We'd gotten some feedback a couple weeks back about PaperDemon regarding child safety that it seems a little too easy for a minor to access the adult section, the Red Curtain, either accidentally or on purpose. So last week on September 7, 2021, we invited the community to join a public discussion in our Discord server on some proposed changes we'd like to make to the Red Curtain (our mature content section for adults only) and got feedback.
How things work today
Today, anyone who isn't logged into the site can click the 18+ link in the main navigation on PaperDemon.com and on the splash/warning page telling them the page is for adults only, just click "Continue" and access the red curtain within a couple easy clicks. If the user is logged in, we check their birthday on file to make sure they're at least 18 or older before letting them access the Red Curtain. If they're logged in and their birthday shows they're a minor, they are denied entry to Red Curtain.
Parental control software should already block access to the Red Curtain because it is properly labeled with the "Restricted to Adults" meta tags.
Why is this a problem?
We're trying to provide a service to teens as well as adults to help them with their self confidence and provide community. ARPGs are attractive to teens. And it is problematic if we're attracting minor teens and they have an easy in to the mature sections of the site. It can also be problematic as we grow and try to gain support from other organizations who will spot this potential safety issue.
We received a suggestion that we change the Red Curtain to require being logged in in order to access it at all. (The birthdate restriction will still apply so your birthday on record must still show you're at least 18 years or older to access Red Curtain).
This is also how furaffinity.net, Y!Gallery, and Newgrounds operate, which are similar sites for hosting artwork. On Furaffinity.net, if you try to access a submission with adult content and you aren't logged in, it wont let you see it. This will make it harder for minors to access since they'd need to create a new account with a new email which is a much higher barrier of entry than simply clicking a few links while logged out.
The impact of this on members means it would make it harder for those submitting adult content to share their work since when they share their submission link with friends/on social, their friends/followers will be presented with a screen telling them they'll need to login to access.
Overall, the feedback from the community was positive and supportive on our proposal to change the Red Curtain to require a login in with a birthday on record demonstrating age 18 or older in order to access the content. As stated last week, we're proposing this to prevent minors from accidentally or intentionally accessing mature content. During the discussion, we also learned many other similar sites that host mature art such as Furaffinity, Y!Gallery, and Newgrounds also require a login with an 18+ birthday to access.
However, members of the community who contribute to the Red Curtain are concerned about their galleries being hard for their followers to view because many may not be willing to sign up in order to access. So we've come up with a revised proposal...
The Red Curtain would still require an account with a birthday demonstrating age 18 or older to access the content. But content artists will get a special user gallery share link that make their own gallery viewable without having an account. Anyone who clicks this special share link will still be confronted with a warning page and ask to confirm their age before continuing. But they wont be able to browse the rest of the Red Curtain without creating an account.
The community was supportive of this proposal so we will be going forward with Proposal B. This proposal is still subject to technical feasibility research. We think we can implement this in theory but need to actually dig into the code to be sure. We're also going to make some changes to the warning/splash page before entering the Red Curtain like removing the nude demon.
These changes are not yet implemented and may be a few months before we can get it ready. We'll post an official announcement once it's ready.
If you're a parent and are concerned about your children accessing mature content, I strongly recommend installing parental control software of your choosing as this will prevent access to mature content on our site as well as others. Ultimately, Proposal B will NOT stop all minors from accessing the mature section. Some will still lie about their age but there's not much we can do in those scenarios. Protecting children from accessing mature content takes steps from both our side as well as parents and guardians.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this community discussion!
If you have feedback, feel free to post it to the #child-safety-and-mature-content channel of our Discord within the next week before we archive the channel.