Every so often, the question is raised of a "more mature" space on NMG, and/or of changing aspects of the community rules. Lately, as many of you may know, various versions of this idea have been coming up in discussion (such as the proposal of a private "mature message board" with looser guidelines).
This concept is something NMG has given a lot of thought and discussion to—both recently and over the years. We hear what you’re saying, and understand feelings of frustration with some of NMG’s stricter guidelines. There are good points to be made on every “side” of this conversation, and we are always more than open to hearing from you and listening to your ideas.
With that in mind, we wanted to share some of the reasons why, all things considered, the answer to this particular request has been (and remains) no.
There are several factors in this decision, but a few of the main issues:
- An important part of NMG is, and has always been (for almost three decades!) both not engaging in any form of “segregation”—age-based or otherwise—and ensuring that content be inclusive and appropriate for all members within our target/recommended age range (8–14). So, having a site section that excludes some members (even without that being the intent) is problematic for us.
Obviously, the question of exactly what is considered “appropriate," for whom, etc. is always going to have room for interpretation (by us, by you, by your parents, etc.)—and, inevitably, sometimes some healthy disagreement!—and that’s okay.
- When parents purchase a membership/sign their kids up to join NMG, part of what they are paying for (and what they/we are agreeing to) is that:
- all content that their child—you!—sees on the website will adhere to the community guidelines (which members/parents go over together when signing up). Members come from many different backgrounds and families, and different families are comfortable with different things. Some members are only able to be on NMG at all because of these guidelines.
- you will be able to read/participate in/access all content on the website.
- Crucially: Our Member Rules & Responsibilities intentionally reflect the fundamental mission/values on which NMG is built (along with laws that govern websites designed for kids). This doesn’t mean we think there's anything wrong with some types of more “mature” content that members might want to discuss—just that NMG is not the right place.
As an analogy, let’s compare NMG to a vegetarian restaurant, and the “mature” content to ordering a steak. Steak is a perfectly acceptable (for some people, delicious) food, and it's available from many, many places—but not at a vegetarian restaurant. As one moderator put it: "The 'mature' only seems outside the purview of NMG."
We know that some of NMG's rules can sometimes feel confining for some people—and it's always something of a balancing act, between supporting your freedom and expression and maintaining some of the other unique aspects that make NMG what it is. It can, and perhaps always will, be a tricky balance to strike… which, while it can definitely be challenging, and sometimes frustrating, on both sides of the river, isn't necessarily all a bad thing.
But at the end of the day, the rules are here for reasons—and the reasons, and the rules, remain.
That said, we greatly appreciate the thoughtful (and mature!) discussion unfolding on the subject, and love the caring and respect you bring to this conversation. We hope this message makes sense to you all. And we welcome any and all feedback as to if and how you think we can help to make sure this community is a comfortable, welcoming, and fun environment for everyone.
If you have any comments or questions, please send them along at any time! Feel free to post in the comments below, and/or message either Sarah (me) or Joe directly; our PM inboxes are always open! We love to hear from you. :)
And as always, thanks so much for being part of our community and for being yourselves. <3
Joe, Sarah, and the Moderation Team
NMG Online Community