In the past few I’ve received dozens questions and comments from people regarding the abundance of so called BackPage “Clones”, websites using the same basic structure, layout, and function of the defunct BackPage.
Since the ubiquitous BackPage was seized and shutdown by law enforcement a number of other sites have popped up in its place. A few already existed, but a bunch have popped up over the last year. A number of these sites have even played on the name of BackPage.
So are these sites any good? Are they of any value? Will they also be taken down?
These are just a few of the questions I get asked on a routine basis. Let’s take a look.
Good or Bad?
Yes. That is usually the answer to a questions like this.
Some of these sites are good, and some are bad.
A couple of the sites that sprang up as replacements to BackPage have tried to make an effort to be better than the original. To separate themselves from the other “clones”. This is a good thing. These sites have taken the basic formula of BackPage, but attempted to work more for the community. To respect the people who post ads on them. And even to start giving back to the community. They are attempting to learn from the mistakes of their predecessor.
But most seem to be only interested in making a quick buck. There are numerous reports of them stealing ladies listings in order to beef up their listing pages. This gives the appearance that such women are using their site in order to draw in paying customers. Many of these sites are rumored to be owned by the same people. It lends to the conclusion that they are just trying to bring in as much money as they can, all the while waiting for law enforcement to shut them down. And if they do get shut down, they are quickly shifting over to a new domain name and starting up again.
It is difficult to say if these sites care at all about the community, especially the sex workers. If reports about complaints going completely unanswered are true, then it does not present a good image. Personally, I feel that the majority of the BackPage “clones” are just fly-by-night operations looking to capitalize on the downfall of the original. But that is just my opinion.
Do these sites have any real value to the community? Yes.
Despite my own rather negative opinion of these websites, I do think that they have some value.
While many of them are probably just out to make some quick money, they can be a valuable place for sex workers to advertise. Often for much less than the other styles of sites. BackPage “Clones” can be a quick and inexpensive way for ladies to get their information out there. There are a number of really good new websites—sites that working to be the next big thing and stick around for the long run. But those sites can also be expensive to use. The “clones” provide a cheaper route, especially for the ladies who travel or tour a lot. They provide a way to target their advertising to specific locales much easier. There is certainly a value in that.
Also, in some areas these sites are the ones predominantly used by sex workers and hobbyists. Some regions have enjoyed the presence of great websites over the years. Websites that helped to really build the local community and connect people. But other places just had BackPage and Craigslist for the most part. And in those places, the clients are looking for the sites that replaced them. As such, the “clones” are highly valuable in certain places.
Will They Be Seized?
I would expect that the BackPage “Clones” will be among the websites that will be most targeted by law enforcement. Why? Because they are too much like the original. Letting them exist for too long could be seen as an embarrassment to law enforcement. They also seem to be run without all that much thought or planning—at least with some of them. This goes with my opinion of these sites being mostly about making some quick and easy money.
People who are looking for quick money are fairly notorious for not putting in a lot of safety. They usually put most of their effort into getting their money and getting away with it. As such, the sites themselves seem to be set up as being “disposable”. It is the smart move—if my conclusions are correct.
I do not see these sites as having made much in the way of significant investments in design, architecture, and structure. As such, they are not set up to last. And that may be okay.
Here’s the thing: we don’t need these sites to stick around much. They come, they go, and the next one comes. It is a fairly easy economic model. As such, the biggest advice I ever give about the BackPage “clones” is to not invest in them long-term. Keep your ad buys short term. It’s the best way to avoid losing money if they get shut-down.
Sure. Use these sites. I think it is generally worth while. I would recommend finding ones that don’t steal ads, just as a matter of principle. And I recommend not investing too much in them at any one time. But I do think they are a good choice as a companion to more sophisticated websites and the use of social media. I fully believe that the best strategy is to use multiple formats for connecting with people, and the electronic “classifieds” like BackPage “clones” should be a part of that strategy.