Pornography on the Internet

In honor of our latest/hatest (unnamed) troll, I thought I’d turn his tactics against him and make something good out of it - a debate on the schtick he was using …

Should pornography be censored on the internet? Where would one draw the line?

I personally think it is fine on the internet. There are plenty of pieces of software for responsible parents to use to block the content their children try to access.

However, a blanket sanction to the right to content could lead to some dubious consequences. Does having the space available for Playboy style centerfolds offer too many opportunities for hidden camera/teen/whatever pages? Do text files dealing with rape/pedophilia/beastiality/what-have-you come with the territory?

What do the Dopers really think?

I personally think that everyone should “draw the line” for himself. You just can’t have “someone” or some party draw the line for everybody.

Granted, you don’t encroach on the rights of others. Those who want it can have it, but those who don’t want it shouldn’t stumble upon it by mistake, or be bombarded with it.

So, I think it should be more of “regulated” than censored.

I’ve always liked the proposal of having all sex sites have their own domain name, like .sex or .xxx. This makes blocking content with Internet filters very easy. No censorship necessary, and protectors of public morality can stop getting outraged at the idea of children having easy access to Internet pornography.

I think the .sex or .xxx idea MIGHT have worked way back when, but not now.

Especially for someone like me. I’ve worked hard to get the name recognition that I’ve got. I have spent time and money getting my name out there. If I had to abandon the .com to go to .xxx, I’d be screwed. And I do not deserve to be just because I offer adult entertainment, despite some people’s view of it.

So, too late on that one.

How would these sites be categorized? Would the description be self-designated? Or would there be some group charged with determining what should be in .xxx, and would those sites be bound by the decision? What if another site has direct links to an .xxx site? Does it become .xxx as well?

I do think that there should be limits to pornography on the internet, but not any special limits. For instance, there shouldn’t be child pornography, but there should be any exploitation of children in any other type of site, either. There shouldn’t be pornography sites that try to trick ssearch engines into returning that site to unrelated searches, but there should any other types of sites that do that either. I can’t think of any restriction that I think should be applied to pornography that shouldn’t be applied to everything.

What if the anyone with a .com address gets dibs on that address in .xxx?

Still wouldn’t work if we had to give up the .com. Too many links out there that wouldn’t be fixed, so unless I could keep the .com and have it refresh to .xxx, it wouldn’t work.

Plus, who wants the stigma? I mean, if my site were “” that would be fine, but my site falls a little higher on the class scale than that.

The question ultimately becomes: who regulates the internet?

Who do you want to pass laws banning pornography? Who do you want limiting pornography on the internet? Which organization is to be set up to enforce this on a worldwide scale?

Or should we just assume that the US will ban it and filter it accordingly for everyone with a US dialup to an ISP? How is this different than Net Nanny? How is this better than V-chip? My response would be, learn to watch your kids a little closer.

If, by some strange fluke, we actually got the entire world to agree to a set of standards, wouldn’t our efforts of diplomacy have been better spent trying to hammer out more important differences than naked pictures of a vagina?


I wish I could remmeber where I heard/read it, but .xxx , .shop, .etc…, type names are the wave of the future from what I understand. I’ll check in to it more and see if I can’t find a cite. IIRC, the intent of .speciality names is to make www navigation easier.

Stoidela - I work in the adult entertainment industry, my impression is that those companies who sell this type of material don’t consider it a “stigma”. Either it has specific elements of graphic content that make it xxx or it doesn’t. It’s not a matter of “class”, but of content.

Well, in case you missed it, so do I.

I have always felt that my site was porno, but we are constantly being told by our guests, members, journalists, etc. that it is classier than regular porn. Something about black and white, the historical aspect, I dunno. But that’s what people tell me. And they also tell me, often, that they feel my site is better, less gamy, less crass, less embarassing.

All those things being true or not is certainly subjective. The bottom line is that it would stigmatize my site specifically to have to have a .xxx designation. People will certainly look upon such a designation as meaning something that isn’t necessarily true of my site, but if that is in the NAME of my site, they may never come around to learn otherwise.

I will therefore always oppose any idea which forces me to use that designation at the exclusion of .com.


How do you force all porn sites to get .xxx names? There isn’t a world enforcement body – the name registrars won’t and probably couldn’t monitor all sites to check everyone’s using names properly. Plus, some sites are “hit and run” affairs that set up on GeoCities for a couple of weeks before being shut down. The people who run those ones won’t flock .xxx addresses; they’ll just keep using .com or .net or .org to capture the unsuspecting surfers believing all porn is now .xxx.

Besides, the whole name registration process could go pear-shaped soon. The country code TLD registrars in Europe and Asia are considering breaking away from ICANN in protest at being forced to contribute increasingly large amounts while (in their opinion) being ignored in decision-making. The TLD registrars for the new names that were rejected by ICANN are also in a huff and tempted to set up their own alternative DNS system. (more here)

I am an adamant defender of the principles of the first amendment (which may or may not apply to the internet, considering the internet’s global aspects), so I think the line on internet porn should be pretty much drawn at the same place it is for print porn. Which is to say no porn featuring children under the age of consent, and other than that pretty much anything goes.

Private parties can use ISP’s that limit access or use filters to limit access to porn sites by users. I certainly wouldn’t want Jesse Helms or Tipper Gore deciding what I can or can’t see or hear or read on the net.

I agree with Opus.

I must preface my remarks by stating that I am extremely ignorant of “how” the internet works, so I don’t know what types of controls would even be possible. My limited understand is, however, that given the international community, and the sheer number of sites involved, 100% control/compliance, through gov’t or private means, would be impossible.

I consider myself to be a pretty strong 1st amendment advocate. And I do not consider myself a prude. But I must admit I am somewhat dismayed over the prevalence of extremely graphic pron on the net. I appreciate certain “adult” materials. I assume we all have our specific preferences. But when I 1st got web access a couple of years ago I was basically shocked at what and how much was out there, and how easy it was to get at. It is such a different world from when I was a kid and had to slowly build up my stash of magazines… And I must admit that while I don’t necessarily want my children to be overly sheltered, neither do I want them to be unnecessarily exposed to certain things at an age before they are able to really understand it. And just because someone wants to be able to make a buck, doesn’t change my mind as a parent.

I guess what I would desire most is that accessing “adult” sites require intention. It amazes me when I put in a seemingly innocuous search request, and my top results inevitably include a couple of XXX sites. And that they not prevent you from getting out should you mistakenly end up there. As was observed, these are true for other sites as well.

I guess I do not consider the prevalence of extremely graphic pornography a tremendously positive commentary on today’s society.

I too was shocked at what could be found on the 'net. And then I talked to someone who was shocked at what was on broadcast T.V… What is shocking to one is eye candy to another. It is impossible to objectively “rate” porn.

I do not want to live in a PG-13 world. Heck, I don’t even want my children to live in a PG-13 world.

P.S. that .xxx would make surfing sooo much easier!

I think mattk had the definitive answer on the .xxx dealio. Those bent on subterfuge wouldn’t comply. And those who cater not to the raincoat crowd would put up a major stink.

Think of this, what if a law were passed where any establishment that offers adult entertainment were required to post a large sign on their building reading “PORNO SOLD HERE”. The “Skank-Slut Club” in the combat zone would put one up in neon. But Tower Video might not like it too much. And the guy selling “Donkey” videos out of the back of his van would just ignore it.

So the .xxx solution would be more difficult to enforce than actual censorship, which in case I didn’t make myself clear on, I am against.

First, any pictures or sites that are evidence of a crime (like child molestation) should be used to prosecute that crime. In my view, it is not having the pictures that is the crime, but taking the pictures. Perhaps we might say that since the pictures are “stolen goods”, it also should be illegal to recieve them. So we might feel ok banning pictures that would have required a criminal act to produce. But that leaves “fakes”, stories, drawings, and all other such protected.

Second, my understanding is that a .xxx domain would be voluntary. I imagine the teensluts people would WANT them, just like videotapes have XXX stamped on them in big letters. My feeling is that if your site is on the borderline you can make your own choice as to what extension you want. But just about any site that has a “warning, click to enter” front page should probably chose to have one. Or we could have two: .xxx for out-and-out porno, and .adt for people who think their stuff shouldn’t be seen by minors but isn’t really porno.

Filters could simply block all .xxx and .adt sites, but allow .coms. You could still put your porn on a .com site, but why would you want to? After all, you’re trying to get people to access your porn, right? If you are looking for porno, isn’t it helpful to have a little tag like that so you can find it? How many porn sites are .orgs now? The filters we have now could still be active on .com names, but since there will be much less actual porn their “threshold” can be set a bit higher so they don’t block breast cancer sites and such.

And I imagine that the “trick” misspelled-by-one-letter porno sites won’t be around for too long. Why do they exist? They get paid by the number of visitors. I think that in the future we’re going to have more sophisticated ways of tracking viewing, so trick typo sites won’t be able to get any revenue, even the pennies they make now. Giving me porn when I wanted pizza is just as bad a business model as giving me pizza when I want porn. Oh, and NEVER EVER follow a link from a console, spam or typo site, even if it sounds interesting. If you do, they get paid.

So what’s wrong with .xxx if it is voluntary? The teensluts will embrace it. But if the “tasteful” sites don’t, so what? At least there will be that much less chance people will accidentally get a porn site.

I disagree, Lemur. Sure, the major commercial porn players will go for .xxx names to show how well-behaved they are. On the other hand, there’s no such reason for smaller sites to do that.

Why would they? The smaller AVS or free sites don’t make money through memberships the conventional way. They can’t compete with the larger sites, and generally steal content from them. They act as “tasters” for larger sites or as hosts for numerous ad banners. Many aim to make money through clickthroughs or through trapping gullible surfers into leaving credit card numbers or downloading these .exe phone dialers (see link below). Legality is not a major concern; they can shut down and set up on another free web-space provider within days.

That’s why there are misspelled names; to attract people who would never normally visit. I don’t think they’ll go away. Besides, I would guess that a lot of porn surfers are young men who would hate a .xxx system since it would easy for ISPs, parents, cybercafes and universities to block access to them. Dodgy porn sites will always try to get round restrictions that might limit their hit rates.

A couple of links on common porn site scams:

Common porn scams
Phone dialer scams

Just wanted to compliment you on your site, which I stumbled upon once while looking for the library :). Pretty cool and, as you say, classy.