Thursday, April 6, 2017

Still Working on Things

The website is still down.

It is like buying something you can't fix, honestly. I suppose this is the way it is nowadays, we are moving away from the old-fashioned "small fix-it shop" world where an average Jane or Joe with tools and a little know how can fix what we rely on to "send it back to the factory" and have it replaced by an identical something.

Either that, or go to these commoditized, somewhat less-freedom, mass-market solutions like this. But then again...this works. There is a team paid to maintain it. This is a service.

It's funny, in the last couple years I feel the dream of 'running your own site' is dying. Browsers require SSL connections or they warn people off your site saying "not secure" - and you need to pay to get a certificate. Why do you need the certificate and the secure connection? Well, for one, so what you do and read on a site won't be harvested and sold by your ISP or carrier - just check the news recently. Of course, they still know you went here, but what you do here is hidden if you are coming in via https:// and something verified secure.

Another nail in the coffin of "doing it yourself" is security. The world we live in. I keep my site up-to-date as soon as patches come out, and I keep up on all the problems old versions have. But when you get a patch that wrecks your site, it wrecks it. If you don't have an on-call IT team or really great knowledge of what you run, you are out of luck.

Plus, the world we live in today is more complex. You need themes and sites that are mobile friendly. You think of mobile first nowadays, and gone are the old sites built for the desktop on the desktop, and the whole notion of "who cares about phone and tablet users?" Mobile is only one example, there are hundreds of other subjects like this to think about - and again, if you do it yourself you need to worry about them.

The big problem about commoditized systems is freedom. A lot of places don't like to touch mature subjects. A lot of places hide you from search if you have any sort of mature content. You live in obscurity, invisible to search, and found by word of mouth only.

A marketing professor once told me, "if your business plan is word of mouth then you need a new plan."

This applies to books on stores as well. If people can't find them, why write them? This has been my struggle with writing mature works, they languish in no-search land, they aren't really recommended to most readers, and the early halcyon golden days where mature works would show up in general store searches is over. Now, stores know better, and they cracked down (and keep cracking down).

Everyone wants to be family friendly.

I do give some stores a lot of credit, at least the books are still sold. They can't be marketed as what they are, but they are still on the shelf. The old "word of mouth" thing applies here as well, and you are back to square one.

It is why we protect free speech for everybody. Even if we don't agree with what they say. The "chilling effect" is just as bad as outright censorship. I feel if you say "I am triggered" by something and expect "action" you are a proponent of censorship. Old-time liberals in the 1960's and 70's would have had a stroke over the trigger-and-censor games happening today.

You have the right to be triggered by something, but you take that away and you take away your freedoms. Don't think this will be used against you or something you like some day, as the other often larger and better organized side will push for their people to be "triggered" and all of a sudden things that offend them will go away.

You were triggered and had action taken, right? What happens when a religious or morality group organizes millions of people to be constantly and vocally 'triggered' by things that should be protected by free speech or even equal rights? Things that you like and appreciate being produced. And not just for one time on social media, but for campaigns lasting months or even years with a constant stream of anger and organized vocal proponents?

You are not going to win that fight.

And things trigger me all the time, but I know better to keep quiet. They have that right, as do I. I speak up from time to time, but in this day of the 'weaponized troll' age it is better to be the better person and let your actions define you instead of getting into fights.

I talk about this because companies want to avoid this sort of heat. When they get heat, they crack down. What we can sell is shrunk and hidden away in some back corner. What we can say about our books is reduced. We have to use secret code words for things we should be able to say. Someone would be triggered, after all.

And as we move to commoditized systems we need to obey the rules.

This blog is an example. I have never reviewed or discussed mature content here, and my warning flag is not set - since this is my mainstream blog. This gets better hits than something flagged 'mature content' because it can be searched and seen. I infrequently update it, and it still gets better hits than a lot of other sites.

Such is the power of the chilling effect. Just ask those on video-sharing sites about automatic age-restrictions and demonetization. I feel their glory days are coming to an end now, where they could drop a couple f-bombs while playing a game and get thousands of viewers of all ages to subscribe.

Again, big companies don't like that. Everyone wants to be family friendly. Someone was triggered. Let's solve this problem. Let's put age-restrictions in place for those commentary videos that should not be heard by those who should not hear them. Let's hide them from searches and related video lists.

But I have a right to say these words on a video! Free speech! Yes, just like us writers have a right to write them in our books. Free speech.

And welcome to the shadow-covered land of obscurity. We erotica writers have been here a while.

Yes, protecting people from things they don't like seeing is a noble goal. Stores want to serve the most people in the best way. But when the 'targeted content' methods used prevent those who should or want to see this mature or edgy content take away that opportunity? That is the chilling effect.

If I were smart, I would quit writing erotica. The smart thing to do is write things that can be found, appear in searches and 'related reader' recommendations, and can go out on social media without being flagged and advertisements denied. But honestly, my heart is stronger than my brain on these matters. But I still hear my head when times get tough, like this current situation.

It is that voice in the back of your head saying, "Walk the easy path and walk away."

I am not saying I am yet, but this is the fight I fight in my head every day.

Work on restoring the site continues.

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