I see there are posts on this meta regarding explicit content, and generally the answers say that it's allowed as long as there are no offending images or links to the material. However, while some questions of this type are left open and answered as usual, I sometimes see similar questions being closed for the same reason.

Please clarify: Are these types of questions allowed or not?

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    I agree, that closure seems to be inconsistent with the meta posts we've had - I've cast a reopen vote on it. Commented May 30, 2015 at 6:36
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    That question is off-topic. The fact it was answered before getting closed doesn't make it any more on-topic. There is a very big difference between "potentially NSFW" and "Explicitly hentai" Commented May 31, 2015 at 11:22

4 Answers 4


My take on this: that question was closed incorrectly, twice. Our community has a fairly clear consensus on what is and isn't allowed. We've amassed the 5 reopen votes needed to reopen the question, and that too was ignored. (For kicks: the total reputation of those voting to reopen here is 41,499, and while that obviously shouldn't factor into official policy at all, it's an indication that the people reopening here likely know what they're doing.) The moderators here are acting rogue based on their own objections to such material rather than on any site consensus or actual SE policy.

As for the general case, questions about explicit content are allowed here, at least based on the previous consensuses. But questions which are themselves explicit are not. A well-made post can avoid violating the ToS, the Content Policy, and the Be Nice policy. So long as you keep any discussion of sexual content to a minimum, use clinical language, and avoid obscene images completely, such a question is acceptable here. In general, this isn't usually very difficult unless your question would already be inappropriate here for other reasons (e.g. a recommendation question).

I can find nothing in the question there which is remotely problematic; the only words with sexual content are "love hotel", "suck", "impotent", "seme", and "uke", and none of these are very problematic. Sure, graphic descriptions of sexual acts would be a problem, but there is none of that here. This is almost a perfect example of how to write a question about a hentai; the only problem is that as an identification request it only barely meets the requirements. The moderator's closing of the question because of his own objections to what he believes the answer will necessarily be come off as absurd and juvenile.

In fact, the objection here demonstrates a serious misunderstanding of hentai itself. Equating "hentai" to the western concept of "porn" is completely misunderstanding many things. "Hentai" includes all series that explicitly show sexual activities. Most of these have a lot more story and characterization than western pornography. It is better to identify hentai with the western concept of "adult entertainment" which while literally synonymous to "pornography", has a completely different connotation. Many hentai like Kite or Bible Black have serious stories and very clearly can't be simply equated to "porn" without missing the entire connotation that carries. Nothing in the question here would indicate to me that this manga is any different; in fact, most of that post describes the story rather than anything sexual.

And it's worth mentioning that adult entertainment of this type is on topic on Movies SE, under exactly the same rules as here. In fact, they have a tag for such questions, which isn't exactly complete, but at least demonstrates that the community there isn't actively removing such questions just because of their subject matter (as the new "policy" would seem to be here) but only because of the actual content of the question.

Since I know people will complain about this point unless I mention it, let me just say that the post at Meta WebApps is not SE global policy. It was posted as a proposal by a single (former) employee on a single child meta site, and doesn't hold any more weight here than it does on Yahoo Answers. While it's clear that the WebApps community is okay with it, our policy can differ (and already does, in my opinion). SE global policies are those which every site is required to follow, and those appear or are directly linked to on this site itself, e.g. the Be Nice policy in the help center or the legal link below. Anything else, on Meta SE, or other child meta sites, or (obviously) private discussions with anyone, while potentially useful as a guide, is not SE global policy, at least in terms of moderation.

Furthermore, we've had employees on this meta site before discuss this very topic, and they did not state any such global policies. The most prominent is this one by Tim Post, which says that we should seriously consider whether we want to allow hentai, but not that it needs to be banned to be compliant with SE global policy. His response is more along the lines of "children as young as 13 use these sites, and please keep that in mind". However, nothing in the closed question would be inappropriate for children as young as 13; by that age (at least in much of the world including the U.S.) such children would have learned quite a bit more explicit things in school, and the content of the question wouldn't pose a problem. The manga itself might not be appropriate for 13-year-old children, but then again, neither is something like , which has gratuitous gore and violence. So long as the question and answer themselves are not problematic, we don't need to be arbitrating the content of the original works.

Indeed, quite a few other sites in the network do allow discussion of adult/sexual matters. There was a Sexuality beta site which failed for unrelated reasons, and there's a proposal for a similar site now. Both of these were approved by the community team, meaning that there's no network-wide ban on discussions that happen to be somewhat sexual. Here's what the current CEO of SE says with regard to a proposed Sexuality site:

[The] site in question will be "safe for work" and require the use of clinical language, which is already the policy when discussing questions of an adult nature on other sites in our network.

That is, as best I can tell, the most official response for how adult questions are to be handled, and he didn't seem exceptionally bothered by the presence of such discussions when done appropriately. (Of course, it would be alright to ban such topics with community consensus, but as our community has clearly stated since private beta and repeatedly confirmed, we do want to allow such topics here.) So I don't agree that SE policy requires us to ban these questions.

In fact, we're just finishing an official bounty event: May 2015 bounties for tags: visual novels and adaptations thereof. Of the 59 series listed there, I counted 36 (over half) which were originally 18+ eroge, and several have never had any all-ages releases or non-hentai anime adaptations. A couple, like Wanko to Kurasou, are basically nukige, which is about as close to the western concept of "porn" as visual novels get. It's hypocritical to be promoting such content on the one hand, while simultaneously blocking it on the other. Given that this event was created by another moderator, it seems like there isn't even a clear consensus among the moderators themselves as to what is allowed, which is frankly a moderation disaster if policy is being implemented on the site itself single-handedly without even discussing it with the other moderators first.

Perhaps more importantly, it's essentially impossible to have any serious discussion or Q&A about anime and manga without at some point mentioning hentai. It's rather important to actually understanding the industry as a whole, even if you never watch one. About 10% of all anime on MAL are rated as hentai, and that number is probably somewhat low. Manga are harder to classify, but adult-oriented manga are quite significant as well. Of course, for visual novels, the fraction is even larger, well over 50%. And while the raw numbers aren't so huge on its own, quite a few hentai works have had impact even among more mainstream works. I'm not aware of any "professional" sites for anime or manga which disallow hentai; various sites like MAL, ANN, AniDB, Hummingbird, etc. all allow it (within reason) because it's a crucial subset of anime and manga. The impact is to the point that I'd seriously question whether anyone can be considered an expert on anime or manga without ever having looked at such a work.

If anything, I'd say that hentai are something we ought to try harder to cover more completely. Right now, we're doing a terrible job at covering these series, and the new "policy" isn't going to help anything. As I understand it, the goal of this site is to become the best place to ask good anime and manga questions about all types of series, and we can't hope to be that if we're blocking a bunch at the start for silly puritan, holier-than-thou objections.

The other, most serious practical objection I've heard to allowing hentai is that it will get us blacklisted. Realistically, as I understand it, there's little to no chance of Google blacklisting us. Google is really only concerned with blacklisting sites that are suspected of distributing Malware; plenty of strait-up pornography sites are still indexed. I only know of one case where a site was blacklisted for having sexual content, and that was only for 1 day before it was removed. The site in question specifically focuses on such things, and is still indexed today; I won't link it here but it's a very well-known blog in the anime-sphere.

Realistically, we're never going to get that bad. We probably won't get close to the 10% of all content being hentai-related that MAL has. I suspect that the level here will be 2-3% of all questions at the most, at which point this isn't even a remotely realistic possibility.

There are various internet-filtering software which might identify this site and blacklist it, but those are used by a minority of all users, and it's still quite possible for this to happen even if we block hentai completely. Most of this software is configured so that people will only go on work-related sites at work. As this is an entertainment-oriented site, there's little reason to be on it at work anyway for a majority of viewers. Hence, I don't think there would be major consequences for being blacklisted in such software. In any case, while I don't understand the exact methodology used by such software, the use of clinical terminology would presumably go a long way to avoiding being blacklisted, and beyond that I don't see a good reason we should cater to a small minority who use this software rather than a sizable portion who watch and enjoy hentai.

This is a site about anime and manga, and that obviously includes hentai. Whether or not you like it individually, we as a community need to own that, not bury it. I'm happy to do my part in this, as are quite a few other users; I'd ask that moderators not screw it up by implementing new policies out of nowhere without first seeking community consensus.

  • I made an edit earlier on the mentioned closed post to remove 'sucked' as I presumed it was inappropiate for the site. I also cleaned up a couple of other things. Is this a thing I should be doing or does it negatively affect the question by getting rid of details? Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 6:46
  • @ToshinouKyouko those type of term that point towards explicit nature or any terms, pic, links that are explicit in nature should be removed though it change the meaning of the question Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 7:16
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    So to recap: Hentai should be allowed and not only within id-requests, but outside as well. Having a bible-black tag would be more than fine as long as the questions are clean? Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 7:46
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    Since we are defining our boundaries here, let me take it up a nodge. What about loli manga/hentai? What about manga which is appropriate/legal in Japan, but not in the US? What would we do with those? Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 7:48
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    Personally, as long as no lewd/illegal content is in the question itself - I think it should be allowed. To actually view the lewd/illegal content would be the reader's decision and seperate to this site. We have users worldwide, so any questions about stuff illegal in some areas could be answered by other users that are legally able to research the topics. I don't know if this reflects Logan's position on this though. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 7:54
  • re: the VN bounties thing - I did not go through and vet all the things I listed for content. A poor decision on my part, perhaps, but this does not reflect a substantive disagreement between Madara and I on the topic.
    – senshin
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 15:53
  • re: Google not literally "blacklisting" pornographic content - yes, but it is known that Google also disfavors sites with pornographic content in their search rankings more than they used to. They don't de-index, obviously, but being lower-ranked is still something we would prefer to avoid.
    – senshin
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 15:54
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    re: "Realistically, we're never going to get that bad" - I don't buy this. The primary cause of hentai content on the site is ID requests, and the amount of these is still growing at an alarming rate. The statistics for specifically hentai ID requests are too sparse to be useful, but I am unwilling to reject out-of-hand the possibility that they will become more common than you anticipate.
    – senshin
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 15:59
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    re: "silly puritan, holier-than-thou objections" - this is an unfair characterization of the objections here. Whether you like it or not, the Stack Exchange network of sites is used professionally by many people, and the existence of Hot Network Questions (at minimum) means that content from any site can leak into all the others. If this site were an independent Q&A site (say, an OSQA install) outside the SE network, I wouldn't really care too much, but as a member site of the SE network, we ought to respect broader SE-wide community standards to the extent that they exist.
    – senshin
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 16:03
  • re: " "Hentai" includes all series that explicitly show sexual activities." - as you know, the specific notion of "hentai" is itself western in origin. To claim that it reflects a notion significantly different from the western conception of "pornography" is to misunderstand the usage of the term in practice. Viewed narrowly, "hentai" refers to a particular class of animated film that can be operationally characterized by the fact that it requires pixellation to be distributed in Japan. Perhaps some members of that class of film have redeeming artistic qualities, but so does, say, "Pirates".
    – senshin
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 20:44

I don't think everybody who agrees with Logan's "hentai is technically not porn" answer understand that while it is technically correct, the ID request posters are for the most part random internet users. Those users do not read what our rules have to say about ID requests in general, and especially on explicit topics (because it's not anywhere visible enough on the site for them, which is a part of this problem, but not the biggest).

Who can vouch for the whole internet of random people that they won't start posting inappropriate questions after they see that "we do hentai identification"? Because if that happens, the whole ID request service we provide might have to be discontinued, and of course, by that time the site's search engine ranking will be hurt considerably, because nobody can remove explicitly inappropriate posts quicker than google scans them. Do we really want to take that risk with ID requests?

I don't see a problem with appropriately worded non-ID questions about adult rated works, because non-ID questions are actually well enough regulated. But ID requests don't have strict enough rules and what rules there are, are not obviously not good enough to prevent a potential disaster.

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    Are id-requests really not regulated as well as non-id-requests? Maybe on the subjective points of 'enough detail' - but I think they get the same attention for anything offensive/otherwise obviously not appropriate. Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 8:00
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    I don't think I understand this answer. You seem to be claiming that by allowing identification requests about hentai, we'll get more inappropriate questions than if we don't, while simultaneously claiming that new users don't read the rules. If the problem is with inappropriate content getting posted to the site by new users who haven't read the rules and affecting our search rankings faster than we have a chance to edit it, how would a policy change requiring us to close the questions (but not delete them or edit them) help the situation?
    – Logan M
    Commented Jun 2, 2015 at 0:14

This answer is more of a comment to Madara, but since it would have been too large to fit in a comment box, I put it as an answer.

If hentai is forbidden then should all following questions be closed as well? I have only gone through the id-requests I have personally answered and not through all of them, so there are probably many more of these cases, but all the following animes were classified as hentai by MAL.


I have to admit that it indeed felt pretty weird having to go through a bunch of hentai episodes to properly answer those questions...

  • First and last, no. It's impossible to tell from the question that the user is asking for hentai. Second and third are undeniably hentai by definition (that's what OP asks for) Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:06
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    @MadaraUchiha So it is allowed to ask about hentai as long as you are unaware it is...? Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:11
  • It's allowed to ask questions whose answer may contain hentai. It's not allowed to ask questions specifically about hentai. The asker's intention here is important. Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:11
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    @MadaraUchiha So question 3, which you say is off-topic now, would become on-topic if the word "hentai" is removed from it? Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:25
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    @MadaraUchiha: Note that the wording in question 3 is "seems hentai". The OP is not even sure if it is.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:37
  • @nhahtdh I'll agree that #3 is borderline. But in this particular case, I'd much rather ask for forgiveness, and not permission. Commented May 31, 2015 at 17:15
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    @MadaraUchiha I see no reason why the asker's intention should be important. If the stated goal is to avoid being "globally banned from web filtering software", well, web filtering software certainly doesn't care about the asker's intention.
    – senshin
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 19:16
  • @senshin That is true. But that's the thing with even slightly vague identification requests. You don't know what you're going to get. Commented May 31, 2015 at 21:19

I'm going to be as clear as possible here, because it seems as though it's not, despite having to explain it on meta and on chat multiple occasions.

We've done extensive research with how other sites on the network handle explicit content. We've asked several staff members what's their personal opinion and what's the network's policy with regards to explicit content.

  • The Movies & TV community does not accept questions with regards to porn. Plot questions regarding movies which have sexual scenes in them are fine. Questions about porn are not.
  • The Arqade community does not accept questions with regards to porn games. Questions regarding games with mature content in them is fine. Questions about porn are not.

As for the very specific case of questions that resolve to hentai. We will not become a hentai search engine. We will not become a hentai identification service.

As for the official response from SE. There are plenty of posts by SE staff that apparently get silently ignored all over the network in metas.

Here's the most prominent one

No, I don't think we want this, as it would cause us to get globally banned from web filtering software.
So including adult links, or even mentioning adult sites by name, is explicitly not allowed.

To conclude:

  • Anything strictly hentai is off-topic. Ecchi is fine
  • Identification requests that are clearly about hentai (because the asker specifically asks for hentai) is off-topic. And editing to make it prettier doesn't make the question any less off-topic.
  • I have put up an answer as a comment/reply to this answer. Should the mentioned requests have been closed as well? Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:04
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    Does your answer exclude series containing explicit content in general (even if the question doesn't say anything about it)?
    – nhahtdh
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:09
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    @nhahtdh We don't close questions based on the answer. Just like we don't tag identification-requests with the series after it was answered. If the question asks for explicit materials (or a hentai), it is off-topic. If the answer happens to be hentai, we'll deal with that in some other way. Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:11
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    @MadaraUchiha I'll continue here, as this will probably be read more. So how should we deal with questions that ended up asking for hentai in the end? We still want them off the site, won't we? Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:13
  • What do you mean by "questions that ended up asking for hentai in the end"? Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:14
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    @PeterRaeves: I personally feel that there is no reason to exclude them for the site. There are plenty of series with 18+ release that have been made into all age release. If people want to, they will obtain it.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:14
  • @nhahtdh I think the point is that leaving such questions open on the site, might make people come into contact with hentai, even when they did not want to in the first place. There is still a difference between a regular 18+ movie and a porn movie. Commented May 31, 2015 at 14:29
  • If an ID request turned out to completely match a certain hentai work, and the answerer cannot mention its name because it may cause the site to get banned from google or whatever, that is an interesting situation. The answer is known, it cannot be posted. Perhaps a custom close reason would be in order for such cases?
    – Hakase
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 17:28
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    Hey guys, I have a solution for this sticky situation where a question may not be explicit but an answer may be - let's get rid of identification requests! This is a solution (probably the only solution) fully compatible with the goals of 1.) not having explicit material on the site; and 2.) not closing questions based on their answers.
    – senshin
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 19:20
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    @senshin I wonder if making all id-requests will actually stop users from asking them. My first guess would be, that it wouldn't and they would just end up on the site regardless. So, what about flagging any hentai content as inappropriate instead? If the main goal is to avoid being globally banned for having inappropriate content, wouldn't it be better to just flag it as such? As the flag says "A reasonable person would find this content inappropriate for respectful discourse.", a reasonable person would indeed find hentai to be inappropriate. Commented May 31, 2015 at 20:13
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    @PeterRaeves Sure, we can do that, but if we want to do that and we don't want to close questions based on their answers, we have a problem: if we have to flag and remove every answer to a hentai id-req, we're left with these zombie id-req questions floating around that cannot be answered, and yet we don't have a reason to close them.
    – senshin
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 20:25
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    I did not know that flagging something abusive will result in a -100 rep penalty though, as mentioned here. That's pretty harsh for something the asker might not have been aware off... Commented May 31, 2015 at 21:09
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    @Hakase: Currently, Madara still leaves them open, as long as the asker doesn't say "hentai", or describe sexual action.
    – nhahtdh
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 23:42
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    Please post links and/or extensive quotes proving the ‘We’ve done extensive research with how other sites on the network handle explicit content. We’ve asked several staff members what’s their personal opinion and what's the network's policy with regards to explicit content.’ In the post you’ve linked, Jeff talks about adult web sites and links to them. However, we shouldn’t link directly to any anime that was id requested if solely for copyright reasons; we should link to AniDB and similar sources instead. I have no clue about manga sites out there; if there are those that do not […]
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 8:43
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    […] contain scanlations etc, we can link to them. We should avoid linking to sites where you can read the manga in its entirety anyway for the same copyright reasons, so again there is no reason to link to any explicit context. I can totally understand Arquade’s and movie’s decisions, because in both communities the pornographic part is frowned upon for being badly made. For anime, I generally do not see that as the case — as depicted by the numerous other answers.
    – Jan
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 8:43

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