Ratings Guidelines

Guidelines for Stories and Other Writing

Because Many Paths to Tread is affiliated with the Lord of the Rings Gen-Fic Communities, most of the authors and stories in those communities are of the "gen" variety. However, since some of the authors also occasionally write stories with somewhat stronger ratings, it was decided that on the archive only, we would allow an R-rating. However, you may find that our guidelines for what constitutes an R story is somewhat stricter than on other archives. If you often write stories rated as "Mature" or "R", then you may wish to read that section especially carefully.

A G-rated story contains nothing in theme, language, sex, violence or other matters that, in the view of the moderators, would make the story unsuitable to be read by younger children. Some snippets of language may go beyond polite conversation but they should be common everyday expressions. No stronger words are present in G-rated stories. Depictions of violence are minimal. No sex scenes or character death are present in the story. Any mention of nudity should be in a fleeting and non-sexual context. (For example, a mention of a character who is taking a bath.) Brief romantic kissing might be allowed, as would simple embraces.

The mere use, in a story, of "het" or "slash" pairings would not necessarily earn a higher rating, as long as those pairings are incidental and not central to the story, and do not include more than brief physical expression, such as hand-holding, brief embraces, or chaste kisses, such as could be exchanged by friends or family as well as couples. References to any "off-stage" activity should be oblique-- only mere hints. The same thing would go for the use of topics such as death, childbirth, etc. The use of mild euphemisms for such elements is strongly recommended for a story at this rating level. At the G level, such subjects should be handled delicately and gently, with the idea of a child's understanding of such things in mind.

A PG-rated story should be read by parents before they let their younger children read it. The PG rating indicates, in the view of the moderators, that parents may consider some material unsuitable for their children, and parents should make that decision.

The more mature themes in some PG-rated stories may call for parental guidance. There may be some mild profanity and some descriptions of violence. There might be character death. Sexual activity should be mild (such as kissing or embracing). Anything beyond that should be only implied rather than described. There may be some slightly more intense kissing or possibly subtle sexual innuendo. Some of the somewhat more mature themes such as death, pregnancy and/or childbirth, puberty, peer pressure, crime, or alcohol or substance abuse, to name a few, may make an appearance. But these elements are not deemed so powerful or intense as to require that parents be strongly cautioned beyond the suggestion of parental guidance. However, the discussion of such themes in the story may be more in depth than in a G rated story.

A PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the moderators to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should read the story, as some material might not be suited for them.

A warning will occur in clicking on a PG-13 story.

A PG-13 story may go beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the forbidden R category. There may be actual depictions of death, crime, substance or alcohol abuse, or childbirth. There might be mentions of unpleasant medical procedures. The theme of the story by itself will not result in a rating greater than PG-13, although detailed descriptions of activities related to a mature theme may result in a restricted rating. There may be depictions of violence in a PG-13 story, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence. A story's single use of any of the harsher expletives, requires at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive goes into R territory.

Any graphic or explicit scenes of violence or sexual activity are not allowed in a PG-13. Rape/non-con, BDSM, and torture are not allowed in PG-13.

An R-rating, in the view of the moderators, contains some adult material unsuitable for younger readers. A warning will occur when clicking on an R-rated story.

An R-rated story may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense violence, sexually-oriented nudity, alcohol or drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated stories to determine their suitability for their children. Generally, R-rated material is not appropriate for pre-teen readers and parents are strongly cautioned about allowing their teens to read such material without checking it out. Adults who have personal objections to the harder material may also wish to avoid the R-rated stories. Examples of material that might be considered R-rated would be material that contains several instances of harder obscene, or profane language, contains sexual activity beyond kissing or embracing, contains descriptions of sexually-oriented nudity, or violence with descriptions of gore or violent character death. Descriptions of medical procedures that might be somewhat gory or detailed would be allowed, as would somewhat detailed descriptions of childbirth.

Descriptions of sexual activity should be discreet, and should not contain detailed anatomical language, whether clinical or vulgar, which would venture into NC-17 territory. Violence may be more intense and descriptive than in PG-13, but should not go into detail. There may be some mention of torture, but it should not be dwelt on in a sensual or sensational manner. Mention of rape/non-con or torture might occur, however graphic descriptions of such acts would not be allowed, but would be considered NC-17.

Actual descriptions of rape/non-con, BDSM, underage sex that involves a child and adult, or graphic or explicit descriptions of torture or sexual activities would be considered NC-17, and not allowed.

Stories written for the sole purpose of depicting a sexual encounter between characters (often called PWP stories) are not allowed and are considered NC-17.

Graphic and explicit means any detailed descriptions of violence or sexual activity. In the case of violence, that would mean lingering on the scene and describing gore, torture, or the victim's pain and/or injuries in a detailed manner. In the case of sexual activity, that would mean detailed descriptions of the act in question, descriptions of genitalia or prolonged and vivid descriptions of sexual pleasure. Any story containing THESE elements will be summarily removed from the archive!! If you are uncertain as to how to rate your story, it is a good idea to ask one of the mods BEFORE posting the story as to how best to rate it!

Art Gallery Category Ratings

Many Paths to Tread is pleased to host our Art Gallery Category. Artists may now post pictures of their creations to share with others. This can include all sorts of artistic work about Tolkien's world, including, but not limited to, drawings, paintings, photomanips, sculpture, needlework, collage, calligraphy or artifacts created to depict places or objects of Middle-earth. This is a separate category from fan fiction, and does not prohibit story writers from including images within their stories as illustrations.

Because visual art presents itself much more strongly than written material, our ratings and guidelines for our Art Gallery Category are much more stringent than those for fan fiction. Not only must we keep in mind our aim as a family-friendly archive, but we must also avoid violating the TOS of our server. With this goal in mind, ratings for Visual Art posted to the Art Gallery are limited to the Ratings of G and PG. All art posted to this site must be both family-friendly and work-safe. (A definition of work-safe is something that would not get the viewer in trouble if her employer were to see the image while looking over her shoulder at the workplace).

Our rating guidelines for visual art are simple:

  1. No nudity. This includes nudity that might seem innocent, such as showing a child or baby in the bath. Such innocent images have landed people in trouble in the past. Better safe than sorry.
  2. No gore or graphic violence. We do not need to see blood splattered everywhere. A tiny trickle of blood on Merry's forehead in a picture illustrating his capture by Orcs is acceptable. Showing blood squirting out of Maedhros' arm after his hand was cut off during his rescue is not. Any depiction of violence, however mild, should be rated PG.
  3. No sexual activity. Chaste kisses and embraces are allowed, so long as the depicted participants are fully clothed and there is nothing suggestive in the pose.

If an artist has any doubts about the rating of his or her piece, please contact the mods before posting, and we will be glad to help decide.

Any violation of the rating guidelines for art will be summarily removed. A frequent violation of these guidelines will result in the artist being banned.

Other guidelines:

Art will be posted here using images hosted at other sites, such as Photobucket, ImageShack, Flickr, and LiveJournal Scrapbook.

  1. All art must be created by the artist credited with the work. This means that you can post images of a transformative work such as a collage or photomanip, using pictures made by others, but you cannot simply post an unaltered screencap, for example, and take credit for it. When using fan art by artists other than yourself in such work, you should obtain their permission before using their work. We are exempting movie screencaps from this rule for practical reasons. You should also give credit to those whose work you use in such pieces, where the original artist is known.
  2. So that images do not interfere with the layout of our site, they should not exceed a width of 500 pixels. If you want viewers to have access to a full-sized version of your work, you may include a link to the full-sized version on your image host.
  3. Since the images are hosted elsewhere, we ask that the artists maintain their links. We will check periodically for broken links and notify the artist. If we do not hear back from the artist or the link is not fixed in two weeks, we will remove that entry from the gallery.

How to post your images using the rich-text editor:

  1. Upload your image to your image host. You will need to copy the image's URL.
  2. On the MPTT site, log in and click Add New Story. Choose the "Artwork" Category.
  3. In the Story Text field, find the icon with the green tree. It is located in the second row on the text editor, slightly right of center. Click the icon.
  4. Paste the image's URL into the Image URL field. Add a brief description of the image in the Image Description field. This will help visitors with screen readers understand what is on your page. Click the green Insert button in the lower-left corner.

Your artwork has been added to your story! Fill out the rest of the story form and click Add Story.