Ratings and other subjective matters

I was thinking. (Oh noes!) I was thinking about a number of things, but mostly I was thinking about fic ratings. My theory is that I've been over-rating things. In future, the FRAO will be reserved for... hmm. Dunno what. Whatever I wouldn't repost on, probably. Actual hard-core stuff. Big chunks of Blackmail, for instance. "Rough Boys" all the way. (Draft 2 proceeding, slowly.) Tradition & Protocol probably is just a hard R/FRM. I had been operating under the theory that if I used the favorite fandom four-letter word for the male dangly bit, it was FRAO, but now I think that's not quite the distinction I'm looking for.

Main intent prawn? FRAO. Main intent story, but prawny bits happen to be there? FRM. Though there's another use for ratings this use doesn't help: the "should I read it at work/in public" question. (I use this excuse regularly. Dunno about you.) For that purpose, I just want a sort of adult yes/no flag; don't care much about the difference between "safe for kids" and "safe for teens".

What think you? Do you ever care about the difference between FRC and FRT in practice? What distinguishes the "mature audiences" from the "adults only" story for you? Is it a warning or an advertisement? How do you use the label? How would you prefer me to use it? Or does it just not matter?
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For me the difference between using C and T is mostly language and situations. Use of bad words and levels of violence (fighting, etc.) would make me use the T rather than C. As for the other two, I think it escalates from there. More violence and language, hints of dark or sexual situations, FRM. Explicit sex, torture, non-con, death, extreme violence; FRAO.

I always think it is better to overrate than underrate.
"Thusia" is an example of something I nearly rated for adults only because of the violence. Giles kinda goes into a berserker rage there and kills, er, four men? No, five. On stage, bloodily. And Buffy kills people too, in that demon battle at the end, though we don't see that. But fandom seems to worry more about the sex than the violence. Er, wait, make that society worries more about sex than violence.
I always consider violence and language first as barometers of where a rating should be, and then look at sex as it fits into the context of the violence and language. (Except when the writing is meant to be pure porn...then it's a no brainer.)
Yeah, pure porn isn't hard to rate :). In that sense, authorial intent is expressed in the rating. It's where there's a lot of story and a little bit of sex-with-hydraulics that I have the trouble.
I originally thought FRM included sex, but not graphic descriptions of body parts. FRAO seemed for super hardcore. When I posted part 2 of my one and only story, I called it FRM, because even though there was touching in a shower, I didn't name the bits. You rated it FRAO in Giles Watchers. I assumed I just screwed up. Don't remember if I changed it, though, because I can't bring myself to go back and look at the thing.
That was probably an example of me over-rating. Though as secondalto says, overrating is better than rating too low. I do tend to consider other stuff when bumping the rating up: underagedness pushes it up.

Mr P is now expounding to me that if he were Thinking of the Children, he would rate by Morality and not by Events. Normal, healthy relationships that are a model for good behavior with people wuvving each other? Good for kids! Mean people behaving badly and not getting their comeuppance? Adults only. My husband: very amusing.
I think T&P should remain FRAO, btw. Serious adult themes, even if the sex isn't that graphic. Ooh, I can't wait for more of that one!
Revision in progress. I wrote a couple thousand words in it last week. It's gonna be a long one, though-- 30K words or so. So it'll take me a while.
I pretty much just want to know whether I can read it at work or not. (There's no compiling in my job, but there are often chunks of time during which there's nothing really to do, but I'm there in case of an emergency of some kind.)

As to how to determine which to use, R/M versus NC-17/AO, I go by whether there is, at any point in time, "on-screen" sex. If there is, it gets the higher rating. This probably disappoints people who think anything NC-17 should be a complete porn-fest, but ... *shrugs*
And that's where it gets confusing. The only difference I see between "he sank into her welcoming heat" and "he thrust his cock into her hole" is tone. Is the former really any less explicit just because it uses less specific (and coarse) language? As I have no idea the answer to that, I err on the side of rating too high.