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by Jeff
Rated: 18+ · Article · How-To/Advice · #1656445
Tips and advice for aspiring erotica writers who wish to maintain their anonymity on WDC.

down-low. 1. anything low profile or to be kept in secrecy, especially in the realm of personal relationships. 2. any information to be kept private and between select parties, either in business, sports or personal relations. -- Urban Dictionary

Erotica can be an intimidating genre to write, particularly since it's still seen as inappropriate or offensive in many social circles. The purpose of this article is to encourage those of you who are interested in trying your hand at writing in the erotica genre, but maybe have reservations about attributing your name to this particular type of work. Thanks to the wonderful folks at Writing.Com, there are several ways you can write about and explore your interest in erotica, while at the same time preserving your anonymity or limiting the exposure of that writing across the site.

With that in mind, if you'd like to write erotica (or any other type of writing) that you'd like to limit access to, here are a few handy features that WDC offers to protect and restrict access to your work:

Authorized Secondary Accounts (ASAs) are completely separate second WDC accounts that members can maintain. These are the black cases with the word "2nd" written in white inside them. With some notable exceptions (ASAs can't be promoted, can't use costumicons, can't chat, can't rate or review, etc.), ASAs are essentially a completely different account that's just like your original account; you have a separate username, separate e-mail, separate login, etc. For all intents and purposes, it's a completely different account from your own. There are many reasons why someone would want an ASA, not the least of which is when a WDC author wants to write something they don't necessarily want housed or viewed in their own portfolio.
ADVANTAGES: Complete anonymity. The only people who know your identity are WDC staff (and anyone you tell, of course *Pthb*). There is no other way to trace your account, and your ASA can receive Awardicons, Merit Badges, GPs, and pretty much everything else.
DISADVANTAGES: Any awards you receive will count toward the ASA, not your main account (e.g. if you win a Merit Badge in a contest, your ASA's Community Recognition increases, not your original account. Additionally, ASAs must maintain an Upgraded Membership or higher, which is 499,500 GPs ($49.95) a year, so there is tangible cost associated with this feature.

Access Restrictions (Private Items) are items which are only accessible by you and WDC staff members. For you, they appear as pink items in your port; for everyone else, they are completely invisible. If someone tries to open a private item through a direct link, they will get a message that says, "[Item Name & Number] is a private item. Access has been restricted to it and you may not view it under its current settings. If you feel that you should have access to this item, please contact the item's owner and request access to it. To request access to this item, please contact: [user]." You also have the option of setting an item to Private and providing a PassKey, which is a numeric code that people can use to access the item. In this instance, when someone clicks on a link to your item (they're still invisible to anyone surfing around your port), they will get a message that says, "A PassKey is required in order to access this item. Please enter the PassKey in order to access this item." If they have the PassKey, they can enter it and view the item. If they don't, it will remain locked and inaccessible.
ADVANTAGES: Security. No one is going to see this item if you don't want them to see it. Private Items with PassKeys are the perfect way to prevent anyone you don't want from viewing these items, since they need to ask you for the PassKey before they can read it, while still allowing people you do want to view it (like judges or specific reviewers) to have access.
DISADVANTAGES: Limited accessibility. Since Private Items have restricted access that you control and don't appear to other users, you're not going to be able to get widespread feedback you would otherwise receive from items that people can see when they cruise through your port, or when they're available in public places like review forums, The Plug Page, listings of items under that genre, etc. The price of security is that you can't get feedback from anybody who you don't specifically grant permission to read. This also means that you have to go to the extra step of providing the PassKey to every judge of every contest you submit an entry to.

Access Restrictions (Group-Only Items) are items which are also invisible in your port to most WDC users, but accessible (and visible) to those WDC users who are a member of the same group of which you are a member. For example, if you're a member of "Unofficial Erotica Newsletter Group, you can create items that are only accessible and viewable to other members of the "Unofficial Erotica Newsletter Group. There's no PassKey here; you either have access to the item as a member of the group, or you don't. *Wink*
ADVANTAGES: By granting group-only access, you have a much larger base of readers than you would setting your item to Private, and they won't have to ask you for a PassKey every time they want to read something. Additionally, if you join a large group like the "Unofficial Erotica Newsletter Group, you can enter other contests like "The Weekly Quickie Contest or "Paradise Cove Writing Challenge-On Hold; since the regular judges for those contests are also UENG members, they can access your items without any trouble.
DISADVANTAGES: The group has to give you access in order to create group-only items. The "Unofficial Erotica Newsletter Group will provide this to any member who asks, but some other groups may be more selective about whom they allow to create group-only items. Additionally, group-only items appear in a listing on the main group item (which members can see). Also, unless the group is yours, you have no say in who is added as a member, which effectively means that you don't have final say in who sees your item.

Access Restrictions (Case-Color Items) are items which are only accessible to certain case colors (and higher) on WDC. Thus if you set this feature to "Registered Authors and Higher Only," Registered Users (those with no items in their port) would not be able to access the item. If you set this feature to "Preferred Authors and Higher Only," yellow cases (Preferred Authors), blue cases (Moderators), purple cases (Senior Moderators), and red cases (Staff) would be able to access the item, but black cases (Registered Authors) and Registered Users would not.
ADVANTAGES: By setting case-color-specific access restrictions, you can ensure the people who read your work are at least established members of the WDC community, who have achieved a promotion which, per WDC rules, are contingent upon being supportive and not overly-critical or biased towards other members.
DISADVANTAGES: You can only set this feature up through your own case color; therefore a Registered Author (black case) cannot create a "Preferred Authors and Higher Only" item. Additionally, case color has almost nothing to do with an individual's personal preferences. Beyond the rules of being supportive and courteous, a higher case color does not guarantee that individual will read or even respond favorably to a particular genre or subject matter. There are black cases that write erotica, and blue cases that are offended by the genre.

Membership Restrictions are items which limit access to those WDC users who have a particular level of paid membership. The default is unrestricted, but you can also set your item to only be accessible to Basic Memberships and higher, Upgraded Memberships and higher, or Premium Memberships and higher.
ADVANTAGES: Like the case color restrictions, you can ensure people who read your work at least take WDC seriously enough to pay for their membership in one way or another, whether through GPs or actual money spent.
DISADVANTAGES: Also like the case color restrictions, the level of membership has almost nothing to do with an individual's personal preferences. There are people who have paid for Premium Memberships and want nothing to do with erotica, just as there are users with free accounts who love the genre.

Content Rating and Intro Rating are used to give your item an appropriate rating, so readers can gauge whether your work is appropriate for their reading level, just like the rating for a movie tells you if the content is inappropriate for certain audience members. "Intro Ratings" pertain to the title and brief description and can either be rated "E" (for everyone of all ages), or "Non-E" (not for everyone of all ages). "Content Ratings" range from "E" (for everyone of all ages)" to "ASR" (adult supervision required), "13+", "18+", "GC" (graphic content), "XGC" (extreme graphic content), and "NPL" (not publicly listed).
ADVANTAGES: All WDC users have the ability to set their ratings filter to avoid items that they're uncomfortable with. Since erotica items often fall into the 18+, GC, or XGC ratings category, they won't appear in many users' listings or searches. Same with "Non-E" Intro Ratings. By setting your item ratings to these more adult settings, you'll prevent the people who don't want to view them - or shouldn't be viewing them - from seeing those items.
DISADVANTAGES: WDC users can set their own ratings filter... so anyone who chooses to see the material can. Additionally, by setting a "Non-E" Intro Rating or an over "18+" Content Rating, your item will be omitted from some public listings, eligibility in official contests, etc. Unfortunately, that's the price we pay for writing in a genre that still isn't widely accepted. *Frown*

In addition to story items, you also have the ability to create Folders in your port, which many people do in order to classify their material. Each Folder has the same customizable settings as described above... but it should be noted that those settings are for the Folder only, not the items in that folder. In other words, if you create a folder with a Membership Restriction for "Premium Memberships or Higher", while those users with Premium Memberships or higher will be the only ones who can click on that folder and open it in your port, the items themselves are still accessible to everyone via direct linking, listing pages on WDC, etc., and they will not have the same Membership Restriction (unless you set each specific item to be that way).

A great way to insulate your work is to create an "Erotica" (or more subtly named *Laugh*) folder in your port, and set it to Private, or group-only access so that it's invisible to most people who just happen to cruise through your port. That way, all your erotic writings are contained in the same area and, regardless of how you set the access restrictions to them individually, the folder itself isn't readily available and visible in your portfolio.

For those erotica writers who are looking for a little insulation or anonymity in order to feel comfortable writing erotica, an ASA is a great way to go, because it will ensure your erotica persona is separate from your regular WDC persona. But if an ASA isn't an ideal situation for you, consider possibly combining one or more of the features outlined above in order to create the security you need to explore your erotica writing freely. Between access settings for your port folders and the items individually, you should be able to find a way to create a bit of a buffer between your erotica and the general public.

Hopefully this article will give a little more peace of mind to those of you who would like to write erotica, but are concerned about the reaction to having items in that genre in your public portfolio. My intent with this article is to let you know that there are ways of protecting your work if you need them. Nobody should feel like they can't write in a genre that interests them... so please use the tips in this article, and the help of your fellow WDC members to find a way to allow yourself the opportunity to freely write erotica (or anything else you enjoy).
© Copyright 2010 Jeff (jeff at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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