Bad Ideas

Jesus. I was swamped yesterday and hadn’t heard about this. Apparently, Ampersand has sold the domain name for Alas, A Blog to a pornographer, with the idea that Alas’s traffic would drive up hits to the porn site:

I stopped reading Alas months ago because the anti-feminist quotient there was just too high. So I’m just now discovering what some of you may already know: Barry sold his domain to a pornographer, so now his blog is hosted alongside hard-core porn reviews. The deal is that the huge traffic to Alas — feminist traffic, generated by people who have built up that readership over years — drives up the search engine rankings for the pornographer. (Heart has a fuller explanation of the deal.)

Barry didn’t bother to tell any of his readers about this until someone discovered the links and asked him what the fuck was going on. Even now I’m not sure most of his readers are aware of it, since Barry’s explanatory post didn’t allow comments and so rapidly sank to the bottom of the list.

I think this is absolutely vile.

Violet Socks responds to a commenter who asks why it matters:

There is a large contingent of feminists who oppose pornography on explicitly feminist grounds, so it’s definitely a feminist issue. It’s not like Barry’s just linking to stock-car racing sites or something that is of no concern to his feminist readers. That’s why it was dishonest of him, I think, not to be upfront about this. The pro-porn feminists who are fine with XXX BangBros can continue to patronize Alas, but the feminists who don’t want to support that kind of thing deserve to be aware of what the site is linking to.

Lauren notes:

Some may think this is small beans, but in a community where sexual politics are so very personal, as well as political, this is an enormous business gaffe of exceeding irony. Of all the things one can do to save a buck, making money off the backs (and mouths and pussies) of women is not one that I encourage for a feminist man.

Not to mention the always necessary addition of “ethnic” porn for the discerning crowd.

If there is no shame, Barry, don’t bother lying about it.

Hugo has some additional thoughts, from the perspective of a pro-feminist man. He also has a NSFW link to the index of reviews, which, yes, contains that “ethnic” subcategory, as well as “lesbians,” “mature,” “teen,” and “ass.” MILFs appear to be a particular specialty.

Regardless of your feelings on porn, pro or con, the way that Amp handled this — not telling anyone of the arrangement until long after the sale, not allowing for comments when he had to reveal the arrangement — does not speak well of him or of his commitment to feminism.

UPDATE: Funniekins has a very sharp post about this.


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31 Responses to Bad Ideas

  1. Amber says:

    I had no idea. I read it through the RSS feed, and rarely click through to comment. Deleted from my favorites, just on principle.

  2. Lesley says:

    What Violet said, plus I think that a lot of the regular commenters and readers there would not knowingly/willingly drive traffic to a site that would help increase the search engine rankings of a porn site. Since Amp didn’t let us know his arrangement, we were doing exactly that without our knowledge and consent. I’m sorry, but a committed pro-feminist would not put women in that position. What happened to our agency, our right to decide something like that? He decided for us.

  3. Maureen says:

    Man, this makes the Pie Fight at Kos look like nothing. I consider myself relatively porn-neutral (most of it sucks, but it’s freedom of speech), but he should have told everyone about the agreement when the papers were signed.

    I think I’ll delink him.

  4. anon says:

    Yep, I unsubscribed from Alas upon learning about this. While I’m no anti-porn crusader, 1) it was handled supremely badly as noted and 2) the types of porn that my traffic would be supporting are particularly vile — as Heart noted it’s not even women-owned porn or anything like that. While I have many issues with Heart, she was on the money with this one. So to speak.

  5. Karolena says:

    Amp wrote,

    “I was assured by the buyer that he would never host porn sites on ‘amptoons.com.’ And I wrote into the contract that his link on ‘Alas’ could never be a direct link to a porn site.”

  6. Jill says:

    Wow. Not a good move, Amp.

    But now you guys won’t be as mad to find out that I’ve sold Feministe.us to Pajamas Media, right?

  7. Ginger says:

    This is disappointing, but it also illustrates a lesson that many feminist women have to learn: a lot of “pro-feminist” men talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

  8. ddddddddddddddd says:

    i cannot believe this shit. what a mother fucker.

    i won’t be going to the site again. dammit.
    no firedoglake
    no alas

    and they have a lot of good round ups. what a disappointment, and frankly a pathetic excuse, there are plenty of ways to make money with out the use of porn, esp on what is supposed to be a female friendly site.

    THANK YOU for reporting this, they are officially off my list and i am pissed. and i agree with the comment:

    “Lauren notes:

    Some may think this is small beans, but in a community where sexual politics are so very personal, as well as political, this is an enormous business gaffe of exceeding irony. Of all the things one can do to save a buck, making money off the backs (and mouths and pussies) of women is not one that I encourage for a feminist man.
    Not to mention the always necessary addition of “ethnic” porn for the discerning crowd.

    If there is no shame, Barry, don’t bother lying about it. ”

    I am really disgusted, I am not anti porn necess, but the way the industry stands now, it is not one to be supported. if there was a degree of regulation – can’t be under 21 to film, no violence, no ass to mouth or other health, pain or dignity issues, as well of course as real women who actually enjoy sex and are shown having real orgasms. but the way it stand now, most porn is violent and hateful towards women. i would have respected him if he had started advertising for goodvibes or something like that, but this crosses the line. what a jerk. on one hand there are links to feminists blogs and the round up of negative adn violent treatments and in teh next breath he is making MONEY off the exploitation of women.

    what a jerk!!!!!!! dammit. they have lost all credibility. period.

    there are other ways to make money that don’t exploit people. what next, linking to companies whose products are made by child labor or slave labor bc he can make a buck? jesus, i guess he has no standards.

    good lord, what incredibly bad judgement. what an idiot. there are a lot of ways to make money in the blogosphere. wonder how much “Rape porn” is now connected in some small way to alas…

    disgusting.

  9. piny says:

    “I was assured by the buyer that he would never host porn sites on ‘amptoons.com.’ And I wrote into the contract that his link on ‘Alas’ could never be a direct link to a porn site.”

    I’m a luddite, so I didn’t realize how equivocal this was at first, or completely understand the financial implications of selling the domain name. I read it on Alas and registered it as, “Oh, okay: no porn.” I assumed that any arrangement that didn’t work out to no porn wouldn’t be acceptable to Amp. That was naive, obviously; porn is to internet commerce as water is to the human body. And, yeah, I don’t appreciate the way the announcement was handled, either–Amp tends to focus on conflict avoidance, but that sometimes works out to cowardice.

  10. Lya Kahlo says:

    “This is disappointing, but it also illustrates a lesson that many feminist women have to learn: a lot of “pro-feminist” men talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. ”

    This is me cheering. This is unfortunate, but definitely a truth that we need to make note of. Though in my experience most boys seem to think being pro-feminist means being pro-porn.

  11. Sour Duck says:

    Just a quick note: The announcement has been re-posted at Alas and the comments are open.

  12. R. Mildred says:

    Ugh, selling his domain to porn is one thing, selling it to skeevey porn is another entirely.

    But now you guys won’t be as mad to find out that I’ve sold Feministe.us to Pajamas Media, right?

    Only so long as no one minds me selling the punkass (and pandagon) server to Rupert Murdoch for a small pony.

    I hope Ampersand does the sensible thing and finds a new domain, his current one may be pwned, but as long as he doesn’t fuck up too much in the reaction (though mouth breathing squibs seem to be attacking alot of pro-feminists at the moment *stares at Marc’s recent displays*) he should be salvagable.

  13. Sniper says:

    “Ethnic porn?” No, don’t tell me. I can live the rest of my life without knowing.

  14. nerdlet says:

    Oh, Sniper. Women come in different flavors, you know? You wouldn’t want to accidentially get a Spicy Latina while you’re in the mood for a vanilla white girl, so everyone who’s not a white girl gets their own little category – not because they’re all the same, but because they’re all so different, you know? Different flavors of meat.

    And fuck. This is hugely disappinting. Unless he is making masses of money off of this, enough to get himself out of some kind of immediate debt, I don’t see how Heart’s post about alternatives is any less true. Ads would be infinitely better.

  15. Sniper says:

    Geez, thanks nerdlet. There goes my lunch.

  16. Lis Riba says:

    I know this may sound stupid or trollish, but where’s the porn content on amptoons.com? The domain root (www.amptoons.com) and blog page appear unchanged to me.

    Is this just a potential concern about what the buyer *might* do, or has something happened on the website that I missed?

  17. zuzu says:

    If you put your cursor over the hypertext on “NSFW link” in my post, you’ll see the site name. It includes “amptoons.com” in the URL.

    But, it is NSFW.

  18. Lis Riba says:

    Nevermind, just saw the link to reviews.amptoons.com.
    HOWEVER, since reviews.amptoons and http://www.amptoons are different subdomains, how much will that actually influence search engine rankings?

  19. Ginger says:

    I hope she doesn’t mind my linking this – funniekins makes some terrific points here. ‘Tis brilliant, so I had to share. Props, funnie.

  20. zuzu says:

    HOWEVER, since reviews.amptoons and http://www.amptoons are different subdomains, how much will that actually influence search engine rankings?

    Heart’s post has a pretty good analysis of how it works. I think it’s something like hypertext — the links are hidden on Alas’s main page, and every time someone visits Alas, the hit count for the linked pages goes up. You don’t even have to click the links or view the pages to effectively visit the page — so anyone who goes to Alas for feminist discussion is, just by visiting, increasing the hit count for the porn pages linked to the main page and thus moving those pages up on Google. It’s a very back-door thing.

    Um, perhaps “back-door” isn’t the best term to use, given that there’s an “ass” subcategory.

  21. piny says:

    Yeerg. I think I’ll confine my sniping to this comments thread, then.

  22. Byron says:

    zuzu and others: Visiting amptoons.com does not increase the pagerank at all. Google doesn’t care about hit counts, it only cares about links. Linking to amptoons.com will increase its page rank slightly, and so it will have more pagerank to give to review.amptoons.com (the site that does the linking to the porn sites) in turn.

    As near as I can tell, there’s only the single link from http://www.amptoons.com/ (not even the /blog/ page) that goes to the review site. So don’t worry about improving the Google pagerank by visiting, just linking.

  23. Txfeminist says:

    Ironically, I notice that it was a man whom Amp quoted, and who apparently influenced Amp to re-open the debate.

    Yesterday there were at least a dozen posts on women’s blogs about it. But he doens’t respond til the other man tells him to. That about says it all right there.

    Innerestin’ all right. And I’m very dissapointed.

  24. Lauren says:

    Amp posted a response to me at my blog. Thought others might be interested in his response.

  25. KnifeGhost says:

    This is disappointing, but it also illustrates a lesson that many feminist women have to learn: a lot of “pro-feminist” men talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk.

    Very true, and very frustrating.

    But it’s not like there haven’t been other indications that Amp doesn’t. Fucking. Get it.

    He’s ruined his credibility, and he’ll have to live with it.

  26. ScottM says:

    While you may not be fond of Barry for this or other reasons, he serves an awfully useful function. His site is a great introduction to feminism. Until I stumbled on his site via his political cartoons, I had probably had less than 30 minutes of focused thought on feminism in my whole life.

    Far more, through him, I found many other feminst sites– sites there’s no way I’d have investigated without the handholding posts on his site when I began my exploration.

    Since many commenters have said they’re not going to visit his site, I will report that he expands on his regrets in comments and asks for useful action he can take to help mitigate the damage he’s done.

  27. nyarly says:

    …he expands on his regrets in comments and asks for useful action he can take to help mitigate the damage he’s done.

    Oh, well, maybe he can “meet with feminist leaders to ‘discern the appropriate path for healing.'” I mean, really, that’s all you have to do after you fuck up really bad, right? Say you’re sorry and imply that if you could do anything to fix it, you would. (How convenient that you… can’t.)

    It worked for Mel Gibson, after all.

  28. Pingback: Alas, an Eruption « Creative Destruction

  29. hk says:

    I read about this last month when he first announced it. Honestly it doesn’t bother me all that much. I wish he could have found a different way to support his site, but it is his site sell and I’ll keep reading it.

  30. Daran says:

    As near as I can tell, there’s only the single link from http://www.amptoons.com/ (not even the /blog/ page) that goes to the review site. So don’t worry about improving the Google pagerank by visiting, just linking.

    Actually there is a link to the reviews site on every page in the blog. Only the non-blog (mostly cartoon stuff) isn’t linked.

    But you’re right that merely visiting the site doesn’t affect the pagerank.

  31. Loosely Twisted says:

    Yeah it’s better not to say anything and appologize if you fuck up then it is to ask for permission.. Far be it for him to think of the Others. Isn’t that male privilege at it’s finest?

    Then turn around and deny that it was meant the way you took it, making it your fault. :(

    Removed his link, I shall not support a faux feminist man. Though I kinda had a feeling months and months back when he supported all the stupid male trolls on his site and banned Ginmar. But this definately screams faux news to me. Pun intended.

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