Feb 262014
 

Disclaimers: This post is emo and ranty. Wibbly math and fuzzy logic and a fuck ton of rough estimating is involved. Sure it’s a really rough estimate, but I’m not looking to be precise here just to make my point. If you can’t handle that, don’t read this. The following rant does not apply if your name is SheVibe, Tantus, GoodVibes, Crystal Delights, Standard Innovation, and a few others not noted.

Many readers and even blogging newbies are so awed by the fact that sex toy review bloggers often get the items we review for “free”, in exchange for our honest review. A recent tweet by a fellow reviewer talking about their upcoming review on the latest version of the Revel Body got my blood boiling all over again just thinking about that fiasco.  After I found out that the unit I was sent was not the most updated unit, I became angry. Very angry. Due to the nature of that item, I spent a lot longer than usual on that review. All in all, I honestly want to say it was 20+ hours. And my anger spawned this ranty post.

“My point is that it damages my reputation and Shevibe’s if my review is pointless because of variances in product that a customer would get. And if half of my issues with the item are then a moot point because it no longer applies….I guess I don’t see why the “Version 1″ was sent to stores so soon and sent to reviewers. I spent, literally, more than 20 hours (and that is likely a very conservative guess) testing, writing my review, doing the accompanying video, and so on. I spent a huge amount of time on this…..and it was basically all for nothing?  I can certainly appreciate when a sex toy is improved upon. But the fact that we’ve all received possibly slightly different versions and no one knows what is what now equals up to something that I don’t believe I can support.”

The response to that was basically a baffled sex toy manufacturer who had no idea that someone might spend that much time on a review. And I think that MANY manufacturers (and newer retailers – or stupid retailers, like EdenFantasys, where Fred thinks we shit these out like goose eggs) have no idea what goes into it.  My average time spent on a review ranges wildly, and it depends on how much outside research I need to do. The minimum, including testing & comparison time, is about 2 hours. Hey, sometimes you just KNOW the toy sucks badly or is awesome and all you need is one or two uses – plus the really good and really bad reviews tend to (for me) fly from the fingers and get written faster. The average for me is going to be about 6-8 hours; some are more, some are less but most fall in that area.  I asked a bunch of others on Twitter what their rough estimate was, and though it varies the answer is clear: we put our backs into it. See what others had to say when I polled Twitter.

I do want to clarify that not every sex toy reviewer will go to these lengths. Some don’t. But if you look at the reviews from me and my friends you can quickly tell the difference between those who do this for reasons and those who do this to grab up free sex toys.

But let’s try and put a dollar value on this, just for the fucking hell of it because I’m curious. If we assume that it’s not just busy, grunt work that anybody can do, we should add a few dollars to the minimum wage. Let’s go for an even $10/hour. That average review time is now worth $60-80. Of course, many of the items I’m given to review exceed the $100 mark…..but wait….remember, that’s retail. I don’t know what the average shop marks up their items by – is it as much as 50%? As little as 25%? Hopefully some of you who work in stores can shed a little light. But my point is, simply the time value has probably met or exceeded the value of most of the toys we’re given to review. That’s to say nothing of the links. We’re also providing traffic and maybe even sales. It’s less about SEO these days; in the first 3 years of reviewing we were required to add in links to the site’s homepage with keywords like “vibrators” and “Sex toys”, etc. Even if there’s an affiliate ID on the link, it’s still a link. And what is that link worth? That’s harder to pin down, since it varies by the metrics of the blog.  If I were to sell a post with links (don’t worry, I don’t) I would probably charge at least $75. Now we’re up to a minimum of $135. I don’t know of any toy on the market that will set the manufacturer or retailer back by $135. 

And let’s shine a light on those affiliate links – yes, the store/site gets a sale. Yes, part of their profit goes to us. But they still make a profit from it. And if there is no affiliate program? They see even more profit. Are we sending them thousands of dollars worth of sales from that review alone? Probably not. But it’s still something, it still has value, and it needs to be considered.  Do we value the sex toy we were sent? Of course. Usually. Unless I hate the damn thing, then it’s taking up space and I can’t even fucking recycle it (Hi, Revel Body, talkin to you again).

But wait, I want to be fair. Yes, there is a chance that–IF there is an affiliate program–we might make more in commissions over the year(s) from that review and the balance seems to be outweighed in our favor, if your math is wonky or it’s 12:23am. Here we are again, back around the circle….if I’m making a commission, you’re making a sale. Unless you turned out to be a d-bag retailer who dropped 2/3rds of their stock from rotation and I had to change my links to another affiliate. BUT I DIGRESS.

Retail Sites1. CONSIDER ALL OF THIS before you start bugging us for the finished review when we barely received the product last week2. Consider all of this before you try to control our language and what we choose to focus on in the review.

Manufacturers. CONSIDER ALL OF THIS before you think nothing of sending us prototypes to review and then quickly launching a different version, knowing our review will have some irrelevancy. CONSIDER ALL OF THIS before you assume that we’re the ones making out like bandits and you’re always the one doing us a favor. 

And finally, to our dear readers. The ones we do this for. Consider all of this before you go shopping at Amazon. If we helped you, consider supporting our work and the places we work our butts off for by purchasing through our links. This way we get back a little of what we put in.

tl;dr – We work a lot harder at this than you may realize. Our work is worth more than you realize. And it is work. It is time consuming.

  1. Also I want it noted for the record: None of the retailers I currently work for ever fall into the “don’t be that person” camp. I work with really awesome companies and really great people, but I make it that way
  2. While I can’t personally come up with a reason why it should take me months to finish a review, and I try my best not to overstep that 30-day line, I’m not perfect. Usually if I have to, it’s because I’m waiting on someone to send me a replacement unit because mine might be defective, or I’m waiting on another, similar toy to help me do a comparison.
 Posted by at 4:10 pm
Jun 112013
 

When you review a sex toy, do you talk price? Is it just me? I feel that it’s an important point to cover, one that my readers would want to know. If I were reading a sex toy review of an item priced well over $100, I would need a fuck ton of convincing that that item is going to rock my fucking world for that price.

A potential relationship with a retailer who thought I was new to the scene back in 2012 ended quickly when we discussed the finer points of reviewing. They didn’t want me to just review one item, they wanted me to review a lot. Primarily I turned them down because they didn’t have an affiliate program (I work from home now, I need all the income I can get) but also because our views just didn’t mesh.

I’m actually not going to publicly name names here, because the point I want to make really doesn’t have anything to do with the company – my point is that it’s an aspect I care about. But in our very short discussion, as a response to me detailing that I do not sugarcoat my reviews and I am bluntly honest, always, this was mentioned:

“It’s a product review… Let the customers decide if it’s worth it.  Most all of my product are over $100, so if that’s an issue and your readers don’t want to spend that, I don’t want to be skewered because you don’t believe in buying $150 toys.  If a toy is good, and gives orgasms, or does its job, give it a good review.  Let the buyer decide if it’s worth it.  I’m a high end retailer, and carry great products.  I need good, honest reviewers, that have good audiences that might buy.  Let me know what you think.  I repost on my blog, from your blog, word for word, so no editorializing or such.”

Well, I’ve already talked about my feelings on someone re-posting my review on their site and I was not okay with that aspect of their conditions. But I had a real head-scratcher over the “let the buyer decide if it’s worth it”. Um….isn’t that what I’m doing here?? I’m presenting them with the information but also my opinion. If they wanted pure information, they’d read the copy from the website. I responded with:

“I personally expect every, single luxury sex toy to live up to the high expectations that come along with a high price tag, and from everything I’ve seen, so do my readers. I’ve reviewed so many luxury toys that were such a let-down that I fear I’ve become a little jaded. I am hard on toys though; I expect great things for the price tag. I’ve been unable to fully recommend items such as some Lelo, Je Joue, Zini, JimmyJane, etc because there are less expensive items that perform better. In my opinion, I do reviews to help the buyer decide if a toy is worth the money – be it $25 or $125. I wasted a lot of my own money (both prior to reviewing and even recently) on toys that appeared to have glowing on-site reviews. That was what led me to reviewing, ultimately – I was searching for women who’d tried the toys I was considering, to ask them a few questions, and that was how I found out about blog reviewers. There are so many items out there that I don’t think are worth the price and I don’t hesitate to tell my readers that. To me, that’s half the point of a review. They’re looking for reassurance in our reviews, reassurance that they won’t be dropping a week’s worth of grocery money on a toy that just isn’t worth it. I get disappointed with items/manufacturers but in the end I actually like all the reviews I write – I love being able to tell someone that something is awesome and I feel good about telling someone to avoid something that sucks. I don’t gloss over just for sales. In the end, I want my readers to be happy with their purchase and feel that I truly helped them.”

This didn’t go over well, I guess. I never heard from the person again. Apparently, I’m not the type of reviewer they want on their side. They clearly wanted reviewers who would drive people to buy, and it almost seems like they were angling for some sugar-coating. Thus far all of the places I review for have never taken issue with my reviews, no matter how harsh they are and boy howdy have some1 been2 harsh3.

Do you talk about price? Do you feel the need to justify super-pricey toys to your readers, assuring them it is worth it? If that same toy that you feel is decent, but not wonderful, cost half the price would you be more likely to recommend it?

  1. Hello Touch, how I hate thee
  2. We-Vibe Thrill made me angry I wasted my money
  3. Fixsation review was so harsh, the creator tried to slam me in comments by pretending (badly) to be someone else
Feb 042013
 

About 3 or 4 months ago I was looking up something on the We-Vibe website and I noticed that while some of the icon links to the Salsa/Tango still existed, you couldn’t see the Salsa on their page anymore. Just the Tango. I had my suspicions that this meant they were discontinuing my beloved Salsa. I reached out to them first on Twitter for confirmation, and didn’t get a response. After about a week, I tried Facebook, I posted my question on their page. No response. I let it go for another month or so and decided to try asking again. Yet again, both inquiries on Facebook and Twitter were just flat-out ignored. What is the point of having social media accounts if you ignore people? Last week then I decided to contact them directly, and sent an email via the site.

Hello. I have tried numerous times to reach out to your company on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. All 4 times I’ve been ignored. I see on your site here that you do not show photos of the Salsa anymore, you just talk about the Tango. Since the shape of the Salsa is the one I recommend slightly more (it is versatile in replacing anything that uses an RO-80mm bullet, for example), I am wondering if you have discontinued it and if so, why. The colors are great!! Many users are not feminine and appreciated the gender-neutral color scheme.  I’m a sex toy reviewer/blogger and  I’m probably one of your loudest supporters of the Salsa & Tango. I recommend them to nearly every person who contacts me for sex toy help; I tell retailers who want to work with me to carry them, and I compare every other clit vibe (and sometimes even internal vibes) to the Salsa & Tango. They’ve quickly become my only vibrator needed and Holy Grail. Suffice to say, I’m quite disheartened that my simple questions about product discontinuance are consistently ignored on social media. I’d like to properly alert my readers to purchase Salsa wherever they see it if my assumptions are correct. Can you please respond and let me know?? Thanks Lilly

Their response was quite….lackluster.

Dear Lilly, Thank you for contacting We-Vibe Customer Care. We have consolidated our product line and as such the Salsa is no longer in production, though it is still widely available in many retail stores. The Tango and the Salsa are virtually identical with the only discernible difference being the shape and the colour. The Tango proved more popular than the Salsa, though the decision to stop producing the Salsa was not based on gender preferences but rather on sales. Best Regards,  Customer Care

*blinks* No apologies for the lack of response time and again on social media sites, not even a “Thanks for recommending our product, glad you like it” half-hearted attempt at giving a shit. Call me naive but I’m surprised. Hell I’ve had a more personal and heartfelt response from Doc Johnson. I think Tantus is likely a bigger company than We-Vibe but Tantus goes out of their way for superb customer service. I’ll still continue to recommend the Tango, although it will be with a tiny bit less enthusiasm than the Salsa (even though, yes, they are virtually identical, the only difference being color and tip shape). However I will recommend the Tango only because I love the vibrations, not because I love the company.  I’m so damn sick of “girly” shades of blue, pink and purple – the red, black and white of the Salsa were such a welcome change.  So buy up the Salsa when you see it if you think you prefer the color and/or tip shape. RIP, Salsa. On that note, I’d love love love to giveaway a Salsa or two to my readers as a proper send-off for my most-loved vibrator ever. If anyone would be interested in sponsoring such a thing, please contact me ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Update:  Standard Innovations Marketing has contacted me and apologized for the lack of response on social media sites and has said that they will be improving their online presence drastically. I really do hope so; in this age, social media is huge and it’s often the place where many people go to first for customer service.  Unfortunately our collective sadness over this discontinuance can’t stop the ‘wheels of progress’, we can’t save it like a petition for a TV show. SI said: “With regards to the Salsa, we too are sad to see it go, but as our brand evolves we needed to make space in our line up for future products. We also appreciate your feedback with regards to colour. This is something we will seriously consider when developing new products.” So I do hope that they continue to expand into more gender-neutral colors. In regards to the Salsa, I will be sent a whole case to give away as I see fit! I’m still sad that I won’t be able to recommend it to all my lovely readers BUT I’m thrilled that at least a few more people will be able to own one. I just need to figure out how best to go about doing it. I’d really like to see the Salsas end up with people who are like me, who have been searching and searching for a clitoral vibrator that has the power and depth we need. I’ve reviewed or owned over 100 vibrators and the Salsa/Tango wins, hands-down, above everything that I’ve tried.

Aug 182012
 

Yesterday, and for the hundredth time, someone on Liberator’s Twitter feed acted like a complete asshole.

Being a seasoned social media watcher, I knew that these offensive and idiotic tweets would eventually disappear so I screen-capped them. And heyyyyy, lookie there….they’re now gone! But thanks to posterity, not forgotten.

Lest we think that the asshattery is limited to whatever dumbass Liberator decided to entrust with the Twitter password this week, it’s also going on at Facebook in spades. SPADES I TELL YOU.

First up, we have this one. I shared it, I commented my disgust in their negative attitude and nothing has happened. Yet.

But then when I shared the following photo from their FB stream with my outraged comments, and then others did the same? Well now suddenly the photo in question is gone. And since it was a share, when Liberator deletes it, it gets deleted from all streams. But this is the photo:

Of course it had many likes, and many “high five bro” type comments. I didn’t see anybody on Liberator’s initial posting saying anything bad about it. Which is kinda my point….do we really need a sex toy retailer perpetuating this kind of sex negative attitude??

Due to their bait-and-swtich-esque treatment of Epiphora and previous acts of douchebaggery on Twitter, I’d already lost interest in them as a company. Now? I’m done. No, really. I will find other sex support position pillow companies to recommend, because I am D-O-N-E. Just like I won’t support Chik-Fil-A because their profits get donated to anti-gay-and-lesbian organizations intent on making the lives of gays and lesbians even more unsafe and even more difficult, I will not support a company who spouts off immature, sex-negative, queer-negative shit like a drunk 18 year old frat boy.

This isn’t the first company to lose my support. RubyGlass21 was probably the first company I’d ever seen behave like a child on Twitter. They first started off by tossing out thinly-veiled digs to Crystal Delights. Then they would, unprompted, start spouting off even more lies and bullshit about Crystal Delights via email to the few bloggers who tread carefully and agreed to review. Slanderous shit. Then they’d apologize for puking their drama-llama bullshit all over Twitter in some text-language that is worse than the average 13-year-old. I couldn’t even fucking understand what they were saying on Twitter. It was embarrassing for them.

They started this shit way back in May.

This was after I’d said to them “Honestly, I don’t even know what you’re trying to say because your tweets make no sense grammatically.”

  June…and they still don’t get it

Later on in June…they’ve still not STFU.

I wondered if perhaps English was a distant second language to this person, but I don’t think it is. I love the response that tweets are not term papers, that I should lighten up. Hey, I’m not asking for  tweets that would pass muster by an English professor. I’m asking for something that is: Professional, Readable, Courteous, Intelligent. Whoever this MJ person is, possesses none of those qualities. And frankly RubyGlass21 could be producing the most awesome glass dildos ever, and because of their behavior on Twitter and in email to other reviewers, I will never, ever recommend them. The height of professionalism and maturity? Crystal Delights, for holding their tongue and not engaging in a pointless Twitter fight with these idiots.

YOUR BEHAVIOR ON TWITTER AND FACEBOOK WILL DIRECTLY IMPACT YOUR COMPANY.

It is that simple. If companies cannot comprehend this, then frankly they deserve whatever backlash they get. It’s common sense. But apparently, neither Liberator or RubyGlass21 have any common sense.

 

May 222012
 

A Twitter friend pointed us to HuffPo’s article on this past weekend’s BDSM-angled con, DomConLA. She was specifically pointing out that RedemptionsGirl is in a few of the photos, but what I took notice of was actually some curious wording.

“…..who is a willing submissive at a dungeon party during the DomConLA convention”

I cocked my head and thought it a bit strange. And then when I flipped through the slideshow more, I saw that that “disclaimer” was on every. single. photo.

Except for three. The three that featured a submissive male being whipped.

” Domina beats a submissive man at a dungeon party during the DomConLA convention”

There is no distinctive wording here to emphasize that he is a willing submissive. Why? Why is there a need to state the obvious for the female subs but not the male? Why state the obvious at all? The article is about DomConLA – a highly respected kinky conference that has visitors from all levels of kink & fetish.Taking bets on how many times Consent was reference, inferred or discussed at length would be like guessing how many M&Ms are in that 5 gallon jug at the bridal shower.

Then again….the comments on the article are filled with ignorant trolls. It’s fairly clear to me that the aspect of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ that is “sweeping the nation” isn’t the BDSM aspect at all. It’s the “saving the man” aspect; it’s the Cinderella-twist aspect; it’s the “she orgasms on command over and over and over and over” aspect. The majority of the general American public is just way too judgmental to even tolerate a mere article on DomConLA.

“People often abuse their bodies because they feel ugly inside.”

“these people didnt get enough hugs growing up…”

“or they got way too many!”

“Maybe that’s the only way ugly people can get attention…?”

Not all comments are negative like this. But enough are to make me never go back and read anything else “sexually progressive” at HuffPo. Anyways these jerks aren’t my point. My point is that I fail to understand on any level why apologies, excuses and special words are needed to make sure the intolerant jerks don’t flip out even more about these “willing submissive women”.

Please weigh in with your opinion. Enlighten me. Because I’m not going to understand this all on my own.

May 132012
 

The bane of a bloggers existence some days is the evolution of the Scraper. The Scraper is someone who has set up a website solely to garner advertisers. They have numerous sites like this and they obviously don’t have time to write their own content, so they “scrape” illegally from others. It’s only scraping, though, if they are stealing your entire post1. Many times these scrapers have automated the process and will scrape directly from your RSS feed. I’ve added on anti-scraping plugins to WordPress which put in things such as unique keys (so that I can search for that key and find who else is using it) and copyright / anti-scrap notices in the post – they alert the reader that if they’re reading the post anywhere other than Dangerouslilly.com, it has been illegally scraped and please contact me.

Even worse, however, is when a fellow community blogger or sex toy manufacturer/retailer uses your content in entirety without permission. Some are just completely uneducated as to the rights and wrongs of blogging, but really….we all started out in the same clueless space and most of us have gotten where we are just fine without violating copyright, stealing content or plagiarizing, ever.

What is Copyright?

According to Wikipedia, copyright ‘is “the right to copy”, but also gives the copyright holder the right to be credited for the work, to determine who may adapt the work to other forms, who may perform the work, who may financially benefit from it, and other related rights.’

A few years ago when I was dealing with a site that took harassing me to a new level, which included posting my photos without my permission, claimed that all was well and fair in the copyright world simply because they had attributed the photos to me. Nope, sorry, that is not the only condition that must be met. Especially not since I have this copyright notice at the end of every post and at the bottom of my main page: “All text and images on this site require permission before they can be used anywhere. To obtain permission click here to contact me”. Notice how I’ve stated that all text and images on this site require permission before they can be used anywhere? Yeah. That’s kinda the whole key.

Permission.

Consent?

eh. fine line.

There’s an article on Sexis about bloggers and copyright – not necessarily our own copyright but talking about how we steal things. Namely, photos. Some are more guilty than others of course but the fact is, copyright violation in terms of using a photo in your post is pretty rampant. Not just sex bloggers, but any blogger. So while attribution doesn’t equal permission when you’re talking about using someone’s entire post, attribution can equal permission when you’re dealing with photos. It will simply depend on what the copyright holder allows. But if you found the image on Google because hundreds of others have used it without attribution, what can be done? The best we can do is protect ourselves with watermark copyrights on our own photos, and when we use a photo that we know actually belongs to a fellow blogger, retail store or manufacturer…..attribute it. Ask for permission if it is a blogger.

Microblogging vs Blogging

Now, here’s the rub: With the over-saturation of social media sites where you “share” stuff with your followers, you “reblog” on Tumblr, you “retweet” on Twitter…you have a blurry line of kosher sharing when it comes to blogging. When you reblog and retweet on Tumblr and Twitter respectively, you are copying what someone said and providing attribution. The line is blurred even further with Twitter, where “copyright” doesn’t really seem to exist. I mean, how can you possibly lay copyright to a Tweet? On Tumblr it’s a little different I suppose, but many people treat Tumblr as blogging. So if I posted a photo on Tumblr and nowhere else, I still retain my copyright. That photo is my intellectual property and if you post it on your own Tumblr without an attribution link, then you’ve effectively stolen content.

The fine line lays in the type of sharing. Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, even Facebook are all considered forms of “microblogging“; places where the “reblog” is common practice and accepted. Standard Blogging is vast and varied; we’re accustomed to WordPress-based sites, Blogger, LiveJournal, etc but there are many other places as well. Somehow, the concept of “reblogging” seems to have bled over (incorrectly) to regular blogging with the prevalence of microblogging.

Product Reviewing and Ethics

In the past I went toe-to-toe with Lelo when I noticed that suddenly they went from quoting excerpts of reviews to pilfering entire (but slightly modified to remove retailers links and in some cases, had no links to the review itself) review posts. They’d never told anyone reviewing products (given to the reviewer by Lelo) that this would be done; they never asked for permission; and in fact they did this on reviews where the product came from retailers! After raising a fuss like I am wont to do, they apologized and removed it all and now only have excerpts (with links).

I’ve noticed that niche sex toy maker Duncan Charles has been lifting entire reviews2, as well, and what’s worse is that they have ignored emails. Back when I posted about Lelo, Shanna Katz commented that it had happened to her a lot over the years as well.  I was offered the chance to do reviews for Nexus and at the time I viewed their site, I noticed that they had full text of reviews with no hyperlink. They had a text-only site address, though. But I wasn’t cool with having my entire review posted so I turned them down.

Ethical Blogging Practices

~Reblogging is NOT copying someone else’s entire blog post without their permission, throwing up an attribution link and calling it well and good. I see this as copyright violation and content theft. Also, just Bad Blogging Manners.  You can quote something from my post, with an attribution and link, and that is a horse of a different color. You can share a photo I’ve posted here via Tumblr, with an attribution and link, and that’s just fine.

~Posting someone’s photo without an attribution is content theft and copyright violation. I don’t care if the click-through link goes to their blog, the attribution line  (and link) is absolutely necessary.

~Creative Commons licenses on someone’s blog does not mean you get to skirt copyright basics or do away with attribution. Creative Commons exists to allow someone the flexibility of letting people know that sharing and even revamping is fine (with attribution) but it doesn’t dissolve copyright.

~And please…don’t EVER think you’re doing someone a favor by putting their content on your site. It’s insulting, it’s copyright violation, and it will earn you a very bad reputation.

 

 

  1. I’ve oddly run across scrapers who are more like news feed, where they take an excerpt – presumably for search engine content?- but not the whole post. This is usually done after they’ve been caught for full post content scraping.
  2. Of course since all the reviews lifted seem to obviously be reviews originally published on EdenFantasys, the only people that DC has to listen to is EF