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The Definitive Oral History of Reddit GoneWild

Before amateur porn was all the rage, horny exhibitionists created one of its most popular (and free) spaces online

Reddit is the sixth most popular website in the U.S., but for the last dozen years, amateur porn wonderland r/Gonewild has been one of its most notorious, long-lasting and beloved subs. With nearly three million subscribers who bombard it with 2.5 million daily pageviews, it’s by far the most visited NSFW subreddit and the 91st most popular overall (not bad for a website with two million subs). 

As such, Gonewild is, and always has been, what porn expert Geoffrey Celen calls an “endless chasm of free amateur nudes.” Digital exhibitionists submit close to 3,000 photos and videos of their own boobs, butts and labias (even the sporadic peen) every day, and the ones lucky enough to get approved are rabidly consumed by the sub’s characteristically cheery audience. 

This audience isn’t just any audience either. They’re a tight-knit community with a distinct culture and set of values they enforce with semi-military precision, going so far as to hold users accountable to their rules even when they’re off the sub. These values include consent, sex positivity and positive commenting, but it’s most important goal is the maintenance of a space where millions of people can be overtly sexual for no other reason than the rush of exhibitionism and the thrill of watching it unfold. As moderator Natural_Red puts it in an email, “Gonewild is a place where folks are naked just for naked’s sake. We truly believe in going ‘wild’ just for the fun of it.” 

That brings us to one of Gonewild’s most remarkable traits: The people who post there absolutely do not want to be paid for their nudes. In keeping with the great spirit of Gonewild, they take pleasure in showing off their butts for free, and if you’re caught trying to sneak them appreciation money, they will probably be banned — and you will be too. There is, to the knowledge of Gonewild experts and mods, almost no other place on the internet you can interact with naked ladies who actually want to talk to you, for free, on this sort of scale. 

But, lest you think Gonewild is some sort of utopia, like most subreddits and porn platforms, it too has a dark side. Its lack of diversity factors in. Mods say that anyone over 18 can post there — as is the case in most large NSFW subs on Reddit — but the majority of the bodies that hit the homepage are slim, cisgendered white women. This sends the message to some that the sub, while “for everyone” in theory, can exclude. Its cold protocol toward sex workers and other online sellers reinforces this perception, and has created a fair amount of tension between moderators and banned users who are often left wondering if the way they chose to make money revokes their privilege to be desired. 

Still, the story of Gonewild itself pales in comparison to the experiences lived by the people who post, comment and battle against it. Hidden beneath its facade of luscious breasticles, there are stories of love, identity, discovery, betrayal, desire and power to be told, far beyond the presumed scope of an exhibitionist fanpage. From impossible fantasy hookups between commenters and bodacious “girls next door” to a tumultuous struggle over the purity of female desire, Gonewild has emerged as the ultimate symbol of how online anonymity in nude spaces can create a world so much better — and more bizarre — than our own. 

Geoffery Celen, porn expert and founder of porn ranking site ThePornDude.com: Let me set the scene for you: The turn of the millennium saw some shifts in smut that probably contributed to Gonewild’s birth and rise to prominence. For one thing, reality porn was really taking off. Instead of the silicone-inflated Barbies of the 1990s, we saw a lot of girl-next-door types getting banged on camera. The video aesthetics switched from tripod shots under bright white porno lights to handheld cameras in conditions meant to look more natural. Even scenarios shifted to more “spontaneous” hookups. You got a pseudo-amateur vibe even in movies from big studios like Reality Kings.

At the same time, the whole world found themselves with cameras in their pocket and above their laptop screens. The look-at-me culture of social media was kicking off with sites like Myspace. People were bound to start taking pictures of their junk, and the emergence of reality porn helped set the stage by giving masturbators a more realistic model to emulate. (“Hey, I can totally make nudie videos like this!”) Webcam shows started really blowing up in the mid-2000s, which makes Gonewild almost feel like a natural extension of online amateur sex culture.

Emily van der Nagel, Gonewild researcher and lecturer of social media communications and media studies at Monash University in Australia: Gonewild was one of the first NSFW subreddits. It’s also one of the most long-lived. When Reddit began, people weren’t actually allowed to create their own subreddits, and there was, if you can believe it, no porn on the site at all. 

In 2006, the founders of Reddit came up with a specifically not-safe-for-work subreddit [r/NSFW]. They said it was meant to be more like the B-board on 4chan — anything goes. It wasn’t supposed to be just porn. Reddit CEO Steve Huffman later estimated that the first-ever porn was uploaded to Reddit within five minutes of his having created the NSFW community. Within a month, the subreddit was almost entirely porn. Gonewild appeared not long after that. 

Natural_Red, Gonewild moderator: Gonewild was created Friday, December 19, 2008 by u/cinsere — not as a ripoff of Girls Gone Wild or that sort of predatory Joe Francis-type nonsense, but as a safe haven for the exhibitionist community to share themselves with like-minded individuals in a space free from judgement. 

Mia Withrow, Girls Gone Wild tour manager, 2003-2004: I think they stole the idea from Girls Gone Wild, and I’m not surprised. Since Girls Gone Wild was an established popular brand, you know there’s a market for this content. What better way to stand out than by using a form of a brand name everyone knows?

Natural_Red: The name might be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the original Girls Gone Wild, but the only similarity we really have with them is that we feature nudity. 

Van der Nagel: What the name suggests is that it was based on the “show us your titties” format of the Girls Gone Wild franchise. We know that Girls Gone Wild started in 1997 as a VHS empire, basically of American men going to college parties and spring break and trying to entice young women to show them their breasts. Gonewild captures the same spirit of fun exhibitionism. 

The appeal, of course, was that those women were posting those pictures not as professional porn performers, but as everyday girls — they were the girls next door showing their titties. 

HaikuGoneWild, longtime Gonewild poster who frequently replies to posts with haikus: For me, the “girl next door” represents someone who’s down-to-earth, grounded and accessible. She’s someone I can talk to who’s going to be a real, whole person, not just an avatar with a stage name, presented for my entertainment and consumption. That makes it very different from amateur porn. 

Gaby Dunn, best-selling author and writer who reported extensively on Gonewild for the Daily Dot in 2013: Gonewild is sort of a brighter, gentler and more connected side to amateur porn. The followers really enforce that. There’s this idea of, “We don’t want our porn tainted by it being acting or it having proper lighting or sound. We want it to be a real person who has a personality and has a life and could be our barista, could be a dental assistant, could be a lawyer.”

Bslinton, big-time Gonewild fan and nightly commenter: Women who are obviously models are unattainable for a guy like me, so why would I waste my time on them? I like looking at the women I feel I could date.

For the Thrill of the Post

Girl-Next-Door shares her first-ever post on Gonewild

Girl-Next-Door, popular and long-time Gonewild poster: I first discovered Gonewild back in 2012. It was my boyfriend’s idea to start posting. We have always been open about sexual conversations, and I’m the one who introduced him to the site. As foreplay, we would sometimes watch porn together, and Gonewild soon became part of that variety. During the day while we were apart, we’d often play sexual truth-or-dare games to pass time and be playful. One day, his dare to me was to make a post of myself on Gonewild. I was admittedly nervous about it, but as long as he was having fun with it and it was something he wanted, I was willing to go along with it.

For me, it’s more about self-satisfaction and sexual experience. I think that if I started making it about money, it would become more of a chore/job than the fun guilty pleasure I began with. I’ve considered an OnlyFans account where there’s paid subscriptions, but I’m still hesitant for the reasons above. I would also feel the need to come up with more content on an almost daily basis, which would require more work. With Gonewild, I can post what I want, when I want, and if people like it, great! If not, so be it. I feel no pressure, and it remains exciting and fun for me. I don’t want to lose that.

FriskyMinx, popular Gonewild poster: I started posting on Gonewild when I was in graduate school. Life as a grad student can be incredibly demoralizing and stressful, so I needed an outlet that would help me let off some steam. Gonewild let me celebrate the kinky part of my life that I otherwise had to keep secret from my “real” life. 

I’ve considered [selling nudes] a few times, but I think it would take the fun out of it. I respect the hell out of sex workers, but for me, turning it into a job would lose a lot of the “shine.” It’s also easier to stay anonymous by not bringing payment systems into the picture, and my real job isn’t worth the risk.

Natural_Red: Not many users realize, but I was a seller for a brief time not long after I started posting to Gonewild. Even with that, I kept my business separate. It felt wrong to sully the spirit of what Gonewild was trying to achieve.

Bslinton: I don’t begrudge a woman for trying to make a living or a few extra dollars from soliciting her body, but that’s what cam sites are for. I don’t like having to pay for looking. I could just go to a strip bar if I needed to pay for the look and get some lap dances to get a feel along with the look. I feel the same about porn. It’s not really all that interesting if I can’t be involved in some way.

Dunn: As I discovered, the whole thing is really about the magic of female horniness. There are hardly any spaces where that many women are that horny that they’ll let you see any part of them for free, and its users are really committed to the idea that sexually explorative women are making porn for them

At least when I was reporting on it, the men who commented were so emboldened, delighted and validated by the notion that women were also pervs. Like, “Oh, I’ve heard of the mystical idea of the slutty girl who is just in it for the pure game of sluttiness and doesn’t want anything from me, and here it is. It exists!” In their minds, they can say she’s just a friend who’s sending them nudes. 

Girl-Next-Door: Part of the fun for me is being interactive with everyone. I enjoy the clever comments because it allows me to be creative and clever back. Effort shows and I do my best to rewardingly respond to those. 

Celen: Gonewild was ahead of the curve with their user-fan interaction model. The format is so popular that I’m seeing major studios set up their own versions that try to ape the social-media format, but you still miss out on that one-on-one element that makes Gonewild feel so intimate.

Dunn: It really ushered in this model of having free access to the people you jerk off to. You can comment directly on their photos and have a back-and-forth with them. You can ask them questions and “get to know” who they are. 

Bslinton: I hope that what I say will lift them up or maybe even get them to start a conversation. Maybe she had a bad day or she’s feeling insecure about her body and I helped her feel better about herself. 

It’s also very much a safe space to comment directly on a woman’s body and how she looks. You can say something sexually specific without fear of being locked up for sexual harassment. Once the whole #MeToo movement started, I isolated myself from even speaking to women in person if I didn’t have to. Commenting on women’s pics for Gonewild gives me that bit of safety knowing what I’m saying is the kind of comments these women are looking for.

Van der Nagel: It would be creepy to walk up to a woman on the train and say, “I really like your butt.” It would be less creepy to do that if you went to a swingers club, because that’s a space where that’s expected. I think what people are doing when they make specific subreddits like Gonewild is doing the work of creating a defined space with a specific purpose. It’s totally okay for men to come into Gonewild and comment, “You’re so sexy, I love your boobs. I’m really hard right now.” That’s accepted. The women who post are like, “Oh, great, thank you. That’s why I posted the picture.”

Bslinton: It’s a way to see if I generated some interest from the woman I commented on, too. [There’s] just that small sliver of hope that maybe — just maybe — saying something could lead to something more than just me staring at a woman’s naked picture. 

HaikuGoneWild: I’m primarily interested in meaningful interaction. I don’t visit Gonewild the way one might visit a porn site, and passively surf, watch, masturbate, get off, clean up and leave. I come to find minds that are wrestling with and celebrating sexuality for its own sake, and cheer them on, and, if they respond, explore whether there’s an opportunity to explore each other in more interesting ways. 

One evening, I was relaxing at home. I was reading conversations on Reddit about art, science, coffee and technology, when one of the most beautiful creatures I’d ever seen scrolled into view. She was delightfully proportioned and highly skilled in the art of nude selfies. Her mesmerizing tattoos and clever caption appealed to the best of redditor stereotypes, and the hive mind went wild. Her post rode Reddit’s popularity algorithms to the top — and not just the top of Gonewild. I think I found it on the front page of r/all. At the time, the Gonewild subreddit might have had a few hundred thousand subscribers at most. 

I swooned. My first instinct was to send a private message to the user who posted the image. I included a clue about the city I was from, and tried to seem unassuming, matter-of-fact, safe. I didn’t hold my breath for a response. I imagined hundreds of other people were also sending messages, vying for her attention. She wrote back within seconds! “What do you do?” was all she said. I had hoped she would like my message and be interested in me, but I soon realized she was worried about being recognized. She lived just a mile away, and worked three blocks from my house. Talk about a “girl next door”! We both played it cool, kept conversing and discovered we shared some very specific interests. After a few days of carefully building mutual trust, we moved our connection beyond Reddit and into the real world. She was every bit as fun as her Gonewild post implied. 

Girl-Next-Door: I remember a lot of the positive comments and DMs ranging from body-positive comments, sexual insinuations and hook-up attempts that I got from my first post. I was really flattered by it all and enjoyed seeing the reactions. The feeling of being overwhelmingly desired would make any girl feel good about themselves. 

Celen: Rather than just reacting to people misbehaving on the forum, Gonewild has always been a very positive pro-sex, pro-nude, pro-user community. It’s an entirely different vibe than what you get on a site like Motherless or banned subreddits like r/CreepShots. Gonewild has always been about as welcoming and friendly as you can get for a place where you can post a close-up of your gaping butthole.

Van der Nagel: If you look at any comment thread on Gonewild, it’s overwhelmingly positive. Those responses are nothing but “You look sexy, I’m so turned on, great boobs, amazing body.” There is positivity galore, and that’s a really important part of the sub.

Natural_Red: This is definitely something unique to Gonewild. We started from the beginning with a “Be excellent to each other” attitude and wouldn’t (and still don’t) tolerate anything less. A combination of mod-bots and vigilant users reporting posts and comments that break our rules help enforce this. People are surprisingly protective over the community we’ve cultivated. 

HaikuGoneWild: At the same time, it’s a mistake to assume that just because someone posts their naked body on Gonewild, they’re looking for an avalanche of compliments, or that they enjoy being worshipped, sexualized, called pet names, told what to do, told what you’d do to them or any other thing other people expect you to like as much as they do. There are even people that disliked the haiku I wrote on their post. Gasp!

There are also numerous strange, creepy, confused comments on Gonewild posts. Most of them go unnoticed by other commenters and ignored by posters. Redditors browsing Gonewild aren’t there to vote other people’s comments up or down based on whether they make a meaningful contribution to the conversation, which is what you might see in most subreddits. So most creepy comments get ignored by posters and commenters alike. If they’re disgustingly creepy, people will downvote them, and even condemn them in replies.

Girl-Next-Door: At some point, Gonewild sort of just became part of the routine kinky sexual play between my boyfriend and I. It was that something new and exciting. Instead of texting nude selfies to my boyfriend, I would make a surprise post on Gonewild instead and text him to check it out. Part of the thrill was seeing him get excited about looking at my post. That in and of itself brought an entirely new dynamic to our sexual play. The more naughty I got, the more I flirted, the more he loved it. He explains it as seeing me from another perspective. Our sex life is forever changed for the better. 

Being wanted and desired is probably one of the most important feelings for women whether they’re single or in a relationship. Life can be really stressful, and it’s nice to have that escape and be unapologetically playful and naughty. It’s a place for me to explore my sexuality without judgement and allow for my body to be an object of desire. I’m able to just be myself. 

Miss Cuntnugget, popular Gonewild poster: It’s great that Gonewild gives women a platform to show themselves off in a way that they don’t get to in real life. Personally, I’m one of the posters that love the feeling of being objectified. I definitely like the feeling of being desired whenever I post on Gonewild. It’s quite exhilarating and sexy. I have a pretty high sex drive already, but posting definitely gets me in the mood — it’s a great way to explore your sexuality and have fun.

HaikuGoneWild: As I got to know [my Gonewild date] up close and personal, I thought about her expressions on Gonewild. We talked about it openly. She wasn’t primarily posting because she was horny or looking for sexual attention — though she was also those things. Her motivations to post erotic, anonymous images were numerous and complex. She was lonely. She felt disconnected. She was exploring deep issues of identity, self-awareness, seeking body positivity and confidence, validation, navigating inhibitions and shame. That’s what really fascinated me. That’s ultimately what kept me coming back to Gonewild. I came for the eye candy; I stayed to explore aspects of sexuality that are hardly visible on the surface.

The Dark Side of All Those Backsides 

HaikuGoneWild: At the same time, there are downsides. 

FriskyMinx: The attention has been 95 percent positive for me. Some people do say awful things, but I’ve reported more comments on other people’s posts than on my own. It’s no worse than most subreddits or most places online. 

Though, I did stop sharing most of my kink-related content because the backlash wasn’t worth it. Even when I posted in BDSM-specific subreddits, people would follow over from Gonewild and post really negative or judgmental things. Some of the responses on BDSM content would say things like I’m “ruining my body,” or that it’s “such a shame,” or a huge turn-off. People would comment that I needed mental help. I get that it’s not everyone’s taste, but if that’s the case, you shouldn’t look at kink-related content. The majority of comments were still positive, but there was enough negativity to start keeping my “marks of pride” to myself.

Miss Cuntnugget: The toxic people/trolls are definitely a downside to the sub. There was a time recently where I swiped the [Photoshop] touch-up brush over an image in a random place without noticing, and it looked super off. Once someone pointed it out, people started going through parts of the image that hadn’t been touched saying how bad the Photoshop was in these places. But it was just my natural body. I didn’t reply to any of the commenters, but now I’m much more careful.

Reddit can be very toxic because people are hidden behind their computer screens so they feel like they can say whatever they want without consequences. People can also become obsessed with trying to communicate with posters and trying to find out personal information about them.

Dunn, writing in a 2017 Daily Dot article about Gonewild’s “dark side”: Seven months ago, a Reddit user called “IamTheFapMaster” recognized the bathroom of a girl who posted to r/gonewild as being in a University of Central Florida (UCF) dorm. Without her permission, redditors reposted her photos to a subreddit for UCF students (r/UCF), where she was identified by her peers. The girl deleted her photos, but they were still available for viewing on image-hosting site Imgur until she deleted her entire account.

She was outed in real life, her pictures downloaded and saved without her consent, likely to reemerge at inopportune times and even worse places on the internet.

Dunn, back in present-day: The thing that’s so harsh about that is that these women are doing it for the love of the game. Then someone comes in and is like, “It’s not enough that you have gifted me this for free, now I must dox you.” It’s like if there was a party going on and you come in and you just go in the middle of the living room and shit on the floor. Why, dude? 

M0nk_3y_GW: We worked to keep posters safe. Sometimes they didn’t care, but then regretted it later [A link to a story about one user, Nina1987, who was outed and doxed in 2014 was provided as an example]. Several of those incidents helped inform our rules and how we handled things as mods. This also led to us sending “Welcome” PMs to most new posters with tips suggesting how they can stay anonymous and safe. Reddit later adopted the general idea and started sending a welcome PM to new redditors.

The welcome message wasn’t Gonewild’s only gift to Reddit at-large — they also pioneered an aggressive and impressively functional process of user verification designed to protect its users from things like piracy, catfishing and revenge porn. In order to become verified, users must overcome a tiny gauntlet of identifying affirming obstacles that include holding a paper sign handwritten in blue or black ink, holding it in a variety of poses that don’t look Photoshopped and taking a series of nude or particularly nude photos that meet a certain quality standard (i.e., can’t be “taken with a potato”).

Van der Nagel: Verification is necessary to preserve Gonewild’s image as being for real, everyday people who get off on showing you their bodies. That’s important for the mods, because if they’re ever asked how they know their users really want their nudes on their platform, they can simply say, “Because they’re verified.” It’s really useful to protect both the platform and its users, actually. It contributes to consent dynamics in a way that I find really positive. I’m a huge fan.

HaikuGoneWild: Still, though, Gonewild isn’t a safe place — not physically, not psychologically, not emotionally. I’m not saying it’s inherently dangerous. I’m saying we can’t declare it a “safe place” where people can let their guard down and just be themselves. They need to be vigilant about what they do and don’t reveal, in their words and their images. There are lots of needy people trying to trade what they have for what they want. There are predators, prowling and manipulating naive posters. People can be highly intelligent, beautiful, successful, creative and careful, and still be naive. I’ve seen people get taken advantage of badly on many occasions. Gonewild has a dark side, which should be part of any history.

When Sex Doesn’t Sell

Natural_Red: Gonewild really took off back when MyFreeCams and Chaturbate started gaining popularity. We also saw big influxes when Snapchat got popular (especially when they introduced Snapcash), then Instagram and Twitter, and now OnlyFans. With that, there have been some major changes to the site.

As time went on and our subscriber base increased, technology evolved rapidly and we started seeing a rise in posters trying to monetize their content. It started small with users creating Tumblrs, where they sold panties and fetish items, linking to their Gonewild accounts to get traffic. Eventually, that grew, and we started to get Playmates and Suicide Girls posting (sometimes images from their pro photo shoots). There were even a few “famous” cam girls who’d watermark their images with Snapchat codes or website URLs. 

We kept growing and users started asking for and tipping each other with Bitcoin. More time passed, and the mods started getting messages from users who were ripped off by cam girls and panty sellers on Gonewild. Users would complain about them posting for ulterior motives.

It would always be some poor sap who would send a user money and the person ended up either being a catfish or would just completely ghost them and never provide the agreed-upon content. We’d also get the other side of the coin and have users sending content or some sort of identifying information and then not get paid, or worse, get themselves doxed.

HaikuGoneWild: As a longtime member of the Gonewild community, I get frustrated and annoyed when people knowingly attempt to bait-and-switch the audience — posting great content, and then attempting to funnel followers into their subscriptions, custom content and attention packages. I’m not against sex work per se, and I don’t judge those who explore it, but I’ve always tried not to mingle sex and money. We need a place where we can explore and celebrate sexuality without financial incentives. Much like how anonymity creates a whole new set of relational dynamics in which we try on new things, so does monetization. 

Natural_Red: So, six or seven years ago, we started cracking down. We opted to add into our rules that we don’t allow for-profit activities, period. It wasn’t just about governing transactions, but about safety — we’re all volunteers who don’t have the resources or time to regulate and ensure safety against the exploitation and potential abuse of posters who become more intimate with viewers.

M0nk_3y_GW: It’s no secret: no self-promotion or attempts to make a profit anywhere. According to our rules, “If you sell panties, fetish items, cam shows, suggest payment (OnlyFans, PayPal, Cash App, etc.) or anything similar ANYWHERE on Reddit (this includes your profile page), and wish to post to Gonewild, please do so under a separate account. We wish to remain separated from all money-making endeavors, so that Gonewild remains a purely exhibitionist subreddit where people post for absolutely no other reason than the thrill of it.”

SatisfactoryToe, sex worker on OnlyFans: I first came across Gonewild when I started using my Reddit for promoting my other sex work platforms. I thought it was insane how many users it had, and I wanted to join so I could reach as many potentially buying eyeballs as possible.

My experience was HORRIBLE. They got my account banned for “not reading rules,” but the real issue was that I had a direct link to my OnlyFans account in my profile (not in the post that resulted in my ban). They don’t want anyone who profits off of their nudity to post there, EVEN IF they aren’t actively posting ads. They immediately reported me, and I lost my ability to use my entire account for a week, all because I had a link in my profile bio.

Not being able to use Reddit can affect you tremendously if you’re a daily poster, because your followers might think you quit cold turkey (which is very common in the sex worker community). There’s also the issue that in many large NSFW subreddits, in order to get verified, your post history must be “x” CONSECUTIVE days of activity. For example, r/sexsells, one of the biggest Reddit subs for sex workers and buyers to communicate online, requires a consistent 14 consecutive days of posting. If you were to get banned for a week, you’d have to wait another week before you could even try to apply for verification there. In the grand scheme of things, a lack of exposure costs money. 

Sansa-Starkers-, OnlyFans sex worker and moderator of r/OnlyFansAdvice: Where I think they’ve overstepped into actively hurting and discriminating against sex workers is how they’ve manipulated their power into getting many girls suspended unfairly from the entire website.

They’ve accused many girls of circumventing their ban for posting on their subs whilst being a seller even though they only became sellers long AFTER posting on Gonewild. It proves they have an issue with sex workers outside of the realm of their subs and mean to do them and their livelihoods harm. This has been spoken about a lot on my subreddit, and I personally know girls who have experienced it. 

Similar accounts can be found here, here and here, but some of the sex workers telling them declined to speak for the story for fear of retribution by Gonewild mods.

SatisfactoryToe: Many other sex workers agree in discords and telegrams that Gonewild is trash and I even went so far as to report the sub, just because I want to make it a point to warn other newbies not to ever post in there if they plan to have links to their other paid platforms.

M0nk_3y_GW: Reddit’s current guidelines are still clear that “Reddit is a community, not a platform for self-promotion” and that “a general rule of thumb is that 10 percent or less of your posting and conversation should link to your own content.” Most sex workers clearly violate that and someday Reddit may suddenly take action.

Sansa-Starkers-: I understand to an extent why sex workers — OnlyFans creators particularly — are a nuisance on subreddits because a lot of girls create Reddit accounts solely to promote their content without really understanding what the site is for or how it works. They ignore each subreddit’s rules and will mass post the same low-quality image with titles just consisting of their OnlyFans URL across several subs, which is blatant spamming.

However, a lot of other NSFW subreddits allow sellers to post, but ban advertising. There are also many sellers who post extremely high-quality and thoughtful content on these subs without any spammy captions or links to their content whatsoever. They only advertise their premium content on their own profiles that a user would have to seek out on their own behalf to find. 

Gonewild completely bans sellers altogether. They basically want to police people’s activity inside and outside of their sub, which oversteps what being a moderator is about and exposes their stigmatization of sex workers. Their reasoning that they only want people posting for fun assumes that sex workers don’t enjoy their work. Then they have the gall to harp on about how it should all be “just for fun” when they’re the ones that prevent it being fun by acting like the nudes mafia.

Dunn: Exhibitionism and sex work aren’t mutually exclusive. Why couldn’t a sex worker also enjoy the thrill of posting a nude on Gonewild? 

Sansa-Starkers-: I think the real reasoning is ego. Men enjoy photos that they think women have posted for their approval. It makes them feel important, needed and validated. When money is brought into the equation, the power dynamic shifts. There’s an idea now that she’s getting more out of this than just their approval and they don’t feel so powerful anymore. 

SatisfactoryToe: It’s some weird idea that goes back to the age-old concept that women’s pleasure is completely contingent upon a man’s and that no part of a “pure” woman’s thinking should be concerned with sexual autonomy, much less being paid for it. 

Dunn: The economy here is horniness, not dollars. When they feel that money is exchanged, it dilutes the fantasy that women are posting for you, out of the goodness of their heart. 

Celen: Banning content creators is certainly an interesting move, to say the least. The entire free porn tube model is built on exactly those types of contributions, and here’s one of the biggest sites in the world saying they don’t want the free nudes and the free traffic. As a porn reviewer, I definitely feel them on wanting to limit spam. It’s shitty enough anywhere, but can utterly destroy any online community. 

At the same time, I really don’t feel that an OnlyFans model posting freebies constitutes spam; she constitutes another member of that community. Reddit and Gonewild obviously ain’t hurting for traffic, but the ban doesn’t feel quite as sex-positive as they’ve always tried to appear.

Natural_Red: We’re not morally opposed to sex work in any way at all — it’s good stuff, and it comes naturally with a sex-positive culture. It’s just plain off-topic, and it just doesn’t mix with what we’re trying to do, which is to build a genuine exhibitionist community, where the nudity is purely for fun. 

As you can imagine, this is, and always will be, a contentious topic. There’s no way we can please a nearly three-million-user community — that’s like a city trying to keep all its residents happy as clams! The best compromise we could come up with, is for sex workers to have a work/life balance and have a separate account for their business.

A Place for (Almost) Everyone

M0nk_3y_GW: Gonewild has never had rules about physical appearance so our bots and mods don’t filter posts based on it. Redditors using Reddit the way it’s intended to be used is what curates the posts. We stay clear of Reddit rules on vote manipulation by not encouraging anyone to upvote or downvote anything — our banner posts are a way around that. Even though males rarely get voted to the top of the front page organically, they can still be featured at the top (in the pinned post and in the image banner) by participating in our periodic holiday/event banners. We did have a bi-male hit #1 organically twice — once he was posing nude in a hot tub holding a hamburger. Reddit likes humor.

Van der Nagel: The moderators can make some really strong arguments in terms of, “Well, we don’t choose what gets voted up or down, that’s for the users to decide.” But I believe they do choose who gets on the banners, and those banners are very important for visibility. 

I don’t think we’re seeing a lot of diversity in the banners. They’re a way, I think, for moderators to surface particular forms of content. What that does is implicitly make some people feel welcome. Others, perhaps, not so much. 

Dunn: When I was reporting, I think I maybe saw some Asian women, but I don’t remember any Black women posting. And there was like a year that I was looking at this.

Van der Nagel: Right now, you can only sort content by “hot,” “new,” “top” or “rising” (the default is “hot”). At least around 2013 or 2014 when I was researching, you could still filter the posts on the sub by a label called “controversial.” I found that a very different type of body than the ones you’d find in the “hot” category turned up. 

The bodies that are at the top are young, white, slender women. The bodies in the “controversial” category were not. That’s where men were (back when they used to post there). That’s where transgender people would end up. That’s where people with different body shapes and sizes would end up. And sometimes other ethnicities too. It was always very interesting to me that Gonewild was assumed to be “for anyone” when it was clear that wasn’t necessarily the case. 

SatisfactoryToe: I rant a lot about the lack of diversity for Black women in the NFSW Reddit community (and particularly on Gonewild). There are a handful of Black-specific NSFW subs, but they’re either not as organized or have far less usership than other subs. It’s the same crappy feeling of not being seen or wanted, even in the most primal and old profession (sex work). It really makes me feel invalid and ugly, and I want to hurt myself or quit. I know I can’t quit though, because this is the part where I have to push myself harder to get where I want to be.

Unfortunately, I feel like I’m screaming into a black hole, because inevitably, the most helpful responses I’ve ever gotten are from thin white girls who regurgitate information as if the issue is just that Black women are the least sought-after demographic and that just translates on Reddit, too. 

Van der Nagel: There are other subreddits for people who, on Gonewild, might be marked as “other.” There’s r/IndiansGoneWild, r/AsiansGoneWild, r/GoneWildCurvy, r/GoneWildColor, for example. It seemed that if you possessed one of these identity markers, you were in some ways directed there if you wanted to post, though not in any explicit way by Gonewild mods. I think just the fact that these subreddits exist implies that Gonewild may only be for people who don’t need to mark their body as “other.”

It’s a very helpful myth they have that anyone can post. Literally, of course, they can — anybody can log in and upload a photo. But those mechanical processes aren’t how content is valued and it’s not how content becomes visible. There are other processes that tap into some very deep wells of how humans appreciate and understand each other’s bodies. They’re all, of course, situated within those intersectionalities of race and body size and shape and class. 

HaikuGoneWild: There is a [somewhat] more diverse side of Gonewild though. Fortunately, it’s easy to see in the “new” tab if you’re so inclined. Spend an hour in the middle of a busy day just browsing the newest posts and you’ll see a far more diverse range of posts than ever make it to the top or front page of the sub. When browsing r/GoneWild/new, you’ll see everything that’s posted by everyone, before it has a chance to be voted up or down or be heavily commented on. This is where you’ll see the full range of body types, orientations and kinks. You’ll see more dicks than tits, and more bush than bare. You’ll see a wide range of ages, skin colors and styles of photography. And you’ll see something you have absolutely no idea how to classify, and for them, that’s probably the point.

Van der Nagel: At the end of the day, there’s still joy and pleasure and consent to be had on Gonewild. It’s certainly had a lot of influence. 

MaebeFunkeMarryMe, moderator of r/GoneWildCurvy and r/GoneWildColor: The connection between Gonewild, GoneWildColor [and GoneWildCurvy] at this point, is in name only. I regularly work with Gonewild mods. I will say that the subs I mod are closed communities in that we require all posters to verify before posting. We also actively update the automod script to ensure our posters are protected from derogatory terms, slurs and trolls. [These rules were pioneered, in part, by Gonewild.] 

After speaking to mods from r/GoneWildCurvy, r/GoneWildColor and r/GoneWildCD (a crossdresser and trans-friendly sub), it was unclear which Gonewild spin-offs, if any, were created out of exclusion from Gonewild main. As is the case with many long-lived subs such as Gonewild, the mods who started them have either changed their handles, deactivated their accounts or simply disappeared. It’s difficult to know what their motivations were at the time, but what’s clear today is that Gonewild has had an influence on them. 

Tealights, moderator of r/GoneWildCD: GonewildCD has no formal relation to Gonewild and I’m not the moderator who originated the sub, but I was involved in creating a lot of its rules. We already shared their name and I liked their whole spiel about sex positivity and consent, so that’s what I based our rules on. Unfortunately, that’s also why our policies on self-promotion and advertising are so strict.

HaikuGoneWild: Learning to trust each other amidst the vulnerability of explicit sexual expression is a bit of a dance. The anonymity of posting on Gonewild creates an opportunity to explore sexuality without the risk of identification or condemnation, and in the safety of anonymity, we’re free to attempt conversations that are more candid and revealing than we experience in our day-to-day lives. 

Van der Nagel: Reddit Gonewild shows what can happen when a space on social media is clearly marked out as one for sexual identities and practices. It’s not a perfect space, it’s not an especially diverse space, but the way it foregrounds consent, pseudonymity, fun and flirty showing off means it offers the opportunity for people to enjoy connecting over what they love — getting naked on the internet.

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