ErosBlog: The Sex Blog

Sex Blogging, Gratuitous Nudity, Kinky Sex, Sundry Sensuality

ErosBlog posts containing ""five websites""

September 6th, 2023 -- by Bacchus

Pornocalypse Comes For Kink Education

Speaking honestly, I’ve sort of let my #pornocalypse coverage lapse recently. Not much has changed in years; corporate social media keeps tightening the noose, formerly adult-friendly places become less so. On the one hand we still have the old-fashioned open web, with the freedom to publish on adult topics but without much access to traffic or to the financial system. The freedom to sleep under a bridge, right?

meme of the space under a highway bridge, studded with concrete pyramids to prevent human access, superimposed with the Anatole France quote about how the law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges

On the other hand, we have the infamous five websites, which is where all the people are, and from which they mostly will not migrate nor follow any links.

famous five websites filled with screenshots tweet by Tom Eastman

Adult material and links are mostly not welcome there, on the five websites, except to the extent that that this material is disguised from the machine censors by cutesy emojis and twee circumlocutions. If you’re a “spicy accountant” or a “mattress actress”, a lover of “quink” or a “corn” aficionado, a fan of big eggplants or women whose peach icons sometimes spray cartoon raindrops, corporate social media is very much for you.

eggplant peach eggplant peach eggplant peach squirt squirt squirt squirt

So yeah, I’ve grown tired of the #pornocalypse beat, and I’ve let lots and lots of pornocalyptic stories glide by without any of my commentary. But yesterday, Pandora / Blake (perhaps best known to ErosBlog readers as the director and publisher of Dreams Of Spanking), published an open Patreon post discussing their frustration at the recent deletion of their kink education channel on YouTube.

Blake, also sometimes professionally known as Pandora Blake

Blake’s treatment exemplifies the recent trend in #pornocalypse behavior by the major social media platforms that I first wrote about back in May:

Increasingly the hot new trend in #pornocalypse is social media platforms banning accounts and people not for what they posted/linked, but merely because of who they are. Biggest example was PornHub getting banned from Instagram despite having a whole team of lawyers and creatives making sure their Insta account broke no rules. It’s frustrating, and it’s why I never have the courage to try anything effortful on adult-hostile social media channels.

It used to be common for porn-hostile platforms to tolerate porn-adjacent people, sex educations, and even sex workers, as long as the platform’s specific TOS against adult material were complied with. For many people, this was workable; they’d ride the ragged edge of the TOS for months or a few years, getting specific posts banned and enduring shadow bans, until eventually (and with great pain) they’d lose an account after too many strikes and have to start all over again. You could make a living that way, if you didn’t tire. But, over time, I started noticing that specific TOS compliance stopped mattering. All over porn-hostile social media, people started losing accounts not for any specific violations, but simply because of who they were. If their public identity was too identified with adult topics, they would be banned without warning or appeal, never knowing which posts gave institutional offense. Thus, Blake’s experience:

I’ve been publishing videos on YouTube since 2014, throughout my campaigns against UK porn censorship and age verification. For the last two or three years I’ve been regularly posting original kink education videos, many of which I’ve accompanied with transcripts here on Patreon. The channel mostly consisted of these fully clothed talky adult education videos on topics ranging across consent, BDSM, porn, feminism, queerness, and organisational and self-care strategies. It also included video podcast style interviews with other educators, interviews with adult performers, political campaign videos, and a few carefully cut trailers for spanking films that showed no sex or nudity, but either clothed character interactions and plot snippets (in the case of multi-performer videos) or excerpts from clothed POV fetish talk videos. I suspect it was these latter videos that fell afoul of the content policy, but I have no way of knowing.

None of the videos on my channel included sex or nudity. I avoided posting links to any adult sites in the video descriptions, linking to Patreon and instead. … I’m furious that a channel 90% of which consisted of educational material about consensual pleasure and LGBTQIA issues has been summarily deleted without any option to review or edit the content. Was it just those few talky trailers which YouTube objected to so much, or is the entire project of BDSM education in itself too risqué for YouTube?

My speculation is that the answer is “neither”. Rather, I suspect that one or more videos generated enough algorithmic red flags to fall under human eyes, and the human in question applied the new-ish unofficial #pornocalypse policy that’s been spreading so rapidly throughout corporate social media: “If the entity who posted this is any kind of pornographer or sex worker, nuke their whole stinkyporny channel and get them off the platform. Fuck the terms of service! Those words only mean what we pay them to mean, no more and no less.”

nuked by social media crude digital collage

For me, the event that dropped the final scale from my eyes was when PornHub got banned from Instagram. If it ever made sense to go dancing with the social media devil while accepting your periodic lumps from the censorship algorithms, it no longer does, in my opinion. PornHub has a whole professional social media team, complete with content creators, editors, and as much legal support as they need. You can guarantee that they posted nothing that contravened Instagram’s TOS, not by the least jot or tittle. Did it matter? No. Throw them into the pit! You and I? We’re not going to fare any better.

I don’t have any solutions to offer, and anyway Blake explicitly isn’t asking for any. So I’ll leave you with Blake’s powerful summary of the state of the #Pornocalypse in 2023:

I mourn the loss of the open internet that was promised us in the early 2000s. My cyberpunk dreams of open peer-to-peer communication and free expression have been repeatedly thwarted, and I’m so angry about it. Fuck Google, their YouTube takeover, and their long-standing policy of devaluing adult sites in search results. Fuck Elon Musk for turning Twitter into his own personal ego trip, and a hotbed of Nazism and transphobia. Fuck Meta for taking over Instagram and enforcing their “family friendly” policies in a way that forces grown adult sex educators to talk about “s3x”, “quink” and “spicy corn”. Fuck Tiktok too, while I’m at it. I hate that in order to reach an audience we’re forced into these privately-owned silos which loathe everything to do with consensual adult sexuality, and which have the power to remove our access to social connectivity at the whim of a badly-trained algorithm.

All of this, every word.

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June 1st, 2022 -- by Bacchus

For The Best Experience, Don’t Adblock ErosBlog

please whitelist erosblog in your ad blocker

Recently a helpful commenter took pains to let me know that the display of one of my posts had been compromised by his adblocker software. Apparently “on by default” in his browser of choice was some software that simply refuses to display any affiliate links. Since half of my very brief post was words that served as anchor text for two affiliate links, his adblocker made an unpleasant nonsense of his user experience.

This is one of those problems of the times for which there simply aren’t any good answers. He thought I needed to sort it out, but there simply isn’t a solution that’s within my power. His adblocker is software that he chose; I can’t control what it does.

Ad Blocking And The Open Web

I’m old enough to remember the popup wars. We don’t see popups so much any more, but they used to be everywhere. I had an editorial standard: to the best of my ability and knowledge, I wouldn’t link to anyplace that used them. This made ErosBlog a rare and (I like to think) unusually-excellent reader experience in the adult space. But most publishers did use them, and as Corey Doctorow wrote in 2019 for EFF, online advertising behavior got so obnoxious that it spawned an ad-blocking software arms race:

Internet users didn’t take this situation lying down. [T]hey started to install ad-blockers. A lot of ad-blockers, and more every year.

Ad-blockers don’t just stop users from seeing ads…. They can also stop the publishers and marketers who rely on tracking and ad-clicks from earning money. Predictably, industry responded with ad-blocker-blockers, which prevented users from seeing their sites unless they turned off their ad-blocker.

You’ll never guess what happened next.

Actually, it’s obvious what happened next: users started to install ad-blocker-blocker-blockers.

The rise and rise of ad-blockers (and ad-blocker-blocker-blockers) is without parallel: [in 2019] 26% of Internet users are now blocking ads, and the figure is rising. It’s been called the biggest boycott in human history.

It’s only gotten worse since then. More ads, more ad blockers, more on-by-default ad-blocking features in browsers.

The Path To Hell

I have nothing but sympathy for my readers who rely on ad blockers. Whenever I surf to a news site or another low quality content portal that takes minutes to load and reveals the text I want to read only in one tiny window surrounded by all kinds of shifting/relocating ads that try to mimic navigational elements or obscure the article unless I can precisely click one tiny “x”, I feel your pain. On most of the open web, ads are out of control. Publishers are not covering costs with ads, so they run more ads, including more intrusive ads. This isn’t just a race to the bottom; it’s a race to hell.

That’s also the road to social media silos: the internet becomes five websites, each of them full of screenshots of the others. You’re semi-safe in a silo; the owner farms you and sells your identity and attention to his advertisers, but in exchange he controls the user experience to make it less toxic than the worst offenders of the open web. But mostly, porn isn’t welcome there.

A few “premium content portals”, usually newspapers, try to charge you a subscription, if they can master paywall technology and have access to credit card billing. This model only works for the biggest and most expensive adult websites, though, because credit card billing in adult is so expensive and hard to secure. Small independent sites in adult are a challenge to sustain, because there’s no cost-effective way to charge small sums of money for access. Get big or go home.

Outside the adult space, free content on the open web is mostly clickbait that can go viral on the social media sites. That low-quality virality model isn’t open to adult publishers, though, because adult content usually isn’t allowed to go viral on social media. And everything that’s free-to-view is buried in hostile ad tech, forcing you to play whack-a-mole with your browser and read the content as if peeping through a tiny window between the ads that fill your screen.

No, I don’t blame anyone for using ad blockers. Welcome to hell. We live here now.

The Path Forward: Patronage

I can’t control what other publishers do. Here at ErosBlog, I’ve striven to keep advertising minimal and unobtrusive. A few well-behaved banners, not particularly close to the text or images you came here to see. A few obvious affiliate links. Just like it’s been since 2002. The web has changed, the market has changed, but I am old-fashioned and stubborn, so ErosBlog has changed slower and less.

Of course, that means not much revenue to speak of. ErosBlog is a tiny niche site in the grand scheme of things, and doesn’t have a lot of traffic. Minimal advertising displayed against modest traffic means beer money, not bills-paying money.

My treasured patrons help fill the gap. I love you all. By covering most of the direct cost of keeping the site running, you directly enable my stubborn refusal to admit that ErosBlog is a fossil artifact, the sort of website that shouldn’t exist in 2022. My gratitude for this is limitless.

Consider Whitelisting ErosBlog In Your Ad Blocker

A free adult website on the open web in 2022 is an anomaly, because it’s hard to pay for. A few patrons, a few sponsored posts, a few well-behaved ads, a few affiliate links — the four legs of a low stool, if we’re being honest. There’s a lot more I’d like to do with ErosBlog, but I mostly need to spend my time doing other stuff to pay my bills. The more I can bring in via the site, the more time I can spend working on it. It’s a direct relationship.

What can you do to help? Well, if you’re not already a patron, consider becoming one. That would be awesome. But something else you could do that won’t cost you a dime is to make sure that you aren’t blocking my ads and affiliate links. You don’t even have to click the ads or buy anything for this to help! When more people see the ads, it’s easier to sell the ads, and they go for more. Just allowing them on your screen is plenty enough.

If your browser has an adblocker, built-in or added on, and if that ad blocker is turned on, by default or by your choice, you’ll also have a whitelist feature in there somewhere. I can’t tell you how to find it or activate it, but I guarantee it’s in there. This is me suggesting and recommending that you add ErosBlog to your whitelist. It’s a small thing, but a very helpful one. And it may even improve your user experience. If you’ve noticed words missing from my posts, or peculiar grammatical gaps, this will probably fix it. I usually do write in complete sentences, I promise!

Thanks so much.

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February 7th, 2022 -- by Bacchus

“Never Build Your House On Someone Else’s Land”

This is a long post about how Facebook made the precise mistake I’ve been yelling about since forever. They forgot Bacchus’s First Rule, or stopped thinking it applied to them. And last week, it cost them so many billions of dollars.

apple altering the deal and ruining Facebook's revenue outlook

I Was There Early: Bacchus’s First Rule Of The Internet, Circa 2004

In various formulations I have preached what I now call Bacchus’s First Rule Of The Internet since 2004, when I got my earliest primitive inkling that social media platforms were the Sarlacc pits where independent websites went to die.

In those distant days, people who wanted to socialize in writing on the internet had started spending more and more time on “blogging services” platforms with primitive social media functionality, rather than making and reading actual free-standing websites. So folks with websites would, increasingly, just move all their shit onto the growing platforms, leaving their old websites behind to dry up and crumble away. Time would pass, and then something (like, for instance, a #pornocalypse event) would destroy their new social media presence, utterly and without recourse.

I believe I got started down this road of thinking when LiveJournal ate the Vintage Sex community. I’m stubborn about not forgetting this shit, and it helps that I have an ancient blog to preserve my ramblings. Whatever little else this old die-hard of a blog may be good for these days, it’s indisputably useful as an aide-mémoire.

After a variety of wording changes in the early years, by 2013 my First Rule finally settled down as follows:

“Anything worth doing on the internet is worth doing on your own server that you control.”

Light Dawns On Marble Head: My Comprehension Grows

In the early days, I honestly thought people were being bone-stupid. Why go put all your content on somebody else’s website — for them to control or delete at a whim — when you could be building your own traffic to your own website? Why give your content and traffic to some other website operator, for free? Why build up their web property instead of your own?

Eventually I came to understand it was not stupidity, but desperation. People in the social media platforms and silos weren’t leaving those spaces. They wouldn’t or couldn’t click away to our websites; our websites were dwindling, not growing. And of course, in the adult space, we feelthy porn people were increasingly not being allowed to put our stuff on the social media sites. Perhaps we were welcome for a short time, when the social media sites were new and desperate for growth. But always, inevitably, the shit would change, and we stinky pornsters would get booted. No exceptions: the pornocalypse comes for us all. I called it in 2013! “Ask not for whom the pornocalypse bell tolls: it tolls for thee.”

Facebook Gets Ever Fatter, And Stupider, Then Stumbles

OK, now put your thumb on the societal fast-forward button. Mash that sucker down hard — as hard as you can! Watch all of the horrible things happen to the web we knew, in a high-speed burst of time-lapsed video, complete with squealing-audio sound effects. Among many other terrible things that happened, Facebook got really huge by eating a lot of other people’s internet lunches. What’s left standing? The infamous five websites (now mostly appearing as apps, which will be important later in this story) are basically it. (That link is to a famous 2018 tweet that says “I’m old enough to remember when the Internet wasn’t a group of five websites, each consisting of screenshots of text from the other four.”) A few vampire tubes bought up most of the porn sites, and the pornocalypse came for just about every last bit of adult content on social media, except on Twitter, where the clock on the time bomb has been ticking for years and getting louder all the time.

But then, last week, Facebook, recently rebranded as “Meta”, had a terrible earnings call, and lost a whole bunch of its market cap in a single trading day:

Facebook stock plummets

Whoopsie! But what in the hell happened?

The Biter, Bitten: Facebook Ignored Bacchus’s First Rule

What happened? What happened indeed?

I don’t follow Facebook news closely. To a pornographer, pornocalypse platforms are boring and useless. But I do read online news, and over the years I’ve seen Facebook utterly destroy all but the strongest few independent news platform. One by one, they ignored Bacchus’s First Rule: they took their content to Facebook, gave Facebook their traffic, and then got utterly shafted as Facebook deliberately and repeatedly changed the rules on them.

On Friday, Megan McArdle wrote a column in the Washington Post, which is one of the surviving “independent” (from Facebook, anyway) news platforms. It helps that WaPo is the fully-captive plaything of Jeff Bezos, who happens to be that rare creature, a “not Mark Zuckerberg” internet centibillionaire. Thus WaPo can still pay its people, and so they have some good ones. McArdle’s column is headlined We all learned a painful lesson from Facebook. Now Facebook is learning it, too. McArdle adeptly summarizes how Facebook got fat on people who ignored my First Rule. But then, as she explains, Facebook made the same mistake as its victims, leading to last week’s debacle of a one-day $251-billion market-cap loss.

Please allow me my moment of schadenfreude. All this is of course intensely satisfying to me. Am I officially smarter than the Zuckster now? Hot damn! But of course an instant and obvious rejoinder fills my inwardly-directed ears. In a voice deep and stern, as if my own father were speaking from beyond the grave, I hear “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?”

McArdle writes, with rich expository linkage not reproduced here:

What Facebook is experiencing is a feeling we in the media knew all too well during the platform’s rise. Those users? They were spending time reading about their friend’s baby instead of reading news content written by professionals. And those digital ads Facebook was selling? They were gobbling up market share that used to belong to us news outlets. Without ads, a lot of publications went into precipitous decline.

No hard feelings, of course; all’s fair in love and free-market competition. However, the media was understandably eager to get our hands on some of that sweet, sweet traffic. We scrambled to build Facebook pages to woo readers, and when Facebook started limiting the reach of free pages, we supplemented our traffic by buying ads. We optimized our content for sharing and massaged our headlines to make them compulsively clickable. When Facebook went mobile-first, we mobilized, and when the company informed us that streaming content was the future, we duly pivoted to video.

Whole outlets were built around the clickbait Facebook seemed to want … and then died when Facebook, having encouraged all this activity, abruptly changed the algorithms to favor something else. The outlets that survived tended to be the ones that had largely given up trying to appease this jealous god and instead turned to alternative business models, such as selling subscriptions to a comparatively select few.

And this is where it starts to gets good!

The Jaws That Bite, The Claws That Catch

McArdle goes on to explain precisely where Facebook went wrong. In a nutshell, when Facebook followed people into mobile apps and away from “the internet”, the Facebook people forgot that they don’t actually own mobile. Eventually, inevitably, playing on Apple’s and Google’s private playgrounds caught up with Facebook. Mobile apps don’t run on Facebook’s servers. Mobile apps aren’t under Facebook’s control. They should have listened to… little old me? Some two-bit sex blogger from before the dawn of time?

As a chronological aside, it’s true: ErosBlog’s genuinely one year and 25 days older than “Facemash”, as Facebook was named at first. But, to the company’s great cost, they didn’t listen! The deadly oversight caught up to them last year, when Apple finally sent them a candygram with a bomb in it by changing the IOS platform data-harvesting rules that used to let Facebook make so much money. McArdle again:

In 2012, Mark Zuckerberg decided to take the company all in on a mobile-first strategy. This was disruptive, at first, but in time, he would be seen as a visionary prophet leading his company to the promised land. The problem is, that land wasn’t owned by him. Zuckerberg had shifted his company away from the open platform of the browser and onto a closed system where Apple set the terms. For a long time, that was a very good deal for Facebook — but when Apple decided to alter the deal, Facebook didn’t really have much recourse.

Whoopsie again!

Let’s Do Schadenfreude Some More, That Was Fun

Do I feel a wee tiny bit smug about Facebook losing a quarter-trillion in market cap because they ignored Bacchus’s First Rule? Because Mark Fucking Zuckerberg made the specific mistake in 2012 that I warned about in these pages back in 2004, and then again in 2006, and then again for the third, fourth, and fifth times in 2007? And then some more times in 2010 and in 2011?

Fuck yeah I feel some smugness about that, theydies and gentlethems and glitterkittens! Nobody pays me to be a business consultant, but sometimes I do it anyway, for the sheer pleasure of being right on the internet. If you squint and hold your eyes correctly while you look at this situation, Zuckerberg personally lost thirty billion dollars of net worth in one day for not being an ErosBlog reader. And ErosBlog is totally free! So, you know, fuck that guy. Fuck him in particular.

fuck this thing in particular meme gif

So Long, And Thanks For The Metaphor

But this blog post from hell is only mostly about pointing out and hooting at Mark Zuckerberg’s predictable strategic missteps. The real reason I gathered you all together here today and subjected you to my endless blather is so that I can share the nifty metaphor McArdle built her whole column around. I wish I’d had this framing at my verbal fingertips back in 2004, and subsequently! Maybe more people would have understood what I meant by my Rule. Her column opens:

In 2015, some professors at Virginia’s Sweet Briar College faced an unusual problem. Through the college, they had purchased homes on campus. The land underneath them, however, was still owned by their employer. And now the college was closing, and presumably selling the campus to someone who might want to use that land for something else.

Happily, Sweet Briar was rescued at the last minute by its alumnae. But the financial cavalry don’t always ride to the rescue just in time, so the plight of the professors nonetheless stands as a vivid example of a wise business adage: “Never build your house on someone else’s land.”

Let’s say that again: Never build your house on someone else’s land.

That’s what Bacchus’s First Rule has been trying to get at ever since 2004. It’s clear, it’s succinct, it communicates with clarity. That tight little sentiment is why this crusty old sex blog is still here, surviving on my sponsorships and generous patrons, long after most of the other sex bloggers moved to Tumblr or wherever, only to get rug-pulled by some sudden pornocalypse event.

After citing her Sweet Briar College example of the “someone else’s land” metaphor operating literally, McArdle references the metaphor as “a wise business adage”. Since I’m not in the business world, I never heard it before. You know this is true because I would have been repeating it at you like a broken record!

A bit of Googling suggests that the adage wasn’t much in the popular parlance before McArdle began writing about it. The earliest reference I found was a 2014 blog post quoting a 2013 paywalled Bloomberg article McArdle herself wrote. I can’t get at the Bloomberg article, but the post summarizes it thusly:

Megan McCardle explains the relevance of a maxim she learned in business school: “Never build your house on someone else’s land.”

So apparently we have McArdle’s B-school professors to thank for this succinct metaphor. Which I hereby do! And McCardle herself has my thanks for popularizing it. Now, if only Zuckerberg had gotten the memo, imagine how much money he might have saved…

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February 4th, 2022 -- by Bacchus

Hesiod, Butt Fancier