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When John Brownstone and I decided that we wanted Loving BDSM to have it’s own home and that we wanted to build our own kinky community, we had a vision for how we thought it would look. Okay, let’s be real – I had a bunch of visions, and he had to rein me in until I picked a more realistic vision. We also had a limited budget and very little time.
Hell, we took a month-long hiatus and still felt rushed at the end.
In developing the website, choosing the systems we would use, and figuring out how this space would work, we did our research. Neither of us consider ourselves noobs when it comes to the internet. You can never rely on one source, one opinion, or one review.
Fast forward to opening day. The podcast is back up and on the air. We’re shocked at the people (plenty of them crickets from the show) signing up and trying to use register, login, and start talking.
I was in the grocery store buying milk when the first emails came through.
“I keep getting an error message when I register.”
“I can’t login.”
It took everything I had not to have a panic attack. This grand thing we envisioned was already a dumpster fire (or so my anxiety tried to tell me). Instead, I took a deep breath, went home, did my research, and fixed the problem.
Sigh of relief and a small pat on the back. First problem fixed!
Then, as we started combing through the forums and community, John Brownstone and I both saw a major problem. You couldn’t see anything if you weren’t an administrator. What the hell?!
More research. Little tweaks on the back-end. Some coding stuff that always makes my head hurt.
Even then, I was nervous about the system we were using. While dozens, possibly hundreds, of reviews were favorable, when people did have problems, help was non-existent. Problems went unexplained. Problems were rare but they were always big, nasty things that took forever to fix. (Not a good sign.)
With shaky nervousness, we proceeded. We’d found fixes and people were able to use the community. Conversations were happening. Kinksters were connecting.
In mid-July, it was time for some updates to the guts of the website. These are things that, if you ignore, can cause security and functionality problems later. John Brownstone, as our unpaid IT guy, was on the job. With no major problems in weeks, I didn’t think much of it.
Until the first email…
“I can’t see anything in the forums. I can see the forums, but not the topics. What gives?”
Fuck. It was the same problem we’d had early on. Which meant I knew of a few possible fixes. Now I was on the job.
None of them worked. Not a single one. The support person (who works for the company we use for the biggest part of our website) couldn’t fix the problem. As of the day this post was published, he’s been working on it for over a week.
We have two choices.
We can throw our hands up in the air, say “Experiment failed!” and give up.
Or we can do more research, find a solution, make necessary changes, and do something different that we hope will work.
If you know us at all, you know we’ve chosen option two. The third option is a given – we also apologize profusely, communicate with members, and own the problems. We didn’t cause them, but they are our responsibility to correct.
So that’s what we’re doing. If you are a registered member of the website, you should have received an email explanation from us today (7/26/17) and if not, check your spam.
But why blog about this? Why put our in-the-weeds tech problems out in the open? Two reasons…
One, we want to be as transparent as possible and talk to as many people as possible. This is just one way of doing so.
Second, this situation isn’t unique to websites, community building, and technology. It’s a metaphor for life.
How many times are we afraid to move forward with something – like a new D/s relationship – because we think we’ll get it wrong? How many times are we afraid to try something new because we think there’s one right way to have a D/s relationship or enjoy kink? How many times – in and out of D/s and kink – do we think a glitch, a setback, or breakdown means that we’ve failed?
It happens to people all the time. We either don’t start for fear of getting it wrong, making a mistake, or failing or we don’t correct a situation for the same reason.
I’m a fairly deliberate person. I rarely jump into anything. Okay, let’s be real, I never jump into anything. But that doesn’t mean I have all the answers once I do begin a new thing.
We have to be willing to stumble, fall on our face, and make mistakes. We also have to be willing to own those mistakes and try to correct them as best we can, especially once we’re presented with new information.
I’m not all Pollyanna-ish about this. A broken relationship can’t be fixed with a simple setting change like a website. An abusive situation can only be “fixed” by getting out, giving up, or walking (or running) away.
But not every situation is that severe. Most of the time what holds us back is fear of being wrong. Fear of messing up. Fear of something not working the way we saw it in our head.
The person might be wrong for you. The dynamic might be wrong for you. The title and honorific might be wrong for you. Those things can all be changed but you’ll never know if you don’t try. You likely won’t end up with the immaculate vision in your head – but you might also find yourself in the best situation, relationship, or moment of your life, too. Sometimes we have to fall flat on our face a few times before we get it right.
Who knew there were life lessons to be learned in website/technology hell? (Pro tip: life lessons can be found anywhere.) Oh, and yes, my anxiety is trying to convince me to run screaming into the night. But the vision in my head and the feedback we get from members and listeners tells me to keep trying.