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?
All text and images on this site require permission before they can be used anywhere. To obtain permission click here to contact me
Many sex toy review bloggers, especially right now, got their start at EdenFantasys, a place that handles on-site reviews very differently than any other site. I actually like that aspect (it’s one of the few things about the site that still have me point people to it to help them narrow down their search for a sex toy), because it’s not a few paragraphs from Joe Schmo in Boston, it’s an entire, in-depth review from a person with a profile and a means of contact. Just like in blogging, you can go find their other reviews and see if they rate everything positively, or if they’re picky.
So the reviewers that come from EF are accustomed to their entire review being published on the site, unless they were already a blogger doing off-site reviews. Many were not bloggers and had no place else for that review to get published. Being approached by a manufacturer or retailer to do some reviewing is always nice, but dig a little deeper into their practices before you jump in.
Over the years I’ve been approached by a number of companies, both retail and manufacturer, who I turned down the opportunity to review for. Why? Well, option for an affiliate program aside, it came down to the fact that they would publish the entire review on their site and many without an attribution link. OR they stripped the internal post links and then only added one small link at the end of the review. I couldn’t tell if these were lifted from the reviewer’s site, or re-printed with the reviewers permission. Some even used the photos the blogger took themselves. If it’s an excerpt, with a link, that’s a horse of a different color. When I first agreed to review for Lelo directly back in 2008, that’s how they did it. At some point in 2010 I discovered that they had slyly changed their tactics, now copying the entire text of the review with no outgoing links. I called them out on it, as copyright violation, and they changed it back.
Some companies may tell you up front that they’ll publish your review on their site, in full. Many don’t. I have a policy on my contact page where I state up front that if you’re asking me to review a product, that you tell me the terms of the review up front before I agree, otherwise those terms will not be tolerated after. The companies that published the reviews on their site never informed me of that “review condition” up front, I had to go poking around their site and find it out for myself.
Why do I care? Shouldn’t I let them? After all, they did “pay” me for my time with a sex toy, right? Given what that sex toy cost them to buy from the manufacturer, it’s not sometimes enough payment for the work I go through in order to review a sex toy. It’s why I usually ask to join their affiliate program. And it’s certainly not enough payment for me to allow them to put my entire review on their site. Even if there is a link (it’s always put in at the end of the review), why would someone shopping on their site click off their site to mine, when the entire review is already posted there? They won’t.
Another reason is that I take copyright seriously. And there are a LOT of scraper sites out there. Oftentimes these companies will re-publish the review to their “blog” section….which is ripe for scraping. So if I find a scraper site with my stolen review, but they scraped it from the sex toy site? I can’t do anything about it. I’ve had this happen once, and I tried to contact the host for a DMCA take down. Because the version of my review on the sex toy retailer’s site was slightly different from mine (if I talked about a competitor’s toy, they would strip that out, or some links were changed/gone), it was clear that the scraper stole from the retailer’s site and the host said that the retailer had to contact them. They wouldn’t (they ignored my email). It’s also a copyright issue for me because of my copyright license statement, which I have the right to enforce. The retailers or manufacturer don’t always get my permission before copying my review and putting it up on their site all while stripping out the links I had in there to other posts on my site.
Has this happened to you? Did you mind? If you found out that a company did this, would it change your mind about snagging that “free” sex toy from them?Read More
All text and images on this site require permission before they can be used anywhere. To obtain permission click here to contact me
Today, something quite unusual happened.
I received a friend request on Facebook ~which was preceded by an introduction message~.
I imagine some of you are cocking your head like “what’s that?”, right? I have two Facebook accounts, as many of us bloggers do – a “real life” or vanilla account where we use our real names and connect with family members and people from high school we’d like to forget; and then there’s our “blog-version” Facebook accounts where many of us do the majority of our social media networking and sharing albeit under a pseudonym. On my vanilla account, I tend to mostly play those stupid Zynga games because many are perfect ADD-fodder: your activity is limited to 5-minute bits, perfect for my waning attention span. So it’s not 100% uncommon for me to get friend requests from people I do not know simply because we have friends in common – for these goddamn addicting games require that you have many “neighbors” who also play, so we suckers look for other suckers so that we stop harassing our actual friends with requests for help. But I still make it known on my bare public profile that I don’t tolerate silent requests and I’d like a message first. Most comply.
Yesterday, I finally cleared out 25 friend requests on my blog-Facebook. Not a single one of those people sent me a message first. I am treated completely different; the respect is gone out the window. Half of those people shared mutual friends, half I presume are foreign readers of my blog. Since I tend to reveal personal life details sometimes on Twitter and Facebook, I have privacy settings up on both and I don’t accept just any request. I have allowed subscriptions on Facebook, but most people do not subscribe to my public updates first, they just send a blind “friend” request. I accept maybe 1/2 of these because I feel as if I should network and use it to gain readers. Also, because I’m apparently part British and didn’t know it. In fact…I don’t think I’ve ever received an introduction message along with a friend request on blog-me’s Facebook.
Today, though, I did. And it shocked me (quite clearly, as here I am writing about it). It was a simple message, stating that we have numerous sex-positive friends in common and I seem like his cup of tea. Simple! Non threatening, not at all creepy…just friendly. WHAT A CONCEPT, EH?? SO much more appropriate and polite than “Nice pic Liily! Nice girls!” or asking “where are you from? live in nyc” of an anonymous blogger.
Now, I understand if the profile is of a fellow community member where Twitter discussions have already happened or blog interactions. But even if you’re just someone in the sex industry, just because I’m a sex blogger, does that mean manners are exempt? I’ve had a few adult performers send friend requests and it’s fairly clear that their Facebook profiles are another facet of marketing; the request wasn’t devoid of common friends, but still. We have no interaction anywhere. The request seems more like “networking” than anything else and I don’t need that or want to be bombarded with that in my feed.
I have sent a few Facebook friend requests to fellow bloggers that I already know and have even met in person, only to get a canned response saying that this is their personal Facebook account (and I didn’t stalk them, we had many common friends) and they’d rather I just go “like” their persona page. While I am not a published author or famous educator, I contemplate doing that same thing to people I do not know. But I’d feel way too weird doing it to people I’ve actually met or interacted with, like I think I’m some bigshot or something – good lord I’m so not!! I’m thinking I’ll just remove the option for people who have no mutual connections to send me a friend request. That will only take care of part of it, though.
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Related-ish topic….I’ve read countless posts in the last few years about how commenting is “down” on blogs, too many people are just reading and not interacting thanks to Twitter and Facebook accounts. Or we’re just lazy. Who the hell knows.
I think it’s an important aspect, though, and not at all in an ego-stroking attention-seeking way. Feedback is good, continuing conversations is even better. I’m not talking about comments on photos or erotic pieces, I’m talking about the sort of blogging I’ve moved on to. I’m very guilty of not commenting; I read my stuff via RSS and just move on assuming that the other person could give a shit what I have to say. But I need to stop assuming that. If they don’t care about my opinion then they’ll keep on ignoring me and that’s fine, that’s their choice. But I’m going to make the effort anyways to get back into commenting when I have something valid to add or feel that the post needs a “commendation” of some sort.
I’ve also not interacted much with many people on Twitter for a few months now. I need to get better about that before I bitch about being ignored ;) But also I need to get back into interacting before I make any more decisions on stepping down from anything else.Read More
All text and images on this site require permission before they can be used anywhere. To obtain permission click here to contact me
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.
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.
- 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. ↩
- 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 ↩
“Contrary to what some people seem to believe, simple writing is not the product of simple minds. A simple, unpretentious style has both grace and power. By not calling attention to itself, it allows the reader to focus on the message”
–Richard Lederer and Richards Dowis, Sleeping Dogs Don’t Lay, 1999. More Words of Wisdom
Journalists and book authors were once held to impeccably high standards in terms of grammar, spelling and content matter. Somehow our society has degraded on the whole to what feels like a 4th grade level. Sometimes it’s even worse thanks to the prevalence of “text speak” in situations where it is so very inappropriate. Hyperbole and a Half said it best (regarding coping mechanisms to avoid exploding in a ball of white hot fury): “When someone types out “u” instead of “you,” instead of getting mad, I imagine them having only one finger on each hand and then their actions seem reasonable. If I only had one finger on each hand, I’d leave out unnecessary letters too!”
Scenario 1: I decided to read Fifty Shades of Grey recently out of journalistic compulsion given all the drama and controversy surrounding it. While I can appreciate the overall sentiment to the book, the author’s absolutely horrid writing skill and dreadful lack of editing (and seeming inability to pick up a Thesaurus) ruined the promising plot and eclipsed even the awful and baffling fictional depiction of a BDSM relationship. Read the reviews on Amazon; some annoyed readers took to looking up the word count for certain things on their Kindle edition. I don’t care to do it for myself but someone else did! The repetition of words is distracting to the point of ruin. I’ve seen many media bits about this book/trilogy that laud it as “well written”. This is well written? Seriously? I have many more thoughts on this book but that is meant for another post. Jeez. Oh my…!
Scenario 2: I was reading the report on CNN about the Army nurse captain who died during a Skype call to his wife. The original story has now been fixed but when I read it it was: “(CNN) — An Army captain’s wife witnessed her husband’s die while the couple was engaged in one of their regular video chats”" Oh CNN, why? Who should be blamed here? The writer or the editor or both?
Scenario 3: I like my erotica. Let me rephrase that: I like my well-written erotica. I do not expect something to be at the level of Anne Rice or whatnot but I do expect that you’ve read through it before hitting “publish” to pick out any spelling errors. When someone relies heavily on spell-check it is obvious! There is one erotica blogger/writer that I read despite the annoying spelling errors they refuse to care enough about. I notice the errors because of the tone of the prose; each error sticks out like a sore thumb. It causes me to halt in my reading like a needle being yanked off a record to figure out what word they meant to use. Oddly enough if it were a transposed letter, like writing “soemtimes”, then I would be more likely to not notice. But when one leaves off a letter (not/no, off/of, and/an, an/a, too/to) or screws up too/to/two or your/you’re or simply uses bizarre swaps like the/that it comes across as lazy writing. Unintelligent writing.
Scenario 4: Recently I’ve been editing on-site sex toy reviews before they go live. I fully understand that everyone has to start somewhere. Even I cringe at my early reviews for the tone and my childlike enthusiasm for some things. However….some people should not be writing reviews. Of any type, in any place. In fact they should please just stop writing altogether. Some of the reviews are so bad it’s difficult to edit them for better grammar without resorting to re-writing them entirely, which I’m not willing to do. I wish now that I’d copied the original bits from some of the particularly bad ones just to show as evidence.
I realize that most bloggers are not being paid for their words. But whether it’s a blog post or a sex toy review – don’t you care about how you look to others? A spelling error or two I can forgive. I’ve done it. But when it is consistently done then I stop respecting you. If it is done to the point of distraction then I’ll just stop reading your blog altogether. I also realize that many people are purposely writing to mimic the way they speak. This is fine to a point. And I’ll admit that comma placement still confuses me sometimes but when I see people obviously abusing it to the point where even I think it’s too much, I have to wonder about their intelligence. I’m not a “grammar Nazi” and I’m not a college English professor. I’m just a reader who wants to read words that make sense when thrown together in sentences and paragraphs. I don’t expect perfection; I just expect simple readability.
Read through your blog post or product review before you publish it! If you need to, read it out loud to aid in finding typing mistakes, run-on sentences or missing words. Polish up on comma placement (you don’t have to put a comma in a sentence for every time you would pause in speech); bookmark sites that have a list of commonly misspelled words such as lose vs loose or breath vs breathe (the latter is one I always screw up); stop using “alot“; learn possessive vs plural; and for the love of Pete if you’re writing about sex toys it is SILICONE not silicon. Another bizarre mistake I keep seeing is forgetting to use a question mark to cap a sentence that was obviously started in the tone of a question. Something I personally should learn to fix is something called “writing in the passive voice“. It’s how I speak and therefore how I write. Not enough importance is placed anymore on simple things such as apostrophes in contractions or capitalizing “I”. Another trick to figuring out if your personal speaking/writing voice comes off stilted/weird/wrong to others is to read through your writing and be sure to pronounce every word fully. Example: “…the reason for that is that Mary thinks…”1. Say it the way you speak naturally. Do you change the second “that” so it sounds more like “thet” or “thit” and it rolls off the tongue quicker? Now read it again where both “that”s are the same and rhyme with “hat”. It sounds weird, right? Redundancy!
Mark Twain: “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.”
When you write in the passive voice or have run-on sentences longer than the average paragraph….with lots of ellipses….with alot of redundant phrases ….. can tick of even the most forgiving reader2. There are a lot of helpful sites3 that can make you a better writer. Letting out this rant and researching the links for common mistakes has opened my eyes to things I do wrong, too, so I’m not proclaiming to be a perfect bastion of the English language here!
I also recognize that true blogging4 contains many moments when your text is your voice – or rather, your speaking voice replacement – and that writing in your speaking voice is more acceptable there (to a point). I’ve done it a lot and I’ve seen plenty of others do it in ways that personality, dialect and humor/emphasis shine through wonderfully. But when you write a post that you want others to take seriously, you should take a moment or three before publishing the post to the public. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to showcase a blog post as my Editor’s Pick on e[lust] because of the subject matter but bypassed it because the writing was just atrocious.
And finally, remember this: we are largely an online-only community. Your written words are your clothes, your power, your voice, your facial expressions and that by which we measure intelligence, personality and even attractiveness. Does your writing portray you in the best light? Please don’t underestimate the power and sexiness of intelligence.
- Changing that to “the reason is that Mary thinks..” says the same thing in fewer words, less awkwardly ↩
- See what I did there? Ha! I kill me ↩
- the one I’ve linked to in the paragraph has many very useful, quick and easy to understand posts about common mistakes ↩
- As opposed to journalism style writing, professional writing, or sex toy / product reviews ↩