Many of you I am sure, are unaware of the recent change Fetlife has made to its membership. Fet recently announced that Fetlife membership will be by invite only and the ability for new members to sign-up has been removed. This means the only way in which new individuals will be granted Fetlife membership is through an invite from an existing member.
In the condescending & unprofessional announcement made by Fetlife's founder, John, it was further announced that for the time being, only premium (paying) members will be permitted to send invites in a limited quantity. How many, you may be asking? They will only have one (1) invite for every two (2) months of premium Fetlife membership they have purchased. Yep.
Why has this happened? Basically, they can't handle their business.
Fetlife Membership | Invite Only
What immediate impacts does this have?
Well, clearly it impacts those who are not yet members and/or are new to the community and lifestyle. It's common knowledge that Fetlife has become the pinnacle for the BDSM community, for now anyway, and because of this, for many, it is the first source for "getting their feet wet" within BDSM.
Many who join Fet, join because they do not know anyone within the community or lifestyle. Fetlife is literally their first step. As you know, even I refer those to join Fet and browse their forums (groups) to review discussions and possibly learn more about their interests. It provides exposure and an awareness they may not have had before. More importantly, for many, this is their very first step to meeting others within their respective interests and local community.
With this new system, clearly, they will not be receiving an invitation to join nor will they have an opportunity for exposure.
Outside of that, what are Fetlife's forum boards (groups) significantly used for? Local munches and events!
So, if you're an event organizer or an attendee, you can pretty much count on seeing the very same faces at every event. Again, more importantly than that, if you're new to the lifestyle and want to get out into your local community, have fun finding out when and where those events will be taking place.
These are merely a couple of examples, the direct impacts are endless for both existing members of the community and new members looking for exposure.
My thoughts? Well, my response to the announcement was as follows;
Knowingly or unknowingly Fetlife has become the premier source for the BDSM community. They have personally claimed that they are not merely a 'community' website or dating site, but rather a "social network" and with making such claims comes great responsibility.
Personally, as someone who has spent many years in corporate and executive management, someone who now operates his own corporation and provides consulting services for other businesses... I can't help but focus on the negligence in business decisions Fetlife has made (there are others), but for today it's Fetlife membership.
If you are someone who doesn't value intellectual stimulus, I invite you to skip down to my closing thoughts.
Somewhere along the way, Fetlife went from being someone's hobby project while living in their mom's basement to becoming a business - a brand. Maybe it was when it began accepting money for premium memberships, maybe it was when it began accepting payment for advertising or possibly when it surpassed 4 MILLION members. Whatever the reason, it is a business.
For reasons unknown to me, this sentiment hasn't seemed to reach its leadership. I don't believe this could be argued, simply take a few moments (if you're a member of course) to review the way in which its leadership addresses the community in their announcement boards, the scandals in which they have been involved with (I've referred in previous articles) or simply their decisions. Hard to argue that there's good business acumen anywhere.
I have long stated that Fetlife was 'big time' social media being run as a small time operation and with recent decisions, it has never been more evident.
Let's skip how it impacts members and let's look at it as a business further.
There are advertisers currently paying a handsome monthly fee to have ads on their platform. Specifically, there are dungeons, events, munches, and communities all advertised on Fetlife. Do you think these individuals have paid to advertise to existing members who already know about their existence, or do you think they have paid these fees in an attempt to attract new members?
Closing Fetlife membership seems like a very smart business decision for ongoing business relations with their advertisers < sarcasm.
How about this, anyone consciously think about or recall CollarMe or bondage.com? Let's take it a step further, how about MySpace? Yeah, I didn't think so.
We live in a technological age where if you sleep for even a moment, you will become nothing but a blip on the map and Fetlife has slowly been walking that line for some time. Unfortunately, with their current decisions with relation to Fetlife membership, they are fast approaching the point where they will merely be a thing of the past; left with only a 'handful' of loyal members.
To survive, you must be innovative and proactive. You must have solutions for your problems. You cannot be reactive.
For a business to say; we have too many customer service complaints so we are closing the doors, is business suicide. It's really that simple. To say; "those that are smart will understand" is probably the most ignorant statement I have heard any business owner say in all my years.
I suppose that's what makes Twitter, FB, IG, Snapchat and so many others what they are in very short amounts of time and Fetlife, for all it's worth... merely a glorified forum board after more than half a decade.
My closing thoughts are these;
Fetlife has accepted money from its members and its advertisers, it owes them far more than what it is giving them.
For the community, it started to become what it wanted to be, a 'social network' and because of that, Fetlife, whether it wants to or not has a responsibility to the BDSM community as well as it's members; both premium and non-premium.
We the community are what make Fetlife great. We are the ones putting the hours in posting in the forums (groups), we are the ones referring and encouraging others to join, we are the ones helping those within the community, we are the support system and we are the ones sharing our lives and experiences amongst each other.
Someone may have created Fetlife, but we built it.
To close the doors on the community that has built it is preposterous. It is time to put your 'big boy' pants on Fetlife, get your ish together and handle your business.
Fetlife, you are not progressing the community further, you are taking us backward.
*** UPDATE ***
As of last night, Fetlife announced a more "Secure Signup" process.
In one of the more professional and well-articulated announcements that Fetlife's founder John has written, it was announced that a new, more secure process for membership signup will be in place (as of yesterday).
What is the process?
Like many of the larger social media platforms, new members will have to provide their phone number for a one-time anonymous text message to receive and provide verification in order to complete their Fetlife membership registration.
Yes, I understand for many that privacy and anonymity are important to you. However, this is a great and fantastic solution for Fetlife, it's members and the community. According to their statement, it is a one-time and anonymous process to ensure the legitimacy of those that are singing up. Thus, it makes complete sense to do so.
Perhaps they took the time to hear the community's voice.
This is a step in the right direction, it provides a little extra help or an extra step at least in keeping our community safe and legitimate. For all the mistakes that Fetlife makes, this decision is one I cannot consider a mistake. I personally back it and it appears they are taking appropriate steps in the right direction; I can hardly fault that.
What does this mean?
Well, it appears the FeLife membership invite only system has all but come to an end (thank f*ck), they have re-opened the doors to the community that has built them and to those looking for exposure or to explore - provided they can verify themselves.
Have you signed up with the new text message verification process? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below!
If you made it in, you can always find me on Fetlife via the link provided above.
Good luck on your journey and welcome to the community!