Sunday, May 30, 2010

What Has Skinbook Done for You Lately?

The answer is probably absolutely nothing. Skinbook is free to join, and the old adage "you get what you pay for" is apropos.

With no publication, no paid membership, no government liasons, no clubs or venues, and no real philosophy or statement of purpose, Skinbook seems to represent only itself, making a profit from advertising on the site, and selling t-shirts and other paraphernalia in their shop. Have you seen their Twitter feed? It's basically just an advertising vehicle for the Terra Cotta Inn.

You are probably already aware of the poorly researched Time Magazine article on Skinbook, which repeats the website's slogan of being the Internet's "only genuine nudist social network", completely bypassing other established organizations like AANR, TNS, Nudist Clubhouse and ClothesFree.com.

Skinbook fills a void which was allowed to grow due to the fact that AANR and TNS have long ignored the Internet as a means of social networking, preferring instead to organize real face-to-face conventions, gatherings and events. Ironically, Skinbook is now attempting to do the same, claiming that an estimated 800 "Skinbookers" will be getting together at the British resort of Brighton in July. Can the young founders of Skinbook really pull off such a large nude event with no technical, legal, organizational or criminal entanglements? Time will tell.

The problem with Skinbook is that it was founded upon shame, by people who admit to being embarrassed by their nude lifestyles and were uncomfortable on Facebook. 25 year-old co-founder Karl Maddocks also expresses some disgust for "elderly guys in sandals" at a nudist "colony". Such age discrimination is not only troubling, it's contrary to all accepted nudist and naturist philosophies. Maddocks also inferred that nudity should be primarily for the young and fit, admitting in a Times interview that "he works out regularly and that part of the joy of stripping off in his twenties is “we’re all going to look crap naked one day”.

In contrast, AANR and TNS profess that all bodies are good, all ages are welcome, and that nudists and naturists should be proud of their lifestyles.

There is also no way to know if the people you are communicating with on Skinbook are actually who they profess to be. The screening process, which appears to be completely arbitrary based upon the whims of the founders, rejects 90% of all applicants. This has to raise a red flag about the sort of people the site is attracting in the first place, but it also raises the question about how many real nudists are being shut out. A thread late last year on the ClothesFree.com forum alleges that some nudists were banned from the site, and those that managed to get an account found the site to be nothing more than a "meat market."

On another nudist forum under a subject called "Banned from Skinbook", one member alleges that Skinbook "was a much better place before all the pervs showed up." Yet another nudist forum is filled with people claiming to have been banned from Skinbook for no reason.

It is also reported that Cheri Alexander, founder of the Travelites non-landed group in South Carolina, has been banned from Skinbook. Cheri issued the following statement: “Skinbook is no longer going to be as genuine. The Admins are only now allowed to moderate photos. We can no longer moderate posts, blogs, members, nor can we remove members who are not acting appropriately."

Facebook has been struggling with privacy issues since its inception, so you can imagine the potential for misuse of personal photos and information on an amateurish site like Skinbook. Witness the very real attempt by Skinbook's administrators last year to establish a "Name and Shame" blog, exposing real people attempting to open a Skinbook account who did not meet the approval of screeners, and blackmailing them for a public apology. "Skinbook also encourages female members to “name and shame” any lecherous men."

Do you really want to place your personal photos and information in the hands of such reckless amateurs? If they simply don't like you, or disapprove of something you said or did, they can ban you, suspend you, and even expose you.

Established nudist and naturist organizations, who continually fight for nude rights, have solid network affiliations with respected nudist venues, and represent established nudist principles and philosophies, need to establish their own social networking online for members. AANR and TNS are both on Facebook but with marginal success, at best. Allowing sites like Skinbook and True Nudists to assume the mantle of representing nudism is a failure of organizational leadership, and a lack of foresight and imagination.

Instead of creating a "meat market" for those who are "nude curious", AANR and TNS could start their own joint NING account for card-carrying members only, establishing an online means where members could make new friends and promote their groups and venues to each other. More unification, less division.

I once thought that Skinbook was part of nudism's future. I now believe that such rogue nude networking sites only serve to further isolate people from engaging in real social nudism, allowing them to live as "fantasy nudists". There is no way to effectively measure just how many of Skinbook's members are only these fantasy nudists, and how many are out practicing social nudism in the real world.

Nudists and naturists deserve a real, safe online social networking site with clear and established guidelines. It's a shame that when so many people and organizations are working so hard to make nudism and naturism more acceptable in society, Skinbook gets written up in Time magazine merely because it's trendy. Nudists and naturists deserve far better than this superficial, self-serving marketing ploy known as Skinbook.

13 comments:

nycluap@aol.com said...

Right on! I too was banned from skinbook a few months ago, for no reason, and my emails to them went ignored. I am 50, gay, and I think it is clearly age or some other form of discrimination.

Anonymous said...

I, a woman in my 30s, was banned from Skinbook. I assumed that it was for lack of activity, so I can't agree that with nycluap that 'discrimination' is necessarily at work (although it might be).

I wrote to them asking for them to delete my account. I've no idea if it ever happened, but I've deleted the bookmark and would never dream of even looking at it now.

As far as photos are concerned, much of it seemed to be middle-aged guys at home or in the garden. I've nothing against that in principle, but it seems that it was more an exercise in exhibitionism, for some, than genuine naturism.

I've no idea how Skinbook is currently promoting or presenting itself, but it's not right to view it as a 'naturist' site, however hard they might try.

Also, I used to get lots of friend requests from total strangers, presumably simply because I was female, and emails looking for photographs (all requests rejected).

I can talk about naturism for hours. The beaches, the locations, the best restaurants, the failings or successes of resorts or campsites. I don't really need photographs to involve myself in internet naturism.

For many on Skinbook, the photos of women would appear to be the sole purpose to it.

I don't think genuine naturists need to concern themselves with Skinbook, other than the fact that it gives naturism a bad name.

Rick said...

I removed myself from Skinbook and True Nudists months ago because I didn't like the direction they seemed to be going. There was too much emphasis on posting photos and endless and pointless debates about what constituted "genuine" nudism.

I've had my doubts about online nudist social networks since they began to become popular. I'm still not sure if a real need for them exists. Maybe the idea has yet to mature or there needs to be sponsorship and governance from the national organizations but, as you've said, they're slow to adapt to new trends and technologies.

I'm a member of several "networks" but not active on any of them. The low-tech method of social networking still seems to the best way for the moment. Go to a club or a beach and meet people.

kaikara said...

Was also booted from Skinbook. they said we weren't a couple even though we have 50 pictures up of ourselves. Seems like a good things though.

Anonymous said...

"In contrast, AANR and TNS profess that all bodies are good, all ages are welcome, and that nudists and naturists should be proud of their lifestyles."

Really, then why the discrimination against people with piercings?

CFN-Marv said...

Interesting observation on social networking by TNS and AANR. Rather than contrasting social vs. face to face networking and socializing, I think TNS/AANR organized social networks would work best as a complement to face to face and as a value added benefit of being a member.

thomas said...

I removed myself from Skinbook after reading too many comments about sleazy pervs. Perv being defined as anyone who didn't fit their Fabio Fantasy image. It was beginning to sound like a high school clique. The members seemed to have an unwarranted image of themselves as some sort of elite group. Who needs it?

Dale Lund, A.A.S. said...

My wife and I enjoy Skinbook. We're also long-time nudists, have lived in a camp full-time, and enjoy visiting AANR landed clubs. True, Skinbook is far from perfect, but perhaps setting up yet another schism in the movement should be avoided. I am enthusiastic about your idea of the AANR forming a ning site strictly for card carriers, and would gladly switch to that.

briansp said...

NudistClubhouse.com is AANR chartered and will place an AANR badge on your profile if you are a card carrying member.

Paul Rapoport said...

I prefer Nudiarist's idea of TNS and AANR both or jointly doing more on the Internet. But I'd like to avoid AANR's glib superficiality, which seems to be both unrepresentative of its members and an accurate description of most of what it produces.

Skinbook still bans all photos of anyone under 18. Its excuse isn't believable. Nonetheless, it's done some good things. Booting good people off is not one of them.

Nudiarist said...

Nudist Clubhouse is a good idea but it simply costs too much for the premium membership, and a free basic membership has virtually no features. It makes little sense for people to pay for an AANR membership, and then have to pay nearly the same to join an online social network.

NC also professes to be family friendly, yet no photos of anyone under 18 are allowed. I agree with Dr. Rapoport that a true online nudist community should represent the real life nudist community, which is for all ages.

I don't dislike NC, but due to the prohibitive cost of a premium membership, I have a hard time supporting it with any enthusiasm.

Nudiarist said...

Paul, I don't see why AANR and TNS cannot take the best ideas from Skinbook, Facebook and other online social networks and create one for members of these orgs only. FCN should also be included. What can be done to make this happen?

Gerry-4 said...

I only saw this posting today (June 14, 2010). Whether we like it or not, part of the charm for Skinbook, TrueNudists and others like it is the people can post (and look at) pictures of other people nude. There are some which certainly don't qualify as "innocent" or "non-sexual," but most do. Facebook, MySpace and its ilk don't allow nude photos. There was even quite an uproar when a picture of a woman breastfeeding her child was banned. Clearly, until these social networking tools revise their position on nudity, we are left to find other options or settle for just talking about it instead. In the end, what do we want as a nudist community?