Dec 052011
 

Blogging

Many bloggers will start out on the free Blogger/Blogspot services (it seems to be the AOL of blogging platforms, more people start out there than WordPress) and somewhere down the line decide that it’s time they have their own domain. And then they make a huge mistake.

They delete all their posts.

I presume they do this because they’ve read that Google penalizes for duplicate content. Perhaps they do it because they don’t want people coming to the old blog anymore. But if you have ever submitted to Sugasm, Pleasurists, e[lust], or simply had any post from your old blog linked from anywhere….deleting the posts will cause you to lose traffic. As I run the broken link checker plugin on both of my sites, I’m seeing this happen more and more. Did you know that you can tell the search engines not to crawl/index your site, that you can set this in the dashboard at Blogger and say that you don’t want to appear in search engines? That’s all it takes, and then your content won’t be seen as duplicate. When I left my old Blogspot blog a few years ago I looked high and low for things to do to help transfer people over to the new site. I had found some code that would automatically redirect (unfortunately since the New Blogger change over happened, that code doesn’t work – if I could find something again that worked I’d set it up); I changed my header, my sidebars and my front page post all to say that I’ve moved and here’s the link. So at least if someone would come to a post linked from Sugasm or Fleshbot, they won’t find a dead page and they might click on through to this site. If I really felt like doing a whole lot of work I’d go back to every post that has been linked to from Sugasm and Fleshbot, on the old blog, leave up only an excerpt of the post and put in a big link to the post on the current site. Since I was only at Blogger for like 3 months that wouldn’t be so bad for me.

 

PR Companies

It’s a dirty business, I know. But didn’t anybody ever teach these guys that sending me a press release or a non-personalized email isn’t going to catch my attention and make me give a shit? And when you send things to the e[lust] account and expect me to publish ANYTHING there, I know goddamn well you didn’t even look at the site. I put up a Contact page and removed the direct links to my email/Twitter/Facebook etc so that hopefully one out of ten assholes trying to reach the “site administrator for a link exchange”1 might read why I don’t want what they’ve got and maybe they won’t email me. Yeah…right. The latest in the circus (and no, I didn’t change a thing, just bolded the wtf bits):

Hi – 
I know you’ve written about (relationships, sex, blah blah) so I thought you might be interested in Bedsider. I’m helping Bedsider, http://www.bedsider.org, a new public service campaign from The Ad Council, connect with bloggers and social media influencers like you. I’m hoping you’ll be able to blog/post/tweet about this women’s health initiative.   
Bedsider is all about preventing unplanned pregnancies and helping women find a method of birth control that’s right for them and stick with it. The U.S. has one of the highest rates of unplanned pregnancy in the entire developed world. Nearly one in ten unmarried young women (ages 20-29) has an unplanned pregnancy each year. This means fewer opportunities to complete their education or achieve other life goals, and increased health and social risks for mother and child.
At Bedsider.org women can explore, compare and contrast all available methods of contraception, set up birth control reminders and view videos debunking myths about birth control..Here’s the press release: http://prn.to/uqx9zuAn embeddable widget shows where to get free birth control: http://bedsider.org/widgets/costAnd funny, new videos http://www.youtube.com/bedsider
Please let me know if you need any more information, hi-res images, video or if you’d like to conduct an interview.  And let me know if you do post about it so the Ad Council can thank you from their social media channels2.

1. Wow. “blah blah”?
2. She fucked up the links and half don’t even work
3. I left off the singlelineoftextthatcontainshernamenumberandPRsiteaddress because it all ran together like that and I don’t want them to get traffic, but the company (if you can call them a company) is helpsgood. Yeah, even the name is bad grammar.

I actually forwarded this monstrosity to Bedsider, saying that if this is the best that their hired PR can do they might want to rethink using them3. I’ve left in the one working link to Bedsider because despite the atrocity that was the PR4, the campaign is actually decent – I would have liked this site about 4 months ago when I was reconsidering my birth control (all because I was terrified of a repeat performance with Mirena IUD, the first insertion was awful and the next 3 weeks were awful. The second was painful during, but fine afterwards). They tell you how to get free birth control, they give you the highlights (or lowpoints) on each method of birth control, where to get emergency contraception, and other good stuff. Of course, some of their “articles” could use some heavy work, like this one on side effects. Brushing off a woman’s consideration of the possible side effects of birth control – hell any person considering any medication is going to have some concern over possible side effects – is just plain bad.

Know Your Audience – Also, try not to offend or piss off your audience

I think a lot of bloggers can agree that lately the level of ridiculous bullshit arriving in our inboxes is at an all-time high.

I don’t accept every advertising request (just like they don’t all accept my pricing) because sometimes the site or item is just so….bad. Like the guy who wanted us to talk about his blowjob book. But first he wanted me to be an affiliate and get a percentage of sales. It was so many levels of vomit-inducing horribleness. I’m not sure he ever truly wanted to pay for advertising, he was just one of those who wanted people to “review” his shit. I’m also not going to accept a banner ad for a penis enlargement site that says this: “Most women want an endowed partner with a big and thick penis, capable of satisfying their most secret desires”. Wow. Way to go. MOST women?

Do I look stupid? Naive? Do I sound like I’m gonna take bullshit? News flash, I’m none of those. I’m also too smart to agree to crap like this:

Howdy there,

Hope keeping well. I’m just getting in touch to ask if you’re open to reviewing content from freelance writers at This Could Be Dangerous – if so, I’d love to put together a high-quality article written specifically for the site. I’m 29 and have been working as a professional writer and researcher for five years now, and in that time there isn’t a lot I haven’t already covered (I’ve attached a few samples below for you to check out).

As long as you’re happy with the resulting material, you’d be welcome to publish it as you see fit and the content will be owned by you entirely (in that I won’t send it to anyone else, either before or after publication).

There is absolutely no charge for this and no strings attached; the only thing I would ask in return is that I’m able to include a link to a site of my choosing within the article – nothing shady or unethical, just one of the professional businesses I freelance for.

Do let me know if you’re interested, and if so I can get something written for you over the course of the next few days. Needless to say, the offer is open to any other sites you might own as well as dangerouslilly.com. I appreciate you may not be interested in this kind of mutual back-scratching however, so if I don’t hear from you, no offence taken and I won’t trouble you again.

Oh, it’s goldmine. “Free Professional Writing” and oh goodie, it’ll be owned by me!! “Mutual back-scratching” …..really? Really?? To make matters even more ridiculous, I get emails like this on the e[lust] account, too. Yes because that site is just brimming with “articles”. I’m actually not sure what I find more aggravating about emails like this….that they’re trying to go for the whole “FREE” angle as if I’d actually pay someone to write a post here or that they’re conning me into a free advertising/SEO link and not even willing to pay for it. I get requests/offers for paid articles, too, as in they want to pay me to publish it on my site.

Here’s the thing: Any post by these people will have a link. Or two. More if you accept payment. This is free, permanent advertising. Those links there in my sidebar, under Site Sponsors? Those people pay for those links, and I don’t take contracts longer than a year. You all know how I feel about douchebags like Dave who try to spin the permanent link for a price that would offend anybody. A post is up, presumably, forever. Now would the people who paid you to put up the post check in a year to see if it’s still up? No clue. Will your readers lose respect for you? Most likely. Those sidebar links rarely get clicked on. I know this. They know this. We both also know that a link in a post is pretty damn likely to be clicked by half of the people. So to offer me the equivalent of one month of text link advertising in the side bar for a post containing links is offensive to me.

Another thing I won’t do anymore is review a website. If I talk about a site and if I link to it then I genuinely like it – and I’m going to do so all of my own volition. But to ask me to review your (pay) site in exchange for a few weeks of free membership is…..no. No. I also won’t do a site review post for money, either. As I said above…it’s permanent advertising. This review post that they will offer you a small one-time payment for will likely contain a couple links of their choosing using anchor text of their choosing. And since it is a post and not in the sidebar more readers will be clicking the links. So it’s SEO AND TRAFFIC. And they act like the blogger is being properly compensated. There’s no way that any company will ever pay me a fair rate for a site review post – I mean, just do the math: Let’s assume there’s 2 links in the post. If someone wanted 2 text links in the sidebar for a year the price (very discounted, due to the year and the second link) would be in the neighborhood of $400 and some change. There is no way that any site owner would agree to pay that much for a review. I mean I could be wrong, I’ve never actually quoted anybody who’s asked (maybe I will in the future, just to see). My point is that even if I charged them this discounted advertising rate they’re still making out because presumably the post would remain on my site until my site is gone which will not be happening anytime in the next year. Are their links going to remain on the front page? No. But for rank and SEO purposes, that doesn’t matter. I would also assume that a condition of them paying me to do a site review post is that I not hate their site and write bad things about it – in which case the review would be false. And I don’t do that.

The latest site owner guy to irk sent me three emails, all the same. Twice to the blog email, once to elust. The first two times I responded with my advertising rates and information. No response5. So the third time I responded with “500”. That’s it. Just “500”. It was a test. And to THAT he responded. !! All confused and “I’m not sure what you meant there” and shit. So I replied days later and explained. He then apologizes, says that “they” were sending emails out to “several lists online” of sex related blogs so a few people were receiving multiple emails. A: You’re lazy and B: what lists??? He also said he’d follow up with me at the other email address when he returned from traveling and big surprise, never did.

I know that a lot of bloggers have been getting thoroughly annoyed by the repeated emails from purePassionate (hint: pitching free design services to bloggers who designed their own site, pitching free blog hosting and free setup of a WordPress blog on their servers to bloggers who already own their own domain….is fucking dumb) but I didn’t realize just how bad it was until I did an email search on the term “link exchange” (I was thinking about setting up a Gmail auto-responder to just people who have that in the Subject line, redirecting them to actually read the Contact page) and found that overall I’ve received emails from 5 different people at this company since summer. Exactly what makes companies think that sending an unresponsive person email after email is ever going to result in anything good?

Think before you get a blogger to do a contest for you

Really think about it – especially if you’re not a sex-related company and the blog in question IS a sex blog. A few months ago I won a giftcard to Shari’s Berries from KinkyWorld. They’d met at Blogher (which isn’t about sex blogging, just all kinds of blogging) and a contest and a product review was granted. So Shari’s was more than happy to take on the traffic from a sex site; they were happy to have their product talked about, linked to and etc from a sex site; they were happy to have sex-blogger-profiles on Facebook follow them. But they would NOT allow my sex blogger profile on Facebook to complain on their wall – they removed it because my photo was not “family friendly”. My profile is not public, my photo shows cleavage and an item that most wouldn’t know is a sex toy. Because I complained vocally about my very bad experience (Hint: do not ever order their Tiramisu cake, and trust me that those fancy dipped strawberries are simply not as good as they look – nor do they look anything like the promo photos) that was very bad TWICE, the company has refused to publish my onsite reviews of their products. I think people deserve to know when something is crap. It’s why I don’t hesitate to write a bad sex toy review. But berries.com apparently just hides the really negative reviews! Way to be trustworthy and transparent!

  1. Update: In the midst of writing this post, a full week or so after making the Contact page, what did I get? Yup. 2 link exchange emails. *headdesk*
  2. something tells me that even though I’ve technically written about the organization, they won’t be thanking me from any of their social media channels
  3. Someone did respond, properly horrified and apologetic about the spammy and crappy attempt
  4. Even though the PR chick tried to contact me yet again to see if I’d write about  Bedsider  and again STILL has not managed to detect or fix the broken links – she blames her mail client, I blame lack of common sense or ability to do one’s job
  5. If you’re going to ask me for a response and my rates, at least have the common courtesy to say “no thanks” or something
 Posted by at 11:08 pm
Oct 232011
 

I hate that I’m writing this, but I am. It makes me feel like I’m becoming some sort of dictator/bitch. Unfortunately, not all sex bloggers & sex toy reviewers run in the same social circles online and so not enough people (like me) knew about the first time Amanda ripped off a blogger. I guess it’s because I tend not to follow a lot of review-bloggers on Twitter; sometimes those who have blogs just for product reviews have Twitter streams that largely consist of contest entries. That’s fine, but I don’t follow them for that reason. And therefore I missed this when it happened last November. Jenn wrote about how Nichole got ripped off by a blogger/reviewer. There was much drama, as there tends to be, because the guilty party started threatening to sue for libel or slander and she continues with much more.

The snowball of con started last week when a ToySwap member hesitantly contacted me saying that she had sent Amanda money in lieu of swapping an item for an item, but hadn’t heard from her in weeks and she wanted advice on what to do about it. I used the email address she’d signed up under, a few days later I used the email address she has listed in her ToySwap profile and asked her repeatedly to please respond to me. I didn’t even say why. The other member also tried again. My gut told me to temporarily suspend Amanda until this got resolved; so I posted in our forums that I intended to suspend her but if anybody else had a pending swap with her that I wouldn’t, in case ToySwap was their only means of communication. 1 person simply said they have a pending swap, but I don’t know if it is in the same state of affairs as the other two – yes, two more for a total of three who sent Amanda money and then have not heard from her. Since she had completed a few swaps with good results with other members, these people trusted that all would go well again.

(we’re not even going to get into the whole “why are people selling instead of swapping” aspect, there are pros and cons to each side of that debate and all three could easily have sent this chick items instead of money and still gotten ripped off)

I’ve tried to track Amanda down. The blogs that she has listed in her ToySwap profile are both gone/empty (thisthatandmyself.blogspot.com/ and thrapport.wordpress.com). She used to have a Twitter account linked, but that is gone. She has gone by the following names on Twitter / EF / ToySwap: Amanda, AmandaAgan, LadyA, AKAme, AKA2010 and is currently on EF as Secret. There are probably more but I’ve never followed her for various reasons so I haven’t kept up with the merry-go-round. The blog she started with promises to pay people for their reviews (and apparently she never did) was reviewcentral2010.wordpress.com. I considered posting her email addresses here, but I won’t, even though most of them are still out there publicly on her defunct sites. She linked to an Amazon wishlist from her ToySwap profile, and so far as I can tell it lists her real name so despite the fact that it looks like she’s scamming others, I’m still reluctant to publish that info. The last name on the Amazon wishlist is the same last name as the Paypal account that is, presumably, in her husband’s name. She’s also done something called thefunroom.wordpress.com and there are mentions on there about her paying people for things. Again, it’s a site that doesn’t last long. .amandasplayground.wordpress.com is yet another dead site, as is funroomwebcams.blogspot.com. The trail of dead sites, projects and abandoned email addresses and usernames is frankly dizzying. I will say that the person who appears to be connected to her (or at least her paypal account) is also vanished from his blog/twitter/etc but his EF profile remains. I’m posting all this in order to help someone else in the future identify her/them as scammers. Presumably because all monetary thefts were $100 or less, nobody bothered to take legal action – but I’m not so sure any would, given the adult nature of things. I’d heard on MakeupAlley of people who would alert authorities when they were “swap-lifted” but that was cosmetics.

Even though I merely host the site and I know that I’m not responsible for people’s swaps, a little part of me still feels responsible. But just as in life, we can’t trust everybody we meet. Plenty of bloggers have been outed as untrustworthy, scammers or worse. I can only hope that the swappers she screwed over didn’t send her a lot of money or that Paypal will be able to help them (I’ve suggested that all three log a dispute with Paypal; hopefully if Paypal sees that three people are complaining about the same person, they will take some action but the account isn’t even in her name). I also hate that this whole drama will give other innocent people and ToySwap a bad name. But, then again, I don’t know of anyone else who has changed their name online as much as her. That should have been a big ole red flag…..but if you’re new to the community or not a daily EF visitor, you probably wouldn’t have known. I wish that Ning had a feedback system like Etsy / Ebay does, but Ning isn’t meant for this sort of thing. Amanda deleted all the comments from her profile except the few “thanks for the swap!” ones to show she’d done a few. Those currently leaving a comment on her wall will get nowhere. The only thing that can be done on ToySwap that she is unable to delete is forum posts about her.

I sincerely hope that this sort of thing won’t ever happen again but…..we can’t give blind trust. Just be careful and do more research, I guess. And when someone does screw you over, speak up. It’s the only way to hopefully attempt to prevent it from happening again.

Update: As a commenter “suggested” below, I do want to update this post no matter which way things turn out. I’ve tried to keep in the loop with those who are still, as of Nov 18th, waiting on the items they paid her for. Another member stopped by the site and mentioned that she’d sent money more than 4 months ago with no responses. Amanda’s reviewing on EF continues. I can understand life problems very well but to be updating your toy reviews and somehow still be oblivious to everything else going on with emails and whatnot?? She started a new blog (agardenofsecrets.blogspot.com, posting as Amanda Ruckman) and will be swapping on her own there. She mentioned in her first post that items will be sent out very soon (this is what she said 3 weeks ago) but she presents a distorted view. “I have stayed in contact with everyone and did not realize there was a problem until I found out that I was going to be removed via a forum post that I happened to read.” Umm…..no. That’s not true. If she’d stayed in contact with everyone, I wouldn’t have had 2 people come to me and others chime in that they’d paid her ages ago and have had no response or items. I sent her email to all of her known addresses and the first she hears of any problems is happening to read the forum post?? No. False. I considered saying that in a comment on her site but then realized that it was highly unlikely she would let the comment publish. Like I said, life happens, shit happens, but to pull the ignorant doe-eyed act and pretend like it’s something that it isn’t….that’s not cool. It’s not trustworthy.

 Posted by at 5:12 pm
Oct 072011
 

As I sit here in yesterday’s clothes and a forehead wrinkle that would make most upper class women instinctively reach out to rub it smooth and tell me the wonders of Botox, darling, I’m really happy that I have a job where I can sit here at home and do a little work and then do a little of this or that and put in my time in snippets. It works around my doctor visits and my grocery shopping and my trips to see/help my mother1. Some days it leads me to sex toys and sex toy manufacturers that absolutely disgust me; some days it simply leads me to companies that merely annoy me because of their cheesy crap and half-ass site; other days I’m shown the better side and see that there is good in the sex toy world.

I will start out addressing the small companies, the niche companies who are ultimately good eggs with products ranging from pretty decent to admirable. I write this post not to just let off some steam but with the smallest glimmer of hope that maybe…….just maybe….some of these words will land on the right computer screen and be taken to heart. Maybe one change will happen.

Dear Small Company;

You are trying hard. You are fighting the good fight, perhaps. You are making your items out of body-safe materials and you are not trying to pass off a wolf in sheep’s clothing as an innocent lamb2. But your online presence is really fucking important. Your website is super fucking important. As a customer I want photos and I want details. Lots and lots of details. I want to know the every dimension and exactly how it works. I don’t want some artistic/”French”/mysterious website that is more about the visual than the information. I can see your item or your kit and yet I have no fucking idea what exactly it is? I’m not going to buy it. As a person working for a reseller I want high quality photos of every item and every color and even more details than I’d want as a customer. Why do you make our jobs hard, when all we want to do is sell your product? How can we underlings write up your great products so that Consumer Joe Schmoe who doesn’t know jelly from silicone can see that they’re better and that they should buy your item instead of some dodgy crap from the Walmart-equivalents3 of sex toy manufacturing?

Update your site. Make it easy to browse and easy to read. Sure, go for your artistic merit but don’t let it take over the main goal: Showcasing your worthy sex toy product and telling us why it’s worth twice the money for what looks like the same thing from the Big Guys. Don’t skimp on the information about you and the toy. At all.

Dear Middle-but-good Company;

You’ve managed to become a name. A brand that people trust. You use silicone and I trust you that it’s actually and honestly 100% medical grade silicone. Now I will fully admit to not knowing a damn thing about how your stuff is manufactured and why your dildos cost as much as my monthly cable-slash-phone bill4 so I don’t feel that I can whine about them being so pricey. But it is really hard to sell your product to those people who haven’t learned their lesson yet or just are too cheap to care – all they see is $55/$75 for a sex toy when hey there’s one over there for $19.95! Some of those people will eventually learn; maybe after their doctor explains that the burning redness is from that dildo, or maybe after a storage mishap and their dildo melts.

Dear Luxury Sex Toy Manufacturers;

Despite being a toy snob, I’m not really a fan of you on the whole. Sometimes I am, like with Njoy but then they kinda fall into the small-niche moreso than luxury. But Njoy at least lives up to their price tag. You luxury guys….eh. You’re all about the bells and whistles and the super pretty packaging. A vibrator that you can customize to your preferred shape or rotation is impressive on paper but when I actually go to use it and find that all your promises are as useless as a fake Hallmark card? I’m gonna be harsh and pissed that I spent (or theoretically spent if given it for review) upwards of $100 on your sex toy, thinking that for sure YOU got me and finally…something good.

To you I have two things to say: Let your products speak for themselves – and save the buyers money by cutting back on that fancy ass packaging and the brooch5 and the extras. Second, for fucks sake gimme a better vibrator motor! If the cheap shit companies can use a motor that produces vibrations that go beyond tickling the surface of my skin so can you. The women and men who are buying your toys are not delicate fucking flowers. Put a decent motor in there that produces a vibration to be proud of, dammit, and then the controls for multiple speeds will make everyone happy – from the delicate flowers to the tough cookies. I do not like or support Doc Johnson on the whole (as an example) but unfortunately they make a couple bullet vibrators that are perfect – motor-wise. Zini, Lelo, Je Joue, JimmyJane, Nomi Tang, and others who create different/fun/new/pretty/innovative sex toys: I’d be backing you if your motors weren’t as limp as a wet noodle 9 times out of 10.

Dear Big Boys who’ve been around since the internet was invented and then some;

I’mma go ahead and name names right here – I’ve said this all before, it will come as no shock and I am not shy in voicing my disgust. CalExotics. Pipedreams. You guys make a lot of shitty products, some downright offensive products, and some eh products. I don’t trust you, I don’t like you. But you’re a big company and you’re everywhere. You have the Walmart angle. All of a sudden your previously labeled “jelly” toy is now suddenly body-safe non-porous TPR? Nope. Don’t believe you. Especially when it still fucking stinks to high heaven. Your perpetuation of disgusting gender stereotypes and bad ideas that you sell with copy that would make your own mother blush and you justify it by saying that it’s flying off the shelves so it’s what guys want6 and by golly you gotta give the people what they WANT! Fuck that. Have some fucking integrity. Topco, Doc Johnson – you might have some (minor) redeeming qualities/products but overall you’re crap. You, too, are contributing to the unsafe materials and shoddy mechanics and the bottom line is that you don’t care. You are a politician.

I can’t say anything to the powers that be in your companies. You will never EVER change. All I can hope for is that somehow those of us who know better are able to drown out your voice with the voices of the people who care and who are trying to produce something with integrity rather than make a buck.

Dear Resellers/Retail Stores who are determined to carry every product made;

I get it. You’re in this to make money. You’re one of a million other sites and the competition is stiff. But really, do you have to lower your standards and put flowery copy writing on utter shit and sell the items that might actually cause cancer, or at the very least are a colossal waste of the consumers money? Adam & Eve was the first site I bought a sex toy from. But when those first two sex toys quickly showed their ugly underbelly I lost faith in them as a whole. And I never shopped there again. You can make money AND have integrity. It requires a little more hard work, though. The internet isn’t the land of the quick, easy buck anymore.

I’ve been reviewing sex toys for 3 years. I’ve reviewed more than some people, but far fewer than others (which is probably because after the first year I was reluctant to review something that I just knew I wouldn’t like and it’s hard to review item after item that leaves you jaded and I’m not easy to please – but I’m not impossible either. I just refuse to sugarcoat a half-ass product). I’ve seen a lot. I’ve grown to know that I don’t have to put a positive, happy spin on every review I do even if the product wasn’t my thing or is overpriced. Would it help pad my bank account, as an affiliate? Sure it would. But that isn’t the reason I started reviewing toys and I’m going to be blunt. If that means I am the only person on the web saying that the latest high-tech Lelo toy is a sopping wet disappointment? So fucking be it. I’m not trying to be mean, I’m trying to be real and save other people like me the money.

It’s heartbreaking to see the little companies die. Jollies LLC made some great sex toys and they were really innovative without trying too hard (Zini, Je Joue, etc). Their products were at once simple yet unique yet just what we needed at the quality we wanted. But they went the way of the little corner bookstore after a Barnes and Noble moved in two blocks down. And it’s sad.

Signed,

Jaded but Hopeful (in a cheerful Comic Sans font)

 

(If you are a “recipient” of one of these letters, for once I will allow companies to comment on a post. I generally don’t because they’re usually just trying to get a free link but if you are genuine in your response then I’ll post it. But don’t be offended if I remove the link to your company’s site and please….use your real name in the comment name field, and not the name of your company)

  1. Despite of course the fact that I can’t/don’t feel comfortable telling her exactly what I am doing and who for because I really don’t want to have that conversation and she’s a very suspicious woman of all things internet
  2. I’m looking at you, CalExotics, publicly proclaiming that ALL of your TPR and PVC and “Cyberskin” and other squiffy hybrids are all free of phthalates and are totally body safe. For trying to say even that all your TPR is non-porous when I’d bet it isn’t because you’re too cheap and only in this to make money
  3. I would consider this to be large companies who produce thousands of various items at low cost, mark them up 300%, don’t care what materials they’re using, mass-produce with shoddy quality control and are around because they were they first and they simply have the most stuff at places like Rt 15 Adult Book Store. Companies like California Exotic Novelties, Doc Johnson, Topco, Pipedream, BMS Enterprises, and Nasstoys.
  4. and no, I don’t have Vonage
  5. Yeah I’m talkin to you, Lelo, with that Insignia line that looks really fancy but is actually just plastic and mediocre vibrations
  6. Yes, I’m talking to you, Pipedreams, with your “cum dumpster” copy on overpriced body parts
Sep 302011
 

I’ll keep you my dirty little secret,
Don’t tell anyone or you’ll be just another regret.
~All American Rejects “Dirty Little Secret”

For some people, being or having a “dirty little secret” is erotic in and of itself. I might have considered myself one of those people in the past, but no longer. It’s taken being someone else’s secret for a few years to make me realize that it’s a sucky place to be. When the irony adds to injury, that there’s no reason for me to be a secret anymore because we’re now just friends, it stings a little more. And so, in my search on OkCupid for local friends, I’ve discounted married men who are not in an open/poly marriage. I specifically state that in my profile, yet of course they’re the type who won’t read a profile in full. Or worse, they’re the type who see that I don’t want what they’re offering and their ego says “Yeah but I’m different” and they contact me anyways.

I had one such debate recently with someone. Typical married-man profile: Not much information, no photo and in an introductory email he says he lives in city A when he listed city B on his profile. Usually I just tell these men to go to Ashley Madison instead, they’ll have better luck finding a mistress. The most recent guy insisted he just wanted a good friend. Nothing more. Except….I would still be a secret. It’s really hard to have a friend and be a friend when there’s secrets like that involved. For a number of years I knew that if my close friend should fall ill or worse, I wouldn’t know about it. No one in his life knew about me. I couldn’t text or call him whenever I wanted, no matter what. There were rules and restrictions. There still are. I explained this briefly to OKC guy and it was after the 3rd exchange that it sunk in my head that he wasn’t listening; was he even reading what I wrote? Or had he become such a master at evasion and redirection that he could be mistaken for a politician or lawyer?

“Sometimes it’s easier/better to keep things under a cover” In response to me saying I was not interested in being anyone’s secret, and I would only date/friend married men in open & honest relationships.

“I am sincerely lacking one aspect of a relationship, and you will get in return a Safe, Sane and smart companion. I don’t have anything else going, and no plans either, just one open and understanding friend.” Just one friend?

Again I reiterated that I’ve already been down this road and it doesn’t lead to a very fair or equal friendship and I wasn’t interested in doing it again. “I completely understand your stand, and there’s no force on my part. All I can do is try to tell you how “I” am. If nothing else worked out, I “was” pretty sure you’d be VERY much fun to plainly hang out with as a person. If you think this is about fairness, may be I was wrong.”

I know, you can’t fix stupid, but wow. So I’m no longer fun because I don’t want a secretive friendship? Nice.  I’m now ignoring all his messages because he can’t seem to get the hint. Something else he’s said three times in only 6 messages is that he won’t “force” himself on me/anyone, yet he keeps messaging me. The language he uses, the deflection and weasel words, all spell trouble. At least I’m smarter now.

 Posted by at 2:17 pm

Dear Dr. Berman – I call Bullshit

 Commercial/PR Fail, Sex Toys  Comments Off on Dear Dr. Berman – I call Bullshit
Sep 042011
 

Dr. Laura Berman’s line of sex toys has been around for awhile now. In fact when I first was purchasing sex toys back in ’05 they existed. Since then the packaging has changed; I’ve been able to see on the CalExotics website how some of the products have been slightly updated to look less cheap. But when you really get down to it my point is: If Dr. Berman were truly fucking serious about her sex toys then why the HELL did she partner with CalExotics?

Some of her products are eerily similar to existing CalEx products – they’ve just been made purple and rebranded. If she took a lie detector test (and passed) and swore up and down that she actually created the design of even half the toys in her line I would faint from shock. She does a great job of coming off as authentic and of course the MIGHTY OPRAH supports her.

I want to quote this, but since Dr. Laura’s site didn’t link to the original article, I can only link to quote on her site.

Lately, there’s been a lot of buzz about vibrators! The New York Times recently interviewed Dr. Laura Berman about her popular line of intimate accessories and the growing trend of women taking sex into their own hands. “Women are getting less and less caught up on an unrealistic and puritanical vision of what a good girl is,” Dr. Berman told the Times. “When they can embrace their self-stimulation, they can take ownership of their sexuality.” She pointed out that Sex and the City helped pave the way for sexual comfort in women and even the film industry is on board. Her products were in a recent episode of Private Practice on ABC, and in 2009, her vibrating panties appeared in The Ugly Truth, a movie starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. “That scene would not have been in a major Hollywood movie 10 years ago,” she said.

From Vibrators Carry the Conversation, New York Times, April 20

I do watch Private Practice and I don’t remember her products so I guess it didn’t stand out. “That scene” in the movie The Ugly Truth I definitely do remember and I also remember thinking that a woman would have to be highly sensitive and easy to orgasm if a pair of cheap vibrating panties sent her into epileptic convulsions. I’ve seen those panties in a sex toy store, I’ve read reviews. They’re most certainly not plus-size, in fact they come in only one size. Which is typical for CalExotics. They’re not exactly discreet, the remote is wonky at best and good luck being one of the few people for who the vibrating bit will be in the right spot (and stay there).

What else is typical of most CalExotics toys? They’re not “one size fits all” in situations where something claims to be; they’re cheaply made and even the higher end lines cut corners (like “couture silicone” dildos filled with foam, covered with a silicone skin) and they’re never going to last you very long at all. That’s fine for the 4,000 items they sell that are under $25, but it gives sex toys a bad name. When I first was buying toys and thought that Dr. Berman’s line was something special and better, I was so sorely disappointed by the reality – cheap, plastic, and somewhere out there is probably a similar version of it mad eby a different company and it’s much, much better.

If I were a famous sex sex educator I would *never* partner up with a company like CalExotics to bring my ideas to the public. Smart people who’ve bought toys with famous names on them like Sue Johanson and Dr. Joel Kaplan will probably lose respect from sex-toy-buying people after trying out their cheap unoriginal CalExotics toys. I’ve noticed that most of the old Sue Johanson line is discontinued on the CalEx site but can still be found elsewhere, mostly alongside crappy reviews. I recall once when I was considering a fancy and expensive clitoral/nipple pump system I looked at one that had the Dr. Joel Kaplan name on it. I was briefly suckered in until a reviewer friend pointed out that A: It was manufactured by CalEx and B: It was a copy of an existing item in their line up, just with different colors. Wow….talk about deflated! The credibility and reputation of all of these educators has plummeted in my eyes after seeing what crap they’re willing to pass off to unsuspecting sex toy noobs.

Lest you think I’m just ranting here against the shitastic CalExotics, I will state that I have (sadly) owned 4 of the Berman Center line of sex toys. And I owned them and hated them well before I was a sex toy reviewer with access to high end toys. /disclaimer.

Since this rant is mostly targeted at my disgust that a well-known sex educator would partner up with such a shitty company, I want to direct you to some more reading to know more (if my past reviews haven’t said it) about why I will never endorse/support/recommend 99% of CalEx toys. True Pleasures talks about her time as a CalExotics “Sexpert” and it really says a lot about the company. Please give it a read if you haven’t already.

 Posted by at 9:24 am
Aug 152011
 

….when a site scrapes your content, and the first thing they scrape…is a post about ANOTHER site illegally scraping / copyright violation.

*blinks*

It was so meta, AAG and I couldn’t even comprehend it this morning. She found out about it only because I have lots of links in that post and someone followed a link to her site and she noticed it in her stats tracker. On the plus side, I was (after much work) able to track down the hosting provider for this site (huggingandkissing dot com) – they didn’t use somebody mainstream. Also, due to the nature of their site’s layout, the scraped posts aren’t appearing on the front pages or for that matter, easily found. They’re being put under a category listing of “news”. http://huggingandkissing.com/?cat=1651 So keep an eye on that particular section of their site, bloggers, for your own content and your friends. I’ve already emailed about half a dozen people to let them know about it. Go here to report it: http://www.exmasters.com/about/about-contact/

I was told by the live chat agent that the “abuse” email is the one to use. I had emailed them, and then later when I found two more of mine pop up (perhaps an hour later?) the original post I’d claimed as copyright violation/scraping was already gone (but not before I got a screenshot). So while I was in live chat with this guy I gave him the direct links to my two posts and they were gone within a minute. If you can get the live chat when they’re online, it’s the quickest route.

Here’s something very interesting admitted by my chat support guy:

Lilly: If there are enough complaints, will the site get shut down?
Milo: this is first for whole time, so most probably not
Milo: also, reponsible provider is always better than e.g. chinese or russian provider, where can be the site moved after suspending by the owner
Lilly: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you mean by that2
Milo: i mean that if we suspend the site, it can be online after 10 minutes on another provider3
Milo: so it doesn’t make any sense

Valid point. I was ultimately quite upset that HostGator outright said to me on Twitter that after a few complaints they’d take down scandalshack, but they never did. And scandalshack is STILL scraping posts.

But remember what I said in my post about them, how the reason I probably didn’t get scraped is because I’m self-hosted WP and can use plugins, specifically the one called NoMoreFrames which blocks the scraping script? Yeah, these new people are copy/pasting by hand from my feed. How can I tell? View the screenshots below, and I think you’ll understand why.

I don’t recall all of the people who got scraped in the scandalshack blowup a few weeks ago, but do any of you know if any of those being scraped showed a full feed (as opposed to partial feed which I hate)?

There’s plugins for self-hosted WP users to insert copyright protection aiding things into their RSS feed posts (just see mine as example) and I think that in Blogger now under settings you can add in your own footer for the feed, so you can add in a link to your blog, the blog name, a unique long set of alphanumeric characters, etc so that at least you can find it or others will know when they read the site that it’s been stolen. But I don’t know if there’s anything for free WP users, unless you aggregate your feed through Feedburner and they do have some options. I’m looking into finding out more.

 

  1. The site apparently caught on to me linking to their old category 164/news, so they deleted it and created a new one. The articles don’t show up on the site, but they ARE being fed to their Twitter stream. They know what they’re doing and are trying their best to keep on doing it
  2. They’re a Czech-based company and I his English is a wee bit rusty, heh
  3. Meaning, they are at least a responsible provider and will act immediately to remove your content. But you have to tell them each and every time. His point is that not all hosting companies would be so quick acting or even care. I ran into that problem with the freak safari guys
 Posted by at 8:25 pm