Re: Content with Controversial Topics: Sexuality and Relationships

#21

Endless Wrote: The key I feel is the nuance. The above quoted rule doesn’t say you can’t include real world politics, groups, religions, but it does regulate how you may depict them on this site. Basically it plays neutral ground and bans propaganda, and as far as I know we are interested in art here, not propaganda. Sure, satire is art and it’s good and all, so that might feel unfair, but even satire is a legitimate form of propaganda made from subjective opinionated politics that is usually directly aimed at attacking specific groups or people. It can also be directed at something general like how we’re all under Corona or inanimate things like pollution, but then it’s also not really directed against any group so arguably fully within the bounds of what is allowed if we don’t overthink things.


Ironically, one of the major themes in my story is the influence of propaganda. If you think that's what it is, then hey, at least it's self-aware.

I do want to come back to this, because this is a project I've invested a year and half's worth of solid work into, and obviously I want to make my case for not having it taken down. 

My story was a fun side-project I started because I wanted to write a corporate fantasy and I've loved mythology since I was a child. Gods being stuck in corporate hell was an idea which captured my imagination and had no political agenda behind it, and certainly no intent to attack members of any religious group. Does it critique aspects of religion? Absolutely, along with business, economics, corruption, and inequitable power dynamics. But it never attacks people. In fact, another major underlying theme of the story is that people are complex and fundamentally worthy of respect no matter their beliefs or background.

Respect has room for critique; these things are not mutually-exclusive. 

Some religious groups are vulnerable minorities. As such, they need to be protected from hate speech. Ideas, however, should not be exempt from criticism. When an idea or belief system forbids you from engaging with it critically, there is a word to describe that: authoritarianism.

I am not interested in propaganda. I am interested in art. Art asks hard questions. Art does not flinch from controversy. And art does not bow to authoritarianism.

Re: Content with Controversial Topics: Sexuality and Relationships

#22
Csuite Wrote: I am not interested in propaganda. I am interested in art. Art asks hard questions. Art does not flinch from controversy. And art does not bow to authoritarianism.

I agree with you on art, but this may not be the correct location to display it. Conceptually, I'm not giving my opinion. I would stand by the principle that not every location is a platform appropriate for all things and a person is hardly limited in terms of internet places to post. 

Re: Content with Controversial Topics: Sexuality and Relationships

#23
ptgatsby Wrote:
Csuite Wrote: I am not interested in propaganda. I am interested in art. Art asks hard questions. Art does not flinch from controversy. And art does not bow to authoritarianism.

I agree with you on art, but this may not be the correct location to display it. Conceptually, I'm not giving my opinion. I would stand by the principle that not every location is a platform appropriate for all things and a person is hardly limited in terms of internet places to post.


You say that, but this story has done reasonably well. It has 700 readers who would be let down without explanation if the story were to be suddenly pulled (which I do not want to do to them!), has had mostly positive feedback, and was even sitting comfortably in the top 100 for a few months. I am not the only person impacted by this, to be clear. Those 700 other people will be impacted as well. 

I have had precisely zero people comment or PM me to tell me they were offended by it. 

All of which is at risk because one person submitted a report.

I would strongly argue Royal Road *is* the best place to post it. I love this site; its UX is second to none. Its admins do a fantastic job. I love the community; and interacting with other writers who share my interests. And the genre focus couldn’t be a more perfect fit for the types of stories I love to read and write - no other site comes closer.

But this one rule is illogically restrictive and inconsistent. Fantasy and sci-fi in the published world are absolutely riddled with in-depth references to real religions and politics, and it’s as crazy to me to outlaw those as it would be to say you couldn’t depict LGBT relationships because some people might be offended (and there are a lot of people out there who still get offended by LGBT content).

I know people in real life who find the depiction of demons in literature religiously offensive, and there are demons in practically half the stories on this site. Should we report those stories too?

Re: Content with Controversial Topics: Sexuality and Relationships

#24

Csuite Wrote: You say that, but this story has done reasonably well.

I do not know your story (presumably it's not "Doing God's Work, which I do enjoy) and cannot comment. This seems more like a dispute with the moderation of your story. I can only say I agree with the principles behind the rules and have no knowledge if your story ran afoul of them. As far as "offending people" - that's not the only reason for the rules. Rules that are inclusive and supportive of people are not the same as rules that distance and are dismissive. That is, hypothetical offended people aren't the foundation of the rules. Hostility directed towards people is far closer to the root of the rules.

Re: Content with Controversial Topics: Sexuality and Relationships

#25

ptgatsby Wrote:
Csuite Wrote: You say that, but this story has done reasonably well.

I do not know your story (presumably it's not "Doing God's Work, which I do enjoy) and cannot comment. This seems more like a dispute with the moderation of your story. I can only say I agree with the principles behind the rules and have no knowledge if your story ran afoul of them. As far as "offending people" - that's not the only reason for the rules. Rules that are inclusive and supportive of people are not the same as rules that distance and are dismissive. That is, hypothetical offended people aren't the foundation of the rules. Hostility directed towards people is far closer to the root of the rules.



It is indeed Doing God's Work. If you're confused or surprised by that, well, so was I. 

I can't presume to know what the principle behind the rule is either. If it's to prevent hate speech, that's a cause I agree with. However, a less restrictive and inconsistent way to do it would be to focus on tone and intent, not the current focus on topic. It would be very simple to forbid hate speech as a blanket rule, including against political and religious groups, and would require barely any rewording. Whereas right now, religion and politics receive specific exemption from criticism or even depiction.  

The rules as they are written now do not only cover stories promoting hostility. The wording of the FAQ outright states depiction of religion and politics should be avoided

We can clearly see the practical impact this has on people like the OP on this thread whose subsequent takeaways were that those topics are completely forbidden. My story was also reported for merely depicting real-world religions. The reporter did not claim I was being hostile (which is true, I am not). If the principle of the rules is to combat hostility, that is not the message being understood by Royal Road users. The message being received is that people cannot write about those particular topics at all. And the secondary impact is to amplify worry and concern among authors wanting to write about other controversial topics such as LGBT relationships. 

If a user's reasonable interpretation of the rules doesn't match the intent behind them, there's a miscommunication taking place.

However, there's a simple solution to all these problems I would like to propose: forbid hate speech directed to any real-world groups. To summarise the benefits:
  • Removing ambiguity and miscommunication
  • Shifting the problematic action from neutral topic to hostile intent
  • Reducing stress from authors like the OP as to what topics they are allowed to write about
  • Preventing religion and politics from receiving automatic exemption from discussion
  • Providing authors with greater creative freedom 
  • Providing readers with access to a wider diversity of stories
  • Reducing admin/mod work overheads due to decreased censorship
  • Continuation of protections of vulnerable groups