Tag Archives: ace advice tag

Tumblr Ask-Advice Blogging: What’s Holding It Back & How Link Culture Could Help

As many of you know, around the Tumblr “ask” messaging system has grown a culture of dedicated ask-advice blogs, typically inviting questions on specific identities and experiences, such as asexuality. Ideally, these blogs should be helpful places for soliciting advice and making contact with new communities. Unfortunately, however, these blogs face certain inherent problems that severely limit how useful they can be.

The biggest limitations lie in three structural elements of the format: 1) the single respondent, 2) the delayed posting of the initial message, and 3) the notifications all going to the person who answers, not the person who asks. In addition, there are also some psychological issues to account for. Popular advice bloggers, facing a deluge of advice-seekers, are especially prone to writing answers that are both 4) overconfident and 5) rushed, resulting in especially shallow, misleading, or even harmful advice. Aside from changing Tumblr’s features directly, one way to mitigate these issues would be by cultivating more of a culture of links.

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Pap Test CBA

[cw: medical talk, genitals talk, etc.]

Found some ace blogs recommending all folks w/ cervices get pap tests.


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Basic Resources for Ace Advice Blogs

If I had my way (and 1000x more brainpower), I’d have helped put together a log far more extensive than this, but for now… recent events have pushed my “something’s better than nothing” sentiment to outpace my perfectionism.  So here’s a very minimal sampling thrown together to meet that “better than nothing” threshold: links, resources, and recommended reading for anyone heading an asexuality-themed blog.

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*finds this “sex favorable aces” tumblr*

*decides to drop this in their submit box*

They don’t have a submit box.

Now, this might be going too far, I suppose, but it occurs to me that if someone’s asking for sources to prove that asexuality isn’t “just something tumblr made up,” mm, you might want to provide links that aren’t… several tumblr posts, and then one non-tumblr article that’s primarily about gayness.

Granted, yes, some of those tumblr posts do link non-tumblr sources, which you’ll see if you go as far as looking at them.

But considering the kind of people you might be dealing with, if “just something tumblr made up” is the question on the table…

You might want to take some preemptive measures.

By the way, this and this and this exist.

AA: love and desireability talk

[cw: sex as a point of contention in romantic relationships]

Anonymous wrote in:

Have you seen this post? “Some people desire sex and feel like they need to have sex with their partner in order to have a fulfilling & happy relationship with them, and there’s nothing wrong with that at all.” http://theasexualityblog.tumblr.com/post/142562968716/joshnewberry-peak-bad-discourse-is-its

It reminded me of your post “equating sex with love is rape culture” and I was curious as to your thoughts.

(link to “equating sex with love is rape culture”)

No, I hadn’t seen it.

This question strikes me as the kind of message sent by someone who takes issue with joshnewberry’s post but wants someone else to address it for them.  Honestly I can’t say I have a problem with that tactic.

You might not get what you hoped for, though.

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monosyllabic answers

jsyk if I ever in the past or in the future refer to the ace community treating porn like a “non-issue,” this is the kind of thing I mean.

And whatever “not inherently…” and yes “no ethical consumerism under capitalism,” etc., I mean — I’ve seen more complex answers given to simpler questions before, detailing more than just the one-word technical answer, even if only to go on a little rant about unaccepting straight parents.

All I’m saying is, seems like a lot of ace bloggers make a practice of ignoring the ethics question as if it doesn’t even need to be asked, regardless of what answer you come to.

And maybe you could say that’s beside the point.

And maybe you could say it’s because they don’t want to wade into a fight, or not a fight of that caliber.

I guess.

But if I ever refer back to this, these are the kinds of posts I mean.

Fetlife talk

Since Smurf/kinkyasexuals has come off hiatus, I decided to send them a message about Fetlife (with the links mentioned here).  This was their response.

It’s about four paragraphs of “Most of the users on FL are aware of the problems and we have no better options.”

After getting that response, I’m thinking I should have explained myself better.

Here are some quotes of posts in which Smurf has recommended Fetlife in the past:

Anon: [snipped]  …Where do you find partners, if at all? I am so out of place both in the kink and the asexual community, I’m not sure how to do this.

Smurf: [snipped]  … If online, I recommend fetlife.com: it’s primarily a social networking site, so you’re (only a little bit) less likely to have people hitting you up for sex.  There are also various kinky and asexual groups on there to mingle and ask questions in.  And you can find out what your local scene is like, if there are munches or play parties, and hit people up and make friends and go from there. (link to post)

Anon: Do you perhaps have any advice for asexuals on joining the kink community for the first time?  I’m 21 and interested in maybe going to local meet ups in the future but I’m not sure how ace-friendly they are likely to be.  Are there any key ways of telling one way or another, that you happen to know of?

Smurf: Honestly, not any one way more than the other.  I would suggest perhaps joining a site like fetlife.com, searching for a local munch, see if it has a group associated with it, and ask.  That’s the best way to do it without showing up to a munch unannounced and asking and potentially putting yourself in harms way.  In general, though, munches should be safe spaces.  There’s no way to guarantee how LGBTQIAP+ friendly a particular munch is before joining, unless you happen to know someone who’s been involved with the group before. (link to post)

In these posts, both inquirers imply themselves to be newbies to the kink community.  Smurf brings up Fetlife as if it’s something they may not have heard of before, which is a reasonable guess.  If it’s something they haven’t ever heard of before, then they can’t possibly be already aware of the TOU enforcement issues or the fact that the site deliberately misrepresents how secure it is.  Smurf did not bring up any of that alongside the recommendation.

(Also, when I discussed this with the copilot, she also added that FL is very much not an accommodating place for anyone sex-repulsed, given that explicit sexual imagery would be impossible to avoid.  This is, admittedly, par for the course when it comes to the kink world.  However, I think it’s important to tell people of what they’re likely to encounter instead of taking the “you should just know to expect that” approach, especially on a blog catering to asexuals.)


Seeing those posts initially, I assumed that Smurf was only omitting those details because they were not aware of them.

So I sent in that submission with the links.

Now I know that Smurf does know and has known about the issues with Fetlife for some time, including when those posts were made.

I’ll try to make my intended message more clear this time:

I think telling newbies to join Fetlife without warning them about the site’s deceptive practices is irresponsible, and I think the recommendation should be paired with those warnings in the future.

Kiowa and Prescriptivism: A Recap

June 2014: In a discussion about ace advice blogs and identity policing, Kiowa (nolivingunderstarlight) responded to the fact that some of her own advice was cited as part of the problem.  She renounced her specific post but defended her general practices with the belief that it’s okay to say whether someone is “probably” asexual.  Sennkestra/Cleander wrote back with an in-depth counterargument.  I know of no response to that.

October 2015: In response to an ask about apothisexual, Kiowa wrote, “We do not advocate any sexuality terms that do not deal exclusively in feelings of sexual attraction.”  When Hezekiah confronted her about this by making an analogy to LGB identities, Kiowa replied by identity-policing aces and LGB people.  This got responses from Hezekiah, Sennkestra, Siggy, and me.  I know of no response to those.

That same week, Kiowa also identity-policed another ace advice blogger.

November 2015: In reaction to my post Examples of Bad Ace Advice, Kiowa and two other AA mods wrote an official response, in which she apologized for her pre-2015 identity-policing and apologized for what she said to Arf, but also criticized my post on multiple points and argued that her current approach is not prescriptivist.

The next day, she commented on my reply to ask how I would ask her to do things differently and told me that what I wrote was unkind, ignoring my rebuttals to her previous (more concrete) criticisms of my post.  Since her question had already been answered in multiple places, I asked her if she’d read one of the main links I’d already provided in the original post.  Siggy and Hezekiah stepped in as well.

Addressing 0% of the points we’d made and the questions we’d asked of her, Kiowa replied, “I’m honestly ready to let this one lie.”

That was November 17th.  I haven’t heard from her since.

She’s still had time to answer asks on Asexual Advice, though.  In a post published on November 24th, she upheld an ahistorical understanding of “the” definition of asexuality, possibly in relation to this discussion.

As far as I’m concerned, we’re still not on the same page.

As a mod of a popular and prominent ace advice blog, Kiowa occupies a position of authority.  That authority comes with power and responsibility.  I would like for her to be accountable to the rest of the community in how she handles that responsibility and to follow Arf’s ideals for ace advice blogs as gateways to the community.

To create a gateway to the community, one necessarily has to be engaged with that community.

Kiowa’s record of engagement, in general, from the things I’ve seen, is to respond once to criticisms delivered to her doorstep and to rarely continue the conversation much further than that, even when that means ignoring rebuttals.

Obviously, the Tumblr format is ill-suited to this matter, since, as has been noted before, Asexual Advice gets flooded with too many notifications to sort through.  If AA had an email address that I was aware of, I would use that.  If AA had a comment section that didn’t require a Tumblr account, I would use that.  To continue the conversation that is important to me, I don’t have many options at my disposal.  So here I am, writing this post, pointing out the timeline of what has happened.

Not that I expect her to to respond to every little thing, but these concerns have been raised about her repeatedly, as an ongoing issue.

I want to know why she isn’t doing more to resolve it.

Update: if you’re following this issue, here’s the latest.

5 Tips for Identifying & Handling Abuse as an Advice Blog Mod

As an extension of the conversation that produced this list of bad advice from ace advice blogs, I’m making this post to provide some concrete tips (for mods of such blogs) on how to recognize and give advice about potentially abusive situations.

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