It all started with a bit of Spam. Not that Spam is anything new for me; I love to eat it (the real "Hormel" original, at least) and my mailbox seems to enjoy a never-ending supply of it. This new Spam was different though: it promised to bestow upon me a degree of legitimacy in the eyes of my customers:
Hmmm: If visiting prospects had more trust in my site and my offer, then my sales were bound to go up! Legitimacy, tons of fresh surfer traffic, and I was already "PRE-APPROVED!" So how could I possibly go wrong with a sweet deal like this? For those who haven't seen this offer, the original appears below:
!-- SPAM --
"We've got terrific news for you! We've just launched the Adult Site Licensing Commission (http://www.adultslc.com) which has been developed to offer adult surfers more confidence in finding the very best in adult sites! Through a strong advertising budget we will have the ability to put your adult site in front of 1000's of targeted surfers a day 100% FREE so please do not miss out on this free way to advertise your adult site and show your surfers that you are a reliable A.S.L.C licensed site. Add your site today visit http://www.adultslc.com/cgi-bin/add.cgi
* NOTE * We have already reviewed your site and that's why you're receiving this email so please don't hesitate your PRE APPROVED!"
!-- /SPAM --
Now I do not know the folks behind this operation, and I'm not trying to make this a slam-fest against those people who "work it" and are trying to get ahead. But if you want to run a program that purports to foster a site's legitimacy, then you should probably not start out by spamming the very same Webmasters that you are relying upon for support. Still, I was quite curious about the company behind this unsolicited offer, and so I visited the "Adult Site Licensing Commission" (ASLC) and had a look around:
Been There, Done That
What I found at the ASLC was essentially a framework for a niche-categorized "Top List" structured along the basic concept popularized by the "Certified Amateurs" network of 'real' amateur adult sites, including their niche-categorized products, such as "Certified Brunettes" and "Certified Mature" among many others.
However, the "Certified" program addressed the consumer demand for an independent guide that separated 'real amateurs' from the abundant 'corporate amateur' sites that sought to mislead surfers into thinking that 'Shameless Suzy' was really running the show, rather than just being another homely 'coke whore' whose galleries were pulled off of a discount content CD-ROM.
Dawn Elizabeth, a Certified Amateur in a past life under another name, found value in her affiliation beyond the traffic she received, as there were networking and learning opportunities among a group of peers in a 'family' type of environment, and the "certification" helped her to "officially" solidify her online identity, and made her feel as though she 'belonged.'
This type of Webmaster community and support is missing at ASLC, however, and is replaced by the sort of "fear tactics" used by other self-proclaimed stewards of adult business etiquette and professionalism such as the 'Adult Chamber of Commerce,' whose Web site boldly states: "Web surfers should ALWAYS look for the Adult Chamber LOGO before buying!" ~ and for only $500 a year, you too can add their logo to your homepage: While the Adult Chamber does provide value for Webmasters, a similar value is harder to see in the current ASLC offerings.
And the Problem Is:
Why I even mention any of this is twofold. First, I don't believe that anyone with $35 to spend on a new domain should self-appoint themselves as "consumer advocates" and / or "watchdogs" over the adult industry, taking on the guise of some sort of regulatory body for nothing more than marketing purposes, regardless of any protestations of higher ideals, or wishing to make the adult Web a better place.
Second, I don't believe that the implicit "scare tactics" that will doubtless lead many newbies to believe that they need these "Seals of Approval" in order to be successful, or somehow viewed as "legitimate" are in anyone's best interest. While surfers may take some small comfort in seeing one of these emblems, there is no true test of worthiness to decide if 'Site A' is more deserving or trustworthy than 'Site B.' Likewise, the Free Speech Coalition, as well as other valuable organizations that work to protect our freedoms deserve your support.
This isn't to say that all industry affiliations or associations are unnecessary. Adult Sites Against Child Pornography (ASACP) is one such example, as is participating in ICRA's voluntary content rating program. Likewise, the Free Speech Coalition, as well as other valuable organizations that work to protect our freedoms deserve your support, and will do more good for the industry than any "licensing" commission ~ and they won't Spam you in the process:
I could keep going on about the many facets and psychological aspects of these programs, but I'm more interested in YOUR opinions. Click the link below, and share them with us all: