How do ratings work on fanfiction


Fanfiction is a worldwide phenomenon that has gained momentum with the rise of the internet. It represents an online community of authors who rewrite, continue, and transform existing fictional narratives found in books, films, TV series, among others. However, with the diversity of stories present in these platforms, there comes the need for a system to classify and rate these stories for reader's convenience. That's what makes the rating system in fanfiction quintessential. This article seeks to shed light on how fanfiction ratings work from various facets.

Understanding the Nature of Ratings

Ratings play a critical role in guiding readers on the suitability of the content and helping them filter through a vast catalog of stories. This system mirrors the one used in films and video games, embodying rated letters ranging from E (Everyone) to M (Mature). This aids potential readers in making informed decisions with regard to their preferences and comfort zones.

How do ratings work on fanfiction

Rating also indicates the maturity level of the content. For instance, fictions rated 'mature' contain explicit sexual content or extreme violence and are meant for mature readers. On the contrary, the 'everyone' rating implies that the fanfiction is suitable for all age brackets, featuring no explicit material.

Role of Rating in Content Filtering

Most fanfiction websites and apps, including Archive of Our Own (AO3), FanFiction.Net, and Wattpad have integrated comprehensive filtering tools which abide by these ratings. The filtering helps in narrowing down a reader's search while ensuring their reading wishes and preferences are adhered to. In short, it provides a personalized reading experience.

Moreover, content filtering plays a crucial role in protecting younger or sensitive readers from inappropriate or triggering content. As a rule of thumb, users should read and comprehend the ratings and warnings before delving into the narratives.

The Writer's Role in Rating

When submitting a story, authors are responsible for determining the most appropriate rating for their work. This calls for an honest and objective assessment of their content, taking into consideration aspects such as violence, sexual scenes, and coarse language.

In doing so, the authors uphold a mutual respect for readers and fellow writers in the community. Writers who fail to accurately rate their stories may face consequences like removal of stories or suspension of their accounts to maintain community guidelines.

Ratings as a Quality Indicator

Though it's important to note that ratings are primarily designed to classify content based on age-appropriateness, they sometimes indicate the quality of the work—though unintentionally. Readers often associate higher ratings with higher quality content.

However, it's critical not to mistake "Mature" ratings as an assurance of excellent storytelling or writing craft. A skilled and compelling narrative can be found across all ratings, from 'Everyone' to 'Mature'. A good story is about more than just explicit or mature content, as it comprises well-built characters, engaging dialogue, and a compelling plot.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does NR mean on FanFiction? NR stands for Not Rated. This means that the story hasn't been assigned a specific rating by the author.

2. Is it necessary for a fanfiction to be rated? Yes, rating a fanfiction is mandatory. It helps potential readers to filter and choose stories that match their preferences and comfort zone.

3. I'm an author. How do I choose the right rating for my fanfiction? Authors should rate their story based on its content. If it contains explicit scenes, harsh language, violence, or any mature themes, it should be rated 'Mature'.


The rating system in fanfiction is more than just a series of categorial terms. It serves as a crucial tool for authors to communicate content appropriateness with the readers and fosters a safe and respectful community for fanfiction enthusiasts.

References: Archive of Our Own (2020), FanFiction.Net (2020), Wattpad (2020)

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