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Should I keep the forum going?

Ben Manchester

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As @WillingAble27, this forum isn't being used very much anymore.

At one time, it was very active, with escorts reporting client problems and people giving each other help and advice.

Usage dropped off over the pandemic and hasn't recovered. I'm not sure why. Do people still use forums? Are escorts going elsewhere for help and advice, or are they just getting on with it alone?

I think this forum contains a lot of historic advice that is good to have available to people, but it's a hosted service that costs me around £400 per year to run (depending on the exchange rate).

Do you think I should keep it going, and if so, is there a way to attract more active members?

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Yes. Even if just for archival/cultural value as there aren't as many resources or formal communities for mxle SWers.

I think COVID/fansites changed comms and marketing. Established SWers retired or pivoted to content, then a new gen entered FSSW via the latter. I've met SWers who don't even know what MancLads or Sleepyboy are.

The online crackdown of FSSW hasn't helped either, but I think the need for this site still exists. When I'd mention the forum to other SWers they'd be pleasantly surprised, but then complain of inactivity when checking things out.

The core issue for GE is a critical mass of awareness at scale, not value.


Rough ideas for more members (if you haven't done them already):

- targeted escort banner ads (Exoclick, TJunky if accepting again) in major UK locations

- considering global approach for int'l SWers (more SWers are travelling now for content creation given UK market size and rates)

- retooling the SEO (keyword strategy, indexing strategy, expanding homepage content in line with former, guest blogging or vlogging (i.e. OzinLondon) in exchange for rel=canonical)

- ask OF/FSSW engagement pods to inform all members

- audit the male SW industry calendar for online and in-person events or projects. Request whatever free sponsorship/partnership you can get. Jeff Canuck, Jason Domino (please delete if I can't name) have also made mention of mxle SWer lobbying efforts.

- influencer campaign with aspirational/influential british fansite SWers in the industry (across instagay, fetish, activist brands). Likely to cost money though there may be some light goodwill.

- consider asking SW safety orgs (NUM, SWARM) to help moderate the site.

- integrating GE into standard MancLads onboarding/subscriber comms + fortnightly notification blasts dripped over 1st 3 months. Requesting competing SW platforms do same if possible.

- merging/collabing with other (mxle) SW owned/focused forums, platforms, resources (i.e. Saafe, SB, Company of men, Just for Fans, Pineapple Support could all benefit from backlinks/forum plugins)

- migrating content (if possible) to Slack/Discord or similar and retooling GE offsite


That said, you should ask yourself what you want to do too. You've provided a free resource for years at cost and free time. Real audience growth is going to be a slog and additional drain on resources, especially with the ideas above, with no obvious profit engine baked-in besides a MancLads value-add. Is this something you're prepared to do?

Edited by Ebor
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Hey Ben and all,

It's a tough one mate, and as it's 5am and I haven't been to bed yet, despite having a heap of things to suggest/ask/propose....

I'm going to sleep on it and come back to this post with a reply it deserves when I'm more awake!

I notice there are quite a few former, regular posters here that seem to have gone quiet - they may have retired or whatever but some will no doubt simply need a bit of a nudge. Perhaps you could send out a mass-message reminding folks this place is here, and it could do with their input on it's future?

There are 539 registered members, which isn't bad going having run various message boards and forums for years. Worth bearing in mind we, as a community are relatively few in number (if the various estimates over the years are correct) 20% of all SWs being male so 20,000 approx. I don;t think it's ever been comprehensive studies, for example it's not the sort of thing you can get from census data and there's the obvious issue of disclosure and discretion. 

Been on here for 9 years next week and would miss what it provides, it is totally unique and has a great deal of value so I feel obliged to contribute to this discussion.

Great post @Ebor, lots of food-for-thought there. 

As someone once said... I'll be back!

Edited by SkinTrade
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  • 4 weeks later...

I've really treasured this site, and it really helped me in the early days of my sex work around 2017-ish and whenever there were questions to ask or get opinions on. Also, being able to scour the archive for older subjects has been really valuable (even if times / platforms etc have changed in the years since they were posted). 

That said... in recent, post-pandemic years the slow usage here has also been a vicious circle - as I know there has been little point posting more pressing / immediate questions I may have, as I know I wont get a timely response.  So, that is what made me think of a Whatsapp group for more immediate contact with other active and responsive sex workers for anything from general questions, regional questions or short-ish notice duo requests. 

Personally, I ideally need something mobile based for immediate stuff, and my dinosaur burner phone wouldn't handle something like Discord (which does my head in on my laptop anyway). So, I'm happy to start a Whatsapp Group for those interested. There's no reason why a Discord group (or Telegram etc) can't also be set up too. Makes sense to cover all bases / platforms really to give everyone opportunity to reach out on the best platform for them. 

I will always keep an eye on this site and post when I need to, and for archival information alone - this site really needs to stay available. As for it's future and encouraging further engagement - that's a tough one. Maybe reach out to SleepyBoys and see if they'd be open to some kind of partnership or promotion? That said... you do risk an influx of bollocks, time-wasters and spam suddenly joining. So... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Otherwise perhaps reaching out to (gay) men's sexual health charities and ask if they can offer referrals to any male sex workers they encounter? Sexual Health charities are often crying out to offer other avenues of support to people they encounter. So could be an option? 

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  • 3 months later...

Hi Ben, I agree that there's a lot of excellent historic info on here and forums are a valuable resource. Thank you very much for all the time, hard work and expense you've put into GE. I'm a moderator on the sexworkers, sexworkersonly and malesexworkersonly subreddits. I'm happy to mention GE on those if that helps. A new London male escort asked for advice today on the SW reddit and I posted a link to GE. The malesexworkers reddit is very quiet too. I just edited my how to get started blog post to include a link to GE.

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  • 8 months later...

Hey Ben, I'm happy to maintain and host the forum on my server for free if that would be of use. It would be a dire shame for it to no longer exist.

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