"On the down low": Feminist blogger sells his domain name to porn site

News & Politics

On September 13th, well-known feminist blogger Ampersand of Alas, A Blog announced that he no longer owned the domain name "Amptoons.com" because he'd sold it a few months earlier:

Then a buyer approached me offering to purchase amptoons.com, so he could use it to improve search engine rankings for his clients (how that all works isn’t something I have any knowledge of). He offered a substantial sum of money - not enough to erase my money worries, but enough to ease the pressure for a while. Plus he offered to provide a free dedicated server for “Alas.�

The contract took months to wrangle, but here’s the bottom line: The new owner has absolutely no control over the content of “Alas.� However, “Alas� plus my cartoonist pages are the only parts of amptoons.com I have any access to or control over. The buyer also has the right to put in one or two inconspicuous links on “Alas,� positioned in a way that would make it unlikely that anyone but search engine robots would follow the link.

I was assured by the buyer that he would never host porn sites on “amptoons.com.� And I wrote into the contract that his link on “Alas� could never be a direct link to a porn site. But beyond that, I have no ability to control what the buyer does with his pages - the deal is that he has absolutely no say in what’s on “Alas,� but we also agreed that I have no say over what he does with his own property. And - as a couple of “Alas� readers have noticed - some pages I don’t own include links to porn.
Basically, a porn company bought Amp's domain name and agreed to host Alas, A Blog indefinitely on the company's server. As part of the deal, Amp is expected to unobtrusive links to non-porn pages of the site owned by the porno company. The whole setup is a bid to boost the page rankings of the porno site.

Dr. Violet Socks says, This is too much." Dr. Violet is appalled that Amp sold his feminist blog to pornographers without informing his readership. The whole point of the deal was to use Amp's high traffic feminist blog to boost the page rankings for the pornography company that owns the server.

Fellow male pro-feminist blogger Hugo Schwyzer writes: "Men who blog as pro-feminists are --rightly or wrongly -- under a microscope. Anti-feminists and feminists alike are frequently suspicious of our motives. Is our feminism a strategy for sexual conquest? Is it a manifestation of self-loathing? Are we for real, or are we frauds? Lauren's right: in the feminist blogosphere, sexual politics are personal as well as political. How we live our lives matters. What we do for money, what we do for pleasure, what we do in private must be congruent with what we profess in public."

Zuzu has a good roundup of reactions to URL-gate.

Amp was enlisting his readers, without their consent, to advance an industry many of them consider to be deeply evil. In principle, I don't see anything wrong with selling the domain name to a porn site. However, Amp should have been upfront with his readers about that decision. It is outrageous that he used his pro-feminist commenters' traffic to drive up the page rankings of the very products the complain about on the blog.

[Alas, A Blog, Reclusive Leftist, Feministe,

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