Jun 262013
 

There’s a new porn web site in town, called “MLNP.TV“. It features user-provided porn – sort of like a higher-end “Youporn,” on which sexy (and some not-so-sexy) couples, and individuals, can post themselves having (gasp!) real sex. I wrote about it some months ago, complaining about the pricing model. They haven’t changed the pricing model, and I haven’t changed my view of it.

Still, I love the idea.

I love web sites that feature real sex, real people, real orgasms, having pleasure for themselves, rather than for me. I love seeing sex that is made hotter for the people having it by the fact that I might be watching. This is why I love “I Feel Myself.” Even though none of you has caused me to get a free subscription. 🙁

So I really want to love MLNP.

But I can’t stand it.

It’s bad in almost every way.

The technology behind the web site is glitchy – every time I try to watch a video there, something or other goes wrong.

The web site’s design itself is glitchy – it’s hard to operate, to navigate. Just technically. For example, go to this page and try to navigate down to see the five purported films of bzandgloria. You can do it, but it’s not easy, or intuitive. It’s not easy to get an overview of the videos available for a given contributor, or in a given category.

The organization of the films is worse than haphazard. Films are “tagged” by the folks who post them. This means that tags are entirely useless, as the hipster porn stars are busy showing off their ironic humor, tagging films with things like “Yes! Yes! Yes!,” or “Frolicsome” or “Owowowheynow.” And then there are site-wide “categories,” which, themselves, seem to be more about hipster self-satisfaction than actual communication to users – categories include “Yummy,” “Pretty,” “Romping,” “Clitastic,” and “Spectacular.”

Some of the films feature “free peeks,” which are brief, or, in some cases, extensive previews of the film. Others don’t. This would be fine, were it not for the way the site is priced:

For five dollars, you can “rent” access to a video for three weeks. Of this, half goes to the performer, and half goes to MLNP.tv. I get it. It’s a cool business model that encourages people to submit their stuff, and makes really simple the sharing of proceeds with performers.

The videos are short (some are just a minute or three long) or long (some are half an hour or so). The one-size-fits-all pricing, combined with the wide variety of material available, just renders the whole thing useless, as far as I’m concerned. I want to be able to browse around, to see what I like. And honestly, I don’t want a film for three weeks. That’s not how I, um, view my porn. I typically want a film once. Or maybe twice. For a small number of minutes.

There is, as I said earlier, an air of the self-satisfied to the whole enterprise, whether it’s Cindy Gallop’s messianic (TED-talk) zeal for her project, or Violet’s and Rye’s relentless hyping.

If the project were more, um, satisfying, this would bother me less.

As I said, I do like the idea – provide a forum for folks to share their hotness. But as a viewer, I don’t want to pay a (relatively) big price for each video I watch, and to do so sight unseen. I’d much prefer to pay, say, for twenty minutes of viewing. Or unlimited viewing for a day, or week, or month. And then let the revenues be shared with the performers behind the scenes. The designers of MLNP.tv have allowed their nifty vision of the economic model (contributors and web site split the revenues 50-50) to drive an ultimately user-unfriendly experience.

The great virtue of MLNP.tv – that it is a great turn-on for its contributors – is its greatest problem. It’s designed to be a turn-on for its contributors, to the detriment of its viewers’ experiences. Here are just a few things they could do that (I have a hunch) will never happen because they would offend the creators’ sensibilities, but that would result in a much better web site:

1. Offer a more conventional subscription model – $x/month, week, day. Or sell bundles of minutes. And/or maybe move to a more “micro-payment”-y cost for individual views of videos (ten cents? twenty cents?).

2. Overhaul the web site. It’s not user-friendly. At all.

3. Implement categories that are at least a little more porn-conventional (or at least, communicative). If I want to see blowjobs, let me see blowjobs. Don’t make me figure out whether “yummy” or “giving” or some other clever combination of letters is hipster code for blowjobs. Standardize them across the site. They could let the hipster tags remain, but at least use the categories in a way that’s useful.

4. Think about incentivizing the community aspect of it a bit by offering credits in exchange for people’s submitting their videos. Or offering the opportunity to earn credits with views.

Just a few thoughts.

I continue to be hopeful about the web site: it does seem to be attracting some hot porn. I just think it’s not going to attract me as a regular viewer unless some aspects of it change.

wickedwed

  9 Responses to “Make love, not porn”

  1. This is a really great review that put into words some of the same issues I’ve had with MLNP.tv.

  2. I have never heard of MLNP.tv before, but I guess after reading thus I won’t visit the site. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Rebel xox

    • You have babes! I was sitting next to you! She was the closing speaker at Eroticon. I got the impression that, for her, the venture is about challenging the status quo in a male dominated porn industry and that is where her passion lies. Her viewpoint was narrow at best. It was all too reminiscent of pyramid selling hype for me. I suspect if she does not attract people who like porn as it is on the likes of youporn (a total melting pot completely defying a single definition) then their greatest revenues will be limited to those who submit and also view. A community rather than an open market. She was too judgmental in her opinions of ‘porn’ (and therefore those of us who actually enjoy it) to acknowledge the market she is in, even if she does dress their offering up in pretty ribbons.

  3. Interesting piece. I will admit that when I first read about this project, which was a fairly early on in it’s conception and certainly before the actual site with movies was launch. To be honest at time I felt the some of the stuff on that site made me uncomfortable. It felt ‘anti porn’ which just seemed completely off. It certainly seemed to deliver the message that unless it was ‘real people making ‘love” then it was actually unsavoury.

    Since then I have been and had one look at the site but like you paying $5 for a movie that I have little idea about and for 3 weeks just doesn’t work for me. It feels too like a lottery and, like you, it would seem I tend to watch something once, maybe twice, 3 weeks use does not appeal to me.

    However, I do admire Cindy for her gumption and her determination with this project and I hope they iron out some of these flaws and issues and make it more user friendly. I love the idea of giving amateur people a platform to share their work potentially make money.

    Mollyxxx

    • I agree with your final paragraph. I do want them to succeed, not least because much of what’s there is hot. I even can imagine submitting if it felt like a good place….

  4. Thank you so much for your honest and straightforward feedback.

    Just to clarify a few things:

    Our tagline for MakeLoveNotPorn is ‘Pro-sex. Pro-porn. Pro-knowing the difference.’ I, and we, are not remotely anti-porn, as our many friends in the porn industry can testify.

    I never set out with intent to do what I’m doing currently – this is the background to why MLNP.tv came into being:

    http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/column-embarrassed-to-talk-about-sex-and-porn-ireland-this-is-your-wake-up-call-853199-Apr2013/

    and I can promise you that if my motivations were the ones speculated on above, I would have given up long ago, because my and my team’s lives battling to build and grow this venture are much too difficult and unpleasant 🙂 In fact, the journey has been frequently so tough, demoralizing and demotivating, as I detail here:

    http://www.inc.com/chris-beier-and-daniel-wolfman/venture-capital-cindy-gallop-make-love-not-porn.html

    that the only thing that has kept us going has been the people who write to us every day welcoming what we’re trying to do.

    You’re quite right – we are tiny, bootstrapping, under-resourced and underfunded; we released MLNP.tv as ‘minimum viable product’ and are real-world-testing as we build, and there are lots and lots of technical glitches. We are constantly amazed and grateful by the willingness of many of our members to provide feedback on everything that is going wrong for them, give us the time to fix it and then test it again.

    This is why our business model:

    http://talkabout.makelovenotporn.tv/2012/09/20/how-makelovenotporn-tv-can-help-the-global-economy/

    We are working currently on introducing monthly subscriptions, and will notify all our members when we launch those.

    We are entirely crowd-sourced and user-generated. We lay down no rules for our members, beyond providing a sense of what we mean by #realworldsex:

    http://talkabout.makelovenotporn.tv/2013/04/01/what-is-realworldsex-the-first-in-an-occasional-series/?

    and what we curate for in terms of ‘real’:

    http://talkabout.makelovenotporn.tv/2013/04/24/what-is-realworldsex-and-how-do-we-capture-it-musings-from-madam-curator/

    Our tags are not yet user-generated, and they are entirely deliberate on our part. Because we do not talk about sex openly and honestly in the real world, there is no socially acceptable language of sex. The language of porn currently fills that gap, in both the public and the private domains. We want to help build a new vocabulary around #realworldsex – something I reference in this article:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2012/11/20/sex-toys-sexist-relationships-language_n_2163982.html

    and we are working on how we balance that with searchability in the conventional sense. These are my co-founders Oonie Chase (user experience lead) and Corey Innis (CTO) talking about the task of designing and building MLNP.tv:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/designing-make-love-not-porn-2013-4

    I go into more detail about our broader aims and what we are trying to achieve in my SXSW talk on ‘The Future Of Porn’:

    http://talkabout.makelovenotporn.tv/2013/05/31/cindy-gallop-the-future-of-porn-sxsw-interactive-2013/

    Self-satisfaction is in the eye of the beholder. I can assure you that neither I nor my very hardworking, stressed and overloaded small team feels remotely self-satisfied as we fight to try and get MLNP.tv financially viable under its own steam before our seed funding runs out.

    Of course, we’re not for everybody, and we’re not trying to be. We’re for those people who support our social mission of seeking to create a more open, healthy, honest, truthful dialogue around #realworldsex, and are willing to bear with us as we experiment with socializing sex, to make #realworldsex as openly, publicly, socially shareable as anything else we currently share on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram. We may never succeed. We may fail. But at least we tried. And, as the line from the Apple ad goes, ‘The people crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.’ 🙂

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