Iris Ophelia's ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style
This week one of SL's most popular fashion feeds, iheartSL, made a dramatic change that has sent fashionistas into a flurry. This high volume feed, run by Gogo of Juicybomb fame, has gone PG, and the confusion and uproar that followed couldn't have surprised anyone. There are lots of fashion and style bloggers that like to play a little blue from time to time and try provocative ideas out in a space where it's fairly safe to do so (including myself), but now even they may have to think twice about what they're posting. So is this move purely in the name of prudish censorship, or is there more to it? Well, let's look at the facts:
First of all, though I can't say it's true of iheartSL specifically, in my experience most blogs seem to see the peak of their weekly traffic between noon and 2pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays, including New World Notes. Now, understanding that the majority (but not all) of our readers are in North America, and the majority (but not all) of them probably have regular jobs, that's a lot of people dropping by on their work computers. Maybe you're using yours right now? Fashionistas are no different.
Even if you only check your favourite websites during your breaks, all it takes is for one nosy person to catch a glimpse of something scandalous over your shoulder and you could be in serious trouble. And when you get home? Maybe you've got kids to worry about, or even parents or in-laws around. If they see something R-rated you may not get fired, but you may have to have a very awkward conversation about it.
Here's another important thing to consider (and be warned because I'm going to use some mildly NSFW language here): Adult-oriented fashion bloggers aren't rare anymore, and they're far from tame. I'm not just talking about tasteful avatar nudes and virtual lingerie shots, I'm talking about prim-penisses poking out from under miniskirts, fluid-attachments dripping out, and so on. Believe it or not it's a blogging aesthetic that has grown in popularity, and though it isn't mainstream it's still out there. Even if you want to shake your head at Puritanical American values, I think we can all agree that oozing futanari fashionistas have no place on most work or family computers.
Taking iheartSL PG means, first and foremost, that the feed will be safe viewing for pretty much anyone, anywhere, whether you're on your lunch break or checking it on your phone on the bus, or even at home with a toddler on your knee. That means more traffic for Gogo and for the blogs themselves.
So this is a purely altruistic move? Well, no. The other side of the issue is that Google has certain standards for people using its advertising programs, and Gogo is one of those people. And that's okay. Maintaining a feed shouldn't necessarily be charity considering how much work it can be, so I can't really find it within myself to be upset if standards need to change to accommodate a few unobtrusive ads.
So your blog has boobs, now what? Are you banned from iheartSL for good? Hardly. All you need to do is set up a safe category for posts that you want to submit to iheartSL, and leave the saucy stuff out of it (or at least bury it below a jump-cut). Cajsa Lilliehook did a great tutorial on setting this up, so if you're affected by this change I'd encourage you to check it out before resubmitting your blog. As Cajsa points out, there are oodles of other fashion feeds if you still want to bare it all, so at the end of the day if iheartSL's new policies really ruffle your feathers maybe it's just not the feed for you.Tweet
Iris Ophelia (Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.