Home Site map Who? How? Why?
Press/Info Contact Webmasters Parents Kids FAQ Label your site ICRAfilter Label generator Label tester Image watermarks Members Affiliates Case studies Hotlines Links

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

1 General Information about ICRA

1.1 What is ICRA?

The Internet Content Rating Association is an independent, non-profit organization established in the Spring of 1999 by a group of leading international internet companies and associations. ICRA’s mission is to develop, implement and manage an internationally acceptable voluntary self-rating system which provides internet users world wide with the choice to limit access to content they consider harmful, especially to children.

The ICRA labelling system builds on the pre-existing RSACi system and is the result of an extensive international consultation exercise involving senior industry figures and academics.

ICRA has a small staff based at offices in both the U.S. and Europe.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

1.2 What is RSACi?

The initials stand for The Recreational Software Advisory Council on the internet. RSAC was the original independent, non-profit organization based in Washington, DC. Its remit was to empower the public, especially parents, to make informed decisions about electronic media by means of an open, objective, content advisory system. The RSACi system provided consumers with information about the level of sex, nudity, violence, offensive language (vulgar or hate-motivated) in software games and websites. The RSACi system was integrated into Microsoft's Internet Explorer, MicroSystem's Cyber Patrol Software and Netscape Navigator.

RSAC was formally folded into ICRA in Spring 1999 and its system wound up with the launch of the ICRA labelling system in December 2000. The new ICRA system is backwards compatible with RSACi!

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2 Information for internet users

2.1 How do I use the ICRA system?

Below is a current list of filters available that use, or can be configured to use the ICRA system:

  • ICRAfilter. For full details of ICRA's own filter, please click here.
  • HateFilter. A version of ICRAfilter released by the Anti-Defamation League, a US-based organization that has been "Fighting Anti-Semitism, Bigotry and Extremism Since 1913". The HateFilter comes pre-configured to block access to sites ADL deems inappropriate. Click here to go to the ADL site.
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer's Content Advisor. For a complete walk through of how to set up the Content Advisor function in IE, please click here. The walk through includes a lot of graphics and may therefore take a while to download. Please be patient!

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2.2 I am unable to access some of my favourite sites because they do not carry an ICRA label.

In filters that use the ICRA system there is an option to not allow access to sites which carry no rating (are unlabelled). This can be overridden by entering a password.

In ICRAfilter, under the Security tab, below the override password change section, you can choose to make the filter more strict or less strict. The filter refers to this setting when the site being accessed is not on any block or allow list and has no ICRA content label. Therefore the filter has no information about the site.

If you choose the less strict option, the filter will allow access. If you choose the more strict option, it will block. It is recommended that unless you have installed templates that carry significantly long allow lists that you select the less strict option.

In Internet Explorer (4.0 and above) click [Tools] > [Internet Options], then select the [Content] Tab. In the Content Advisor section click settings and enter your password. Now click the [General] tab. Make your selections and apply the changes. Note Internet Explorer's Content Advisor will not block access to sites already visited. To avoid this, you should delete your Temporary Internet Files. To do this, again click [Tools] > [Internet Options]. Half way down is the button to [Delete Files].

Microsoft's Internet Explorer (version 4.0+) also includes an Approved Sites list. This allows you to specify sites to which you want to grant or deny access, irrespective of whether or not they carry an ICRA label.

For a step by step guide to these functions, please click here. This link takes you to a section of the main "installing ICRA in Internet Explorer" page which includes a lot of graphics. Please wait while it loads.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2.3 I've just found an offensive site, how come it's not labelled?

Despite what you might think, The Internet Content Rating Association does not rate internet sites - the web authors use our system to rate and label their own sites. ICRA is not a censor and makes no value judgements about any site. Our system allows web authors to add an objective, descriptive label to their site - you the user make the value judgement as to whether or not to allow access to such sites. Since carrying an ICRA label is voluntary, naturally not all sites do so. However, a great many do as they support our view that voluntary labelling is the best way to protect minors from potentially offensive material and to protect free speech on the internet.

Why does any web author bother to label their site? Let's take the two extremes:

  • An organization or individual responsible for a site which contains none of the elements described in our matrix will want to label their site accordingly so that access to it is unlikely to be blocked
  • An organization or individual responsible for a site which contains material intended for an adult audience also benefits from labelling their site as it can block access to minors, whilst allowing access for adults. The majority of such web authors are usually very keen to provide protection in this way. Apart from the moral argument, the pressure for governments around the world to pass legislation to ban their sites is reduced. Adult web masters are among ICRA's most ardent supporters.

So what's to stop a web master mislabelling their site? It does happen, but it is extremely rare - there is no gain for anyone, least of all the web master. If you do come across such a site, please let us know by sending an e-mail to . We will do our best to contact the site's operators and seek either changes to or the removal of the label. You might also like to block access to it. See FAQ 2.2 for details of how to customize Internet Explorer.

If you come across material which you think might actually be illegal, such as child pornography, then there are other organizations around the world to which you can refer the site. One key issue is where the site is hosted. If you believe the site may be hosted in the US, a good first point of contact is the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. For European jurisdictions, start by visiting INHOPE (the association of European internet hotline providers).

Before contacting any of these organizations, please bear in mind that "offensive" does not equal illegal!

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2.4 I have forgotten my Content Advisor password, what can I do?

Unfortunately, because this is a security issue, you will need to follow regular support options with Microsoft Support. Unfortunately ICRA is not able to provide support for forgotten or unknown passwords.

There is a known bug which can cause Content Advisor to activate itself without your having set a password. This eventuality is handled in FAQ 2.7.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2.5 How do I change my Content Advisor password?
This one's easy... when someone tells you how to find the [Change Password] button!

  •   click [Tools] > [Internet Options]
  •   Click the [Content] tab
  •   In Content Advisor, click Settings and enter your existing password
  •   Click the [General] Tab
  •   Locate and click the [Change Password] button
  •   Follow the on-screen instructions.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2.6 How do I disable filtering in my browser?

IE4+ - Assuming the system is working properly: In your IE4+ menu bar select [Tools] > [Internet Options], then click on the [Content] tab.

In the Content Advisor section select 'Disable' and, when prompted, enter the password you originally set when you configured the filtering, then press [Enter]. The button you clicked to Disable will now read Enable. Click [OK] to close the window; then restart Internet Explorer.

If Internet Explorer's Content Advisor has "enabled itself" - that is, neither you nor any other user have enabled it deliberately, please look now at FAQ 2.7.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2.7 Content Advisor has enabled itself and assigned itself a password;
Internet Explorer is giving me 'Error - missing information" messages when I start the browser;
Content Advisor is not being disabled even after the correct procedure is followed;
Content Advisor is not storing settings or Approved Sites list correctly;
Content Advisor is not filtering any sites, even ones I have marked as Never being accessible through the Approved Sites list.

As you can see, a lot of symptoms stem from one problem. The core problem is that a file called ratings.pol becomes corrupted. This happens through no fault of the user whatsoever. Microsoft are aware of it! Their official advice is reproduced below, with the more conclusive tips from ICRA to follow.

Please note, this advice applies to all versions of Windows EXCEPT WINDOWS 2000 and WINDOWS XP. If you are running Windows 2000 or XP, the advice below does not apply and you should contact Microsoft Support directly.

1. Quit Internet Explorer.

2. Check your Windows\System folder to see if a Ratings.pol file exists.

NOTE: You must be able to view hidden files to view the Ratings.pol file. To view hidden files in My Computer or Windows Explorer, click Folder Options on the View menu in My Computer or Windows Explorer, click the View tab, click Show All Files, and then click OK.

There may not be a Ratings.pol file in the Windows\System folder. If there is no Ratings.pol file, skip to step 3. If there is a Ratings.pol file, rename it to Ratings.old.

For information about renaming files, click Start, click Help, click the Index tab, type renaming, and then double-click the "Renaming Files" topic.

3. Start Internet Explorer, click Cancel to close the error message, and then click Internet Options on the Tools menu.

4. Click the Content tab, and then click Settings in the Content Advisor area.

5. Type the Supervisor password, and then click OK.

NOTE: If you do not know or have forgotten the Supervisor password, please contact Microsoft Product Support Services for assistance. For information about how to contact Microsoft Product Support Services, please visit the following Microsoft Web site: http://support.microsoft.com/support/contact/default.asp.

6. Choose the ratings options that meet your needs, and then click OK.

When you restart Internet Explorer, the changes take effect.

There are also a couple of Microsoft support pages which address specific error messages as follows:

  • Err Msg: Content Advisor Configuration Information Is Missing
  • Err Msg: Please Check Your Content Advisor Settings for Missing Information
FAQ 2.7 continued

All these support pages give essentially the same information, and 9 times out of 10, it works very well. However, this is not always the case, so we have produced two step by step guides which go into more detail. Windows 9x and NT users should click here. Windows ME users should click here. These pages include a lot of images so please be patient while they download.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

2.8 I have deleted the hidden file icra.rat or Rsaci.rat, where can I get another copy?

Content Advisor in Internet Explorer makes use of a file called icra.rat (or rsaci.rat if you haven't upgraded your browser to the latest ICRA filtering system). You can only see these files if you have set Windows Explorer to show all files. (To do this, launch Windows Explorer, select [view] from the menu, then [Folder Options]. This opens a dialogue box. Click [View]. 7 lines down is the option to "Show all files". Make sure this is selected and click [OK] at the bottom of the dialogue box.

Get Internet Explorer Now Unlike the related ratings.pol file, icra.rat and Rsaci.rat files are not regenerated by Internet Explorer. If there are no *.rat files on your system, the recommended procedure is to reinstall Internet Explorer, but this is only because the presumption is that if the *.rat files are missing, there may be other problems. If you want to reinstall Internet Explorer, you can download the latest version by clicking the "Get Internet Explorer" button.

Alternatively, if you are sure that the missing *.rat file is the only cause of the problem, you can download a copy of icra.rat here. This is the only *.rat file you need since the new ICRA system is backwards compatible with the old RSACi one. But if you would like a copy of Rsaci.rat, you can download it here. Save it(them) in the C:\WINDOWS\SYSTEM folder.

If you haven't done so already, now is the time to upgrade to the new ICRA filtering system. Click here for a full walk through. This page contains a lot of images so please be patient while it loads.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

3 Information for webmasters

NB. This section has been substantially revised

March 2002

3.1 I've got my ICRA label. How do I apply it to my site?

If you work on a large, multi-server site, please read the text in this box first!
The quickest and best way to label a site is to configure your server(s) to include labels in HTTP headers. To do this, you must have direct access to the server software itself. This will normally only be the case if you or your company owns your server hardware or is using a dedicated server which you access through a VPN. If this applies to you, please click here for a different set of instructions than those given below.

If you don't have direct access to your server, (it's hosted by an ISP along with many other people's) the following details will apply to you.

If you're not sure, please click here.

The information below is almost certainly the information you need

Adding the ICRA label to your site is a straightforward process. If you can copy and paste text in a word processor, you can add an ICRA label to your site! Just copy and paste the label into the <HEAD> section of the HTML source code for the relevant page and then if you so choose, you can add the "Labelled with ICRA" logo or a suitable text link. Click here for an explanation of the basic procedure. A number of issues can arise however. Here are some of the more common ones:
  • If your site uses frames, please ensure that you put the label in the default file of your site, usually called index.html and NOT the homepage you load into your frame. If, as is usual, the index file defines the frameset, it is still this file which should contain the label.
  • If your site includes banner advertising, JavaScript popups; or if multiple domains map to your site, please see FAQ 3.6. FAQs 3.4 and 3.5 have useful information too.
  • If you want to label different parts of your site differently, please see FAQ 3.7
  • If you wish to include another PICS-based rating service, such as Safe Surf, please click here.
  • If your site is accessed via re-direct, please see FAQ 3.10
  • If you have little or no experience of how to access the HTML source code for your site, click here for a complete walk through using Windows Notepad. This page includes a lot of images so please be patient while it loads.
  • If you are using Microsoft Front Page please click here for a walk through of how to apply the label. Please read this page even if you are very familiar with Front Page as there are a couple of pitfalls! Again, please be patient as this page contains a lot of graphics.
  • If you are using Netscape Composer, the bad news is it won't let you add an ICRA label to your site. As soon as you shut down Composer and reopen your page, the label will have been stripped out. We are trying to talk to Netscape about this!
We cannot account for every possibility - but we have tried to offer information for the more common situations.

The basic procedure

Whether you add the meta tag to one location, several key locations or every page depends on the structure of your site and the way visitors come to you. The safest way to label a site is to include the meta tag in every page. You probably have a template for your pages? if so, add the ICRA meta tag to that and you won't have to think about it again. The key pages to label are the default (index) file in the root directory and other main entry points to your site. If just about every visitor to your site is going to first enter via the home page, then OK, one label is enough. If visitors are as likely to enter via one page as another, then you need to label them all. The flow chart in FAQ 3.4 explains the reasoning behind this and is well worth looking at.

OK, on to the basic instructions

Step 1. Assuming you are labelling a whole site, copy and paste the label (the meta tag) into the HTML of the default page in your root directory. This is usually, although not always, called index.html. This is the first file that is served when a browser visits www.yourdomain.com. Insert the label on a new line between <head> and </head>.

Repeat this as required following the advice given briefly above and in more detail in FAQ 3.4.

Step 2. If you so choose, you can add a logo button or a text link to your site which declares that you have labelled your site with ICRA. A variety of buttons has been produced to take account of the enormous diversity of web sites... and the fact that in the US, "Labelled" is spelt with a single "l"! Please click here to see the various options. Please (right click and) save the logo of your choice to your hard drive and incorporate it into your site as you would any other image. Please link the button or three words of text "Labelled with ICRA" to "https://icra.org/labelv02.html". NB: that's zero two, not oh two!

Please DO NOT use words like "approved by ICRA" or "rated by ICRA." The Internet Content Rating Association does NOT approve or disapprove of any site, neither do we rate sites. We provide a platform for web masters to label their own sites according to our rating system.

On this site, we use icra_sw.gif (the "sw" stands for "static white""). If you copied this onto your hard drive and incorporated it into your site in the same way as your other images, the relevant piece of code might be:

<a href="https://icra.org/labelv02.html" target="_blank">
<img src="icra_sw.gif" border="0" width="88" height="31" alt="Labelled with ICRA"></a>

The target="_blank" term means that the page will be displayed in a new window, so users don't have to leave your site.

As an alternative, you might just like to add a text link. Many sites have some sort of "small print" link at the bottom of the home page, perhaps to a privacy statement. You could add a "Labelled with ICRA" text link in similar fashion. An example might be:

<a href="/labelv02.html" target="_blank">
<font size="1">Labelled with ICRA</font></a>

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

3.2 Where can I get a copy of my ICRA label if I have deleted it from my web site?

By far the simplest thing to do is just to generate a new copy. There is no longer any need to consult the ICRA database as was the case until June 2002. Click here to go to the label generator.

No RSACi NB. The old RSACi database is no longer in operation.

If you have previously rated your site with RSACi - thank you for your ongoing support. Please re-rate your site using the ICRA system which we hope you'll agree is much improved! Your new ICRA label will include an appropriate RSACi element and is therefore backwards compatible.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

3.3 How do I re-rate my site and get a new label?

Just visit the label generator and get a new label. There is no longer any need to consult the ICRA database as was the case until June 2002.

Return to FAQ index
Download PDF version for printing

3.4 How does different filtering software read ICRA labels?

In the ideal world, we could give you a single answer to this question. Unfortunately the answer is a little more complex as each filter that we have tested reads the labels slightly differently. ICRA is working hard to ensure a more consistent approach! At the time of writing (March 2002) there are two key applications that can read ICRA labels effectively: ICRAfilter and Microsoft Internet Explorer's Content Advisor. However, there are important differences in the way in which these two filters work.

The flow chart below shows how a filter should read, cache and interpret PICS labels in accordance with the W3C specification (see http://www.w3.org/pub/WWW/PICS/).

We are in discussion with a number of software developers and filter providers who are working on new or updated solutions. During these discussion we are emphasizing the importance of a consistent approach to label reading in line with this diagram.

logic flowchart

NB. The term "gen true" is defined and discussed in FAQ 3.5.

This is how ICRAfilter reads and interprets labels. MSIE Content Advisor follows a similar pattern with two very significant differences:

  1. Whatever page is accessed, Content Advisor also checks the default file in the root directory for labels
  2. Labels are not cached

Some key factors come out of this:

  • If you own your own domain name, and the site on that domain is held within a frameset, a single label in the index file - the one that defines the frameset - is sufficient. Both ICRAfilter and MSIE Content Advisor will both be satisfied.
  • If you own a domain and all your visitors come to your site through the default (index) file in the root directory, then again, a single copy of the meta tag in that index file will effectively label your entire site. ICRAfilter will read and cache the label when visitors first come to your site and apply it; MSIE Content Advisor will also find the label and apply it.
  • Wherever else you may or may not put a label, ALWAYS include it in the default (index) file in the root directory.
  • If a visitor using ICRAfilter first enters your site on a page which is not labelled, it will be treated as having "unknown content" and may therefore be blocked by default.
  • If you have some key pages which are typical entry points for your site, these should all carry a copy of the label. Remember, ICRAfilter will cache any "gen true" labels it finds so that pages visited subsequently will be treated as labelled, even if they are not carrying their own label. (see FAQ 3.5 for a definition of "gen true.")
  • If you are labelling one part of your site differently from the rest, then make sure that visitors will have come via pages carrying the relevant branch label.
  • The safest, simplest option is to label every page.
  • Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.5 What are the different elements in an ICRA label?

    An ICRA label, as generated by our online labelling engine, looks something like this:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1 "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    Ideally, this all sits on one line. It's shown here on several lines for clarity. Breaking that down into manageable chunks, the different elements are:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1

    PICS - the Platform for Internet Content Selection - is the World Wide Web Consortium's standard for content rating services such as ICRA's. In other words, an ICRA label is an example of a PICS label. Other rating services exist which use the same W3C standard although they will use a different rating scheme (questionnaire). The opening sequence in a PICS label enables it to be embedded within an HTML document. Professional programmers will recognize that the content of this meta tag - the PICS label itself - can be delivered using other methods. For details of how to configure Apache or IIS to include PICS labels in HTTP, please click here. For most readers, this will not be relevant.


    This is the "ICRA Identifier" - that is, the part of the PICS label that says this is an ICRA label, rather than, say a Safe Surf label. Filtering software may have a "More information" button (as Content Advisor does for example) which will hyperlink to this url.


    This is a lower case "L" (not a figure 1!) and is short for label. It says "here comes the label(s) which use the ICRA service just identified."

    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld"

    This element is crucial. "gen" is short for "generic" and it is followed by either true or false.

    "True" means that this is a generic label which can be applied to all urls which begin with the quoted string which follows the word "for".

    "False" means that the label is specific and can only be applied to the page whose url is given in the quoted string following the word "for". A specific label therefore should quote an actual page (e.g. http://www.somedomain.tld/page.html) not just a domain name.

    r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)

    This is the actual rating - the elements which declare the content of the site (the r is short for rating). The codes given here are just an example which shows that the web master has rated his/her site as having "none of the above" in all categories in the ICRA questionnaire. For a full breakdown of the codes used in the ICRA system, click here.


    This is the old RSACi service identifier, which is followed by the same elements as described above, ending with the RSACi rating, in our example r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0). These elements are included for backwards compatibility with older filters.

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.6 How do I label a more complex site?
    I've labelled my site but I get an error message similar to "The label found on this site is intended for another one'". What's going on?

    The advice below is probably appropriate for you. However, if you're a professional webmaster working on a large multi-server site, please click here to see separate advice on including ICRA labels in HTTP headers.

    FAQ 3.4, which shows exactly how different filters read labels is of crucial importance. Please make sure you are familiar with it before reading this FAQ which essentially gives a series of "work arounds."

    Many sites, this one being an example, carry banner advertisements which are not held on its own server. This site also makes extensive use of JavaScript popups and has 3 separate domains which map to it (icra.org, www.rsac.org and icra.org.uk. Try any of them and you should end up back here again! These features are not uncommon in modern web sites but they do cause problems for filtering software.

    If your site has banner ads but does not have JavaScript popups and only has a single domain pointing to it, then the best solution is simply to add in elements to your ICRA label which will cover the banner ads as well. How? Here's a label similar to the one you have now:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1 "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    See FAQ 3.5 for an explanation of the various elements. All we need to do is to add in terms for the banner ads too. Suppose your banner ads come from a site called http://www.bannerads.tld. This label will cover your site at mydomain.tld AND the banner ads:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1 "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    gen true for "http://www.bannerads.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0)
    gen true for "http://www.bannerads.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    The additional terms (highlighted for clarity) will be read by the filter and applied as required.

    The same logic can be applied if you have a couple of domains pointing to your site thus:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1 "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    gen true for "http://www.myotherdomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0)
    gen true for "http://www.myotherdomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    A common usage of this is on sites which have both the www and the non www versions of their domain pointing to them.

    A final "better than the last resort" fix applies to sites with loads of domains. If your server supports Server Side Includes (SSIs) then you can write in the domain dynamically thus:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1 "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://<!--#echo var="HTTP_HOST" -->" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://<!--#echo var="HTTP_HOST" -->" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    If you use SSIs you don't need us to tell you that you may need to change the file extension to shtml or whatever is appropriate for your server!

    Similar dynamic tags can be written in PHP, ASP etc. The key thing is that the string quoted after the for statement must match the URL the browser is pointing at.

    Thanks to Insight Eye [UK] for help with improving the advice here

    What follows now is mean and dirty, but it works. Take a look at this label:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    It's a perfectly valid label within the PICS specification which should be treated as a specific label for the page in which it is found. That's how filtering software should treat such a label. However, both Content Advisor and Net Nanny do the opposite and treat this label as being not only generic, but applicable everywhere! If you edit your ICRA label down to these key elements only (with whatever rating is appropriate for your site in the parentheses - this is just an example here) then it will cover the site no matter what domain through which it is accessed, no matter how many banner ads you have or JavaScript popups. Indeed, this is the only way to label JavaScript popups to the satisfaction of Content Advisor.

    But what about filters which do follow the PICS specification? These will soon be in the majority, so you need to include a "proper" label too. The end result is the label below:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0)
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    The elements in this label list are:

    1. The opening string of the meta tag.
    2. The ICRA service identifier.
    3. A lower case "L" which says "Here come the labels."
    4. An ICRA rating parentheses which will either be applied only to the page it's on or the whole site, depending on the software that reads it.
    5. A repeat of the same rating information complete with full PICS "gen true" syntax. This will be read as being generic and therefore applied to the whole site by other software.
    6. A similar sequence for the old RSACi service for backwards compatibility.

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.7 Most of my site has similar content, but one or two pages should be labelled differently. How should I proceed?

    For reasons set out in FAQ 3.4, the simplest, safest way to proceed is to label every page. Whether you do this or just label key entry points to your site, you'll use a copy of the same meta tag in each case. Labelling a page, a small number of pages or a section of your site differently just means using a different label in these instances.

    Whatever the structure of your site, whether you're copying the label into every page or just key ones, if there is a particular page or small number of pages you wish to label differently, then you need a "specific" label on each of those pages. (See FAQ 3.5 for definitions of "specific" and "generic" labels.)

    If you have a whole section of your site you wish to label differently from the rest then the most efficient way to proceed is to include the label for the whole site and the label for the particular section in a single meta tag.


    Take the generic label below:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1) "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    This is a generic label for the site www.mydomain.tld and labels the whole site as having "none of the above" in all categories of the ICRA questionnaire. A label like this would go in the default (index) file in your root directory with copies elsewhere as appropriate. The following label is for the chat section of the same example site. All pages which carry chat or message board facilities are in a directory of their own called "chat."

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld/chat/" r (ca 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1) "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld/chat/" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    This is also a generic label as it includes the "gen true" term. That means that it can be applied to any url which begins with the quoted string following the word "for" which in this case includes the /chat/ directory. Notice the different rating too. The term ca 1 is the code for "unmoderated chat". For details of all the codes used and how they are mapped across to the old RSACi system, please click here.

    Now, these two meta tags can be put into one like this:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld/chat/" r (ca 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0)
    gen true for "http://www.mydomain.tld/chat/" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    This labels most of the site in one way, and the chat section another.

    You can extend this so that a single meta tag includes any number labels. If you use such a combined label, it should always be included in the default (index) file in the root directory of your site. On other pages, you just need to use a copy of the label that actually applies there.

    Again, you are encouraged to see the diagram and accompanying notes in FAQ3.4 which shows how filters read labels and therefore the best way to proceed.

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.8 What's the best way to include labels from more than one organization?

    The Internet Content Rating Association recognizes the work of other organizations that offer alternative filtering systems. Many web authors who label with one content rating system wish to label with others too. This can cause problems with some filtering software.

    The text book answer is to include multiple PICS labels, as in the example below where the ICRA and Safe Surf tags for a fictitious domain are shown separately:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l gen true for
    "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l gen true for
    "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    <META http-equiv="PICS-Label" content='(PICS-1.1
    "http://www.classify.org/safesurf/" l gen true for
    "http://www.mydomain.tld/" r (SS~~000 1))'>

    The best way to put both these two labels onto a site is to concatenate them into one, as shown below:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l gen true for
    "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l gen true for
    "http://www.mydomain.tld" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0)
    "http://www.classify.org/safesurf/" l gen true for
    "http://www.mydomain.tld/" r (SS~~000 1)

    See FAQ 3.5 for an explanation of the different elements within these labels.

    The ICRA label is itself concatenated. As well as a modern ICRA rating, its forerunner, RSACi is included (for backwards compatibility). As is always the case with computer code, you need to be very careful about punctuation! Test the concatenated label by enabling the various systems in your browser individually and then together.

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.9 My site has hundreds of pages built dynamically from a database. How do I rate all the content without having to fill in the questionnaire every time?

    If your site is running on a dedicated server (or suite of servers) please click here for details of how to configure Apache or IIS to include labels in HTTP headers. If that page doesn't apply to you, the information below will!

    ICRA labels can be written dynamically using SSIs, PHP etc. FAQ 3.5 shows the various elements of an ICRA label. FAQ 3.6 discusses the labelling of sites with multiple domains, banner ads and popups. FAQ 3.14 discusses labelling of lots of sites. This FAQ covers the labelling of large sites with varying content on different pages.

    The simplest permissible label does not include the "gen true/false" element or the url to which it applies - if you're writing a label into each page, you don't need to specify to which page it applies since the filter will apply it to the page it's on and give it precedence over any generic labels held in cache.

    So here's a simple label that declares that the page it is on contains "none of the above" in the ICRA questionnaire:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    The important elements in this discussion are the two ratings parentheses:

    r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0)

    These carry the actual rating according to the ICRA and RSACi systems respectively.

    Suppose your site has 100 pages with varying content thus:

    • 23 pages include nudity which might include any combination of male and female genitals, bare buttocks and female breasts.
    • 18 pages which included deliberate killing of and injury to fantasy characters
    • 44 pages which included both of the above and mild expletives
    • 15 pages of material which might be perceived as setting a bad example to young children

    You only need 4 different labels - and there are 3 different ways you can get them:

    1. Visit the questionnaire on this site and use the full system
    2. Get one tag and edit it as required. You'll need to refer to the ICRA codes. Please click here.
    3. Download ICRA's standalone meta tag generator. This generates not only ICRA labels but many other meta tags and document headers. It uses cookies to store your settings so you don't have to keep filling in the form every time you want a new label. See FAQ 3.14 for download options and other information about "bulk labelling"

    Now just include the relevant simplified rating label in the headers for each page as they are assembled in the database.

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.10 My domain redirects visitors to a different url where the site is actually hosted, how should I proceed?

    Some personal web sites may have a nice domain name like "http://www.reallygoodname.com" which actually redirects people to a url like "http://www.bigisp/membersarea/something/~findusifyoucan". Ideally BOTH sites should be labelled.

    If you have access to the redirect site - the one with the nice name, then you can fill in the questionnaire and get a label for it. Something like:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1 "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.reallygoodname.com" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "http://www.reallygoodname.com" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    And put this in the head section of the default file at that site - the one that redirects visitors.

    If you don't have access to this page (and many people don't) then you cannot label it. You will however be able to label your actual site.

    Whether you have access to your redirect site or not, you do of course have access to your actual site. You should give "http://www.bigisp/membersarea/something/~findusifyoucan" as the url when you fill in questionnaire, since the label applies to the site quoted within it, and by the time visitors get to your sites, that's what they're looking at, not http://www.reallygoodname.com!

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.11 My site won't be live until later than I said on the old questionnaire. What can I do?

    This is no longer an issue. We have dropped the "go live" element from the questionnaire

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.12 How do I "decode" an ICRA label?

    Within an ICRA label, the actual content rating for the site is encoded in parentheses - shown in bold in the example below:

    <meta http-equiv="pics-label" content='(pics-1.1
    "https://icra.org/ratingsv02.html" l
    gen true for "https://icra.org" r (cz 1 lz 1 nz 1 oz 1 vz 1)
    "http://www.rsac.org/ratingsv01.html" l
    gen true for "https://icra.org" r (n 0 s 0 v 0 l 0))'>

    The similar term near the end of the label is the RSACi equivalent. To decode the rating terms used in either system, please consult the decoder by clicking here.

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.13 My HTML editor has swapped "<" and ">" for "&lt" and "&gt" in my label. Why and what should I do?

    We sometimes hear from web authors who find that when they copy and paste their ICRA label (meta tag) directly from the web page at the end of the rating questionnaire, the HTML editor they're using swaps the "<" and ">" enclosing the tag into their HTML character references ("&lt" and "&gt" for "less than" and "greater than"). Microsoft FrontPage 2000 can easily do this for instance. The software assumes that you don't know much about editing HTML directly and therefore you can't possibly want to carry out the operation you've just done! Well, you do! Just change the "&lt" back into a "<" and the "&gt" into a ">."

    Specific advice for users of Front Page is available here.

    There is no equivalent procedure for Netscape Composer which simply strips out PICS labels. Sadly, it seems not be possible to label a site using this editor.

    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    3.14 I am web master for tens or hundreds of different sites, all of which need the same rating. I don't want to fill in the form every time! What should I do?

    First of all, you probably have direct access to your Apache/IIS configuration? Then please click here for advice on including ICRA labels in HTTP headers. It's a lot easier and quicker than working with meta tags. If you don't have sufficient access to configure your server(s), read on.

    ICRA recognizes that web professionals are often responsible for tens or hundreds of different web sites. There are two possible approaches to labelling lots of sites.

    Option 1

    A variety of versions of the label generator is now available. If you would like to host the generator on your site, please feel free to do so. It is fully self contained and will work on any web site. You are free to adapt the introductory wording to suit your own site although the terms and conditions and help files must be retained without change. If you do host a copy of the form on your site, we'd be grateful if you let us know. Please click here for details.

    Option 2 You can just edit the ICRA meta tag you have and let us know which URLs you've labelled.

    1. Please go through the rating questionnaire at least once. This will generate a meta tag which you can use as a template for labels on all your sites. An important step in this process is the acceptance of the terms and conditions under which the meta tag is issued.
    2. You can now edit the tag as required to suit all your sites. FAQ 3.5 gives a complete breakdown of the different elements of the tag. The most crucial aspect, in terms of bulk labelling, is that the URL of the labelled site is changed. This occurs in the tag twice (once for the ICRA system, one for RSACi).
    3. If you need to change the actual rating parentheses then you'll need to consult the decoder. However, you may find it easier to go through the labelling sequence once more. If you build, say 3 different types of web site, we suggest you use the online labelling engine to generate 3 different meta tags, and then edit just the urls as required.
    4. Please use the form below to send us an e-mail giving the URLs of the sites you have labelled.

    NB. Only use this form to tell us about multiple sites you have labelled without using the main labelling engine. If you have just got the one label for the one site, it's OK, we already know about you!



    Labelled site:
    (The site you have labelled using the online system)

    Please copy and paste the urls of the sites you are labelling without using the online system into the space below:

    NB We will be offering Associate Membership of ICRA very soon. This membership package has been created with web professionals in mind. The primary benefits will be a listing on this site and the right to use a special ICRA Associate Member logo on all your publicity. Annual subscription will be 100 USD/ 120 EUR/ 70 GBP... and a commitment to label the sites for which you are responsible or that you develop for others.

    If you would like us to contact you about Associate Membership when it is launched, please check this box



    Return to FAQ index
    Download PDF version for printing

    Further Support ...

    In the event that we have not answered your question or you feel you need further help, feel free to e-mail us with full details of the issue (address below). Please include the following information: Your operating system (Win 95, 98, 2000, ME etc), browser + version (IE5 / Netscape 4.7 etc.), exact details of the problem and your contact details. Thank you.


    Powered by CI Host ICRA