The ICRA vocabulary

This page shows the ICRA vocabulary and offers further definitions and guidance on how it should be interpreted. Although developed with digital media in mind, the vocabulary is independent of any technology and can be used to describe any content, whether on or offline.

This version first published in July 2005. It is defined in a machine processable manner as an RDF Schema1 at


Nudity [Help]

Sexual material [Help]

Violence [Help]

Language [Help]

Potentially harmful activities [Help]

User generated content [Help]

Context [Help]


First published in 2000, the original ICRA descriptors were determined through a process of international consultation to establish a content labelling system that gives reasonable consistency across different cultures and languages. Whilst every effort was made to create objective descriptors, some subjectivity is inevitable. Furthermore, some ambiguities may arise through translation. For these reasons additional definitions and explanations are provided to support some descriptors.

Following work by a new international group, ICRA published a revised vocabulary in 2005. The revisions were designed to strengthen the original vocabulary by building on the experience gained to date, and to allow the system to be used by the full range of digital media, not just traditional websites.

General comments

"..images, portrayals or descriptions..."
Any presentation including, but not limited to, pictures, no matter how crudely drawn or depicted, written descriptions, oral recitations, and or audio sounds.

Please remember that it is possible to label sections or individual pages on your website separately. You can create as many different labels as you need to describe your content.

If in doubt...
... please try to see the material as you think it would be perceived by someone without cultural, religious or other bias, when he or she decides what material is appropriate for young children. Describe your content in a way that you feel honestly does not mislead cautious parents.

The Shortcut Buttons

Shortcut buttons provide a quick and easy way to label some types of content. Each one simply checks a number of descriptors in the main questionnaire. The label produced is exactly the same as would have been produced if the content provider filled in the questionnaire by hand.

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The nudity descriptors stand alone and do not of themselves imply any sexual context.

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Sexual material

The term Erotica is included in the vocabulary to cover material that is sex-related but does not show sexual activity. Examples include sexually provocative clothing, provocative sex poses and sex toys.

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It is believed that no further explanation is required to support the descriptors in this section.

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No further definition is given since, by its very nature, language and the perception of language is always changing.

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Potentially harmful activities

It is believed that no further explanation is required to support the descriptors in this section.

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User-generated content

If you operate a chatroom, host a message board or any other method by which users can directly post content to your site, you should check one or other of the two descriptors in this section.

"Moderated" means that you review user-supplied content before it is posted to the web.

Please remember that it is possible to label sections or pages of your website separately.

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This material appears in a context intended to be artistic, medical or educational
The context descriptors allow providers to make a statement about the intention behind their content. Classical painting and sculpture can be assumed to be intended as artistic. Material designed to teach children about sex would qualify as intended to be educational

This material appears in a sports context.
This context qualifier is provided with contact sports in mind, such as boxing. It is not intended, for example, to cover violent online or video games.

This material appears in a news context
This context qualifier is provided to describe material that reports real life events that in other contexts may be considered harmful by parents.

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At least one descriptor per section

A valid ICRA label will always include at least one descriptor from each section of the vocabulary except the context modifiers which are always optional. If no descriptors are checked within a given section, the label generator will insert a label that declares that material described in that section may be, but is not known to be, present.

1 This is part of the technical standard used by ICRA. Full details are available from the World Wide Web Consortium.

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