The Cost of FREE

Dating Kinky is a free site. So is Facebook. And Plenty of Fish, and our FB for the kinky, FetLife. Starbucks offers Free Wi-Fi, and so does McDonald’s. Everywhere, there is free.

Except, as the Robert Heinlen said, TANSTAAFL: There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch, meaning that someone always pays. There is usually a cost to the beneficiary and society as well.

(NOTE: Uses of the phrase dating back to the 1930s and 1940s have been found, but the phrase’s first appearance is unknown. The “free lunch” in the saying refers to the nineteenth-century practice in American bars of offering a “free lunch” in order to entice drinking customers ~more~.)

So, these sites are not truly free.

Facebook is supporting itself on an advertising model. Plenty of Fish and FetLife mix advertising and freemium features.

Starbucks and McDonald’s expect you to buy food and drinks, and figure you’ll stay longer (and consume more) with the Wi-Fi, or choose them over a Wi-Fi-less competitor.

But, so what? Why do you care? You get free stuff!

Well, because knowing how free works allows you to make the right choices for you.

It’s easy to offer a free website like Dating Kinky for 10 people, or even 100. However, once you start having 1,000/10,000/1,000,000/10,000,000 people doing a lot of activity and so on, you’re looking at costs.

LOTS OF COSTS: Hundreds in hosting and email services. Thousands in development. Hundreds of hours of dedication every month, to improve, adjust, promote and grow the site.

For example, walking. Free activity, right?

Yes, but…

  • You have to eat enough to fuel the walking.
  • You have to be dressed right for the weather.
  • You have to replace your shoes every so often. The more you use them (walk), the more often you have to replace them and the more expensive it becomes…

Now, imagine that you chose to walk across the US, making at least 30 miles a day. Would it be free?

What if you and 1,000 other people did it? How might the logistics change?

Who would pay? Each individual (so, not free)? Sponsors (ad-based)? Believe you me, every single one of those people will have opinions on how you should walk, how it should be paid for, and suggestions on how you can do it better.

That’s what running a free site can be like. Take it from me.

So, why bring this up?

Well, partially because the topic was on my mind in relation to another issue (FetLife is having credit card issues), and partially because it needs to be said.

Does free mean I’m willing to give you a crap site? No.

Is the site where I want it? Nope. Not yet. And when it is, we will move to freemium. Because I will believe it’s 100% worth it, and I will be willing to ask you to help support it.

But, even if you don’t, I’ll love you for being here and being a part of my community as I grow it. And I’ll do my best to connect you with people.

Just know…

This is a labor of love for me. I believe in this. And it’s absolutely 100% not free.

Thank you. You make this all worthwhile.

I’ve been working in and on adult community sites for years. Mostly as a moderator of some sort, often as a developer, never until now as both.

And despite being around this sort of thing for 2+ decades, it still never fails to amaze me the kind of arguments people will put forth to justify their behavior or try to change the consequences.

Just this morning, for example, I got a message that said:

“first of all I could have only been rude once by ignorance cause Im always quite nice and polite…now in a free society we are intitled to an explanation,please msg me with aledged mistake,I will be waiting for you or your teams reply.have a nice day”

*sighs*

This is their 4th response to this original message:

So, the word we’re hearing is that you’re not being very nice.

It’s just one report right now, so it’s not going to impact you at this time, however, do keep in mind that enough reports will get your account put on suspension.

Thank you for your understanding, and keeping Dating Kinky friendly!

Good luck finding your match.


Dating Kinky Team

Seems simple, right? Straightforward, simple warning, no real consequences yet. No need to even respond.

But, of course, they did. Over and over.

And tried to force me to explain who did this to them and what they did wrong.

It was obvious. There was no “nice and polite” about it.

But they feel like they are due an explanation because we live in a “free society.”

Yes. We do. And that free society is exactly why someone like me can create a site like Dating Kinky and run it as I see fit.

Dating Kinky is not the wild west. It is not a free-for-all. It’s for people to connect, not aggravate and hate on each other.

I will do everything in my power to make that a reality, and gather in the kinksters who believe in that ideal and adhere to it’s principles.

I am a benevolent dictator. What I say goes. I will create the rules, follow the rules, and when it is necessary, I will break the rules to uphold the spirit of the rules and their reasons for being to begin with.

Which is why I thought this quote from Richard Branson was particularly fitting. *smiles*

 

So, when I started Dating Kinky, it didn’t occur to me that we would ever have a policy other than “No nudity in the avatar.”

That was my limit.

Because, well, you see, I love nudity. I think it awesome when people show their bits off and are proud of them.

Now, I don’t necessarily find all nudity equally attractive or even want to see all of it, but I have zero issues with any of it… I figure I can look away.

However, two things changed my mind.

1. In my surveys, overwhelmingly, I discovered that people just don’t want to see other people’s junk without consenting to it. In case you’re interested, out of the 100% who indicated a preference against, 47% identified as women, 22% as men, and the other 31% as one of the other genders we have listed. Those 47% women made up 72% of the overall female-identified respondents.

So, to make people comfortable, I immediately started thinking about explicit photos and consent issues, but I worked primarily on genitalia, versus chests and breasts.

2. When I started talking with mobile app platforms, partners and credit card processors, they asked for even more: That NO ONE be allowed to see pornography without jumping through a few hoops (of consent and the like).

So, breasts got included. Boo.

But I get it, and long term, I’m OK with this.

Today, I had to delete an avatar of a naked ass for the second time.

JUST a naked ass.

I’d already sent the usual message explaining our policies yesterday, and today just said, “Uh, I’ve already told you, please stop (paraphrased of course),” which prompted a conversation.

I’ll post the conversation in the comments here, so you can see it and how this was handled, but I really want to talk about our policies and how we make our choices.

The message I/we send about nudity in public photos says in part:

You see, we LOVE goody bits! Just not out in public for everyone. Genitalia, and nudity, specifically, whether in photographs or in drawings is allowed in private albums set to friends, specific friends, or password-protected.

We’re not trying to harsh your buzz or anything, however, there are certain guidelines we have to meet to make sure that our site and our apps are available to the largest number of people FOR YOU. Because people are what make Dating Kinky great!

And, even though this is a kinky dating site, some people just don’t want to see random genitalia in their feed, so we strongly encourage everyone to share those the fun stuff when you have made connections.

smiles

We define genitalia as anything including breasts, vaginal, labial, penile, scrotum and anal areas, and nudity is obvious nakedness for sexuality or titllation.

So, that covers a lot of ground, but it also leaves some of what we do open for personal judgment.

Now, I can’t see how a close up photo of a butt, not unlike the featured image.

Could be personally judged as anything except blatant nudity.

And, well, rules. Not bias.

“BUTT! You say…”

“In your Terms of Service, you have a bit about:

6.3. You acknowledge and understand that some of the Materials are user generated and may contain graphic visual depictions of sexual activity and nudity, graphic audio portions of the same kind of content, and descriptions of sexually oriented and sexually explicit activities. You acknowledge that You are aware of the nature of the Materials provided by Our Website and that You are not offended by such Materials, and to the contrary, that You are accessing this Website specifically because You enjoy such expressive content and You wish to view such Materials. You stipulate that you access this Website freely, voluntarily, and willingly, and for Your own personal enjoyment.

Yes, we do. Legally, we HAVE to do that, even if the site were NOT an adult-based site, because we have user-generated content. It protects us (and the mobile app platforms and our partners and credit card providers) from being sued if a photo gets up that offends someone before we can take it down.

But I have zero interest in running a business JUST covering my ass.

I have personal ethics, and I want to create something different, dare I say, something MORE.

Oh, and I didn’t mention before, but did you know the NUMBER ONE reason female identified members (and number 3 reason for male-identified members) leave dating sites?

Harassment, including non-consensual nudity. They just get sick of it.

Even here on Fet, you see new discussions started every day. Now, as I said, I like the nudity and freedom that comes with it, but my site is not all about me (regardless of what some may think).

It’s about YOU. The YOU that is underserved in the kink community when it comes to dating and connecting with other kinksters.

And finally…

As I was ranting a bit about this (because that’s what I do) to a few friends, late questioned the choice of using a butt as an avatar, like your date is going to show up at the restaurant, profile in hand and say:

“That’s the asshole I’m looking for!”

*smiles*

For years—decades, even—I’ve read people complaining about the fakes, the phonies, the spammers, and all the other baddies online to take advantage of people just trying to make a match on a dating site.

However, in my time managing adult sites and communities, the ones who complain the most loudly are the ones who almost refuse to report them, until they’ve been had.

In fact, I’ve had people who have been taken for $$ contact me about another account created BY THE SAME SCAMMER that had been taken down, when they were int he middle of a conversation, being led down the exact same path (with a different backdrop, of course).

I know most dating sites not only allow the phonies and multiple profiles, they sublty encourage them, and don’t allow deletion by mods.

Why, then?

If the public hates the fake profiles and getting taken over and over, why do sites allow them?

Well, laziness is a factor, sure. It’s hard work keeping up.

But there’s more.

HOPE.

All those lying profiles with photos stolen from Instagram models… well, when a member gets a message from one of those, with flattering words, it makes them happy.

It also pads the membership. It LOOKS like there are 10X as many people on the site as there are.

Yes.

Actually, more like 7.3X

Because that was the average on one site I worked on. One in seven profiles was authentic.

ONE IN SEVEN.

And when I’ve deleted scammer on my site within 24 hours, they have had as many as 17 conversations going WHILE I DELETE THEM.

When the profile photo and the content of the profile don’t match and the speech is terrible English (but they live in Lakeland, FL).

17 people who could have easily reported that profile, except for the hope that some gorgeous guy with smoldering eyes and chiseled abs or some sweet young thing with beautiful pouty lips and perfectly style and professionally taken photos really wanted them, to travel to meet them and to own them or be theirs…

Rudeness, I can’t abide it.

So, today, I’ve been threatened. Apparently someone has decided to start an anti-Dating Kinky campaign.

So, when you join Dating Kinky, you get a few messages from us. Tips on how to date better, giving a bit of a guide for Dating Kinky. Not other sites, but how we like it done.

It’s really just “Don’t be an asshole,” and some ideas about how to get the most out of your experience.

We’ve been sending these messages out (in site) for the past 3 months. In that time (because I’ve tracked it), I’ve gotten 403 sincere thank yous, 12 questions about them and 3 complaints.

To those three complaints, I sent something back like this:

“There are 8 messages. You will get them until they end, but after that, you won’t get more, really, unless I have a specific announcement for the site.

If you don’t need them, that’s awesome for you! Think of all the people who do, and thank me for them, going on to be better Dating Kinky Citizens. smiles

Two of the complainants got it, and did not complain further.

One, well, before they even got my response they’d sent another over-the-top rude message. That’s the one that has decided to… well, I don’t know what they decided to do. The quote was:

“Like I said, good luck on getting anyone to join after I’m done talking.”

To be fair, this was in response to my suspending their account for rudeness and yelling, and said that I’d be happy to reinstate it if they just apologized.

So, there you have it.

Personally, someone who is incredibly rude to someone they have never interacted with is likely going to be rude to the people on a dating site that also thwart them as well… or at least that’s my position. I pretty much feel like I’m doing the good work.

Ironically. his first angry missive was in response to my note about “The Waiter Rule,” LOL!

What say you? Too much? Just right?

How would you handle someone like that?

A man reported a profile as “illegal,” and I could no see anything wrong, so I asked him what his issue was.

He replied, “She is a man.”

That didn’t seem illegal to me, so I asked for proof/context.

He replied:

“I asked to meet and to phone.
He don’t like to phone ot meet only asked s and again details and as I asked again to phone to be Sure she ist female he gets angry and block me.
it is your Task to Check if some Body ist female or Male.”

*sighs*

Nope. It’s not. Do you know how many times I have personally been called a man because I didn’t show interest in another man?

A lot. A lot lot.

My response:

“We do not gender police our members. They may identify as they choose.

We make every effort to keep the site authentic. We allow everyone the opportunity to Photo Verify themselves once at no cost, for example. However, we cannot and will not force that on anyone, as every member has a right to their personal privacy.

If they ask you for money, we’ll take action. If they try to get you to go to a paid site, we’ll take action. If they spam you with advertisements, we take action.

The account has been put into a watch list, and we will take no further action without additional reports.

Thank you for your efforts.”

We do appreciate every report that is made. We’ve removed people identifying as underage, people spamming our members, people on there doing bait-and-switch for Pro work (to be clear, I don’t care if you’re a Pro, just be upfront about it), people constantly trying to use model photos as their own, and more.

That’s a GOOD thing.

However, to suggest that someone is lying simply because they don’t follow YOUR relationship demands… not so much.

Now, the profile may be trouble, and may get reported again. It wouldn’t surprise me. If it is, with actionable information, I’ll remove it quicker-n-shit. Because Dating Kinky is not the place for hinky behavior.

However, it’s also not our responsibility to check your junk when you sign up, to see if your 38DDs aren’t really 34Cs with a miracle bra, to check how you look without your makeup, or without those airbrushed abs (who probably belong to a model we haven’t found, yet…

Yeah. No.

Dude, you gotta stop with the fake abs photos and such. We have a spotter, and they may be up for a few, but we’ll take them down.
Just be yourself. Connect with real people.
Or, alternatively, get those abs and take pictures of you.
You’ve got your second warning.

Dating Kinky Team

So, usually one warning is all it takes when we catch someone misrepresenting themselves with a model’s photos.

After all, our amazing spotter can find the most obscure instagram account and match (or in this case not-match) details and so on.

Interestingly enough, we’ve found the real people too in this process (Yay us for some SERIOUS hotties), but mostly, we find people using instagrammers from Barcelona, Milan, and Waukee, thinking that you won’t recognize them (I wouldn’t) and realize they’re fake.

Here’s the thing: We’re a DATING site. About meeting and getting together and stuff.

Sure, we’re ok if you want to be online only. That’s cool. But to misrepresent yourself like that?

Nah, bra.

Plus, as creators ourselves, my team values copyright and artist protection. I’ve had my photos stolen (and I’m not ALL that), and I did not like it… It’s one think if they are used because people like them. Another if they are used to scam some poor schmuck on a dating or social site.

Moving forward, we’ll be creating a new photo upload that will ask you about the photo you’re uploading, giving you three options:

  • This is me.
  • This is taken by me.
  • This is a photo I like or resonate with.

We feel that’s an ideal way to handle the issue, and still allow you your creative freedoms…

Anyway, so we’re on it, to keep Dating Kinky real.

So, it was just over three months ago that I made Dating Kinky live to the public. In that time, I’ve learned A LOT.

I mean, I had experience moderating and building dating sites before. I’ve worked with some big ones, even. I was pretty sure I had this.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve tripped on my own hubris more than once in the past 90 days.

Something I am proud of, though: I’ve been learning.

You see, I did a lot of research before starting Dating Kinky. I took months finding just the right code base to start with, and then another two months to customize before I let anyone in. We tested with a few hundred people for a month before we opened up to the world, and still, I had more plans.

But things started going wrong.

This code base—this award-winning code we bought and customized—well, who knew it was never meant to really manage successful dating sites? By that, I mean sites who actually make it to more than 2,000 people.

Successful.

Sheesh!

And who knew that the overall structure was at least 7 years out of date, and all those awards were from people who didn’t know that, couldn’t know that?

I sure as hell didn’t.

But I was proud of Dating Kinky. And I still am. Because we offer things other kinky dating sites don’t, like 8 genders, poly matching, references, relationship stauses and more.

But we’ve already outgrown it. We’re splitting the seams, and I still have a dozen more functions I want to add and changes I want to make to the existing functions.

So, what now?

Well, I’m digging in, and building the site from scratch. I and my development team are writing thousands (probably millions) of lines of code to make Dating Kinky what it should be, and to make room for all the amazing people that keep signing up (Thank you!).

What does this mean to you?

Well, a few things:

1. I want your ideas and suggestions.

Everything you can throw at us, no matter how off-the wall. NOW is the time. I’ve got some amazing functionality planned, but YOU are the reason for all of it. Tell me about what your IDEAL dating site would have.

2. I’ll be looking for testers for the new site.

DO you like to find bugs and errors and see things before they are available to the general public? Great! Reach out. I want you in on this.

3. Things might seem a bit quiet, development-wise on Dating Kinky over the next two months.

Because we’re improving, but where it’s not really visible. Then, all of a sudden, we’ll be unveiling things. I’ll do updates and so on, but you’ll be hearing about a lot of cool features that don’t exist yet.

4. New Apps.

Yeah. They suck, too. They were (again) customized versions of apps that connected with the package I bought (and cost an additional amount). They suck. The company gave them to me with errors, some I’ve managed to fix, but they won’t fix many of them, and the code is so terrible (and out of date), my team is tossing it out and starting from scratch. They are useful as basic messengers, but… well… not much else. I’m working on that, promise. I’ll keep you up-to-date, there, too.

And it’s not all bad. In fact, to be honest, it’s not very bad at all. By starting where we did, I discovered many things I would not have thought of in creating a dating site (because they weren’t part of the sites I’d worked on/in/built before), and I’m thankful for that, even though we’ll leave it behind.

We’ve also added 5,000 users in the past month, and we’re going to keep growing.

As one of the early adopters of FetLife, I know that there are going to be many roadbumps ahead (remember when FetLife went up and down more often than a kangaroo in mating season?), and I’m up to the challenge.

Thank you to all of you who have joined, and are making my vision of a kinky dating site with AMAZING members a reality.

I’m working hard for you to live up to your trust.

I just wanted to tell ya’ll this.

*smiles*

So, Dating Kinky has officially been live for a whopping three months and seven days. There has been an amazing learning curve (which I plan to write more about coming up), and there have been a few moments where I felt satisfaction that I’ve gotten it right the first time around.

Very few, but they exist and I cherish them. Most things are, “Whelp, didn’t know that,” or “Coulda thought THAT through better!”

Today, I experienced two at the very same time, regarding our Kinks & Interests.

Kinks & Interests are similar to FetLife’s fetishes list, or POF’s Interests, but with a twist. It’s kinky and vanilla, it’s meant to connect people, it’s a wiki of information, and… it’s moderated.

WHAT?!?

Yup. It’s moderated. Kinks & Interests are not added willy-nilly, but only after approval. In fact, this morning, I sent this message:

I approved your Kinks & Interests with these exceptions:

incest
beastiality

Neither of these kinks/interest are allowed on Dating Kinky. You may have entered them as hard limits, however, we cannot allow them even in that capacity, as once approved, they can be used in any way.

Therefore, to protect what we are building, and the space we’ve created for all, we have chosen to simply not allow certain terms at all to be added to the site.

Thank you for your understanding.

I’ve done this before with words like “rape,” “children,” and others that I think cross the line.

Because I think it’s important to keep certain things, well, out of kinky dating.

I do allow, though, “rape fantasy,” because I know that’s a thing, and that makes it clear that it IS a fantasy scenario that you’re interested in. That’s freedom of expression, in my world, and it’s important.

For the person who used children, I suggested “parenting” as an alternative, if that’s where they were going with that…

Satisfaction point # 1:

Anyway, as I was sending that message above, I was thinking of what’s been going on with FetLife and the issues they’ve been facing, and I felt happy that I’d made that policy from the beginning, and I don’t have to go back to cull a bunch of stuff now.

Satisfaction point #2 came when I got a message back, thanking me for taking the time to let them know about the policy and the deletion.

I replied, “Of course. We are a new site, and one of our foundational reasons for being is you—the kinkster who is looking to connect with others. It would be a poor example if we didn’t actually connect with our users over important site issues.”

Because what I’m building is really about connecting people. For dating, play, etc. In your many and varied interests. Wherever you happen to be.

Which means that I want the site to be connected as well.

So, yeah. I feel the small things are important.