 '14 at 8:34
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    Not to be a spoilsport, but you not everyone on the internet speaks English as their first language. – Joe L. Sep 21 '14 at 21:42
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    @joeL - Boo hiss. How dare you spoil our fun with your logic and reason 😊 – Valorum Sep 22 '14 at 9:42
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    @Richard: It's a gift. Non-refundable, I'm afraid. – Joe L. Sep 22 '14 at 11:10

While I agree with the answers posted by our moderators with regards to the general flaws in the question, and am not opposed to the question being closed on those grounds, neither actually answers the question here, which is specifically asking "Does this question comply with the site's policy regarding explicit content?".

My answer is "Yes, it does comply with the site's policy regarding explicit content."

Richard linked two very relevant prior meta discussions:

In both discussions, the consensus is clear that we have some degree of tolerance for adult content, so long as what is posted here isn't explicitly NSFW. Note that the decision on the first question was to include a potentially NSFW photograph in the question, but to include it as a link and clearly label it as such.

The other question says "don't link to outright porn", which is sensible, but this question isn't linking to outright porn, or, in fact, anything.

The fact that it contains direct quotes from a forum discussing a sexually explicit topic is completely irrelevant. Our responsibilities for policing the content of this site end sometime before the point where users start to create google searches off of content on our site. If they type in a phrase that they saw on our site, and google shows them something sexually explicit, that is not our problem, nor should it be.

As was pointed out in some of the comments, there are plenty of things discussed here that would lead to potentially very offensive content if someone searched on collective phrases (e.g. "slave leia", or anything related to Kirk's love life).

So no, we shouldn't close that question because searching for the original quote could bring you to a forum where sexual topics are discussed, no matter how offensive some people might find those topics. We're not sending people to that forum. We're not quoting anything explicit from that forum. We're not providing direct links to that forum.

That doesn't mean, of course, that the question couldn't/shouldn't be closed for completely different grounds (as the other answers indicate), but it is fine as far as our policies on sexually explicit content go.

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I think this question has a number of issues that make it close-worthy. For one thing, it's a secondhand story identification:

A few years ago while going through the posts on a writing forum I came across something that made me curious about the book. The person there had written this

So the person asking will be unable to confirm that the answers are truly accurate. This makes it more of a 'list works with these properties' question, which are too broad. A story identification question has an answer, and it's verifiable. This particular question is unanswerable, since the person who could verify an accurate answer isn't involved.

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    I would concede that point if the description were not so unique. Two lesbians having sex with a monkey? Could there really be more than one book containing such a scene in the sf genre that has also won major awards in Asia? – Kyle Jones Sep 22 '14 at 17:28
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    @KyleJones We don't leave 'list works with X properties' questions open if we imagine that the X is really rare. – user1027 Sep 22 '14 at 17:38
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    Whether it leads to a unique answer or to a number of results, to me the question reads: "Please find me a work that has these characteristics." It's not really story identification since the won't actually know if someone posts the correct answer. Since the description comes from someone else (not the OP), and is extremely broad ("one of Asia's best sellers" ...? Um, Asia is the largest and most populous continent, so was it a best-seller in part of Asia? all of it?), answers would be a matter of: "it might be this" or "it could be this, depending on..." – Ward - Reinstate Monica Sep 22 '14 at 21:06
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    What matter is whether the book can be identified uniquely, not whether the asker can be identified uniquely: askers come and go, and we can't read their minds, only the question matters. Figuring out whether a description is sufficiently precise is a tricky judgement call, but whether the asker can verify propositions without doubt is not a critical factor. – user56 Sep 22 '14 at 23:28
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    I should add that the question does lack details. But I voted to reopen because “the asker hasn't read the book” and “it's about sex” are not appropriate close reasons. – user56 Sep 22 '14 at 23:36
  • I know I've seen others, but can only find this example right now. We've had second-hand story id questions before. – phantom42 Sep 23 '14 at 3:12
  • @phantom42 And in that instance, the asker had access to the original asker, who verified the correct answer. That's not the case here. – user1027 Sep 23 '14 at 3:22
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    Isn't it really a matter of too much context though? Had they simply said, "I'm looking for this book", would the question be any more or less valid (ignoring the other issues with the question, obviously)? To me, it's like homework questions. If a person mentions that it's homework, they often get downvotes. Pose the same question without mention of homework, and no one has a problem. – phantom42 Sep 23 '14 at 12:30
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    There are always cases where the OP can't reliably confirm the answer is correct without actually reading/watching a portion of the work. Why is it less valid for OP to go read a portion (or all) of the book and come back and confirm the answer? – phantom42 Sep 23 '14 at 12:33
  • @phantom42 Although I am not an authority on all books, unless there is only one scifi book with the attributes indicated in the question the OP has no way of confirming whether any answer is correct, even if the they read every potential answer-book in their entirety. – Xantec Sep 23 '14 at 12:58
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    @phantom42 I'm using 'verifiable' as a stand in for the SE precept 'answerable'. We can provide the question with a list of various works that address the question, but it can't answer the 'what book was this' question, since no one involved knows. That is not answerable. – user1027 Sep 23 '14 at 14:10

I can't comment? (need 50 reputations) but I've only this to say a forum that has so many posts about Martin's book and the TV series based on them is in no position to make such high claims as to what is suitable for this site and what is not. Nowhere in my post I mentioned the term bestiality explicitly only the forum it was alluding to has this word as its header. Even on that forum there may be many young people who have developed and early interest in writing but there seems to be no censorship (a different matter of course). This is also not the first question of its kind, here there have been other such similar questions like Short Story about a boy and a dog, where all animals can talk

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    It wasn't alluding to the forum, it was directly quoting from it. – Valorum Sep 22 '14 at 9:40
  • Can you flesh out why questions about A Song of Ice and Fire mean that we're unable to define the site's scope? – user1027 Sep 22 '14 at 17:16
  • Good that someone has brought this up. Personally psychosexual outlook of the characters is important for me whenever I'm reading something and I like alternative versions of what i normally see in this world. So there might be more such questions. :P I hope they are allowed and I'm not flogged. – Jahanpanah Sep 22 '14 at 18:50
  • @Keen OK you're right but if I spare the books and include only the seires then? It being a visual medium makes it come out as more explicit that anybody can google about as the quote in my post. – Jahanpanah Sep 22 '14 at 18:59
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    @Richard So you think we should ban any text that googling for could bring up adult content? I better go suspend anyone who mentioned slave Leia or tentacles then. And ASoIaF is definitely out, there's hardly a sentence in that series suitable for 13-year-olds. – Kevin Sep 22 '14 at 19:06
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    @Kevin - Should we ban any questions that lead directly to a discussion about a woman having sex with a monkey? I'm tempted to say yes. – Valorum Sep 22 '14 at 19:19
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    @Richard No, inter-species sexuality is a common enough SF theme and it would be ridiculous to ban it. Especially since we don't ban worse themes like endemic rape (ASoIaF…) or genocide (Star Wars…). – user56 Sep 22 '14 at 23:32
  • @Gilles - At this point I've basically lost the will to live. My answer, which directly references the site policy is getting downvoted to the basement floor and no-one seems to care that the question contains a quote from a forum where they're discussing the finer points of sh*gging monkeys and horses. I'm at the point where I'm tempted to say "Why the hell should I give a damn when apparently no-one else does". – Valorum Sep 22 '14 at 23:38
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    @Richard "Should we ban any questions that lead directly to a discussion about a woman having sex with a monkey? I'm tempted to say yes." So the entire Planet of the Apes franchise should be off-topic? – Beofett Sep 23 '14 at 14:13
  • @Beofett - I don't recall any of the women in Planet of the Apes having sex with any of the apes. They were treated as pets. – Valorum Sep 23 '14 at 15:05
  • @Richard The content of our questions and answers is hardly restricted to what has happened on-screen within a franchise. I believe there are enough signs of at least friendship between male and female characters of either species that "did they ever have romantic relations" could certainly come up. Keep in mind that we're not talking one movie here, or even one movie plus a remake. There was a series of movies, 2 spin-off shows, novelizations and comics. Are you honestly saying that you know no inter-species romance was ever implied in any of the materials? – Beofett Sep 23 '14 at 15:12
  • @Richard Even on that site the core talk is about the relations between sentinent creatures. – Jahanpanah Sep 24 '14 at 16:10

The question in question doesn't strike me as on topic, as there isn't really anything that relates to Science Fiction or Fantasy in the book, it could be any kind of book. Only a brief comment from the user who says it was a SFF book indicates that it might be on topic. I would like to see a lot more details, especially in the science fiction department, or else closed.

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  • I think it's fair to say that there are multiple issues with this question. Obviously the mob have spoken as far as getting it re-opened. – Valorum Sep 22 '14 at 9:39

There have been couple of previous meta posts on this subject:

In both cases, the accepted answer led back to the Stack Exchange Content Policy

"Sexually Explicit Material : Accounts that use Stack Exchange to post sexually explicit or pornographic material, or links to it, will be suspended."

and the Stack Exchange legal policy

Subscriber certifies to Stack Exchange that Subscriber is an individual (i.e., not a corporate entity) at least 13 years of age. No one under the age of 13 may provide any personal information to or on Stack Exchange (including, for example, a name, address, telephone number or email address).

In the specific case of the question posted, since it makes reference to a decidedly NSFW/adult source (a writer's forum discussing bestiality) I would say that it falls foul of this immediately.

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  • So, if the question were reworded to remove reference to that particular writer's forum, it would be acceptable? – Joe L. Sep 21 '14 at 21:16
  • This should probably be a comment on Richard’s answer. And scrubbing the question of NSFW references (of which the forum is only a part) would leave a vacuous question. So no, removing the references probably isn't enough. – alexwlchan Sep 21 '14 at 21:30
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    I just don't see anything that's not PG-13 in the original question or the forum that it (very indirectly) links to. There's no graphic, explicit or pornographic content that I can see. – Joe L. Sep 21 '14 at 21:52
  • Me either. I agree that a post containing the word bestiality would be NSFW in any workplace I have ever worked in, but that doesn't make the post pornographic. It is iffy for children, though, which is why I'm asking if we should be looking out for young readers specifically. – Kyle Jones Sep 22 '14 at 2:36
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    The question doesn't link to that source, it only quotes it. The quote itself isn't pornographic, so I don't see how this falls foul of that policy. – SQB Sep 22 '14 at 6:26
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    This is insane, stop bowlderizing! – o0'. Sep 22 '14 at 7:27
  • @SQB - It may not link to it, but it definitely refers to it. – Valorum Sep 22 '14 at 9:30
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    Is there some secret edit that 158-rep users can't see in the revision history or did this really all just pan out in the first 5 minutes of the question. Currently (and in all the revisions) I can't find where this questions links nor refers to anywhere specifically. And given that any 13 year old should roughly know what sex is and what lesbians are, I can't make out much explicit/offensive content in that question. – TARS Sep 22 '14 at 10:44
  • @Sky Captain: I was able to find it easily. It's here: absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=60946&page=5 Look for the post by "Captain Morgan" – Joe L. Sep 22 '14 at 11:14
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    @JoeL. I wasn't arguing about finding it somehow, but about the question directly refering to it, though. – TARS Sep 22 '14 at 11:19
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    @Sky Captain: You're right, it doesn't. That's part of why I don't understand why this has become such an issue for a few people. – Joe L. Sep 22 '14 at 11:23
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    There is no sexually explicit material in this question. Your answer is utterly irrelevant. – user56 Sep 22 '14 at 23:25
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    @Richard I can find material on the web that's unsuitable for 13+ without the help of the question. If I follow your reasoning, we can't have a site, period. – user56 Sep 22 '14 at 23:34
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    I don't know that either of the quoted sections of the content and legal policies apply to this question. The question itself doesn't contain any sexual or pornographic material (no more so than the question involving Kirk), nor does it link to any. And the section regarding the minimum acceptable individual age likely has more to do with COPPA than to act as a content guideline. – Xantec Sep 23 '14 at 12:49
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    Richard, there is a significant difference between posting links to sexually explicit or pornographic material, and quoting a post from a discussion forum about writing sexually explicit material. Note that in one of the discussions you linked, the accepted solution involved posting a link to a picture showing a naked woman from the rear, and labeling the link NSFW. It sounds like your issue with the (tenuous) link to the forum is implicit sexual content, and not the explicit content that is prohibited by the rules you cite. – Beofett Sep 23 '14 at 14:09

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