Crowdsourcing Column: What Makes Your Favorite Sites Worth Visiting?

This article originally ran in AVN magazine.

As a group, adult industry webmasters spend countless hours online creating, updating and evolving a massive aggregate of sites in virtually every marketable niche. Webmasters are also early adopters of new technologies, efficiency-minded business owners who are likely to use digital forms of entertainment even more often than the general public. That led us to this query for AVN’s Crowdsourcing column:

“What makes your favorite sites worth visiting and what can be learned from them?”

Staying Ahead of the Media Curve

For some webmasters, what retains their interest is a site that keys in on trends and stays ahead of traditional news media. “A lot of people have heard of, but I’m always surprised how many people have been slow to start using it,” said Sean Holland, vice president and general manager at “I find it does an excellent job of foreshadowing useful trends for business and also gives an unfiltered way to check the pulse of the general public on a lot of consumer-centric data that surveys or paid business research reports tend to miss. It’s a really useful site and there is always something new worth noting there.”

Other sites offer news that’s meant to amuse. “For pleasure I visit,” said YanksTodd, owner of “I go there every morning to start my day with a laugh. It appeals to me because I appreciate wit, and their comedic creativity is simply unmatched in the world of fake news. What I really enjoy, though, is the inadvertent ‘rick-rolling’ effect it has from a traffic generation standpoint. I would love to dig into their social stats and see the breakdown between the liberal audience appreciating the satire and the conservative audience clicking through because they were inflamed by a fake article.”

In the information age, being current really isn’t enough anymore. Your bookmarkers and subscribers are likely to be expecting you to stay ahead of content trends as well. During the newspaper era of years past, people eagerly awaited reviews by critics like Roger Ebert before going to see a film that had already been in the theaters for a weekend or more. Now, fans are unlikely to wait for a film to be released, let alone professionally reviewed.

“Outside of work, and are probably two of my most visited sites,” said Ruth Blair, business development manager of Paxum Inc. “YouTube for the obvious reasons—you can find pretty much anything there—and because I love movies. Coming Soon provides at-a-glance movie and trailer information in a format and layout that I find comfortable. Of course, habit comes into play as well, I’ve been visiting for years to get the latest movie information.”

Some webmasters won’t even wait for movies to be slated for release before taking an interest in them. “I’m always returning to,” said Colin of “I literally stumbled across the site several months ago while looking for some cinema lighting tips and quickly found out that it is the project of a successful adult industry veteran friend of mine since around 1996 or so. What I like about this site is that it is jampacked with film directors, producers, writers and creative folks all actively talking about the creative processes that they employ in making mainstream movies, documentaries, reality programming and more. This large and lively group of film folks really gives me great ideas and helps me ‘think outside the porn box’ for the movies I produce at Wasteland and every week.”

Surfing for Fun and Profit

Of course, webmaster interests go well beyond film and media, but the thirst for new information and forward-thinking viewpoints about other fascinations remains much the same. “I’ve been driving Chargers for the last five years and I have a soft spot for them now, which often leads me back to for the newest points of view,” said Kalyn of AdultFriendFinder Networks. “Any question I have related to any year Charger, I can find answered there. I’ve owned two since they started coming back out and I’m currently driving a 2013 R/T Pitch Black now.” Kalyn also mentioned, stating, “This site is not business related yet but I’m an MMA enthusiast as well and my training buddy writes some of the articles for this site which are always a great read.”

The idea that the site isn’t business related “yet” was also a very common concept raised by the insiders interviewed here. It was very clear right from the start that any site a webmaster visits is one they are already thinking about in potential business terms as the lines between even the most personal hobbies and the potential for growing online businesses routinely become blurred.

Some diligent webmasters have reached the point where business-related websites are becoming as enjoyable as any other personal passion. “I’m on pretty much every day because it handles project management among our team members from several locations across numerous tasks,” said Kristin of “What’s good about Asana is that it’s free and it works! The information is cloud based so the tool is extremely helpful with managing projects and tasks within our organization. Because the tasks are easily assigned to specific people and always online, you can follow any task and receive email updates automatically. There are a lot of business sites I visit often, but the reason I’m mentioning Asana is that it is so easy to use and should be helpful for pretty much any organization in the industry. Also, while many business applications feel like work, Asana manages to maintain a much more enjoyable social networking feel to it by simplifying the interface and keeping things looking fresh.”

Echoing that sentiment, Mo of Dating Factory was quick to mention Basecamp. “More than a website, it’s an online productivity tool. I am on there daily. It’s great to keep notes, set tasks and reminders or create custom calendars for work on projects with other members of our team. Basecamp is so simple, sleek and powerful that I found myself importing some of my personal tasks and outside hobbies into the software to manage them all more effectively as well. Now they have even launched an iPhone app, which is well designed and allows me to manage projects on the go. I think Basecamp is the best productivity tool out there, for business or personal use.”

Embracing Big Data

If timeliness, simplicity and efficiency were characteristics that drew the attention of many webmasters, going local was an idea that also came up a lot. “One of the websites I visit most frequently is,” said Colin, business development specialist at “It’s a great resource for what is going on in the alternative scene in the Capital Region of upstate New York. The website features articles on everything from restaurant reviews and openings to concerts, art showings and festivals. I feel that there is not another media outlet in the area that is so in tune with what is happening off the beaten path in New York’s Capital Region. From my point of view it also goes to show how powerful ‘going local’ can be for quality content providers who make the effort to provide information or other updates on a level that more generic content can’t match.”

Cutting through clutter and getting to the heart of the matter quickly was also a common cause for sites earning webmaster interest. “I check out daily,” said Erwin of “Search engine optimization techniques change so often and there is so much misinformation out there, and having a community driven site that publishes different articles from different backgrounds for so many needs is an excellent way to find trends or stay away from things likely to be penalized in the future. It isn’t everything you need to know, but it is an excellent resource worth going to often.”

Even among tech sites there is a clearly defined pecking order because some are consistently ahead of the others in spotting trends. “I make sure to go to daily because it keeps me in the know as to which sites, companies or products are hot and upcoming,” said Luke Hazlewood, CEO of “They do an exceptional job of keeping readers informed about what the valley is up to in terms of digital VC money and I find that very helpful in plotting out my own investment strategies. There are a lot of other tech investment sites, but Tech Crunch always seems to have more depth to their coverage. And when money is involved I always want to have as much data as possible to make winning decisions.”

So while webmasters preach the importance of simplicity, efficiency, timeliness and going local for their business endeavors, it should come as little surprise that those tenets of successful online business are constantly being reinforced by the sites most of us visit for productivity or pleasure when we aren’t hard at work on our own digital properties.

Click here to read the June Crowdsourcing column and click here for the July Crowdsourcing column.