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The Polarization of Porn

The Polarization of Porn

November 10, 2003
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" There are basically two types of voices you hear in the debates surrounding the more controversial of these issues: one group wants to develop a united front with the laudable goal of having strength in numbers as a leverage point; the other group finds that goal ‘laughable’ – seeing most adult Webmasters as a self-serving bunch mired in internal politics, and generally devoid of trustworthiness. "

There are a wide variety of threats to our industry, and I am sad to say that not all of them are external. Seeing an unfortunate shift towards increased infighting, over the Acacia issue in particular, I felt that it was time to speak out.

Even as the online adult industry moves ever more into mainstream life, riding a wave of perceived cultural acceptance, things are not as ‘rosy’ as they might seem. Just below the surface of this ‘all is well’ public image of the Net porn biz lies an undercurrent of discontent being fueled by the latest round of infighting to hit our ranks. Energy that would be far better spent fighting a common foe is increasingly spent on fighting each other: this time, the threat is internal.

Most of the ‘internal’ threats to our industry are large in scope yet small in perspective, and often the result of Webmaster ignorance or greed. What I mean by this is that many marginal players bring problems upon themselves, such as in the case of ‘2257 compliance – an issue that’s often overlooked, yet as serious as a heart attack: I would guess that well over 80% of American Webmasters are not in proper compliance with the law in this regard (hence the large scope), but since these are usually ‘no name’ operations, the ‘harm’ to our industry caused by their potential closure for this violation is small in perspective compared to the harm that the elimination of ‘big name’ players would bring.

These types of internal problems tend to affect only the lone ‘Webmaster Rocco’ type operator himself, with a very negligible affect on supporting companies such as content and hosting providers; due to the limited buying power of these typically ‘less than profitable’ small scale operations. Contrast these basic threats to the much more severe internal threats to our industry now underway that are relatively small in scope yet gigantic in perspective. A case in point is the topic du jour, Acacia.

Cohesiveness and Fragmentation
There have been many calls over the years for industry unity and a joining together of Webmasters working together for a common goal.

From unrealistic tirades about boycotting Amex (and now Visa) to attempts at providing group health insurance and the occasional collections for worthy charities, these calls have been far ranging, and have all too often met with limited success.

There are basically two types of voices you hear in the debates surrounding the more controversial of these issues: one group wants to develop a united front with the laudable goal of having strength in numbers as a leverage point; the other group finds that goal ‘laughable’ – seeing most Webmasters as a self-serving bunch mired in internal politics, and generally devoid of trustworthiness.

It’s one thing when the latter outlook prevents you from joining one industry trade group or another, but it’s an entirely different story when it causes an industry-splitting riff where one faction calls for a boycott against the companies who have settled with Acacia. This type of infighting is reason for rejoicing among our enemies, and only serves to weaken us.

While I am not going to get into the validity of Acacia’s claims – or of those of the sea of litigants to follow, I will also not condemn those who felt it to be in their business’ best interest to settle. At the same time, however, I will praise those who fight for what they believe in, while discouraging animosity between the two opposing groups – which include some of the best names in the biz, on BOTH sides of the debate.

The bottom line is simple: those who want to work together should, those who feel that they should put ‘their business first’ likewise should, and those who wish to publicly criticize either – well, they shouldn’t, at least not as loudly as they have been. Your attacks against your fellow Webmasters only serve to make our industry weaker, and provide ammunition for our enemies. Be smart, and stay flexible! ~ Stephen


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