Google AdSense Follies (Part II): Hitting a Brick Wall

Well, I got back another automated email from Google about my Google AdSense violations. It looks like I got absolutely nowhere in requesting a review, which is what I was expecting:

In the last 24 hours: 

4 page-level review requests were received. You’ll be notified when the reviews are completed.
4 pages were reviewed at your request and found to be non-compliant with our policies at the time of the review. Ad serving continues to be restricted or disabled on those pages.

What I find really annoying is that I cannot access the list of violations using my desktop computer (it gives me an error message), so I have to use either my iPad or my iPhone to check the exact wording of the policy violations to see what’s going on. Pain in the ass!

I also found it amusing that, the past three times I checked the Utherverse blogpost, that Google AdSense did not disable ads on that post. Instead, it simply served advertising for the cheating-on-your-spouse website Ashley Madison! So it would appear that, rather than disable ads outright, AdSense will try to match adult content with adult ads. Interesting!

So, for the most serious offender, the Utherverse blogpost, it looks as though I am going to have to remove a couple of images and the link to Utherverse, then resubmit it to see if it passes muster. Frankly, this automated, terse warning system, with its lack of specifics, is irritating. You don’t get an opportunity to talk with a real person to find out what’s wrong (if there’s a person involved in this system at all). It makes you have to guess at what’s wrong, and you have to keep submitting it for review until it is approved. Again, pain in the ass.

As for the other three blogposts, well, I guess I am going to have to put black boxes over naked avatar boobs and asses to get them cleared. So ridiculous!

Were it not for the fact that my Google AdSense ads are bringing in more money than my WordPress WordAds, I would seriously consider just cancelling my AdSense account altogether. But, for now, I’ll make the changes and resubmit all four blogposts for review—AGAIN.

And I will now be checking my email regularly for any future reports of blogposts that have run afoul of the fickle Google AdSense policies.

Advertisements

Google AdSense Follies (Part I): OH MY GOD WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!??

I am, in a word, bemused.

In addition to the WordPress advertising from WordAds that I have been using in my blog since March of 2018, I recently opened a Google AdSense account and began serving ads from AdSense. (If you are connecting to this blog via desktop computer, you can see one such ad under “Advertising” in the left-hand column, underneath the “Follow RyanSchultz.com via email” link.)

Today, I was surprised to discover an email from Google telling me:

Dear Publisher, 

This Google Publisher Policy Report gives you an overview of recent activity related to violations found on specific pages of your websites. As enforcement statuses may change over time, please refer to the “Page-level enforcements” section of the AdSense Policy Center for the current list of active violations. 

Please note this report doesn’t cover violations that may happen on an overall site or account level. You may be notified by a separate email if site or account level violations are found. Ads will continue to serve where no policy violations have been found, either at the page- or site-level. 

In the last 24 hours: 

New violations were detected. As a result, ad serving has been restricted or disabled on pages where these violations of the AdSense Program Policies were found. To resolve the issues, you can either remove the violating content and request a review, or remove the ad code from the violating pages.

Further details on enforcements can be found in the AdSense Help Center. To learn more about our program policies, please view the AdSense Program Policies.

Kind regards,
Google Publisher Policy

Now, I was very surprised to see this, since I have always strived to keep things at a PG13 level at all times on my blog. And, when I click over to see what the “violations” were, I find that four of my blogposts were flagged for “Adult, Sexual Content” violations, which are defined as:

Adult: Sexual Content

As stated in our Program policies, we may not show Google ads on pages or apps with content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse. This includes but is not limited to:

– pornographic images, videos, or games
– sexually gratifying text, images, audio, or video
– pages that provide links for or drive traffic to content that is sexually suggestive or intended to sexually arouse

So, which blogposts triggered the violations? Glad you asked. There were four. Here are the first three (all linked, so you can visit and see for yourself how unoffensive and safe-for-work they are):

UPDATED! Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Romeo and Juliet Full-Body Mesh Avatars as Valentine’s Day Gifts at the eBENTO Event!, which contains, AT WORST, a blurred-over image of a female avatar’s breasts in the background of the first photo, and ABSOLUTELY NO SEXUAL OR ADULT CONTENT AT ALL. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT MESH AVATARS.

The Mesh Project Releases New Male and Female Mesh Bodies for Second Life Avatars: Why I Won’t Be Buying One, which, AT WORST, shows a naked male avatar with a COMPLETELY BLURRED OUT penis on the first photo, and two photos of The Mesh Project’s new male mesh avatar which is essentially a FREAKING. KEN. DOLL. WITHOUT. A. PENIS.

Second Life Steals, Deals, and Freebies: Rick Bento Mesh Body by Alantori for Only L$50!, which, AT WORST, shows a naked male avatar rear end. OH MY GOD END OF THE WORLD SPARE THE CHILLUNS!!!

And then, finally, a double strike against this fourth and final blogpost: “Adult: Sexual Content” AND “Adult: Sexual Merchandise”, the latter of which is defined as follows:

Adult: Sexual Merchandise

Google ads may not be placed on adult or mature content. This includes fetish content as well as sites or apps that promote, sell, or discuss sexual aids. Examples include, but are not limited to:

– sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional
– sexual aids or enhancement tools such as vibrators, dildos, lubes, sex games, inflatable toys
– penis and breast enlargement tools

The blogpost Google finds so offensive? Utherverse and the Red Light Center: A Brief Introduction. Now here, I can begin to see why it might have gotten flagged. All the female-presenting nipples and vaginas and such are completely blurred out, but it’s still clear from at least one photo that some (as Google calls it) “sexual fixations or practices that may be considered unconventional” could be taking place. And I do also include a link to the Utherverse/Red Light Center with a VERY CLEAR warning that the link is Not Safe For Work (NSFW). So now I have to think twice before I put in any links like this, even with a warning label? (UPDATE: I have decided to go in and blur out the offending images in this blogpost even more strongly than before, including completely blurring the kinky one.)

I would argue that my blogpost is simply TALKING about an adult virtual world at a PG13 level. I am tempted to remove the link to Utherverse/RLC, but instead, I have called for a review of all four “violations” (which I am told can take up to a week or longer to process).

The first three “violations” are ludicrous. Am I supposed to start blurring out AVATAR REAR ENDS OH MY GOD THE CHILDREN THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! This is ridiculous. WE ARE TALKING ABOUT AVATARS, PEOPLE. THE DIGITAL VERSION OF BARBIE DOLLS. The fourth one, well, if the review is rejected, then I supposed I am going to have to go in and sanitize it even more. But this is a slippery slope; am I going to have to go back through 1,255 blogposts over two years and check each one for inadvertent tits and ass?

I have subtitled this blogpost “Part I”, because I have a horrible sinking feeling that this issue is not going to go away so easily. If the four blogposts above were flagged (either by machine or human), there a probably dozens more that would also fall afoul of Google’s AdSense rules. I have written about (and linked to) other adult/sexual worlds, always with a very clear NSFW warning. Should I remove the links and tell people to just Google them? (Now THAT would be ironic.)

But to date, I have never seen the need to blur out an avatar rear end (male or female) as I would a penis, a vagina, or a “female-presenting” nipple. And we are talking about AVATARS, which are not to be confused with real people. I’m not serving porn here, I’m talking about mesh avatar bodies! GET A GRIP, GOOGLE ADSENSE.

This is NOT over. Even though I have a feeling I am in a losing battle here. The good news is that it would appear that Google AdSense has blocked advertising only on those four blogposts.

Stay tuned; I will post updates!

UPDATED! Editorial: Which Social VR Platform Will Be the First to Allow Adult Content?

The Escort Oasis in Second Life

I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Now hear me out on this.

Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, has gone on record that there will never be adult content in Sansar. Not because he’s opposed to it (after all, Second Life makes a not insignificant portion of its profit from the dozens of adult-rated sims on the grid, catering to just about every sexual kink imaginable). In fact, Second Life is so successful at this aspect of the business that it makes it almost impossible for any other adult virtual world to get a financial foothold (link is safe for work).

Ebbe is opposed to adult content from the point of view that he wants Sansar to be a success, a roaring success like Second Life was in its time, and that often means partnerships with other companies. Companies who are understandably very squeamish about associating their brand names with sex and adult content. The United States of America, for all the glorification of violence portrayed in its cultural exports like videogames and movies, is still remarkably puritanical (and frankly, somewhat hypocritical) when it comes to sex.

None of what I call the “Big Five” social VR platforms (or even the top 12, for that matter) allow adult content. Note that here I am talking specifically about general-purpose/multipurpose platforms, not the purely sex-oriented ones like 3DX Chat (all links in this paragraph are safe for work).

But what would happen if one of them decides to break from the pack and allow sexual content? Assuming, of course, that there would be some kind of permissions system in place to lock it down and restrict access to only those adults who want to see and participate in it (like what Second Life already has, but perhaps even more restrictive).

That social VR platform would probably get a huge boost in business, along with a burst of media attention (not all of it positive). And it might just get enough attention to actually become a major player, becoming in effect the next Second Life, with user concurrency figures to match.

It’s a risky gamble, and if it is not handled correctly, it will tarnish the name of whatever social VR platform makes the attempt (much the same as Second Life now has a certain disreputable reputation in some quarters, even though it is certainly possible to use and enjoy SL without ever stepping foot in an adult sim).

But for some company, sick and tired of being the underdog virtual world after pouring untold time and money into building a platform, only to have it ignored, it might be a truly tempting prospect. And it would probably up-end the marketplace.

Then again, perhaps somebody will just go and create a purely adult-oriented social VR platform. We’ve already seen a first attempt to support VR with the adult virtual world Oasis (link is safe for work), but when I tried it, it didn’t work very well at all. Furthermore, it looks like the company is having trouble attracting users (they recently switched from their initial US$20-per-month subscription plan to US$20 for a “lifetime membership”, which indicates a certain level of desperation setting in). After writing my profile on the platform (see link above), I uninstalled Oasis from my computer and I have no plans to return.

The adult virtual world 3DX Chat also says they support the Oculus Rift VR headset on their website, and I did try it out once, but it’s also pretty buggy. After writing my profile (link is safe for work), I uninstalled the client software, and I have absolutely zero inclination to want to revisit 3DX Chat. As I have said before on this blog:

…I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.

Will I cover sex/adult-oriented social VR platforms in future on this blog? If it doesn’t cost me anything to test it out, once, then I might do it again. I mean, I’m a 55-year-old out-of-the-closet gay man; it’s not like I need a note from my Mommy to see nekkid people 😉

So, what do you think? Which social VR company do you think will take the plunge into adult content? Or do you think a new, adults-only company will capture the market instead? Please feel free to leave a comment on this blogpost, or join the RyanSchultz.com Discord server, where nearly 200 members are ready and willing to discuss and debate these and many other issues around social VR and virtual worlds!

UPDATE Feb. 19th: SURPRISE! As it turns out, one of the top social VR platforms already allows adult content, and I wasn’t even aware of it!

A commenter to this blogpost mentioned that High Fidelity actually allows adult content, and I posted a question on the official High Fidelity forums.

According to the High Fidelity Terms of Service:

These Terms of Service for High Fidelity Domains are applicable only when you access or use High Fidelity Domains (content hosted by High Fidelity). HIGH FIDELITY IS NOT RESPONSIBLE OR LIABLE FOR ANY ASPECT OF THE HIGH FIDELITY PLATFORM THAT IS NOT HOSTED, DISTRIBUTED, PROVIDED OR MAINTAINED BY HIGH FIDELITY.

So it would appear that you can have adult content on your own domain, as long as you don’t bring any adult content into HiFi’s own hosted domains. Furthermore, you can set an adults-only (age 18+) rating in the description section of the domain when you are setting it up:

Which leads to the follow-up question I asked: Are there already adult-rated/adult-content domains in High Fidelity? One person responded:

There are users who have adult content in their domains, but these are usually made private (unlisted) so that unaware users do not wander in… which is probably why most people haven’t seen them  🙂

I am pretty sure that most people are not aware that you can already have adult content in High Fidelity. I know that I’ve never heard of it before this! And High Fidelity probably doesn’t want to advertise that fact too loudly or too broadly, lest they get overrun with people setting up adult domains. Or maybe they do actually want that market! How interesting…

SECOND UPDATE Feb. 19th: HiFi user and unofficial High Fidelity Discord moderator Menithal has kindly given me a link to where Philip Rosedale talked about this back in October of 2017:

[High Fidelity] is an open source system where you run the servers. You can do whatever you want on your server. You are responsible for any local laws you might break, etc. We are just like an Apache web server.

Because we provide search services for placenames or domains on the web and in places like the go-to button on the tablet, we will use self-described ratings and other data we can collect to provide filters for those searches. Obviously you can opt out of using or being included in those search services. So these ratings will be used there.

Menithal suggests reading through the full discussion thread I linked to above, not just the part where Philip weighs in, in order to get the full context of the discussion.

Banner vector created by katemangostar – www.freepik.com

3DX Chat: A Brief Introduction (and the Biggest Problem with Most Adult Virtual Worlds)

(Yes, yes, I know, I know, I said I was taking a break. You know how bad I am at keeping these sorts of promises by now, right?)

*sigh*

Before we get started, I want to make it clear that I am not going to get into the habit of covering adult/sex-based virtual worlds. There are literally dozens of them out there, and frankly, I find them boring as hell.

So, why am I writing about 3DX Chat? Well, as you will learn, I discovered that they have a free-to-access test version available for a limited time, so I decided to check it out. (I first heard about it from a Second Life blogger.)

Frankly, the very few adult virtual world platforms which I have mentioned before on this blog (namely, Utherverse/Red Light Center, LivCloser, and Oasis) have not impressed me very much. The biggest problem is that many of these newer adult/sex-based virtual worlds simply cannot compete with everything that the entrenched frontrunner Second Life, with a 15-year head start, has to offer:

  • SL now has extremely attractive, realistic-looking mesh avatars (male, female, and any mythical creature you could ever dream up), with a near-endless array of avatar customization options (hair, clothing, shoes, accessories, etc.). You can outfit your avatar to fit into any style or scene! No other virtual world can compete.
  • In-world stores and the SL Marketplace sell tens of thousands of different animations (dance, cuddle, sex, etc.); again, there’s something to suit every taste. Again, no other virtual world can compete with the endless selection.
  • Finally, Second Life offers hundreds of adult locations, many staffed with dozens of avatars who are ready, willing, and able to roleplay sexual scenes (via chat, voice, even webcam!). Again, no other sex-based virtual world comes even close.

Now I want to assure you (despite SL’s reputation in some quarters) that you can easily enjoy and appreciate Second Life without setting foot once in any of these adult areas. You can easily set up your client software to avoid showing adult-rated places to you under Places search, for example. But they are there, if you are curious. And some of these places are quite popular. Frankly, sex is one of the reasons that Second Life is still as popular as it is, for a certain minority of visitors.


I decided to take advantage of an opportunity to explore yet another sex-based social VR space/virtual world, called 3DX Chat. (I’m not going to bother providing a link; you can Google it to find it yourself.)

3dxchat 6 17 Oct 2018.png

Normally, you have to purchase a monthly subscription to visit and use 3DX Chat, starting at US$19.99 a month:

3dxchat 5 16 Oct 2018.png

But, for a limited time, I discovered that they are offering free access to a new test client and server, so I decided that I would investigate. So I put on my reporter’s cap and went to check out this new world (well, not so new; 3DX Chat is apparently already 5 years old).

The good news is that, at least compared to LivCloser, Oasis, and Utherverse/RLC, the avatars do actually look pretty good. Here’s what I able to pull together for a more modest look for my test female avatar:

3dxchat 1 16 Oct 2018.png

3dxchat 2 16 Oct 2018.png

It’s a very different pricing model than Second Life; your monthly subscription fee seems to include all possible options for body shapes and sizes, hair, makeup, clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc. You can also tint your hair and clothing to any colour you desire. But all these options are still limited to about a dozen hairstyles, a dozen dresses, a dozen styles of footwear, etc., so most of the 3DX Chat avatars land up looking a lot like each other anyways. (Not to mention that most in-game women seem to prefer that starving, anorexic look. Get those poor women some sandwiches, pronto!)

You can also choose from several kinds of locales where you can meet, chat with, dance with, and have sex with other avatars, like this luxury yacht. At the highest settings, the environments are very attractively rendered, and you can control the time of day or night on all of them, everything from midday to sunset to midnight:

3dxchat 4 16 Oct 2018.png

3dxchat 8 17 Oct 2018.png

The experimental high-quality water setting is actually quite realistic-looking, among the best water I’ve seen in any virtual world:

3DXchat 9 18 Oct 2018.png

But let’s not kid ourselves. Any socializing that does take place here is essentially foreplay. 3DX Chat is ALL about the sex. It’s not unusual to walk around couples and trios engaged in the act, wherever you go: on a sofa in a club, on a beach, in a prison cell, up against a wall or a stripper pole, etc. After a while, your eyes glaze over at all the non-stop sex.

(By the way, if someone is pestering you, you can simply click on them, and select Ignore from the menu that pops up. And poof! they disappear! It should be so easy to get rid of creepers in the real world!)

There is also an option to use 3DX Chat with an Oculus Rift VR headset, but I found navigation to be rather buggy and clunky. It’s not ready for prime time yet, in my opinion. However, you can move around well enough in desktop mode.

So, what do I think about 3DX Chat after my reporter’s excursion? 3DX Chat certainly offers better-looking avatars than Oasis, which is critical for a successful adult virtual world, but you still have far fewer options available than what Second Life offers you. For example, you only can choose about a dozen dances for your avatar on the dancefloor in 3DX Chat, as opposed to tens of thousands of dances available to you in SL.

I will close with a quote from reporter Susannah Breslin, from my blogpost on another product, CamasutraVR:

 Susannah Breslin has written an article for The Atlantic about the current state of the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley, which also mentions CamasturaVR and the Uncanny Valley:

Whether or not people get turned on by VR pornography, the technology is changing the places where adult content has traditionally been created. Porn Valley is being displaced by porn’s uncanny valley—an X-rated version of the theory holding that a robotic or simulated entity that appears to be human, but not quite fully human, revolts us. Losing a connection to the material world—the skin and sweat of reality—may also lose what makes porn alluring.

She concludes the article by stating:

Everyone wants to feel something,” Adam Sutra told me of his experiments in virtual pornography. He’s right about that. Porn isn’t about sex at all, I’ve learned. It’s about wanting to feel something. And until technology figures out how to make me feel the way that I do when I’m on a porn set, I’ll leave virtual-reality sex to the start-up boys.

Perfectly put!