Carter, P J and Agnew, Stuart (2013) Socks on or off? Emerging themes from a Sex-Work forum observations. In: The First Annual Cyberpsychology Conference (ACPC) 2013, 19/09/13, De Montfort University, Leicester. (Unpublished)
Abstract is an online forum/message board developed in 1999 that allows sex workers and potential customers (punters) to interact and communicate. The long-running site has several message boards that cover a range of topics such as special interest matters surrounding health and safety, legalities and even danger warnings for workers and customers, as well as general discussion of ‘punting’. As of mid-2013 over 500k posts had been submitted, with over 22k registered forum members.
Due to the heavy use of the forum and the frequent exchanges between both the workers and the punters it is a rich source of information. Not only can the interactions between individuals be observed but themes and key issues can be identified and explored. This allows an investigation of both the issues central to the users of Punternet and for a comparison to be made been the interactions and behaviour of Punternet users and ‘mainstream’ forum users.
Our research began by sampling a week of active forum threads from the general discussion board of Punternet. 60 threads were recorded, with a total of 2362 individual posts. On average threads received 39.94 (SD = 48.51) posts, with only one thread receiving no reply. Only one thread required moderator intervention. In the 60 threads 73% contained a contribution from at least one self-identified sex worker. Of the total threads 53% in some way concerned questions of ‘punt’ preference (both customer and worker’s), 22% the etiquette of punting and 35% specific technical advice. 33% also considered emotional, philosophical or moral issues.
Preliminary analysis of post content reveals further emphasis on issues such as the importance of customer and worker preference, and the key role of etiquette (perceived and determined by worker and customer). In this presentation, using examples from post content, we discuss the emerging themes and issues.

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