Is this web site unsafe for children?
The other day I was checking my web stats for this website, The Advice Sisters , as I occasionally do. I’m proud to say that advicesisters.com is not just credited with bringing the advice genre online, it was established in 1996 and one of the first sites to focus primarily on women, and the things that help make life easier, more successful, and more satisfying. We started out offering relationship, beauty and fashion advice, but since 2001 after the death of the other Advice Sister” and my twin sister (her head is on the right in our logo), I transitioned to beauty, fashion and lifestyle (mostly we review products and services and report on events in NYC on a first person basis). We have an Alexa ranking of 572,526 globally and in the United States it’s 143,041 (with your support and readership, those number continue to climb and I thank you). We also blast all our features to all popular social media, none of which are “eggs” or purchased,.
When you are online this long, and especially if you review book or write about relationships, some words that seem “spicy” (I cannot use the others anymore, apparently) have appeared for the decades. Imagine my surprise when I received this message just yesterday, after all my decades of hard work: Child safety content warning! Because of adsense policies our system cannot publish this domain.. Yes, advicesisters.com has been flagged as unsafe for children
At first I wondered, what children? Advicesisters.com is a site primarily for educated, intelligent, adult women although some teen girls (18+) seem to like it as well. So I posted my query on one of the Google forums. A few of the responses were negative, complaining about the pop up you see the first time you visit advicesisters.com on the home page suggesting people sign up for my email list. So many sites have these and I just installed mine a few weeks ago, and it’s creating a call to action in a positive way.
But the real thing that concerns me is how “PC” a site must be if they don’t want to be considered “Obscene.”
Since I wrote about relationships, words such as sex, sexy and even adult toy came up now and then. Reviewing the site, I realized that now and then I reviewed a sprinkling of women’s fantasy and erotic books with no details to “offend” anyone. When you write book review roundups on a bi-monthly basis and those reviews are for women, some erotica seems appropriate. Apparently you can’t use the word “erotic” or “Erotica” without being penalized anymore?
So I checked the words “sex.” Sure enough, advicesisters.com has a few references to “adult pleasure objects” and “adult toys” in a few reviews. I could change these to “intimate” and I did, thinking it was kind of lame.
But then checked “sexy” in my content. Is sexy a dirty word? Is a woman in a bathing suit, not suitable for children (assuming it covers up the parts we’re not supposed to see in public). Well, I didn’t think so when I used it to describe clothing, skincare and fragrances, etc. Apparently you can be flagged for merely calling a tee shirt, “sexy.” How many of you use this adjective when describing something that is hardly porn or an obscenity? I have always been mindful to keep my articles safe for all readers.
So I’m wondering for my discerning readers out there, do you find advicesisters.com unsuitable for your children? At what age would you consider the words “adult toys” or “sexy fragrance” too racy? Would you child ever be reading at that age? In a world of twerking on videos and photos of women in wet tee shirts and even less than that, how is a website for women who occasionally uses the word sex or sexy in a relevant, GP way, a problem? How PC do we have to be these days?
I started dutifully going through my articles, ALL of them, and changing sex to “spicy” or “intimate” but as I continued to do so, I stopped. Realistically, I can’t get every tag or mention of a words meant for women out of my tasteful, hard work and content. And I thought? This is just silly, you are a site that caters to adult women and teens and I hardly think that anti-aging skincare is the stuff that young children are interested in or read. Although I will be more mindful of Google’s censuring, I’m not going to stop writing for adult women. Google might be the judge and jury of what they will spider and show in their search results, but I think they’ve gone too far. If all you want your kids to see are butterflies and rainbows, I suggest Google promote those sites as especially great for children, instead of categorizing and penalizing sites that cater tastefully to the interests of adult women as “obscene.
What do you think of this? I’d really appreciate your comments.
Alison Blackman, Editor in Chief, Advicesisters.com