Terminology for roles varies widely among the subcultures.

Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent upon self-identification and shared experience.

and is interpreted as a combination of the abbreviations B/D (Bondage and Discipline), D/s (Dominance and submission), and S/M (Sadism and Masochism).

Whether it is a public "playspace"—ranging from a party at an established community dungeon to a hosted play "zone" at a nightclub or social event—the parameters of allowance can vary.

Some have a policy of panties/nipple tape for women (underwear for men) and some allow full nudity with explicit sexual interaction allowed.

They further argue that setting a discrete line between "safe" and "not-safe" activities ideologically denies consenting adults the right to evaluate risks vs rewards for themselves; that some adults will be drawn to certain activities regardless of the risk; and that BDSM play—particularly higher-risk play or edgeplay—should be treated with the same regard as extreme sports, with both respect and the demand that practitioners educate themselves and practice the higher-risk activities to decrease risk.

RACK may be seen as focusing primarily upon awareness and informed consent, rather than accepted safe practices. The consent and compliance for a sadomasochistic situation can be granted only by people who can judge the potential results.Use of the agreed safeword (or occasionally a "safe symbol" such as dropping a ball or ringing a bell, especially when speech is restricted) is seen by some as an explicit withdrawal of consent.Failure to honor a safeword is considered serious misconduct and could even change the sexual consent situation into a crime, depending on the relevant law, since the bottom or top has explicitly revoked his or her consent to any actions that follow the use of the safeword (see Legal status).This article is about consensual adult sadomasochistic activity.For the medical condition involving non-consensual ideation or behaviour, see Sexual sadism disorder.The fundamental principles for the exercise of BDSM require that it should be performed with the informed consent of all involved parties.