October 26, 2015

Politicians and Hookers

It seems to be some constant theme - the people who complain most vocally about the escort industry also get into the papers about it... This is obviously a self-fulfilling prophecy as a politian caught paying for time (with a hint of sexual sevices) will get into trouble. Unless they are Silvio Berlusconi, which might have meant several re-relections in Italy...

[not to say anyone in the images above, including Sr. Berlusconi would ever be involved in anything to do with this post. In fact, we are 'sure' that those re-elections were purely on merit and based on his performance in office and the policies presented in his manifesto].

Public debate and legislation about the offering of sexual services for money is basically dead, stupid and insane. The problem is the following:
  • Some individuals choose to provide their services because it suits them to do so compared to other economic options.
  • Some individuals enjoy their profession (and some really enjoy it, just because).
  • There are others who offer their services because of real financial hardship, whether from circumstance or addiction. This is a really tough place for them. The only thing we can offer is a safer way of offering services. Society, at this point, is responsible to help with a safety-net or medical assistance with addiction.
  • There are individuals (mostly young girls from less-developed countries) which are exploited for this purpose. This is plainly wrong - pretty evil - and we work to make sure they cannot be advertised on the site and provide feedback mechanisms to signal the problem.
The public debate is always about trafficking, people enslaved into prostitution. This is unhelpful and does not address the real problems.

Prohibition is not a solution. Real, effective policies to combat human-slavery, addiction and social exclusion are solutions. Dump the headlines and go to the roots of the problem in society. This is an appeal to any politician or journalist - keep it real; and don't let us find out you did something bad later... Starting with 19 Politicians Who Were Caught with Prostitutes.

Honesty in public debate is a starting point. Freedom of choice is a natural right. 
July 3, 2015

What do you realy want?

We really value the comments and suggestions we have had from users and advertisers over the last couple of years. Especially when something on the site made you feel like this...

We have always tried to get anything broken fixed pretty quick over time and have done a decent job to make sure that happened.

What we need now are your suggestions. What pisses you off? What do we need to add? What could work better? We are listening and will take every comment into account as we try to improve the site. Send feedback here.
June 3, 2015

Who decides? What's illegal?

Pretty much everyone agrees that forcing someone to provide sex is a bad thing. Modern slavery is still there and is a disgusting as 'old slavery'.

For good or bad reasons, many people choose to provide sex for money. We don't think anyone has the right to judge that decision.

Criminalisation has been proven to make things worse for working girls and boys. Why would any modern country want to do this? In Northern Ireland it was recently made illegal to sollicit services. The only thing studies have ever shown is that a legal framework where providers can operate freely and pay tax is the only one where violence is lower, trafficking is lower and the individuals have the most choice.

What do you think?

February 26, 2015

What makes a great listing?

We have been looking at some data recently to better understand what makes one listing more effective than another. We now want to share some of the insights. First, we're going to bust a couple of myths:

Myth 1: it's only about the photos

While there is a correlation between stunning photos and the number of enquiries, this is not the only factor. We don't allow multiple listings on the site, but we do have the data between when people have different listings and photos. In some cases the more homemade or real (but good quality) photos performed better than the studio shots. Video clips have also shown an improvement in contact rates.

Myth 2: the 'models' get all the enquiries

The most surprising thing we found was when doing an experiment with users asking them to judge interest based on just the images. When we compared this to the real-world results, we found that there there were many listings which got a low rating based on photos, but a very high rate of enquiries. We ran the experiment again using just descriptions and found the answer, the text is very important when it comes to getting enquiries.

What are the users saying?

Some really don't care, others are absolutely obsessed with cover-page beauty. But it turns out the big majority care a lot more about what potential experience they will get. It turns out that the initial evaluation is from what an advertiser says in their description, even down to the tone and how the text feels. Positive terms included: 'friendly', 'funny', 'approachable'. Just putting GFE is not enough to convince someone it will be like that.

The other bit of feedback was about how people answered questions and reacted to reviews. When an advertiser didn't answer a simple question and just wrote 'call me' or reacted in a very tough way to a review which didn't seem aggressive, there was a negative evaluation.

How to manage your listing?

  • Take a look at your description. Does it really explain you and the services you provide? Try to provide a personal touch. A cut and paste which looks the same as everyone else is not the best way to get customers. Of course, it is quicker, but our data shows a quality text can generate from 3 times to 11 times more enquiries (when the images, price and other variables are similar).
  • If you chose to answer a stupid question publicly - instead of clicking 'ignore' or 'answer privately' - be aware the way you do so will also influence other users' reactions.
  • If you get a negative review, deal with it sensibly. Yes, he or she, might be an idiot, dangerous (as hopefully you know there is another way to flag that), or just have unrealistic expectations. Maybe you had a 'bad hair day'.  If you think it is unfair, say why very simply, don't attack. Other users will make their own opinions based on the quality of the listing and response to feedback. Listings with both positive and negative reviews (with sensible reactions) actually seem to be more popular than those with a couple of very positive reviews.
Lastly, the most important thing is to think about the type of client you want and make sure your public profile will appeal to them. According to our data, a little thought and work can make a big difference to the quantity and quality of enquiries.
December 15, 2014

Happy holidays and 'feedback'

Thanks for all of your support in 2014. We've had loads of great feedback from both advertisers and users. That has helped us make improvements to the service for everyone. There's still lots of things we are planning to get done, haven't had enough time, but we do hope to put in place some more improvements over the coming months and have some good things coming for 2015.

We really appreciate it every time someone takes the time to get in touch or post a suggestion, comment or criticism in the forums.  Always open to new comments, so don't be shy ;)

Feedback from customers about their experiences

We've seen a big increase in the number of reviews placed by users in the last 12 months. Most are positive, but - obviously - some are negative. Obviously, it's impossible to keep everyone happy all the time and some complaints may not be justified.

Top three tips on dealing with negative feedback:

  1. It might sound obvious, but the best way of avoiding an unhappy customer is to make sure expectations are set correctly in advance. The information you provide on your listing (both the description and photos) should correctly represent any services offered.
  2. If someone leaves a review you think is unfair, then answer with a clear, calm comment on why. This will represent you in the best way and is much better than an aggressive or bitchy response.
  3. If a meeting didn't go well for one reason or another; any one can have a 'bad hair day' or not click with customer; a nice note explaining why goes a long way to showing you do care.
Best wishes for the holiday season and for 2015! Keep safe and well, Claire XX

November 6, 2014

Payments and idiots

We have improved the payment process and we think people who should be able to pay with their card can now do so in many more cases than previously. We hope this is a help and please do continue to get in touch if you have problems or contact the payment provider directly if there is a problem. You do need to use the same details with each card. We would also recommend you only use one account on Massage Republic - not multiple sign-ins. Talk to us if you have a problem or reason to have multiple accounts.

For the couple of idiots who recently tried using stolen card details on the site, we do know who you are - we can also see other accounts you have where you haven't yet tried the same. You are also not getting the coverage you are looking for the crime you are committing -  the listings get blocked. Please remember you are also promoting phone numbers which can be tracked, located and directly linked to fraud. You personally might not get into trouble if it is someone else's profile and phone you are posting, but they will. And in many countries this is not good news. When there is fraud, reports are going to local police.


Other stuff

A lot of the work we have been doing recently has been not that visible. We have been working to make processes work easier at each step, get a better experience on mobile and generate more enquiries for our beloved members. We just passed 4 million pageviews/month. Thanks to those who sent us comments/suggestions, both positive and negative, they always help. What we do know is we are now generating a large number of enquiries to a lot of independents in some cities - was always the goal, happy to get there. We are now working on reaching out to more people in other places.

So - if you know a provider who might benefit from Massage Republic, please refer us. If you're reading this you probably know already; we're free forever for a profile, we respect our advertisers and users, and are working hard to make an online environment which is safer and more efficient for providers and customers.
October 22, 2014

Keep safe online

For the second time, we just had some instances of some peoples' accounts being accessed by other people.

The reason is now very clear: there are some escort sites who may store your password in clear text in their database. Some of them may then use your password to try and log in as you in other places (like for your profile on Massage Republic). They were changing links to the profile owner website to their own site.  These sites are obviously bad places with very bad people running them (idiots, basically).

Any decent site (like us) will never store your password in clear in the database. The full explanation is a bit technical, but I will try and provide the human version. When you register or change your password we take that password and transform it using some clever maths (which I don't understand, but it's the same one used when you login to your bank) and store the transformed password. The great thing is we cannot reverse the math (explanation is complicated) so we can never know your password. When you login, we have to make the transformation on the password provided and compare against the originally transformed version.

Regardless of how safe we work to make things on Massage Republic, you can still be at risk if someone else has your password. Especially if you re-use it on multiple sites. To keep it safe, use a different password on Massage Republic.

If you have any questions on this, please ask. It is complicated and the underlying reasons are tough for many people (including computer scientists) to understand.