Since late 2008 FetLife has proven itself to be a valuable resource for those persons looking for kink advice and learning all about fetishes they may not have ever considered. It's also a good place to make friends with local people and organize events. But since the search capacity is limited it can be very difficult to find the information you may be looking for. Regardless of the struggles and growing pains it endures or the negative press it gets for trolls and spam, it does manage that very well through an active trustworthy volunteer staff base.
Today I'd like to walk you through the ways that I use to find information and continue my learning with FetLife. If you aren't a member yet, head on over and sign up; it's free! Once you have a basic profile created you can begin adding your friends. Many of the Submissive Guide contributors are on FetLife - lunaKM, Rayne, Twistmahtit and SehAnru to name a few. It's always considerate to send someone a message first before sending them a friendship request. Some people have limits on who they will friend on FetLife.
"Hi, I recognize your name from Submissive Guide and really admire what you are doing for the submissive community. Would you mind if I added you to my friends list?"
How to Learn
Using the search box.
If you know what sorts of topics that interest you then the search box might be helpful for you. The search is used primarily for the following terms:
- usernames (called Kinksters)
- groups for every kink imaginable, munch groups, and so much more.
- events, cons, play parties, munches and everything in between.
What you can not search for on FetLife:
- user stats (height, weight, location, fetish commonalities, other personal ads information)
- group discussion thread topics
Using a person's profile.
Reading through a person's profile will tell you a lot about what they enjoy, how much experience they have and also what groups they participate in. You can use their status feed to read what they are currently commenting on, follow their sites all over the web and see what events they are planning on attending. The goldmine of information on a person's profile comes from several places.
The groups list is the first place to look for interesting groups that they are in that you might be interested in joining. Make sure you read the about page with the rules to see if there are any restrictions for joining or participating. Add as many groups as you'd like to your own profile by joining the group on the group page.
The second place that is an excellent place to search for information is the person's fetish list. You can see what the person is interested in and if you click on the fetish item you will get a comprehensive list of who else has that fetish listed as well as groups that possibly cater to that fetish. You also have the option to add it to your own fetish list and I encourage you to do that so you can go back to that fetish at any time and check out the groups listed as they are constantly growing.
You can also take a look at the websites that the person has listed. They are common ones that they love or run themselves - consider it a recommendation. You could broaden your learning from their own favorites. These typically take you away from FetLife so I won't cover their use in this article.
The most obvious feature for finding learning and information are the groups of FetLife. They are much like individual forums and each of them is run by members of FetLife. Every group has different rules and expectations as well as how they are run, so if you find a group that you don't like you are most likely going to find another that works better for you.
Each group has an about page with the rules of the group listed. Make sure you read it before you make a post in the group because there are rules specific to the group listed there. Many groups also have a separate discussion thread with rules in it pinned to the top of the discussion list. Take your time to read through the red sticky posts at the top for any basic information, topic indexes and other rules you might need to know in order to post in the group.
Novices and Newbies
Most of the groups I run or are an active member in are very busy and well organized. I can usually find a lot of what I'm looking for in the stickies section of the discussion topics list. My favorite group example for their use of the stickies is Novices and Newbies. The topics indexes are constantly maintained and fantastic! I spend a lot of time in this group on a daily basis.
Skim the list of discussions on the first few pages and read the ones that look interesting. The art of writing titles isn't great with a lot of people so don't take the title into much account. I may not comment on half the discussions I read, but that doesn't mean you can't learn something from what everyone is saying. If you like a post and want to follow the replies you can select to follow the discussion and then it will show up on the Groups page of FetLife in the "Discussions Following" area.
Using the Activity Feed.
After you've been on FetLife for awhile you likely have a few friends in your friend list. Now you can use the Activity Feed to develop even more places to learn. The activity feed is the home page of FetLife once you are logged in. You can update it with your status, much like Twitter or leave short comments about your kink life at the top. It shows everything your friends are up to by default, but you can filter it with the options on the left-hand side. I prefer to use the Group Activity feed most often. I can see what all of my friends are busy talking about and join in the conversation or bookmark it for later reading. I rarely browse the photos area, but I have to admit there are some very interesting pictures in my feed from time to time.
Using the writing section.
Many people keep a journal on FetLife. You can use the activity feed to filter to just writing of your friends and keep up with them and also learn some things that you may want to remember for future exploration. After all, the people who do this thing we do are all very different and we can learn from them.
Using your first post.
Now that you've used a lot of the above areas for learning you can venture into writing your first discussion thread of your own looking for insight into an area that interests you. Post it in a related group or a general group so that it isn't out of place. Make sure you are to the point, provide some background if necessary and break it up into shorter paragraphs than what you would for a research paper. It's easier to read when it is in smaller sections. Prepare yourself for helpful and not so helpful information. Don't take offense and use what you can, discard what you can't. It's all a part of learning and growing.
I hope that I've helped you learn how to use FetLife for your own learning. What other tips would you provide for how to get the most out of FetLife?