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So this website we are building allows users to post stories. Now we have a bunch of tags/genres. I call them tags/genres because they are a predefined list and is basically meant to give the stories some kind of categorization and nothing more.

We also have ratings - from K to MA. We were not planning to link or add dependencies between tag/genres and ratings. But we are finding this scenario where someone could select two contradictory tags/genres like Children's and Horror or maybe add a tag/genre called Erotica and then make the rating K. We are thinking about programmatically handling this, but my fear is that there is just too many permutations and combinations that managing such linking can become very cumbersome and chaotic.

Do you guys have any insights or suggestions on what can be done to make this a little more easy - both on the administrators of the site as well as the users?

Any input is appreciated!

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Neil Fein Jul 7 '14 at 15:23

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Asking for "insights or suggestions" isn't a question that can be answered definitively, since it's more like a discussion question than a question for a Q&A site like this one. Perhaps if you could edit this to be more about writing and managing writing, and less about the site's interface, it would be a better, more targeted question. – Neil Fein Jul 7 '14 at 0:02
I am sorry to disagree - not every question needs to have a 'definite' answer - especially in writers.se since writing is not a specific science with defined metrics. I do not come here to start a discussion, but ask questions which cannot be replied with absolutes, but helps me get more clarity on what I need. However I appreciate your comment. – open_sourse Jul 7 '14 at 6:43
It's more a question of what sort of writers' community you want to build. In the end, the users define the content and therefore the tone of the site. If there's demand for separating sexually explicit content, go ahead and do that. Otherwise there's not much you can do, and from my experience rating systems are only marginally useful, except for that one very specific distinction. – lea Jul 7 '14 at 7:17
@open_sourse, how many of these are you realy going to have? You're not going to need rules for every combination, only every blocked combination; You can't have Children/Erotica, Children/Horror, YA/Erotica. Honestly I can't think of any other permeutations that really need enforcing. With so few it's easy to include validation checks in your form submission. – CLockeWork Jul 7 '14 at 11:57
If users can add their own tags, I don't see how the problem can be solved without some major advance in computer technology. It requires the computer to understand the meaning in context of ANY possible word a user might type in. On top of that, there are endless value judgments. Like in your example, you say that "Children" and "Horror" can't go together. But what about the "Are you afraid of the dark?" series? And there's plenty of erotica targeted to teens. Maybe you don't approve of it and don't want it on your site, but it's certainly not inconceivable. Etc. – Jay Jul 14 '14 at 15:52
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I don't think the current state of artificial intelligence is up to the task, so I do not believe you will be able to accomplish this programmatically.

Even though writers and critics throughout history have been fascinated with placing stories into categories, there still is no universally agreed upon taxonomy.

Consider the stories collected by the Brothers Grimm. Originally folktales, considered by some to be stories for children, but if you read them, frequently they're horrific. Quite a few, if written today, would not pass most parental advisory group's notions about stories appropriate for children.

For example, take a look at The Dove Foundation, a "family friendly" review group concerned mostly with film. Contrast their rating system to something you may be more familiar with, the MPAA. Right way or wrong way isn't the issue here; the issue is who decides?

Personally, I find all forms of censorship abhorrent. I feel if the person is old enough to read and understand the material, they're old enough to read and understand the material. Any attempt to "shelter" the individual is ultimately futile. But that's just me. Parents with children might not feel the same way and it's a fact writers need to deal with if they're going to publish traditionally.

My suggestion would be to enlist your users. Write standards and crowd source your ratings possibly with up and down votes on individual stories taxonomy/ratings.

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Thank you very much for your input! I too was thinking in the lines of crowdsourcing if the taxonomy or ratings match – open_sourse Jul 7 '14 at 6:45

I manage a similar site. What we do is let the person, who submits a story, choose up to five genres or categories from a list of about thirty. This list was created by combining all lists of genres I could find on the net and merging rare subgenres into larger genres (e.g. splatterpunk goes into horror). Only popular subgenres are listed separately (e.g. slice-of-life). There is one field where they can propose a new genre. If there are enough proposals for a certain genre, I add it to the list. (This has not happened yet.) I do not check if the genres actually fit the story, after all it is just a categorization for readers to better find what they like to read, not science. If I wanted to be really serious, I'd not create a list of genres, but a list of literary motifs (such as TV Tropes or the Aarne-Tompson tale type index), but such accuracy is impractical and would only confuse users.

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I totally agree with you! An d having users create a new genre which gets added if there are enough votes definitely seems to be a good way. Thank you! – open_sourse Jul 7 '14 at 9:12

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