Content warnings on IFDB

Well I hadn’t expected this to be the thread I’d delurk on, but it really seems like people are making an awful lot of fuss over a little bit of smut.

Filtering by tags would be useful for a variety of reasons of course, so I won’t complain about that. But the database is full of material that kids (and some adults) would find objectionable, so like anywhere else on the internet, it’s not the internet’s job to protect you or your kids.

AIF is popular and just as valid a form of IF as anything else, and I understand not wanting to see things like this flooding the front page of the archive…but is that really a problem here? Is it expected to be a recurring thing?


Note that you can already filter your search results on IFDB by applying a minus sign.

Example - type this in the search field:
tag:ifcomp -tag:sexual

Then all IFComp games except those tagged Sexual Content/Abuse/References etc will be shown.

It may be difficult to agree on advanced or limiting features, but it should be quite simple to apply Content Warnings in the same way as it is done on the IFComp site. Many have expressed that they are glad the content warnings are there, and if you don’t care about the content warnings, you can just ignore them.

The content warnings could be close to the top of the game listing, just below Genre and Publication Year.


Most of this was just tossing out ideas of how to manage it in the future for the new database that’s in the works. Someone broached the topic and it was as good a time as any to discuss it.


Delighted to have delurked you! And I did say that I didn’t want to blow this single instance out of proportion. But it is an issue that needed to be discussed sooner or later I think, and this has been fruitful.

I entirely agree and would never suggest removing anything altogether. Even the Victorians baulked at doing that to the smut that they pretended not to enjoy, which is why the Private Case existed. The content controls that we have been discussing above are a bit less drastic (!) but there are still likely to be some rare instances when some sort of control is warranted.

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Fair, I suppose it was just a few posts that jumped out at me more than the others.

Since it will be an unknown time until any sort of change is made, may I offer a suggestion for when someone sees a game that truly, deeply offends them on the landing page? Instead of being stressed over it for however many days, just comment on a few other games to push it out of sight.

Not that I could imagine any listing sticking around for multiple days right now, the IFDB has really been on fire lately thanks to Endmaster, autumnc, Zape, and others, and of course Mathbrush as always. It’s great to see, keep up the good work folks.

I wonder if there ought to be some sort of plan to moderate the abuse of the comment feature of IFDB?

In July 2019 I emailed the IFDB admin address to report the racist and homophobic language on the following page, but there was no response, and nothing seems to have been done about it:

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I entirely agree that something should have been done about the comments on the page you’ve highlighted and it is regrettable that they’ve been allowed to remain there unchallenged. Even if they weren’t removed entirely, a note appended by admin saying that the comments are inappropriate would be better than nothing. This illustrates my point about lack of stewardship and a robust mechanism to report concerns on IFDB as it is at the moment - but I’m confident that will change under whatever new management is proposed.

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Yes, this will likely be a high priority once the migration of IFDB is done.

This is a great discussion to have, but please keep the discourse civil.

  • Discussing solutions about how websites can moderate and protect users from content they personally find objectionable is great.
  • Please do not attack others for their opinions, and do not automatically assume that valid discussion is meant as a personal attack.

I moved a couple messages out of the thread. Thank you all for your consideration and patience as we continue to discuss these issues constructively.


My personal opinion is that categorising the games is the best solution. if someone wants AIF, he can search for category:aif or whatever else.

But my main issue is ancient and synthesized by Cicero: “Qui custodet custodem ?” (who checks the checkers ?") so, I’m not against categorising, but the issue is in who do the categorisation, and his/her/its criteria. I’m sure that in our IF community we can agree on who will get the trouble of categorising the games.

my 2 €¢, and
Best regards from Italy,
dott. Piergiorgio.


The easy answer is not to let young children browse websites designed for adults.

Whether Holocaust denial and racist/homophobic language (both stated above as things that shouldn’t be on IFDB) are any worse than rape fantasies is another question. If you are going to draw the line somewhere then the argument that “anything goes” is lost.

I totally agree with the original post of this discussion.

Also, it feels like a good idea that a user could select what kind of category or tags are offensive for her, and that those are automatically hidden.

But maybe that could be prone to vandalizing, with users giving unfair tags to undeserved games. Or just… sometimes points of view differ.

Another kind of solution is to use the Steam approach. Some games are tagged for “adults” or with “sentisitive content”, so the system ask for your permission to access those tagged like R-rated games.

Maybe a harcoded in the system R-rated tag could do the work.

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There is a problem with that because you can have characters that are simply really bad persons, and they use homophobic language.

Simply, this is not something that can be handled properly.

The only thing you can safely ban is straight out nazi propaganda.

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There are many things that could be considered just as bad as Nazi propaganda. It all depends on your perspective. For some people (like me) the adventure game under discussion would be equally disgusting. The answer is probably to hold your nose and allow anything that’s legal, but categorise and display it appropriately. One difficulty with that is that different things are legal in different countries. Because of its Nazi past, I understand that Germany has criminalised much that is Nazi-related.

I hope I don’t really need to add that I find Nazi propaganda or praise for Nazi Germany despicable. My point is that it’s difficult to single out this one area. Even Mein Kampf is sold in bookshops, with critical forewards to contextualise it.


Yes, and that, I think, is the consensus that has emerged from the lengthy discussion here and in the related thread.

And again, the point is to make it explicit that the site it ‘designed for adults’.

And, with thanks to all, that’s my final tuppenceworth into this long and very interesting discussion.

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I also have an eight-year-old child who is interested in interactive fiction, and it would be great to be able to log in to the IFDB and “self-censor” so that she could browse the games there. You may have done us a great service here.


That can be solved with proper tags, reviews, and, ultimately, with a new feature of IFDB where you are warned about the tags that are improper for you.

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Yes, that’s the sort of thing I had in mind in the next sentence: “The answer is probably to hold your nose and allow anything that’s legal, but categorise and display it appropriately.” Everybody has different tastes, and this proposal would allow us more easily to find what we want and ignore what we don’t.

I see that the basic idea, plus a link to this topic, has made its way to the IFDB suggestion tracker: Add content warning to adult materials · Issue #9 · iftechfoundation/ifdb-suggestion-tracker · GitHub

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Yeah, we are in agreement. I was just answering to the case where some content has to be banned or deleted (like the case of nazi propaganda, just to state an extremely clear case).

I think that eventually IFDB will be improved, but in the meanwhile, you know… you’ll have to curate the games for your small ones! And that sounds totally like a good family plan!

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I still don’t see how Nazi propaganda is worse than rape fantasies, though I’ve not read either so maybe am not qualified to discriminate between the two.

So far we haven’t got beyond Zork 1 and Lost Pig, and her own little Inform 7 creations inspired by them and by Jim Aikin’s handbook :slight_smile: