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Porn and the Human-Powered Search Engine

February 7, 2007

Today someone requested the addition of their porn site to Bessed.

I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone would. And yet I still l haven’t developed a clear cut policy on porn. Do we include it as long as we believe it’s legal? Or do we leave it out?  And then, of course, the age-old question—what qualifies as porn?

This is a question unique to human-edited search engines/directories.  Google just uses its spiders and removes the human equation, which sort of puts it above the issue in that it can say it just indexes them robotically, not passing judgment on the content.  That’s your job as far as they’re concerned.  (They might blacklist some porn sites for illegal content or unscrupulous search engine marketing tactics, but they’re not passing judgment purely on the content.)

With a human-edited site, someone has to go to all of the adult sites that want in and look at porn.  Not just look at porn, but figure out where the porn fits category-wise, which porn sites are better than other porn sites, which porn sites are really just mirror porn sites on a different domain in an attempt to rope in more visitors, etc.  Plus, porn covers a range of things, from soft porn nudity to hardcore activities that the majority of us would find distasteful regardless of their legality. For some editors, sifting through the porn would be a fun project, for others not so much. (Seeing a naked body or two might not upset me so much, but there are some things I’d prefer not to look at.)

I know that the Yahoo! directory charges adult sites more than non-adult sites in order to be listed, and applies a higher standard for inclusion, meaning the sites have to be original and not mirror sites or stolen content. But, in the end, someone there has to go check the sites out.

I guess I’m leaning toward inclusion of adult sites in Bessed, and in fact we’ve already incuded a sexuality in art topic, which goes to show you the whole slippery slope thing—whose to say whether it’s art or just sex pics? My fear is that allowing these sites will lead to us being overrun with requests from porn Webmasters to get listed, and that’s not really how I want our editors to spend the majority of their time.

It’s a difficult question, but one we need to answer.  Should we allow them or no?  Or, should we say no now and say yes later?  Or, could/should we charge adult sites where we don’t charge non-adult sites? (Then you get into the fuzzy world of having a potentially big chunk of your revenues coming from pornography.)

If you have any thoughts, I’d be glad to here them.

e-mail me: adam@bessed.com

Adam Jusko is founder and CEO of Bessed, a Web site promising “search without spam”, thanks to human-edited search results and ongoing visitor feedback. Do a search, offer your comments, submit your site–help create the “bessed” search site in the world.

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3 comments

  1. I’m surprised no-one’s commented on this one, it seems to me like an important issue.

    I think you hit the nail on the head in the more recent post ‘Looking for cash and how to grow in the meantime’ (can you hyperlink in WordPress comments?). At some point in the future you need to make an editorial decision on how to handle porn if you want to be a ‘complete’ search engine, in the meantime there are much more important (and less controversial) areas to be covered. As your later entry says: “Less focus on entertainment, politics, etc. and more focus on the long search of what people actually ‘need.’ In other words, you might ‘want’ to read about Britney Spears, but you ‘need’ information on finding a job or what the explanation might be for that pain in your left ear.”

    If I am desperate enough to get hold of elbow-fetish erotica, say, then there are better places to look for it. On the other hand, if I am permanently exhausted because of CFS, say, it would be really nice to be able to search without being overwhelmed by adverts for dietary supplements of doubtful worth. (To be fair, the UK Google generally gives sensible results for ‘CFS’, but I tried it on alltheweb and the second hit was for eBay – “Looking for CFS? Fantastic low prices here”!)


  2. Thanks for offering an opinion here. I’ve talked to a few people on this and have come to the conclusion you have. No porn for now, and we’ll decide on whether we want to reconsider that down the road if/when the site has succeeded to an extent that it is truly an issue.

    Thanks again for your comment.


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    I’ve joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your magnificent post. Also, I’ve shared your website in my social networks!



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