opinion

A Shot Across the Bow

Stephen Yagielowicz
One of the quickest and simplest ways that adult webmasters can harden themselves against being a target for prosecution is by employing a “warning” page on their sites.

All adult websites – especially those that use non-explicitly adult terms in their domain name – should provide a barrier between the pages a surfer lands on and any sexual content. It is one thing if you have words such as “sex” or “porn” in the domain name and quite another if it is “hot-movie-revues.com” or some such – sites that a surfer could enter without knowing that adult material lies ahead. A warning page provides this barrier.

Given the benefits and ease of implementing a warning page, it’s surprising that more webmasters don’t use them. Excuses for this that I’ve heard include: “Other sites don’t use them so neither will I” or “They don’t really provide any legal protection” to “I tried that, but traffic to my main page dropped by over 50 percent!”

Addressing these concerns, I’ll say that since “others” won’t serve your jail term or pay your legal fees, it’s probably best not to rely upon their actions for guidance – or use that excuse in front of a judge and jury. As for providing legal protection, ANY warning page that doesn’t feature sexually explicit images but conveys the message that they are a click away, shows a “good faith effort” on your part to keep unwilling (and underage) visitors out of your site. Beyond that, WHAT your warning page contains can directly influence the degree of legal protection they offer. For example, Larry Walters offers his clients a “BirthDate Verifier™” script, while Greg Piccionelli offers a set of terms and conditions that would make it quite challenging for a local prosecutor to pursue you – and both of these measures greatly increase the level of protection that warning pages offer.

As for the measurable drop in traffic between the warning page and your main pages, I’ll offer that anyone who is put off by a warning page won’t be pulling out a credit card, so this drop in traffic doesn’t equate to a drop in sales – it simply reduces your bandwidth expenses and server loads – which increases the speed of your site for visitors who want to be there – and we all know that the faster the site loads, the better your chances of making a sale...

There are many other good uses for, and benefits to, warning pages, which I’ll get into another day, but for now, let me say that warning pages should be used on every adult website – and rather than thinking of excuses for not using them, you should focus on how they can best be used to protect yourself while increasing your profits.

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