Rankings and Community

Three things to know about me before we get on with it:

  1.  I suck at accepting compliments
  2. I’m competitive in some aspects
  3. Yet I prefer fairness

So today I found out I was named Kinkly’s#1 Sex Blogging Superhero 2016. In my 8 years of blogging there has been at least one “Top 100” list every year – the Top 100 Sexy Bloggers1 and Kinkly’s list. Over the two lists my rank from 1-100 has spanned 1-84 – and no, I didn’t start out at 84.

You would think that after 8 years I would be happy, nay thrilled, to be at the number 1 spot on a list like this. After all, I did ask for votes – as much as I hated doing so. And I really hated doing so. But instead, I feel….uncomfortable. Unsettled. So I have to say at this point that if you like the Kinkly list and your ranking and you don’t see any problems (and I totally respect that, absolutely), you might want to skip to the last section, “Blogger Awards”. This is my space to say my piece but you don’t have to read my words if they’re going to hurt you.

Apparently, winning the #1 spot comes with a prize. I say “apparently” because I so much didn’t expect to get #1 that I didn’t pay attention to prizes. The $500 prize money is going to be turned into two $250 “scholarship funds” for bloggers to attend Woodhull in 2017. If I had more money to do more scholarships, then I’d simply say “any educational sexuality conference” but with only 2 scholarships I’m gonna just pick my favorite conference: Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit.

Why do We Have to Compete Against Each Other?

Over the last month I’ve spoken to many bloggers who approached the Kinkly list with dread. The thought of bugging everyone, repeatedly, for votes felt off to some of us. Others didn’t want to do it, period. Some felt they had to because of the credence that ranking high can give you (especially if your blog is newer). Even I felt like “well if I don’t ask for votes and don’t make the list, will I lose the respect of my peers and those who may want to do business with me? Will my blog be less desirable?”. It was a tough internal battle to ask for votes. 

Rankings can make people sad; angry; bitter; depressed. It’s really hard if you are upset by your ranking because you don’t want to pee in other people’s Cheerios if they ranked well and are thrilled. Conversely it can feel rough (hi, it me) to be ranked high when your friends are unhappy with their own rank. There is no denying that I spoke with many people last year, and this year, who looked at the Kinkly list with confusion (on their own rank and others’). A poor ranking can be the thing that makes a blogger stop caring, stop blogging – especially when the ranking criteria is vague and they don’t understand their rank.  And it fosters this “I’m better than you” attitude2 – I feel like we need to support each other, build each other up. We need many voices. You never know what it is about your blog, your post, that may get through to a reader. No matter how new or old your blog, we’ve all reached people who are reading this for the first time. You are different than me and yet similar to someone else – and often, especially with sexuality, we need to know we’re not alone, we’re not the only one like that. Reading something where you say “Oh, wow, that’s totally me” makes you feel less alone and broken, sometimes. We need that!

So, yes. I may be ranked #1 but I don’t really like the list. I don’t like the competition. The popularity aspect. I don’t like wondering how XYZ blog is ranked so high yet these other blogs I love are ranked so low (or, not ranked at all). I hate knowing that the low ranking is making my friends feel bad about their wonderful blog. I am wondering how a blog that ranked #1 last year is #68 this year. How a blog with very few posts is ranked much higher than a very active blog. And so on. And yes, I know that there’s no point in a list like this if we all rank the same year to year. I know that a blog might be stellar to the judges one year and the next they think that others are simply better, not that you got worse. I know these things. I say we break tradition – can we change how it’s done? Can it be better?

I bet a lot of you are shaking your head right now. You think I shouldn’t be complaining. I should be happy. Right? Well, it doesn’t feel fair. I’m ranked #1 in the Sex Toy Reviews category this year, with Epiphora ranking #2. Please, tell me who thought that was accurate? Seriously if I could get that changed, I would. I would rather be ranked #2 for that one. I’m proud of my blog, I am. I know that my reviews help folks who are similar to me. But as far as the quality of writing in reviews is concerned? Epiphora is better than me. I say it objectively and subjectively. She has more traffic, more comments, and more followers than me AND crafts the most amazing sentences. I actually feel that a number of bloggers write better reviews than I – more witty, easier to read, better with the appropriate zings. I can recognize my strengths, but don’t really feel that my reviews alone are it or deserve the #1 slot. I would feel so much more comfortable if the ranking were more like “here’s the top 10, and here’s everybody else, and you’re all great” like Rory did in 2014So I’m having a hard time being happy for my success at the detriment of others, and that’s really the bottom line. That and the fact that I hate the votes and popularity contest aspect. And the vague criteria. I said that already, eh?

A New Kind of Blogger Awards

So the list fostered a lot of discussions between some of us bloggers and an idea I’ve had in the past is going to come to fruition in January. It will fully be a group effort, brought to you “by sex bloggers, for sex bloggers”. But because we don’t think that a sex toy review blog can be ranked against an erotica blog can be ranked against an essay/activist blog, our awards will be limited to the niche of sex education, sex toy reviews, and social justice as it pertains to sexuality/sexual health. If you like this idea but want other sexuality niches to be included, please borrow the idea yourself!

We don’t feel the need for another 1-100 ranking, or ranking by number at all. We don’t even really want to rank one person’s blog against another’s. But have you ever read a sex toy review that had you laughing out loud in public, enough to elicit strange looks? What about a social justice angled post that stirred great emotion? Or a review about a kink item that totally changed your opinion about that kink? Made you say “Damn, I wanna get my ass beat now!”? Is there an educational article you read that you think is really important, and everyone needs to read it? A sex toy photograph that has stood out? A bold piece about sexuality and mental health that digs deep and bares it all? A really salty/snarky review that you loved? This is what, and how, we want to highlight. We want to celebrate the little things. We want to have fun, be silly, and also be serious and reverent.  I think it makes more sense to compare like with like. I feel that removing the rankings and focusing on specifics, with a broad category range, will celebrate more people. 

I’ll be taking input from readers and bloggers and industry folks on categories, and how the list will be run. This Google Doc will allow you to comment – agree, disagree, suggest an alternative, suggest an addition. 

If you’d like to help out, please let me know. I want some judges who are bloggers but not sex-ed/review bloggers; I’d like some judges who are in the industry, but not a blogger. And yes, some judges will be eligible for nominations (but won’t be judging categories they’re nominated in).

I welcome comments – about your thoughts on the Kinkly list, how you feel about my critique of it, and your input/feelings on a less competitive Blogger Award set up (tentatively called The Lubies – yes, trophies will be awarded and they will be lube bottle based) – even if you think my idea is shit, tell me.  I’m nervous as fuck about this post, but this ranking has been eating me up all day. Can we all get lifted up instead of just some? Can we find a way to celebrate more folks, more equally?

As uncomfortable as I feel about being ranked above everyone else, as much as I dislike the linear ranking at all, I’m going to thank Kinkly because their choosing me means I can do something important to me: Help more folks get to a really awesome sexuality conference

  1. Started by Rory at Between My Sheets, run my Molly of Molly’s Daily Kiss starting last year
  2. Maybe you don’t have that attitude, but you can’t deny that competition creates that atmosphere

39 Responses

  1. dizzygirl says:

    I think you are awesome with your commitment to research in all things related to sex toys and safety. You are one of the most frequently linked to – credited – referred to bloggers in this regard. So, I totally feel like you deserve the #1 spot this year. Congrats.

    That said, my rank dropped a shit ton this year. A lot of things could explain that. I haven’t been able to review as much because I’ve been suffering from nonexistent libido. But one cool very recent development on the blog is that dizzyguy has started reviewing penis and prostate toys. So I’m thrilled about that. His writing style might not be like my own but I’m sure his reviews can help people.

    Anyway, I was very happy to have made the Readers’ Choice list. Yes, I did ask for votes because I think you have to remind your readers that this thing is happening and they should go vote if they like you. Otherwise, how would they know?

    I mentioned on Twitter today: What if there was just a top ten and then everyone else was in alphabetical order? Nobody really “better” than another. Just all being recognized. I’d be OK with that.

  2. Sophie Rose says:

    I think that your concern about how your fellow bloggers are feeling is incredible. Your commitment to educating those within your community and to those of us who peer over the fence is admirable and, for me, it translates in all that you write……in your blog, on Twitter, in Reddit, even way back in the EF forums. I think that providing two scholarships to people hoping to be more involved is a fantastic way of giving back. Great plan….I look forward to seeing the new awards!

  3. Lunabelle says:

    Irony alert: This post right here exemplifies why you’re deserving of the #1 spot. This is raw, honest and thought provoking. It’s authentic and free of sugarcoating. Then it takes your frustration and channels it into Making Things Better. Thank you, our Salty Superhero, for caring so much about our community.

  4. Layla Studies Sex says:

    This is great ? I’m new to the world of sex bloggers but even in this short period of time this community has made such a difference in my life. So much that I can’t help but tweet and post about it a whole lot. I’ve even been struggling to appropriately express my gratitude to the many bloggers who have enriched my life because there are so many amazing people and the whole community has had such a positive impact on me. As I’ve been exploring blogs I’ve realized that everyone brings something unique to the table and that diversity, positivity, and compassion is part of what makes this such a wonderful group of people.

  5. I didn’t make the Kinkly list this year, but I didn’t “press” it on to people as much, and I know my writing is sporadic at best.
    Thank you for your voice and for all you do in the field! I’m looking forward to this new project that will allow a different lens/perspective to be shined on sex bloggers. ❤️

  6. JJJ says:

    Interesting ideas and I greatly appreciate your compassion and forward thinking. Some frank queries, if you don’t mind? I wonder a few things Is a separate “list” another form of division amongst us? Have you approached Kinkly about change? Are you ready for potential backlash and challenges that can come from starting something like this?

  7. If what I were suggesting were another ranked “this person is better than this person” list, I’d agree. But we are going to do our best, with input from others, to have diverse yet specific categories and make it celebrate more people, in a different way. If a lot of people feel that my suggestion is worse then perhaps it’s best not to do it, so I’d like for someone to say “I think this is a bullshit idea, I don’t support it”.

    I would love to see Kinkly make some changes, and remove the voting aspect. But I think that, for their format, this works the best for them. Pushing the votes gets them traffic. Page views gets them advertisers. From a business standpoint, I get it. I just don’t like seeing the fallout, personally.

  8. JoEllen says:

    I love this and you. You and I have turned this topic over a bit between us so I think you know I feel like the whole thing creates uncomfortable dynamics, competition, bad vibes, and emotional distress among folks for no reason. Our conversations were actually a huge part of why I chose not to engage with it this year. We need ways to lift each other up that don’t, by their nature, involve knocking others down.

  9. JJJ says:

    All fair points for sure! I definitely do not think the idea is bullshit, I just fear that by ever singling anyone out in anyway, still establishes a list or rank. And from there, the potential for animosity. And from there, negativit to the organizers. And that can be harsh.
    Those are just my thoughts, thanks for the opportunity to share! I look forward to seeing how this works out. Thanks for positive community-building!

  10. Crista Anne says:

    I almost fell over when I saw I was still in the top 100, as Because Of Reasons, I’ve done very little writing on my site. I’m thrilled for the Woodhull scholarships, that’s wonderful of you. <3 Right now I'm sick & feel like shit but I like the idea of bloggers promoting other bloggers. The more we work together and support each other, the stronger this area of the intertubes is. Let me know if/how I could help.

  11. I get that, I do. I think that we all want recognition, validation. Or, maybe most of us, not all. If you can think of any way to improve my suggestions, please let me know. I share your fear that I won’t be able to recognize everyone. That this may turn into something like removing the scoring, the winning and losing to kids’ sports teams, lol.

    I’ve gotta believe there’s a better to do it, I guess? While still providing people with recognition?

  12. JJJ says:

    Totally on board with your thinking and if I have ideas I will surely pass them on.

  13. A Couple of Kinks says:

    This post is absolute perfection. Sign me up to help with anything for your brand new concept of community promoting. (Andy is sitting next to me in agreement!). Thank you for your never-ending kindness <3

  14. Horny GeekGirl says:

    When they announced this year I tweeted about the whole voting thing (and the popularity contest feel) making me uncomfortable, and I decided I wasn’t going to publicise it. I didn’t tweet or ask people to vote for me, and I didn’t rank.

    When I tweeted about that fact a lot of people were shocked I still hadn’t ranked because they consider me one of their favourite blogs. People telling me that meant way more than being ranked. ?

    I agree that the ranking doesn’t seem to make any sense. And I feel like Kinkly are more interested in getting their own numbers/rankings up by sharing as many links as possible without really considering the effect of what they are doing. I understand they’re a business, and in it to make money but they should also be part of the community instead of tearing it apart. ?

    This was a great blog post, and I loved hearing your take on this. You’re one of the bloggers I really love and admire, so I do feel like your ranking is very well deserved. ?

    Thank you for doing what you do. xx

  15. Something that I felt for YEARS with the rankings was that I shouldn’t HAVE TO ask for nominations/votes. If my blog was geniunely liked, then people would naturally think to vote for me / nominate me. That makes sense. So with all these people saying they love your blog, surely they did vote for you, right? I would think so. So why didn’t you rank? It’s a mystery.

    And yes, I agree it’s a business move for Kinkly. I understand wanting to shine a light on bloggers, tell them “hey, you’re great!!!” but when the numbers of bloggers in this community keeps growing and eclipses the 100-point ranks, a lot of folks are gonna get left out. I know that my idea won’t be able to declare all 250ish bloggers a winner in some way, I can only hope that it is LESS divisive?

  16. jo_1982 says:

    They changed how they selected their ‘top 100’. This year aslong as you got 5 votes, you got put into a pool and kinkly chose the top 100. It’s not a real reflection of the reader and pretty much a rip off.

    There are bloggers that in the directory are within the top 100, that didn’t even make the actual 100 list. So how is that fair?

    I asked for votes a couple of times, felt awkward, very, like being pitted off against other bloggers. I know i’ll never rank high, my blog is a hobby and real life will get in the way BUT the way kinkly chose the top 100…….why were people voting anyway?

    I’m actually annoyed that it feels like, yet again another popularity contest.

    I am happy for those who placed, there are some fabulous bloggers and people on there, don’t get me wrong. I just think it’s taking the biscuit and not a true representation.

  17. Kara_Sutra says:

    Thank you for writing this. It needed to be said and I think you were the perfect person to do so.

    The idea of the “top 100” was something I never really liked or thought was necessary, but something I participated in because I felt I “should”. This year I decided not to participate. Not once did I share the link, and of course – I didn’t make any of the lists. Granted I haven’t posted anything ‘new’ on the site in a while (because, life), and it might have been a bad business decision on my part (I know the exposure making the ‘top 10’ offers), but honestly I just don’t care.

    I’ve come to a point in my life where I don’t want the validation and positive feelings toward what I do to be dependent on what someone else thinks of me/it. I started doing this 10 years ago because I wanted to make a difference, and for me personally, I think popularity contests like this take away from that and create an environment that’s divisive and unfair, while also fostering disappointment and unhealthy competition. We can do better, and we deserve better.

    Maybe rather than raking number wise, a compilation of ‘favorites’ as voted by the community would be a better idea – it would likely be a longer process; posts would need to be submitted to the categories, a voting system for preliminaries would need to be set up, then a selection of the highest voted entries would be collected and they’d all be shared within that category for everyone to read and enjoy. It would put the focus on more than just a blog or website as a whole and in the end offer a really amazing selection of what ‘everyone’ thinks is a great representation of what we do (grouped into different sections). I also love Dizzygirls idea of an alphabetical ranking.

    Having said all that, I don’t want to take away from anyone that made the list and is happy about it. Our blogs ARE something we should be proud of, and if it takes making a list to boost someones self-esteem so they keep striving to do better, then so be it. I get it.

    When everything is said and done, I’m really glad that you’re #1 (you work so hard and you’re so great at what you do!). I know it’s something you’re struggling with, but you really do deserve the recognition. <3

  18. Jillian Boyd says:

    Sitting here,nodding. I have a few feels about this whole list which I haven’t been able to process yet, but yes. This.

  19. jo_1982 says:

    I agree with this!

    The time and effort that bloggers put into their blog, is consuming and unpaid and it can be a big hit to the soul, when you never see yourselves on these lists.

    I was shocked when i did not see you and a few other long standing members, up there and i dunno why but i felt pissed off about it :(

  20. Jezebella says:

    I really liked reading this, I hadn’t really thought about it before and it’s definitely given me food for thought.

    As a new blogger (launched 25th June this year) I was really thrilled to be included in kinkly’s list because it’s the first time I’ve felt like I’ve been recognized as doing something decent. I think the blogging community is fantastic but for a newbie it can be daunting, I felt like nothing I had to say was as good as the established bloggers, and no one was really paying it any attention, but I went ahead and said it anyway. When I first became aware of kinkly list I added myself to it and only half heartedly tweeted about it once or twice at the very beginning. I completely agree that this felt very uncomfortable, which is why I didn’t continue to ask for votes, and I also felt self conscious doing it.

    It’s so tricky, because feeling like someone noticed my blog and thought it was good enough to be ranked alongside great bloggers like yourself was really encouraging. But I understand the process is very problematic, and that what you like and don’t like in terms of blogging style and content is very subjective, so it really must be a great deal of good luck if the person assigned to read your blog happens to enjoy your style.

    I worry that with the format you are suggesting it will still be a popularity contest, but it will be within the blogging community rather than the readership, which could still leave new or quieter bloggers un noticed. I love the idea of celebrating everyone but with.so many I’m not sure how it could be possible.

    I look forward to seeing the final idea and hopefully participating. Thanks again for an insightful read :)

  21. This was done, I think I linked to Rori’s one list where she did it that way. I don’t know that Kinkly would consider it, since the other main list uses ones latest yearly rank as a factor on the main list.

  22. Thank you for saying that, it means a lot <3

  23. Thanks love! Please get yourself better. The best way folks can help right now is suggesting categories, even silly things!

  24. Andrew says:

    I totally agree, there is no need for competition between the amazing bloggers out there. Why compare yourselves to one another. There is another aspect to this which is people outside the community knowing who they should be paying attetention to. Who is establised and who is up and coming.

    It is why when Molly asked us to sponsor the Top 100 Sex Blogers List we wanted to because it ISN’T a popularity contest. As long as your peers think you are worthy you are have the same chance of winning as anyone else. If you came top you can’t do it again. To me that all seemed fairer.

    It is your genuine caring attitude that has got you to the top of the list. Are top 100 lists a good idea? Hard to say.

  25. They’ve responded to one blogger who asked via email, and stated that overall # of votes were part of the factor in the overall list. How much, a percentage, we don’t know. It could be 10% or 50%. They also stated that someone’s rank on the primary list didn’t factor in, they didn’t judge one’s blog based on social media followers, but did judge based on content, frequency of posts, and a few other average things.

  26. I had also thought about opening up the overall entries into public voting, but then again couldn’t that too become a popularity contest? That’s what I worry about, that the folks with the most readers and loudest voices will garner the most votes.

    My hope is to have a large and varied selection of judges – they will be people who read blogs, bloggers in our niche, sex bloggers outside our niche, educators who don’t blog, and industry folks. I will harass and grab every varied person I can to make sure that the votes come from a place that cannot be accused of “hive mind” or “mob mentality”.

  27. Ditto. I felt pissed off too. I guess because we love our friends :)

  28. As I said in the post and have just reiterated in comments above, it will not be just bloggers within this community judging the posts. I hope to get non-bloggers, educators, bloggers from outside this niche, and industry folks to join in the judging. The more folks I can get for the judging pool, the more varied scoring an entry can get, and the more fair it will hopefully be.

  29. I agree, I love so much about Molly’s list, I love how transparent she was on the criteria. So many of us are sitting around dumbfounded by the list and folks’ ranks, whether it’s just viewing their rank now or comparing it to last year and it makes no sense – Molly makes sense. I love that the # of nominations didn’t matter, too.

  30. AfterDark says:

    I have so many favorite bloggers for so very many different reasons. Many of them posted on their Twitter timeline to encourage voters. From a voter standpoint and not a blogger standpoint, I couldn’t bring myself to vote. I’m a new blogger in this arena. I learn from so many of you. Had I voted for you because I constantly read your articles on toxicity of sex toys (and have reached out and you have always graciously answered my questions) but didn’t vote for another blogger whom I read just as often, I would have felt disloyal. From someone who craves acceptance and love, that’s had a hard burden to carry. With the results of the top 100 leaving so many hurt, I now feel guilty for not participating in the voting process. If I feel this way, I can only imagine how other voters feel if they went the extra mile to try and help their favorite blogger. So from someone who has no dog in this fight, I am in total agreement that this isn’t should be how it’s done. When something causes more distress than joy, changes need to be made. I do agree with you from a business perspective, Kinkly is unlikely to make those changes. It’s what works for them. It’s heartbreaking that it just happens to be at the expense of others. When I got a nasty email about my blog not being about sex toys or sex toys and our association was at an end with a certain company, had it not been for your email explaining things to me I didn’t previously know, I may never have never written another article on my blog. So thank you for all you do. Thank you to ALL of you who do what you do. My list of inspiring bloggers is huge. Several of them had their feelings hurt over this process and my heart breaks for them.

  31. jo_1982 says:

    This leads me to believe the blogger’s list is a misrepresentation, which isn’t right. It just doesn’t sit right

  32. jo_1982 says:

    Of course bloggers who have friends who vote for eachother, which is absolutely fine and good. But ‘outsiders’ would have a more unbias POV, which would likely give others, maybe?

  33. Sole says:

    This blog post reflects as many others have commented what a thoughtful, generous and kind person you are. I’ve been reading sex toy reviews for a little less than a year. I knew about the rank and saw the requests for nomination… but I couldn’t choose one of your blogs. When I am doing some research for a new sex toy I try to read what all of you think. Now I know who has a body similar to mine and likes and dislikes that agree with mine. But even knowing that, I like to read what everyone that has reviewed that sex toy thinks about it. And you all do such a great job not only regarding the reviews itself, but talking about that kind of thinks about sex that cosmopolitan will never, ever write about, that I can only thank you all. I owe many of you a true change in my sex life and how I think about it. I don’t need a rank.

  34. Actually it was encouraged to vote for numerous bloggers, you didn’t need to pick just one! Since the primary list IS so long, voting for multiple bloggers for the yearly list is still helpful to your faves

  35. No need to choose! just something to remember for next year. You can, and are encouraged, to vote for more than one blogger. There are hundreds of people who could be voted for so even voting for 20 folks helps Kinkly narrow down who to consider. Plus there’s the whole “must receive 5 votes to even be in the running” thing.

  36. Andrew says:

    If there is one thing I know about this community it is how much they truly love each other.

    I do think there is value in achievement being recognised. It gives everyone something to strive for. In this community that means helping each other.

  37. J. Constance says:

    I have a lot of mixed feelings about the Kinkly list. I’m intensely uncomfortable with competition and I don’t get a lot of traffic to my blog, so I never bothered asking for votes. I was both completely shocked and elated when I saw that my blog was on the list! I felt proud that someone liked this thing I do that I love doing. But then that elation almost immediately morphed into bewilderment as I started feeling like I didn’t belong there, and then dismay over the bloggers who weren’t included whose work I really like and admire.

    I love the idea of a post-specific award called The Lubies! The idea reminds of e-lust: everyone’s best writing in one place.

  38. RachaelinGreen says:

    I have kind of a weird method of choosing which blogs to read, due to my OCD. Because the criteria for what I like to read is such an abstract concept, I leave it up to the concrete main ranking on Kinkly, meaning I read whoever’s at the top whether I want to or not. Fortunately, your blog is one of the blogs I actually enjoy reading. But for this reason, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for even the blogs I enjoyed reading, because my “subjective” opinion will taint the “objective” process I use to choose which blogs to read (not that it’s truly objective, but the fact that I’m not part of the process creates an illusion of objectivity). In the end, I still get to read blogs I enjoy. I just wish I didn’t have to read blogs I don’t enjoy as well.

    I love your idea of just giving individualized awards instead of just going with a popularity contest. It probably won’t affect the way I do things in the long run–even if I challenge my OCD compulsions, I always end up straying back to them. But it’s a great idea, especially for other people. I say go for it!

  39. AceDenise says:

    I think if anyone deserves to be #1, it is you Lilly. I admire your commitment to raising awareness and providing accurate information, and I have learned so much from your blog! That said, I would hate to see the sex blogging community hurt by popularity contests and flawed competitions. I am still debating when I will start my own little blog, I don’t know that anyone will be interested but you are one of the greats that have inspired me to give it a shot. Just keep doing what you do, many people besides me have been helped by your honesty and knowledge.