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07 July 2007 @ 11:22 pm
Fandom: Rating Key for Fanfic  
With the MPAA cracking down on the use of their rating system (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17 and X) without their consent, fandom and fanfic have been under a lot of pressure to create their own rating system. This is almost an impossible task, as those ratings have, since the ascendancy of the internet, been incorporated into fandom usage, even in countries where the American system of rating movies is not in use.

Fanfiction.net uses the system developed by Fiction Ratings.com:

B: Intended for preschool level and younger children between the ages of 1 and 4. Content should be free of any coarse language, violence, adult themes, and ideas very young children cannot comprehend.
K: Intended for general audience 5 years and older. Content should be free of any coarse language, violence, and adult themes.
K+: Suitable for more mature children, 9 years and older, with minor action violence without serious injury. May contain mild coarse language. Should not contain any adult themes.
T: Suitable for teens, 13 years and older, with some violence, minor coarse language, and minor suggestive adult themes.
M: Not suitable for children or teens below the age of 16 with possible strong but non-explicit adult themes, references to violence, and strong coarse language.
(It's interesting to note that the "M" rating was at one time used by the MPAA before the adoption of GP (no longer in use), PG and PG-13 ratings.)
MA: Content is only suitable for mature adults. May contain explicit language and adult themes.

While it's a decent enough rating system, the fact that you have to register with their site for permission to use the ratings is problematic, as they have a long list of disclaimers for their use.

To that end, I've created my own rating system for any fics I may post on my LJ page. The key is as follows:

All: As the name implies, content is suitable for all ages.
6+: No coarse language. Themes are not adult or suggestive in nature. Content may contain situations to which a child over six would already have been exposed.
10+: Minimal coarse language. Themes and content may require more thought and analysis than someone under 10 could give.
16+: Coarse language. Themes and content are more adult in nature.
18+: If you're old enough to vote and get killed in a war, you're old enough to read this fic. It's life. Get.Over.It.

Any rating system is arbitrary -- a sixteen-year-old may handle an adult theme far better than a thirty-one-year-old. I chose these ages based on a myopic view of childhood: I'd like to believe that all six-year-olds are still living in a world of fun and fantasy, filled with the dreams and innocence that passes too quickly in this thing called real life. The other ages were selected merely as marker points on the road of life. YMMV

If I post elsewhere on LJ, I'll default to whatever system that site uses, but on my own journals, I'll use this standard.