Sex Worker Search

Tech Stacks. Which Escort Directory Uses What Technology?

15 June 2024
by theoz
cyberpunk tech stack

In building Sex Worker Search, with significant help from Love Sudo, my goal is to select technology that prioritises privacy and security while being ethical and effective for the workers who list with us and the clients seeking their services.

I’m fascinated by the diverse tech stacks used by sex workers for their websites. Recently, I discovered that I could analyse the tech stacks of other escort directories. To satisfy my curiosity, and hopefully learn how to improve this website, I examined the top 10 escort directories using BuiltWith and Ahrefs. The sites I looked at were: Adultwork, Tryst, Eros, Eurogirlescort, Privatedelights, Megapersonals, The Erotic Review (TER), Rentmen, Eccie, and P411.

Here are some intriguing insights I've uncovered about these top 10 escort directories, ranked by traffic from most to least visited according to Ahrefs. I’ve included summaries from Ahrefs to explain the traffic each directory receives and used data from BuiltWith to analyse the technology each directory employs. 

My primary goal is to identify common technologies and evaluate their advantages and disadvantages for websites in the sex work industry.

Top 10 Sex Directories

Adultwork
adultwork 3.6m

I was completely surprised to discover that Adultwork receives the most traffic among all the sites I analysed. Despite its limited use outside the UK, Adultwork stands out in terms of traffic. In my opinion, it has the most outdated, unattractive, and user-unfriendly interface I’ve ever seen on an escort directory—it looks like a web marketplace from 1995. 

Adultwork is notoriously difficult for sex workers to deal with. Every interaction I’ve had or observed with them has been frustrating, as if they take pleasure in being as uncooperative as possible. Moreover, there are troubling rumours that Adultwork shares the identity documents and selfies used for verification directly with U.S. border control. Accounts from sex workers report being flagged by facial recognition at the U.S. border and sent back to the UK, despite only giving these images to Adultwork for verification. For more details on this, visit the Sexworkersonly subreddit

Despite all this, Adultwork remains inexplicably popular. It is, by a significant margin, the most frequented escort directory in the UK. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are the use of Cloudflare (see Stack / Tool Insights section for an explanation of my thoughts, links to the tool, and notes from Love Sudo, about each of the tools used), Google Analytics, US Privacy User Signal Mechanism, ASP.NET, RSS, Atlassian Cloud, DoubleClick.Net, Amazon SES, SendGrid, Azure, and GoDaddy SSL. 

I've spoken to Amazon and SendGrid about using their products and they both told me sex work-related sites are banned according to their terms of service, but Adultwork somehow seems to be using them. 

The site has had more than 10 successful copyright takedown requests since 2011. 

No surprise there. I expect all these directories get thousands of DMCA infringement reports sent via email directly to their site contact email, via their hosting company or via Cloudflare. 

If an escort directory is displaying your images without your consent, find a template online for a legal take down notice and email it to the site contact. If they ignore you, do a whois hosting search and find the contact for their hosting provider if possible and send them the takedown notice. The site will get a warning which is usually enough to get them to remove the images. If they're using Cloudflare so their hosting is hidden, fill out the abuse report form here

I'm surprised to see they're able to use Doubleclick. It's a Google product based in USA where sex work is illegal and is explicitly banned according to their terms of use.

Tryst
tryst 2.8m

Whenever Tryst is mentioned on the Sexworkers subreddit, it's inevitably someone in a state of despair because they're desperate to get started and begin earning money as a sex worker but they've been waiting months for Tryst to verify them so their ad can get approved and become active. 

Recently, Tryst has said that they've gotten their processing times down to an average of ten days but there are still people on reddit saying they've been waiting for months. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are the use of PostHog, Ruby On Rails, AT Protocol DID Placeholder, Sentry, Let’s Encrypt, OVH, Hetzner, and BunnyCDN. 

The site has had more than 10 successful copyright takedown requests since 2011, indicating a history of dealing with copyright issues.

Eros
eros 1.8m

Eros is an "interesting" one. They were raided in 2017 and their servers were seized by the feds, but they're still up and running. Rumour has it they're still up and running because they made a deal with the feds to provide an ongoing supply of the identities of all their users. 

There's limited data for Eros. I guess escort directories that are effectively owned and operated by the CIA are more difficult to parse than others. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are the use of Google Analytics, Ionic, SSL, and WAI-ARIA.

Eurogirlescort
eurogirlsescort 1.6m

Notable insights from their tech stack are the use of Google Analytics, US Privacy Signal Mechanism, Cloudflare, Nette Framework, DoubleClick.net, FastMail, and SSL. 

The site has had more than 10 successful copyright takedown requests since 2011.

Privatedelights
private delights 558k

I've seen multiple people on reddit complaining that Privatedelights is inconsistent in their approach to verifying accounts. They're said to pick and choose who they want on the platform and are allegedly racist in having an unspoken policy of rejecting African American providers. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are the use of Express, Cloudflare, tawk.to, SSL, DNSSEC, and Amazon AWS EC2.

Megapersonals
megapersonals 556k

Judging from mentions on reddit, their Fraud Bot tends to be a bit overzealous. One of their admins has a reddit account and is quite quick to respond to username mentions so if you are having trouble with MP, post on reddit and mention /u/megapersonalsreal

Notable insights from their tech stack are Cloudflare, Java EE, GStatic Google Static Content, Openads/OpenX, SWFObject, SSL, and WorldStream.

The Erotic Review (TER)
ter 420k

Like all escort review sites, the denizens do like to write a graphic Penthouse Forum style account of their encounters filled with gratuitous detail. Many sex workers, especially in countries like USA where sex work is illegal, go out of their way not to mention specific sexual services in exchange for payment and very much do not consent to having these details published on review sites. One positive of receiving negative reviews on sites like this is that other reviewers, AKA hobbyists, are less likely to contact you. The hobbyist is distinguished by haggling, boundary pushing and casual misogyny so filtering them out is a good thing. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are Google Analytics, User Privacy User Signal Mechanism, ASP.NET, GStatic Google Static Content, Cloudflare, DoubleClick.Net, and SSL. 

The site has had more than 10 successful copyright takedown requests since 2011.

Rentmen
rentmen 204k

A male escort directory. I'm so happy that I don't need to use directories any more since my personal site ranks high enough on google for search terms related to the services I specialise in that I get enough clients from my own site without using any directories. I used to have an ad on rentmen and for every one genuine client, I'd get literally hundreds of timewasters. Ugh. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are Google No Translate, Next.js, React, and Cloudflare.

Eccie
eccie 149k

A toxic hobbyist community. It used to be popular. It's been hacked multiple times. Only ever gets mentioned on reddit as something to avoid like the plague. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are Google Analytics, Cloudflare, US Privacy User Signal Mechanism, vBulletin, DoubleClick.Net, and Webair.

P411
p411 48k

It's a nice idea in theory. Everyone, sex workers and clients, must get verified. So, it's intended as an advertising platform where all the clients have already been screened. Unfortunately, it's best known for a client base that refuses to screen. The guys there feel that since they've already verified, they're entitled to meet whoever they want without providing any screening info, or references, or deposits. From what I've seen on reddit, a lot of them are blacklisted elsewhere for being difficult or even dangerous. 

Notable insights from their tech stack are Cloudflare, Next.js, React, GStatic Google Static Content, FastMail, AuthSMTP, and SSL.


Stack / Tool Insights

Accessibility | Advertising | Analytics | Compliance | Email | Frameworks & Platforms | Hosting Providers | Monitoring | Multiple Feature Tools | SSL | Other

Accessibility

WAI-ARIA

WAI-ARIA is a way to make web content and web applications more accessible to people with disabilities. It especially helps with dynamic content and advanced user interface controls developed with Ajax, HTML, JavaScript, and related technologies.


Advertising

OpenAds/OpenX


Analytics

Google Analytics 

GA4 offers advanced tracking and analysis of user interactions across websites and apps, providing more comprehensive and detailed insights. It uses an event-based data model, enhanced user privacy features, and AI-driven insights, allowing businesses to better understand user behaviour, track key performance metrics, and make data-driven decisions. GA4 is designed to integrate seamlessly with other Google products and to handle future privacy and technology changes. 

PostHog

I noticed a feature on Posthog which I never knew existed. They call it Replay. It allows sites using Posthog to view exactly what a user is doing on the site.  So, they can watch your cursor moving around the screen as you move your mouse on your desktop or laptop or your thumb on your phone or other touchscreen. They can see if you highlight a word. They can see how long you look at which part of the page. They can keep recordings of all the above. Impressive. But also, very creepy. 


CDN

BunnyCDN

BunnyCDN is a budget-friendly content delivery network provider that enhances website performance by distributing content globally. 

GStatic Google Static Content

GStatic Google Static Cloud will off-load static content like (JavaScript/Images/CSS) to a different location to reduce bandwidth usage and increase network performance.


Compliance 

AT Protocol DID Placeholder

DID Placeholder is a cryptographic, strongly consistent, and recoverable DID method created by the AT Protocol by BlueSky, used for secure identity management.

US Privacy User Signal Mechanism

The US Privacy User Signal Mechanism is a lightweight API used to communicate signals represented in the US Privacy String. This mechanism helps ensure compliance with US privacy regulations, which is critical for maintaining user trust and avoiding legal issues in a highly scrutinised industry.


Email

Amazon SES

AuthSMTP

FastMail

SendGrid


Frameworks and Platforms

ASP.NET

Using ASP.NET can be more expensive due to licensing fees and the need for skilled developers who are proficient in the framework. The framework may be overkill for smaller sites, leading to unnecessary complexity and higher maintenance efforts compared to simpler alternatives like PHP or WordPress. 

Ionic

Ionic Framework is an open-source mobile SDK for developing native and progressive web apps.

Java EE

Nette Framework

Nette Framework is a tool for creating web applications in PHP.

NextJS/React

Ruby On Rails

vBulletin

Hosting Providers

Amazon AWS EC2

Azure

Hetzner

Hetzner is a hosting provider primarily based in Germany.

OVH

OVH is a hosting provider primarily based in France.

WorldStream

Monitoring

Sentry

Multiple Feature Tools

Cloudflare

It's not surprising that most escort directories use Cloudflare. As a leading web infrastructure and security company, Cloudflare offers a range of services including content delivery network (CDN) capabilities, DDoS mitigation, Internet security, and distributed domain name server (DNS) services. These features are particularly beneficial for adult industry websites as they enhance performance, accelerate content delivery, protect against DDoS attacks, and ensure user privacy by masking the origin server's IP address, thereby improving both security and user experience.

SSL

GoDaddy

Let's Encrypt

Let’s Encrypt is a free open Certificate Authority. I'm hoping to see this on all the directories. Everyone should be using SSL. Privacy and security are important.

Other

Atlassian Cloud

Atlassian Cloud is beneficial for an escort directory site as it improves team collaboration and project management, ensuring high availability and scalability due to its cloud-based nature. The integrated tools support various aspects of development and communication, fostering an efficient workflow. However, the subscription fees can be high, making it costly for budget-conscious projects. Additionally, the range of features might be overwhelming and unnecessary for smaller sites, potentially leading to a steep learning curve and underutilisation of services.

DNSSEC

Google No Translate

RSS

I love RSS. If I could wave a magic wand, I'd eradicate all the escort directories and all sex worker profiles from social media platforms, and give every sex worker on the planet their own personal website with a blog page set up for RSS. Then clients could use search engines instead of directories to find sex workers and use RSS feeds instead of social media to see blog posts instead of tweets. 

SWFObject

tawk.to