Into The Wilds: R/GoneWildAudio (2024)

Trigger Warning:

The following article will discuss grooming, racial bias, violence and more. Reader discretion is heavily advised.

I have spent over a month gathering witness testimony from users of r/GoneWildAudio. Quotes when given are word for word what was relayed to me from sources, all of which will be kept in total confidence. Any information that is not eye witness testimony is publicly available with a google search.

“I want you to f*ck me so hard my neck snaps against the bathroom stall”.

It’s been close to seven, eight years since I got that Twitter DM.

I still remember it vividly.

Because the person that had sent it to me was supposed to be a friend.

They had interviewed me for their podcast back when I still did Magic: The Gathering content. I’d felt safe with them, knowing absolutely nothing else about them save the face they showed the public. I consented to the interview and started it with a crude joke. Even back then, the persona I played on air danced around horny concepts and potty humor. It was all an act. Anyone that actually worked directly with me or knew me could attest to that.

That’s not what this person got out of it however.

The messages started up the same week. Boring small talk at first, but it quickly escalated into them sending me nudes, salacious texts and more. All without my consent or prompting. At first, I played dumb. Being a “himbo” has gotten me out of trouble more times than I care to count. Then came the point they dragged my partner at the time into it.

So, I went off.

I threatened to post full screenshots. I threatened to tell everyone that would listen. I told them I’d talk about it on the podcast I was a part of at the time. We had a massive audience. It would kill their career overnight.

They huffed and left me alone after that. Started horrid rumors about me, the whole nine. Some people agreed with them. Random people I’d never spoken to would hop in my mentions calling me all sorts of things. I never acted on any of the things I’d say I would do. They were a prominent community figure. I was the “shock jock” of our podcasting circle.

And, as they said: “Nobody is going to believe you”.

I left the MTG community behind entirely a year or so later. Maybe two. At that point I’d seen its face, I’d seen my stalker/harasser have a fast-tracked career. I watched as one of our largest cosplayers was doxxed and people sided with her harasser. Whatever disillusionment I had about the community had been shattered into a million pieces.

It was one of the last times I consciously put effort into aligning myself with a collective online.

My stalker/harasser, the person who was the primary reason I stopped attending in-person events at all, wasn’t outed from the community until 2020. When someone finally leaked screenshots and the entire network of abuse they had orchestrated. The day it happened, friends from that era of my life reached out. They told me they were glad I was okay.

That they wish they had listened to me.

Day late and a dollar short folks, but thanks I guess.

I’m ashamed to admit it happened, even still.

I’m more ashamed that it was the second time it had occurred.

I don’t mention the above to garner pity or sympathy, but to illustrate a key fact about how communities will often overlook the worst in their midst to keep the “machine” rolling. If your harasser is a prominent part of the community, if they’ve aligned themselves with movements that are inherently “good”, they often can move with impunity. They can continue to be a wolf tearing at the flock for years to come. “Cancel Culture” isn’t real and it never has been, for if one instance of it was true I wouldn’t be writing this at all. I wouldn’t feel compelled to talk about another era of my life, the reasons I left, and why I felt compelled to write this editorial in the first place.

This isn’t a hit piece, this isn’t an expose. This isn’t even a word of warning.

All of what you’re about to read started with the simple question of why.

MTG Twitter and content production wasn’t the last time I willingly became a part of an online subculture. The real, actual last time that happened was R/GoneWildAudio on Reddit. I was there for almost two years, from 2018 to the summer of 2019 or 2020. This is brief for many who are familiar with the subreddit or contribute to it; however, my few years there both elevated my career to new heights while making me omnipresently aware of the exploitation, insecurity, harassment and real world danger that surrounds GWA. I left after one critical event, giving my piece in a community thread in which the painfully small moderation staff was attempting to quell growing flames.

I thought that would be it.

I was confident that I could close that chapter, and move on.

Yet here I am now, after spending roughly a month talking to people, studying sub reddit traffic and more. I’m faced once again with the realization that I am not alone, nor were my negative experiences there isolated. Unlike last time, I’m not afraid. I’m motivated to act as quickly as I can to answer that question, worming its way through my gray matter.

Why GWA?

Reddit, Age Gating Content And Responsibility

Reddit is one of the largest and most popular social networks on the face of the earth, rivaling only Twitter and Facebook in respective visits per day.

In the modern era, Reddit is stylized as a place that caters to every interest regardless of how niche. Your lust for a certain anime character and weird Audacity question can have equal footing in their respective communities, with responses from actual people and auto-moderation/bots. This seems an ideal circ*mstance for independent creators and large corporations alike, as creating a subreddit for your whatever can instantly allow you audience reach.

Users can also operate in relative anonymity. Account creation requires only an email account, and there’s always the option to create a “throwaway” right from the user control panel. You can also surf as a guest if you see fit. Security for account creation works via passwords and two factor authentication. Beyond this however, personal and community safety is left up to dubious moderation staff and individuals.

This creates a paradox for adult communities on Reddit, as there’s no true age gating or ID checks before users join. There’s the atypical “are you 18+? This community is NSFW” that pops up, which everyone simply lies to. Legally, this is all above board. However, it also very openly lays bare the possibility for NSFW reddits to be widely available to minors-who sometimes engage with the community via content creation.

I want to stress that this isn’t unique to reddit. Just in the last few months, the NSFW twitter community has seen several prominent personalities out themselves as underage. However when comparing Twitter and Reddit, the contrast is in sheer volume. Twitter has billions of users. A NSFW subreddit if it’s popular can have anywhere from ten to a hundred to a few thousand users. The capacity for a minor to both gain the trust of the community and lie to moderation (which waffles between non-existent and “a hand wave”) on Reddit is exponentially higher. Moderators are human, and will make judgment calls accordingly.

With a disposable email and hand hewn identity, users can engage in spaces they absolutely shouldn’t, thus endangering themselves and the entire community in the process.

Such is the case with GoneWildAudio, one of the most popular erotic audio subreddits on the site. GWA features a pop up window to confirm you’re legally of age, and asks for a vocal timestamp verification for performers.

That’s it.

And this is more than other subreddits even attempt.

As a vocal talent myself, I can’t even begin to stress how incredibly f*cking easy this is to bypass. With a bit of practice an amatuer could easily pitch-shift their voice and sound far older than they are. If they were especially crafty, they could also pull it off in an audio editor. Mic quality would also come into play here-overwhelmingly, the users on GWA do not have proper or professional set ups. A sh*tty cell phone mic recording could make a user sound far older than they really are.

The possibility of there being content created by minors on GWA is “above zero”, which is a non-negotiable dangerous risk for anyone involved in the adult community. The responsibility for ensuring proper age gating and safety for the community has failed everyone at every single level. The question of who is responsible for ensuring this isn’t as sticky as it seems.

If Reddit is going to allow adult content on the site, proper age gating such as what Fansly, OnlyFans and others use is paramount. However, Reddit sitewide moderation has a horrid reputation for ensuring NSFW doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. As Reddit won’t even remove illegal content on their own site unless it breaks the news, the chances of site moderation acting are incredibly low. As such, moderation responsibilities often fall on individual sub reddits.

Which brings us to one of the largest things users will notice about GWA right off the bat: It’s moderation is next to non-existent by adult industry standards, and dangerously ineffective given a subreddit of it’s size.

This is a fairly recent issue. GWA swelled during COVID-19 lockdowns and now sits at around one million members, a point of pride for them. Membership doesn’t translate into real-world traffic on the sub however. Over a three week period, I checked online membership during peak EST hours. The average per-day was somewhere around 4.5k-5k users online, without accounting for people surfing as guests (there’s literally no easy way to track that on my end). While this is a miniscule fraction of the active user base, that’s still a few thousand people. Logic would dictate a dedicated moderation staff available at least during peak hours to ensure member safety, especially given the open (and legally dangerous) possibility of minors accessing adult content.

That’s absolutely not the case.

As of this writing, there are currently eight active moderators. You can view the current list of moderators here.

Eight moderators for thousands of possible users is, simply put, disastrously insufficient by any stretch of the imagination. This grows exponentially worse if you believe the by-line of “a million active members”. Even given the use of auto-moderation via bots, this isn’t enough people. If for no other reason than ensuring the safety of their own members, having a moderation staff of under ten people willfully endangers casual audience members and performers alike. To translate this into real-world application, a site receiving this much traffic would likely have a dual-purpose department of at least fifteen to twenty.

At eight individuals, who are both likely unpaid and likely have real-world lives/jobs to get to, the end result is a moderation staff that is heavily overworked, untimely in remedying emergency situations and difficult to approach at all. A staff of eight people to handle thousands isn’t sufficient enough to ensure a democratic and unbiased use of moderator responsibilities.

I’d know.

Over the last two months, I put out a call on twitter for audience members, moderators and performers to speak to me about their experiences with GWA. I received roughly thirty three detailed responses from across the spectrum, save for the moderation staff itself. As promised, these responses will be kept in full confidence and not quoted here. If one of my sources feels confident telling their story publicly, they’ve my support. I received written testimony, screenshots from discord servers and more. Responses came from a diverse data set as well. Many BIPOC, queer people, audience members and performers reached out.

There were common observations in every single message:

The Moderation Staff of GWA Is Inherently Biased: One common thing I heard from the performers that spoke to me is that certain community members were held to a radically different standard than the rest of the community simply due to their prominence. While this does occur in any community one might find to some degree, the GWA mod staff has a history of allowing abusive, actively predatory, racist and otherwise biggoted performers the freedom to remain. This was cited by every single BIPOC and queer respondant I spoke with. A single person saying this would be concerning, but repeated evidence has made it abundantly clear that the mods of GWA will turn a blind eye if a performer drives subreddit (or affiliated subreddit) traffic up.

The Moderation Staff Will Not Act Unless Moved By Outside Forces: The story of F_Stop_Fitzgerald was one I heard about on Twitter well before the GWA staff made a public post. F-Stop_Fitzgerald, who lived in Toronto, was a school teacher and member of GWA who created teacher-student centric content. He was caught trying to lure children and in possession of child p*rnography. The literal headline breaking story was well known on twitter for roughly 48 hours before the GWA staff made a post about the incident, encouraging victims to come forward and offering anonymous resources for witness testimony.

Curiously, a moderator mentioned that they were aware underage users were on the sub reddit and that “we don’t care if you broke the rules, we’re here to help”.

While I understand where they were coming from, this coincidently confirms that the mod staff is aware of the non-zero chance that minors are on the subreddit yet again and will likely not act to remove them unless it’s brought to their attention. Their attention, which is sparse, given their already overwhelming workload. While proper age gating likely wouldn’t have prevented Fitzgerald’s predatory antics, the fact that the mod staff was both aware of minors and not proactively preventing situations like this from even having the chance to occur with the absolute bare-minimum legal compliance is incidentally malicious by association.

The legal precedent for that falls not on them however, but Reddit itself, which cannot and will not risk losing it’s user base overnight ala Tumblr-style age gating and content requirements.

Fitzgerald absolutely hasn’t been the only case of predators making use of the subreddit either. Several of the people I spoke with were victims of targeted harassment, sexually predatory conduct and more. In more than one instance they went to the mod staff, who made excuses for performers because of their prominence within the community. An investigation was promised, and the performer was allowed to continue to post. In one case, it was even suggested that the victim simply “tag that performer out”.

When did people actually experience results?

When they went to twitter directly with screenshots, left to fend for themselves against the onslaught of harassment by supporters for performers who refused to see what was before their very eyes. Then and only then did the GWA Modstaff decide to act, and rarely was someone banned from the subreddit for their actions. It’s the popular belief that Fitzgerald received banning at all simply because he broke international news.

This led to the creation of several twitter accounts, such as ConfessionsGWA and others. On these pages news broke about several GWA performers who were abusing their positions within the community to get away with everything from exploitation of labor to far worse. There’s a 41 page google doc with screenshots. The catalyst for the creation of CGWA seemed to be Tom Banter, who was openly allowed back to GWA and GoneWildAudioGay after fetishizing BIPOC audience members, using sexual degredation on discord server members, and openly complaining that he had to tag his non-con audios with a “rape” tag.

To quote one of the GWA mods, “(Tom) has paid the price for his scandal so hopefully he’s reflected and learned his lesson”.

Tom continues to make audio to this day on Youtube and streams on Twitch. He left reddit only after individuals came forward away from GWA, on twitter.

In response, GWA has scrubbed or archived any of Tom’s posts.

Never moving unless pushed from extrinsic platform sets a precedent of “the mods don’t care”, community wide.

GWA Is Inherently Focused On The Cis-Het White Male Gaze (And The Mods Still Don’t Care):

Literally every BIPOC performer and user I spoke with could cite multiple times off the top of their head that there was a push of their own to make GWA a more inclusive place. Or, at the least, a place that was safer for BIPOC performers to post without worry of a hostile, fetishizing or racist audience.

Nothing happened.

Either the mods would hand-wave away comments while promising nothing or simply not respond at all. During the height of BLM protests after the murder of George Floyd specifically, none of the respondents I spoke could recall any of the moderation staff working towards making black performers feel safer. Almost all of the respondents I spoke with cited that incident as what ultimately drove them from the platform.

This is tied in with the overwhelmingly stereotypical focus of BIPOC bodies within audio, specifically black women. Many of the sources I spoke with would remark about how overwhelmingly and aggressively sexualized they were for their race. Some respondents also pointed towards how several performers-such as KenteClothedTiger, Tombanter and others-would specifically focus on marketing themselves as an inclusive, BIPOC focused creator in order to lure in their victims.

The end result of this is a less diverse community as BIPOC people, sickened by the lack of mod action, rightfully leave. As the subreddit grows less diverse, it tends towards caucasion and cis-het focused content. Those alienated by gazing at the top posts are often told to head towards an affiliated subreddit, such as GoneWildGay and others. Which would seem an ideal solution, save that this funnels BIPOC and queer talent into an ever smaller nesting doll of potential audience reach.

It’s an insidious means of stifling BIPOC and queer voices.

So who does the responsibility for correcting any of this lie on?

Institutionally, Reddit as a platform first and foremost. Without getting into a discussion on internet privacy, release forms and proper legal compliance towards adult content, Reddit is incredibly unlikely to move. It costs less money to simply make Subreddits disappear when they break the news than to proactively ensure legal compliance with content creators and communities. What’s more, making their user base actively feel safe over simply making problems “vanish”.

Logically one would assume that the moderation staff of GWA would have a vested interest in, at the least, having an appropriate number of moderators to deal with the thousands deep user traffic (or what’s more, their “million strong” membership). Except they’ve done anything but that.

The latter here looks absolutely baffling to anyone with any understanding of how a community is run from the outside looking in. It begs the question of why a community would be run this way whatsoever, what kind of ideation would lead to leadership like this.

Which leads us to GWA’s second largest issue-it’s “amateur” marketed culture.

Free Content Isn’t Free: GWA’s Stalwart Refusal To Admit The Obvious

GoneWildAudio proudly proclaims itself as a community “for those aroused by sound”, where performers of all stripes and capability are invited to post their content. There’s an open mix of script writing, improv performances, “ramble faps” (listening to someone engage in self pleasure) and more. Recordings vary in quality from cell-phone static scratches to uploads professionally edited, scored and recorded.

Regardless of the amount of work put into these uploads, users are strictly forbidden from posting links to absolutely any services in which they might get compensated for their work. Because GWA’s culture insists that it’s “amateur” and not “professional” work.

This is alarmingly counterintuitive to creative culture period, but especially heinous as many people turned towards erotic audio and sex work during COVID 19 lockdowns, when GWA itself experienced it’s largest surge in traffic. People flooded the subreddit as they found themselves with unprecedented free time, hoping to find a community that would be a pathway towards substituting their strangled income.

Except their posts would be auto-yanked for linking to a twitter account, an additional platform for uploads and more simply for having a tip jar. As of my writing this, I was recently informed that a GWA mod convinced a new audio platform that GWA couldn’t use them despite their pro-NSFW attitude because the site itself asked for donations. A patently absurd idea that caused the site owners to reconsider featuring NSFW content at all (they still allow it as of this writing) and instead focusing on music.

The idea that anyone, amateur or not, doesn’t deserve to be compensated for their efforts, tipped or otherwise financially shown appreciation for their works is inherently exploitative to the core. Conflating successful efforts with make-believe, worthless upvotes doesn’t put food in the fridge, pay the light bill or student loans. What’s more, apathetic staff could even codify something within their own rules that would essentially hand-wave away responsibility. We are not held liable for anything beyond this subreddit page beyond harassment, et al.

Instead, “we are amateurs” is used as a shield, with exploitation of talent being rampant. Script writers get their works stolen, performed without credit and put behind paywalls (which, while strictly forbidden via GWAs rules, still happens regularly enough you could set a clock to it). Voice actors put hours of work into performing, engineering and scoring their works only for them to be vacuum-sucked onto this solitary platform (as linking to others could get the post yanked). New arrivals and hopeful content creators eager to join a community either get disillusioned and leave, or begin to view compensation as a kind of “selling out”.

This is especially rancid as GWA’s reputation casts an enormous shadow over the entire ero-audio community despite its quantifiably small reach. GWA is often where many of us begin or build our careers. I myself likely never would have met CMakesP, XytaMidnite and many of my regular clients had I not formally posted Splat Speaks there. I would be hard pressed to find a performer in erotic audio that didn’t start at GWA over youtube.

A community this small with a culture of “you’re only a real artist if you’re starving”, lead by a staff that openly allows the continued predation of it’s user base, sounds like a f*cking fever dream. It’s the kind of place that other adult performers would jump ship from. Many of us have.

Yet the specter of GWA still lingers on throughout the community by a falsely inflated reputation. Performers, platforms hopeful for the upload traffic and others take a single glance at that “million membership” mark and assume working with GWA will make or break their reputation.

GWA isn’t necessary to be an erotic vocal act, script writer or engineer. People simply use it because it’s the most convenient option by being a small, fractional part of one of the largest social media services in the world. People use it because they see the word “amateur” and assume that means them due to inexperience. Listeners use it because the tagging system is at least semi-functional.

All while the sub continues to exist only because of exploitive practices.

This is even more intolerable as GWA can’t provide safe platforms to upload content to. Soundgasm, long touted as the preferred platform for the sub (to the point it’s directly mentioned in their rules), had its content scrapped several times and uploaded without performer consent all over the web. I myself was a victim of this, as were dozens of other performers I know. It was only after this was repeatedly and loudly talked about on twitter that it was revealed how incredibly easy it was to download content directly from the service in MP3 quality. When the mod staff was approached about this, they failed to even assure their users with false security.

“These things happen”, they said.

Which is hilarious considering any other respective platform that also hosts “amateur” content often has provisions in their EULAs and rules that they’ll file DMCA claims on behalf of their users if their content gets stolen. They also often codify that the “amateurs” literally keeping the service alive (often with free content as well) inherently own the rights to their content. Even non-commercial sites like Archive of Our Own, allows “amateurs” to file complaints if their works are uploaded in a non-transformative fashion-and link to personal pages where you can be tipped. While Ao3 does allow scrapping, they’ve publicly stated they will take counter measures against it should it occur at the scale GWAs own scrape did.

Not to mention Soundgasm is a volunteer project maintained by a single person. What happens if one day they decide the hassle is no longer worth it? It hasn’t even been properly maintained in over eight years.

If GWA cannot and will not protect its own members, their content or even create a space that promotes professional growth, I find myself once again returning to the opening question of this editorial.

Why R/GoneWildAudio?

Concluding Statements, Observations And The Way Forward

The simple answer to that question is something GWAs entire reputation is built upon, but also something that can be easily templated over to a different service, a different subreddit, a different community:


That’s it.

People don’t use it because it’s safe. They don’t use it because the moderation is great. They don’t use it for the diverse array of BIPOC/Queer/Trans uploaded content, the inclusive community. They don’t use it in hopes of making some extra cash.

They use it because Youtube is a puritanical hell hole and they already have a reddit account. They use it because Twitter is overwhelming at billions of users and the nazis are also there. They use it because they can do so relatively anonymously, and the risk-reward calculation means they won’t get hurt. Maybe. Perhaps.

Unless they’re BIPOC or queer, in which case they’re always, always looking over their shoulder so long as they’re using the subreddit.

GWA exists because of convenience, is continued to be used because of convenience, and can be subsequently dropped if faced with competition that’s even a mild improvement, has even a slightly caring moderation staff or is creator-career friendly. It could disappear overnight should Reddit itself decide it no longer benefits the platform as a whole to have it. Even something as small as losing Soundgasm would have disastrous effects. A better tagging system could legitimately be enough to cause a shake up.

GoneWildAudio exists on a razors edge, ever a single strong wind away from being relegated to history. If that history proves good or ill is ultimately up to those framing the community through rules, policy and community action.

As of this writing, many of them have been absent for weeks.







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Into The Wilds: R/GoneWildAudio (2024)


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