[New Essay Posted!] Are Ratings That Important?

Week5

So, before we get into things, I published an essay this week, but then something more important that required more immediate attention came up. So I made this blog post about that instead. Honestly, the themes I’ll reflect on here aren’t too dissimilar to the essay itself, so this is all kind of fitting. Anyway, from here on in, if I ever post something the same week of a blog post, I’ll make my blog title similar to this so you  all know when I’ve posted and when I haven’t.

I’ve noticed that in the erotica world that gossip and drama carry a lot more weight than it would in high school, where it lasts a couple days, or in the workplace, where all that happens is you avoid the creepy coworker to the best of your ability from there on in. I can’t even claim to be above it either – I distinctly remember when sexstories.com decided to up its legal age to 18 and purge several stories, including mine, I went ahead and threw as many authors under the bus as possible to demonstrate that the sites wasn’t purging everyone equally, just those who were more popular at the time. What they did wasn’t cool, and what I did wasn’t cool either. I have since learned from these mistakes.

Alas though, it seems I’ve gotten a spotlight thrown on me in the less-than-desirable way again, although this time for curious reasons. I normally like to stay out of the gossip and I hope I don’t appear petty for facing it head-on, but I’m going to do my best to respond to it. I received a comment on my last blog post which reads thusly:

Your writing is still in jeopardy, Bashful. Using a vpn to inflate your stories is kind of weak, but using one to bury other authors is even weaker. It’s obvious that you want every chapter of ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Molly’ to be at 96%. Well, for every one of my negatives, you’ll have to post 23 positives to do that. Doesn’t that sound exhausting?

I could have deleted it, but odds are if one person is willing to confront me, more share the same view, plus I really have nothing to lose from bringing this up besides ratings on sexstories.com, which I frankly don’t care about, provided they aren’t overwhelmingly awful from a “I hated the story” perspective. I feel like deleting this would have been doing something dangerously close to the grander accusation put before me, which is the assertion that I like to silence voices that are not mine.

I want to bring each part of this comment into close focus. Number one, saying my writing is still in jeopardy kind of ignores the point of my last blog, which highlighted that I want to/need to find alternatives to sexstories.com and that I wanted it to not be the be-all-and-end-all of erotica it sometimes thinks itself to be. As well, the commenter is making themselves look bad for making such a threat like this – I want to be as kind to them as possible, try to see any positivity and say they have good intentions, but this line makes the whole thing pretty indefensible.

Number two, I had to ask my friend what a VPN even is. I still am a little shaky on it but it’s basically like a program that houses other smaller computer interfaces on it except privately. So you could theoretically make accounts for anything on these other interfaces and I guess jack up your views, but that just sounds like more work than it’s worth.

I had to ask my friend to set this website up for me. Odds are if you think I did something sneaky using computer software, I really couldn’t have pulled it off even if I wanted to.

Number three, and this is my favorite point, they essentially accuse me of making accounts to boost my own numbers and more importantly, rigorously downvote other stories to the point where they don’t appear anymore. They call this ‘weak.’ Then they tell me that they’re downvoting my stories to hell as well. If I was doing this, then I suppose some justice porn fanatics could justify the act with ‘getting a taste of my own medicine.’ The trouble with this train of thoughts is, I know for a fact this can’t be the case. I don’t have a VPN installed, and the most I ever do is log out and anonymously upvote my most recent story whenever I visit the website. Once. Because, y’know, I only have one computer. I will admit that I have a few ‘real life’ friends who read my work, and I encourage them to upvote my stories whenever they view them, so hey, perhaps that makes a dent in the supply.

My guess is that the website’s going through a bunch of turmoil. Every six months or so, the top-rated stories go from 95% to 92% and the top-listed story changes every six minutes. This happens more commonly with periods when uploads are slow, for obvious reasons. The site evolves into a weird shitshow where anarchy reigns and everyone downvotes each other’s stories for a chance to stay on top. Back in 2014 I even did that once – I read a story I didn’t like, saw it was .1% higher rated than mine, and smirked in petty glee as I hit the downvote button. I was such a maverick.

When this happens, people don’t like to blame the community at large. If people do that, they have to look one another in the metaphorical eye and accuse each other, and cause conflict between peaceful people. Website communities don’t really like that. So what do they do? They find the Bogeyman, the one person who ‘downvoted everything’ despite the site literally capping off at 10 votes a day. My guess is that GBM was rated around 96% at the time of this particular downvote-fest so a few people saw a relatively top-rated author was untouched by a mass downvoting, assumed the worst of me, and downvoted me too. It happens.

To reiterate, I don’t care. I care when people downvote my works because they found my writing bad, not because they think I personally am mean or pretentious or they have a hunch I killed babies or something. I’ve always prided myself on a low number of views but high ratings, because I’m niche. My guess is, some people can’t handle that, and created their own narrative to explain my rating. God forbid it’s because I try to put time and effort into my writing, and have a cult following that to an extent stretches back years. Nah, I had to downvote my way to the top.

I can understand this completely if this is a kneejerk reaction, and I in no way mean to imply the person who posted that is dumb for saying what they did. It’s a little naive, but if their story was downvoted and they lost their chance to be at the top… I’d be pissed too. I’ve reposted stories within an hour of them going up for that. But if that commenter is reading this now, I’d like to make a point: In the hypothetical scenario that I’m not mass downvoting others, but you’re mass downvoting me because you think I did, doesn’t your own criticism apply to yourself? Isn’t that pointless and mean? I love new erotic writers. I think this community needs more budding talent. I’d like to believe my blog posts have time and time again proven that. I also have a tendency to comment on stories whenever I publicly downvote them and explain why. It’s rare, but it happens.

I haven’t looked at sexstories.com for a while now but I expect all of my stories to be in the ~70% range or something. Like I said, sometimes drama bites in the erotica community, and it bites hard. It’s not going to stop me from writing. I hope the commenter sees the irony of accusing me of something I didn’t do, then admits to doing it. And he/she is right – upvoting a story with 23 different computers does sound exhausting. I only have one, and I do it maybe every week when I check my stories’ comments, so that’ll have to do. So, to be frank, it sounds so exhausting that I have no plans to start. I’d rather spend my time writing. I can always make my votes private and account-only if that would please them, but since I’ve already responded to them, the ball’s in their court.

I also understand the negative light being cast on myself. Honestly, I’m surprised it doesn’t happen more often. I don’t know how humble I am in the ‘real world’ but I’ve kind of built up this weird persona around being pretentious and writing essays about how to write erotica (despite being very self-deprecating about my own writing too and acknowledging no one opinion is more valid than another). For goodness sakes, the working title of my current essay was ‘You’re Not a Good Erotica Writer (and Neither Am I)’. I don’t expect to be universally loved by the community. I’m just appreciate of the community and followers I do have in the first place.

I’m not mad per se about any of this, just disappointed in a ‘what did I expect from that website’ kind of way. I kind of wish that if people are downvoting my stuff (again, I dare not look at the numbers on sexstories.com until I have to, because I know it’ll affect my views and stuff too) that they would have came and asked me, ‘Hey, are you downvoting my stories?” first. That way I could have responded with the “hell no” that question deserved, and help that person reach a bigger audience through my own. And if you’re reading this and your stuff keeps getting buried and you think you deserve more recognition: email me a link to your story. If it genuinely is terrible then I’ll admit that’s probably why you’re getting poor ratings, but if you get unnecesarily buried by maverick downvoting I’d love to help you get back on your feet. 🙂

The big question that comes out of this is, are ratings important? No. No, they’re not. They can just as quickly be about a kneejerk reaction to their own stories being downvoted and pointing the finger at someone random as they can be about your actual writing, especially on anonymous-based websites. That would be why I diversify. If they don’t think I deserve a good rating, the bad news for them is that I get good ratings across a good majority of the websites I publish to. I hope to keep up that quality, and I hope to keep giving you all stories you enjoy. I’ll talk to you all next week.

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