Hail to the fleet!
You’re approaching the halfway mark on Blood Dilithium, our latest hugely successful writing campaign, and my inbox tells me you’re not only busy as beavers with your stories, but busy as beavers with your feedback! I couldn’t be more delighted by the grand success, courtesy of the hard work from Task Force 17.
Some of you may have noticed that the old ‘weekly summaries’ the Intel Office used to release, where a quick rundown of the events from every story was publicly posted, have ceased. This is a regrettable development but is, honestly, the price we pay for success! Those summaries originated in the Archanis Campaign of early 2021, when writing was on the old forums as a separate website and it was very easy for most members to have no idea what was going on if they weren’t fully embedded. Since then we have the shiny new BFMS writing options where every story hits the dashboard and our Discord bot picks up new posts. Also, frankly, there’s more of you, making this a much bigger undertaking. As such, TF staff have been directed instead to write regular Comments, at least one a week, on the Stories of their members. I hope this does not prove too much of a disappointment to anyone, but this transition reflects the current needs and services of BF, and I hope will result in more personal feedback for all of you.
But that isn’t the primary purpose of this post. For the last few years, Bravo Fleet has used the old RPG Rating site for games and stories that wished to give content warnings, with policy giving further direction on what could and could not be written in the fleet (and where and when). It had always been a desire of mine to produce a more comprehensive Content Policy, but these things take a lot of time, especially with the knowledge that there will always be something left out. However, I was aware that the RPG Rating gave very vague guidelines, such as on the use of ‘mild violence,’ which is a thoroughly subjective term.
As such I am pleased to announce the implementation of our brand-new Content Policy! This document provides much more thorough and clear guidance on our rating system and what is and is not permitted under what contexts in the fleet. It isn’t a light document, though I expect all writers to familiarise themselves with it at some point (and there is a handy table as a quick reference). But I must assure you that very little has changed in practice from how we’ve managed things these past years.
Some major points of what has been clarified:
- Where and when your work needs content warnings.
- How content policy intersects with Trek canon (particularly with regard to Trek’s depictions of sexual violence).
- The rights of GMs to draw additional boundaries on what content is appropriate for their games.
- What constitutes ratings 0, 1, and 2 in Language, Violence, and Sex.
- What is out of bounds under all circumstances (identified in the table for quick reference).
- How and when sensitive topics such as sexual violence, domestic abuse, self-harm, and suicide should or should not be depicted.
I wish to make it very clear that these restrictions do not exist out of any sense of prudishness. I maintain, for instance, that Trek has always been pretty dang horny, and anyone suggesting otherwise hasn’t been paying attention. But we feel it is important that readers have the opportunity to curate their reading habits. Fanfiction has also had a long and occasionally undistinguished history in how it approaches sensitive topics such as those listed above; while our policy does not forbid most of them, it does expect writers to be mindful. I for one have little tolerance for cheap stories of sexual violence, for instance. Finally, we are still writing Star Trek stories; while adult themes are welcome, this is not a genre wrought with explicit sex, gratuitous violence, and extreme language used as punctuation.
Overall, I do not feel that this will impact most of the writing already happening in the fleet; it simply codifies what has been expected and enforced, with additional consideration of sensitive material.
Still! There’s stories to tell, and a campaign to get back to. Onward!