Some days I just have no idea what to write. Fortunately, some helpful person got to my blog by searching for “How to Fetlife“, and inspiration struck. I have a couple of posts about how to make friends on Fetlife, but not a general guide to finding your way around.
First of all, you need to be aware that Fetlife is not necessarily a safe place to put identifying pictures. Cpl. Jim Brown thought Fetlife was a safe place to put up some pictures and look how that turned out for him. For most people, Fetlife is probably safe enough, but please note the wording there. There is simply no place online that is perfectly safe for everyone to put their photos. As an aside, this is why digital literacy is so important – if you’re going to put a photo up online, you need to be aware that because of how websites and computers work, there is absolutely no way to prevent people from being able to save it and do whatever they want with it. That’s not to say that you will instantly get outed if you put up a face pic, but please think about what would happen to you if you were to get outed and which risks you’re comfortable taking. Fetlife’s content is hidden behind a login, but all it takes to create a login is an email address and maybe a minute of your time.
Contrary to my post about how to make friends on Fetlife, if you just want to have a look around, figure out if there are any munches in your area, and maybe participate in some discussions, you don’t have to worry about filling in your profile right away. If you want to join/post in any groups that are only for certain people (for example, the Submissive men and women who love them group allows anyone to join, but only submissive men and dominant women to post), I recommend filling in whatever combination of gender/role/etc that proves you’re in the demographic the group is meant for so you don’t get kicked out, but aside from that you don’t need to fill in the “About Me” section of your profile or add pictures until you’re ready to start talking to people privately (not necessarily to date, if you want to find people to go to munches with they will probably also be interested in who you are).
There are a number of ways to find events in your city. The simplest, if you chose a city when you set up your profile (and didn’t choose Antarctica as people often do when they don’t want to reveal their real location), is just to click on the Events link at the very top of the page. This will show you a handy list of events in your city, with tabs to see events your friends have RSVPed to and all events. That last one isn’t necessarily super useful beyond curiosity about what’s going on in the world – just now it’s showing me events in Los Angeles, São Paulo, and a bunch of private events that are likely to be nowhere near me.
You can also find events in your city by searching for your city. In the search results you can either choose the ‘Events’ tab to see a list of events that are probably going on in your city or the ‘Locations’ tab to pick your particular location from a list of possible matches. I say the Events tab shows you events that are probably happening in your city because if you search for ‘Victoria’, for example, you may see events in Victoria, BC, Victoria, Texas, Victoria, Australia and events on Victoria Street and events with ‘Victoria’ anywhere in the description (for example, events on Victoria Day long weekend). It takes a little more clicking, but if you’re getting unhelpful results from the Events tab, pick your location from the Locations tab (if your city name is common there will be a list of places to choose from), then scroll down to upcoming events.
Just like finding events, there are also lots of ways to find groups. If you’re looking for local groups, you can search for your location (or view your profile and click on it there) and scroll down to “Potentially related groups” – just like with events, you’ll likely see groups for other cities with the same name so read the “About” section for that group carefully before joining. It’s not unusual to see people just put the city name in the name of their group without a qualifier like a State/Province or Country, which leads to many confused Australians joining the Victoria BDSM group.
You can also search for your city name and choose the ‘Groups’ tab in the search results to find local groups. Most groups meant for a particular city/state/region will have that region in the group name so they’re usually easy to find.
If you’re new to kink in general or Fetlife in particular, I highly recommend the Novices & Newbies group. If you happen to be a submissive man or a dominant woman, I also recommend the Submissive men and women who love them group (otherwise known as that group I link to all the time because they have interesting discussions that inspire a lot of my posts). Fetlife also has a handy link to a list of the most popular groups beside the Group search box under the Groups link at the top of the page. The most popular groups are generally the most active just because they have more people, so if you want a quick answer to a question or access to many many useful stickies (I’ll explain what a sticky is shortly), have a look at popular groups list.
You can also find groups by searching for particular interests directly or by finding a related fetish and clicking on that. If you have trouble finding what you’re looking for, try rewording your search terms or changing the spacing around. For whatever reason “knife play” with a space returns zero results while “knifeplay” without a space returns two groups and 24 fetishes, so don’t feel like you must be the only freak on the planet who likes _____ if you have trouble finding groups for people who are into the same thing.
When you join a group, it gets added to the “Groups you joined” list under the “Groups” link so that you can easily find it again. You’ll see discussions you’ve participated in or chosen to follow (by clicking the ‘follow discussion’ link at the bottom of the post that started the thread) to the right under “Discussions Following”.
Now that you’ve found some groups, let’s talk about finding your way around within them. The first thing you’ll see when you click on a group, whether you’ve joined it or not, is the discussions tab. This is, shockingly enough, a list of the discussions/threads going on in that group. By default discussions are ordered by the most recent comment, but you can also use the “order by: newest discussions” link at the top of the page (just under the group title and the “About & Rules”, “Discussions” and “Members” tabs if you’d rather see the newest discussions first.
No matter how you chose to sort the discussions, at the top you will always see the “stickies”. They have a little red badge beside them that says “STICKY” on it and they’re separate from the other discussions, so they’re easy to find. These are threads that the group leaders thought were important and/or useful enough that they should always be easy to find no matter how old they get and how many new threads have been started since those threads were created. If you want to post a question in a group, for fucks sake read the stickies first. You don’t have to read every last word of every last one of them, but if you don’t want people to call you out for being too lazy to read the stickies and asking a question that not only has been asked about a zillion times before but has also been answered in great detail in the stickies, at least skim the fucking stickies! The group leaders made those discussions sticky for a reason, the least you can do is glance at them before asking your question.
Another thing you should do before starting a discussion is read the rules of the group you joined. It’s sad that it has to be said, but it’s also extremely common for people to start discussions that are painfully obviously against the rules. For example, the Submissive men and women who love them group does not allow personal ads. Since it’s an international group, having personal ads that could only possibly apply to a tiny fraction of the members is obviously a complete waste of everyone’s time. But that doesn’t seem to stop people from posting personal ads and getting shit from longtime members who are sick of people not bothering to read the rules. Everybody makes mistakes, and if you apologize graciously and do better next time people will generally be decent human beings about it, but you can very very easily avoid looking like an idiot if you just pay attention and do a little reading.
Speaking of not looking like a jerk, it’s also a very good idea to skim over the last couple pages of discussions before you start your own discussion. This will give you a feel for how that particular group behaves and what questions have already been asked and don’t need to be rehashed right away. You might also discover that this group just isn’t for you. There are tons of groups on Fetlife, don’t feel you need to stay in any particular one if it’s not working for you.
Yet another way you can find things on Fetlife is by what’s referred to as “stalking” or “Fetlife stalking” people. If you find a particularly interesting original post or reply, you may want to click on that user’s name to go to their profile, then scroll down to “Latest activity”. This will show you what they’re been up to on Fetlife, whether that’s “loving” or posting writings, pictures, or videos, or starting or commenting on discussions. They might have other interesting things to say in discussions you haven’t read yet or groups you haven’t joined. You can also find interesting groups by looking at people’s profiles – you’ll see a list of groups they lead and groups they’re a member of on the left of their profile.
And finally, the Kinky & Popular link at the top of the page shows you a list of pictures, videos, and writings that are especially popular. Sometimes they’re good, sometime they’re terrible, but if you’re like me you’ll at least get an angry blog post out of it 🙂
I know this is super long already, but please let me know if I missed anything. Readers, what do you wish you’d known when you first joined Fetlife?