Link credit: Juliettia
A few months ago I was contacted via Twitter by a delightful and enthusiastic woman who was the blogger outreach and off-site review program coordinator from Eden Fantasys. Because a company is only as good as the person whom you have direct contact with, and because this woman was just downright awesome, I began a partnership between Woman Tribune and Eden Fantasys. I immediately began hosting contests for gift cards, reviewing products for our love and sex category, putting up their banners and telling all of my friends about how great their site was. I sent a lot of people to Eden Fantasys who spent a lot of money.
Everything regarding this partnership was going great and I was an enthusiastic affiliate. Not only did I link to them through banners, text links, posts and pages on Woman Tribune, I did the same on my other (far more liberal) website, Menstrual Poetry, which in turn generated more income for Eden Fantasys. I loved the sense of community I was overwhelmed with on the site and began contributing more reviews and became active in the forums. In short: I was in sex blogger community heaven.
One week ago a member of the community and highly prolific and well-known sex blogger Epiphora was banned from Eden Fantasys. A thread was posted in the Eden Fantasys forums announcing her banning, citing her as “having an adverse effect on the positive culture at EF” and claiming they receive “continuous complaints about her drama, rudeness, and overall negativity.”
Well, that’s all well and good. Eden Fantasys was disclosing that they had collectively decided to ban a member of the community and were just following their policy that they would be transparent regarding all the goings-on within the community. However, according to Epiphora’s post, which cited all of the posts she had made within the forums that could be construed as offensive over the past year, she had no warning about her so-called drama, rudeness, and overall negativity and after reading her forum contributions, I personally see nothing wrong with anything she brought up within the forums. She merely woke up that morning to an email from Eden Fantasys saying that she was banned and that the decision was final. What’s worth noting here is that it is also Eden Fantasys’ policy to warn their contributors of being out of line or offending others in the forums before banning them which is something that they did not do, again, according to Epiphora.
That was the first sign of drama within the time frame I had been a part of Eden Fantasys. I was not the only one who had been put-off by the forum post made by a staff member of the company who claimed transparency and many other contributors disagreed with the way Eden Fantasys had handled the situation.
It was this first straw that prompted me to look into Eden Fantasys the business and oh what a potluck of horrendous business practices I found.
Aag Blog, another very well-known sex blogger, had once been employed by Eden Fantasys. She was not paid for work she had completed. After taking the company owner (Fred Petrenko) to small claims court for the $1200 for work previously agreed upon, the company owner had sent a lawyer to her small town (undoubtedly racking up legal fees more than what Aag was owed) to get out of having to pay her on unfounded technicalities.
Fast-forward to last night. Maybe Maimed wrote an important, must-read article, Edenfantasys’s unethical technology is a self-referential black hole. Maybe Maimed’s post exposes how Eden Fantasys “has invested a staggering amount of time and money to develop and implement a technology platform that actively denies others the courtesy of link reciprocity.”
Because it’s just easier than trying to put it into my own, tech-y words, I am republishing Maybe Maimed’s Executive Summary of the article in full:
Internet sex toy retailer Web Merchants, Inc., which bills itself as the “sex shop you can trust” and does business under the name EdenFantasys, has implemented technology on their websites that actively interferes with contributors’ content, intercepts outgoing links, and alters republished content so that links in the original work are redirected to themselves. Using techniques widely acknowledged as unethical by Internet professionals and that are arguably in violation of major search engines’ policies, EdenFantasys’s publishing platform has effectively outsourced the task of “link farming” (a questionable Search Engine Marketing [SEM] technique) to sites with which they have “an ongoing relationship,” such as AlterNet.org, other large news hubs, and individual bloggers’ blogs.
For non-human visitors, including automated search engine indexing programs such as Googlebot, the “link” remains non-functional, making the article a search engine’s dead-end or “orphan” page whose only functional links are those whose destination is EdenFantasys’s own web presence. This makes EdenFantasys’ website(s) a self-referential black hole that provides no reciprocity for contributors who author content, nor for any website ostensibly “linked” to from article content. At the same time, EdenFantasys editors actively solicit inbound links from individuals and organizations through “link exchanges” and incentive programs such as “awards” and “free” sex toys, as well as syndicating SexIs Magazine content such that the content is programmatically altered in order to create multiple (real) inbound links to EdenFantasys’s websites after republication on their partner’s media channels.
Understandably, contributors of the Eden Fantasys community were concerned about what they had learned about Eden Fantasys and their unethical linking practices and a post was started in the forum about it. The post garnered 28 responses from equally concerned contributors asking Eden Fantasys for an explanation. Eden Fantasys, the company that had just been boasting about transparency deleted this forum thread. Luckily, someone took a screenshot of the thread in full before it was deleted, catching onto the fact that Eden Fantasys may not want everyone knowing about their linking practices and sensing a coverup in the making.
Sex, Lies & Law began another thread on the forum addressing the deletion of the post and again, asking for Eden Fantasys to address this issue. With 5 replies and a post by a staff member, this thread was closed for discussion and a link to an “explanation” was provided.
The so-called explanation to the unethical linking practices was addressed by the president of Eden Fantasys and provided a lot of non-answers and failed examples. According to the president of Eden Fantasys, their linkfarming is a common practice used by other user-driven websites and without cheating people out of real links to their blogs from Eden Fantasys, malicious software would be inserted into the site and the entire site would die. It’s for our own good and oh wait, let’s throw in some strings of words like “AJAX with DotNET and JQuery frameworks” to jumble the minds of those who may have no idea what we are talking about so they can take us at our word.
After people congratulated the president of Eden Fantasys for providing such a “thorough and well-written explanation” I put in my two cents because Eden Fantasys is a company that is about transparency and who value the contributions of their community. Right?
My entire response to this thread was deleted in the amount of time it took me to take out the garbage. I unfortunately did not get a screenshot of my response on the site, but what I wrote is as follows:
“I am sorry, but this doesn’t look like a misunderstanding to me. Not in the slightest.
Sure, the entire basis of this post relies on addressing emotional gut reactions to people realizing that they are being cheated out of backlinks from Eden Fantasys while being told they must provide three links to EF in every review they publish on their websites, (ie: we do this for your own good and let’s cite a bunch of technological terms most of you won’t understand but keep the bottom line that without us doing this, the entire site would die and all of your hard work would be lost and oh yeah, we care about you and need you to keep EF alive.)
I do not need a paragraph of technological terms to tell me that in fact none of those sites use the same encapsulation as Eden Fantasys. If they did, they would function the same way EF does and they do not.
The encapsulation Eden Fantasys uses is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It is not ethical and the people who were concerned about this violation were correct.
I will be leaving Eden Fantasys from this point forward and I urge all other contributors who care about the ethical standpoint of companies they work with to do the same.”
Someone responded to my post before it was deleted about how the explanation was not overly-technical and easy to understand and how people are reacting emotionally and not giving the president the chance to respond.
I’m sorry, but wasn’t this thread his response? I mean, this is the story he was going with and he did respond, now isn’t it the contributor’s turn to say something? Isn’t that why we have a forum, to ask questions and voice our concerns? Apparently not since my response was deleted. So I responded to the post of the person telling me I didn’t know what I was talking about, saying:
“I understand the problem that is trying to be avoided. I have been in the internet/blogging/web management world for over 9 years but the way it has been gone about is wrong. Hence why even the websites that were sorta-kinda but not really linked do not function the same as EF. That was my point, even though my post was deleted because I did not take this response at its word.”
This second contribution to the thread of a company who values transparency and the contribution of their community was also deleted in record timing. The reason? Exactly what I stated in my response. My replies were deleted because I did not say “Great job! Thanks for clearing that up!” But I wasn’t the only one whose replies were deleted, five other replies were also deleted.
After my second reply was deleted, I did not contribute anything else. It was obvious my contributions were not making Eden Fantasys look good and thus not welcome on their forums.
After spending some time away from the site, when I went back to see what else was going on, I found that I was not logged in. I have been banned by Eden Fantasys without my posts in any thread receiving any flags, without receiving a message, warning or email.
It is apparent now more than ever that Epiphora was banned just as she said she was. Without warning. How do I know that? Because it just happened to me. Not only that, but it also happened to others today.
Eden Fantasys is a sex toy shop and community no one can trust. They lie, cheat and break their own policies whenever it benefits them. They don’t give a damn about transparency or even giving their contributors the respect they have earned to speak their mind and ask questions. If you are current a reviewer for them, there are other far better, ethical and positive companies out there who are assets to the sex blogging community. I could not support Babeland and Good Vibrations enough.