Inappropriate Content Policy
Updated December 1, 2022
ACM recognizes the critical role of the Editors-in-Chief and Program Committee Chairs as the content decision makers for their respective publications. This editorial freedom—and responsibility—is all-encompassing, and on occasion may involve ruling on editorial content (be it text, imagery, video, audio, etc.) that may violate the standards of our community.
While acknowledging the subjective nature of what constitutes indecency, or obscenity, or bad taste, ACM regards inappropriate content as material—images, video, audio, or text—that would present explicit/exploitive, obscene or degrading text, pictures, and/or illustrations related to sex, drugs, or alcohol.
ACM recognizes that these matters are often subjective in nature, and that the use of possibly inappropriate material should be judged both in the context of the Work itself, as well as the potential for such material to be considered inappropriate on a standalone basis. It may well be that the use of a particular instance of content is entirely appropriate when judged in the context of the Work in which it is presented, just as the opposite may be true.
Editors-in-Chief and Program Chairs are responsible for making editorial decisions regarding the inclusion or exclusion of content that may be deemed inappropriate. However, in instances where such content is approved for publication by Editors-in-Chief or Program Chairs, but which ACM Publications Staff believe fits the above definition for “inappropriate content,” ACM Publications Staff may ask Editors-in-Chief or Program Chairs to reconsider their initial decision. In such instances, Editors-in-Chief and Program Chairs should request advice and support from any or all of the following:
- Reviewers. Typically, the first to view content submitted for consideration, reviewers should be encouraged to flag or call attention to content that may be considered offensive or disrespectful.
- Authors. Editors and Program Chairs should reach out to authors of questionable material directly. Questions to ask:
- Why is the material necessary to the paper?
- How does this material help you prove the argument in your paper?
- Are there other images, text, video you can use instead?
- Perhaps provide suggestions for authors to tell the story in a manner that will be appreciated by all or clearly defining editorial guidelines.
- Editorial Board Members / Advisory Board Members /Program Committee Members. Seek advice from a resource where different voices/perspectives prevail.
Actions and Appeal
In cases where the Editors-in-Chief or Program Chairs fail to respond to ACM Publications Staff or make a decision to publish the content without changes or modifications, ACM staff may appeal such decisions. Likewise, in cases where the Editors-in-Chief or Program Chairs decide to remove such content from an author’s Work without author consent, ACM authors may appeal such decisions.
Appeals shall be made directly to the ACM Publications Board, which shall be the final authority on such decisions. The ACM Publications Board may delegate this authority to a committee or to the Publications Board Chairs, either on a standing or case-by-case basis.
ACM Director of Publications
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