RFC: An app category for "adult" material?

Matthew Paul Thomas mpt at canonical.com
Sat Nov 19 07:25:44 PST 2011

Hash: SHA1

Mikkel Kamstrup Erlandsen wrote on 01/11/11 13:15:
> ...
> So keeping it to a problem that we can easily solve a user
> proposed something that I also think the upstream app authors
> wouldn't mind: Introducing a new XDG category "Adult". That way it
> is a sensible upstream opt-in, and distros and app stores can
> handle it like they see fit.
> ...

That wouldn't work, for two reasons.

First, it would group unrelated properties. People have many different
reasons for regarding something as "adult", including nudity,
profanity, violence, gore, sex, horror, gambling, and (for some
people) blasphemy. Cultures and individuals care about those things in
very different ways.

- -   Real-world example: gnome-dictionary could reasonably be marked as
    "Adult" on the grounds that it lets you look up swear words. But
    that classification would be surprising to many people.

- -   Real-world example: A religious scripture application could
    reasonably be marked as "Adult" on the grounds that it depicts
    genocide, murder, rape, and so on. But that classification would
    often be upsetting to followers of that religion.

- -   Hypothetical example: A Louvre application that let you browse the
    gallery's catalogue could be regarded as "Adult" in some cultures
    because some of its paintings are nudes, but other cultures would
    think that was silly.

Second, it would be uselessly coarse. Would a breastfeeding tutorial
app be "Adult", or not? Would an application like PornView, whose name
alludes to the existence of porn, but does not itself contain any
porn, be "Adult" or not? Would every general-purpose Web browser be
"Adult", on the grounds that it provides access to huge quantities of
porn? Would a game be "Adult" if it includes the possibility of you
being beaten to death -- even if it's only a text adventure?

I think a better solution would be a grade value for each of those
qualities (nudity, profanity, violence, and so on), describing whether
it is not present, occasional/text-only, moderate, or pervasive. Then
each OS could set default values based on its target audience, and
even let individual users or administrators adjust those settings.

Further, it is not appropriate to handle this at the application level
in the first place, because it applies in exactly the same way to
non-application software packages. E-books and screensavers, for
example, can have these qualities just as much as applications can. It
should be handled at the package level instead.

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