The internet was responsible for a big boost in nudism. You could search the internet for clubs and resorts, instead of sneaking an ashamed look at the back pages of naturist magazines. You could safely connect with other nudists without revealing your name or face. Nudists have always been relegated to the fringes of society, but on the internet, everyone is on the fringe.
However, it’s remarkable that nudist communities don’t seem to be very successful, as a rule. There is no single nudist community with a large membership that has stuck around for more than a few years.
There are some great blogs and blogger teams who have cultivated a large and active readership, like Naked Wanderings. There are some Facebook groups that boast membership in the tens of thousands. Active nudist associations, like AANR, TNS, and British Naturism, also seem to work as gathering places for naturists. But those aren’t really the kind of organic online communities that I looked for as a new nudist myself.
Online communities for nudists don’t seem to be successful, as a rule. Much as I would love to see them succeed, they tend to go in one of two directions:
Neither of these directions result in healthy, active nudist communities.
A few nudist communities have found at least partial success - though many are only partially successful, and have been at least affected by the problems described above.
A longtime success story - the site is the chief employment for its founder and his spouse - TrueNudists was set up as a Facebook for nudists. It has very active chat rooms, blogs, forums, and detailed profiles - some users have thousands of photos uploaded on the site. (You have to pay for a membership to see more than a few photos.)
TrueNudists may be the best example of problem #2. Of the hundreds of thousands of user profiles (many of them dormant for years), a significant number are transparently fake. Doing a reverse image search on many female profiles, too often, shows that the images are old and stolen from various porn sites. While the site remains large and active, it is a magnet for photo thieves and trollers, and only a small core membership is really part of the site. And though these fake profiles might be reported frequently, they often don’t seem to be taken down, or at least not quickly. I’ve heard other users speculate that the fake profiles keep the user numbers up, attracting yet more new users.
With a focus on outdoor nudist activity, naktiv is a great example of what a nudist online community should be. It’s true to nudist values, does not emphasize photos (although they are allowed on the site), and has a large worldwide user base. However, they seem to suffer from problem #1: there isn’t much happening on the site. When you log on, you see very little new material.
Unfortunately, while I was writing this post, I learned that naktiv went offline for a while because of technical issues. They’re back now, with a smaller set of functions. They’re still worth checking out, but the more limited content on the site may lead to even less user activity.
Based in England, and boasting a mainly British usership, NaturistCommunity is another nudist Facebook community. Users can post photos and video, there is a small and mainly inactive chat room, and users can post in discussions, as well as on a main thread that shows up to all users when they log in. Although there are a few regulars, the site isn't much use for nudists seeking communities, especially outside the UK.
Nudist sites and forums seem to pop up all the time. Almost all of them follow the same pattern: an initial flurry of activity and growth, then a decline and eventual shuttering of the site. And if they allow photos, they invariably suffer from trolls and fake accounts. It's difficult to find any group that lasts more than a few months as an active concern.
There’s one exception to this rule, an online community that has continued to remain active for multiple years, without the same problems about trolls and gawkers, and with over a hundred thousand unique users every month. I know the community intimately, because I’m one of the moderators - and this is not a plug, because I receive no benefit from the community other than personal satisfaction.
The community is the nudism subreddit, located at https://www.reddit.com/r/nudism. I won’t get into reddit and how it works - you can visit the site and see it for yourself. But the popularity of reddit (one of the five most popular sites on the internet) certainly had something to do with the community’s success and longevity.
There are other reasons as well. There are numerous moderators, all active, all interested in preserving the community and its values. Those values are set forth with a set of rules, available to read in the sidebar, that govern the type of content people can post. And there are no image posts of any kind on the site - only discussion, and higher-value nudist content. It’s also on a free platform, so it’s not going to run into costs for hosting or other needs that will make it untenable to continue.
It’s surprising that the number of “good” nudist communities - active groups with lots of nudists and not dominated by trolls - are so rare. Since nudists can’t necessarily be candid with many people about their interest, you would think that the anonymity of the internet would make online communities more popular.
That anonymity might be the very problem, though. You can’t create trust in the community without reassuring the participants that everyone involved is an authentic nudist. The way people most often try to establish that trust is by asking members to submit nude photos of themselves. And then the gawkers arrive.
For sites not driven by photos, that authenticity is typically driven by interacting with other users. Their conduct in discussions builds a personality (or persona) online, and that breeds the authenticity that users are looking for. But even with sites that attract a lot of users initially, those discussions soon falter, and the site is left languishing with very little traffic.
Why is that? I think I know why, but I will discuss that in my next post...
What online naturist communities do you frequent? What makes those communities worth visiting? Are there any that you deliberately steer clear from? Why? Let me know in the comments!