11 November 2018

Public Visibility Consultation - the results are in!

On Tue, 18 Sep 2018 4:48 pm the Red Files administration sparked up a consultation to better understand how our community felt about increasing our exposure. We would increase exposure as an information and resource website (not an ugly mug database). The administration feels a drastic change must happen to address the issues of:

  • Financial stability
  • Interactivity and engagement
  • Outreach and accessibility
  • Sustainability

This document will outline what the consultation found.



Red Files members were given 45 days to respond to the consultation. They were informed of the consultation through mail chimp. Of the 329 members of the time 59.4% (192) opened the email and 14.2% (46) clicked into the consultation.

A reminder email was sent on Mon, 29 Oct 2018 11:42 am, when there were 339 members. 113 members opened this email and 20 opened into the consultation.

In addition, an email was sent to the Scarlet Alliance list. Two sex workers responded to this consultation request. This was treated as a separate consultation.

In total 42 sex workers engaged with to the overall consultation.

Each visibility approach was explained in pros and cons. Sex workers were given the option to leave comments, rank their favourite approaches and have a sliding scale of how workers felt about each strategy.


General findings

Overall members felt that a high visibility approach was the way to go. Of the 40 Red Files members, 24 felt that high visibility was the best approach. This is illustrated below.



Low visibility

For those that did vote for the low visibility approach, many felt they did not like the idea of the public being aware of the sex working community and that it put us at risk in ways that are difficult to anticipate. Some felt that Red File’s greatest strength was in its intense security and privacy and that we would be sacrificing this.

When faced with the ultimatum of Red Files disappearing due to lack of sustainability vs increased risk because of more visibility, one worker commented they’d go for the latter.

For those against it, they felt that pros outweighed the cons, it wasn’t sustainable for the long run and that ‘workers remained at risk’. Some felt that it was an impossible approach when trying to do outreach and it was unfair on the administration to continue operating this way.

Many workers echoed that the ugly mugs database should never be made public, although one worker commented when they first heard of Red Files ‘I couldn’t find any UM reporting available which would be my main purpose for using it.’

Some felt they did not know enough to make a decision about this form of visibility.




Some sex workers commented that it was common-knowledge that sex workers had networks and it made little different whether this was publicly alluded to. Many mentioned this option created greater opportunity for us to achieve our goals. Many warned that regardless of what precautions we put in place, someone is bound to slip up and mention the ugly mugs database.

For those in support of this option they warmed at the idea of greater financial support.

One person alluded to the possibility of rebranding, perhaps about how politically Red Files organisation has been cold-shouldered.




This where most members strongest opinions come into play. The previous suggestions garnered lukewarm responses while with high-visibility members felt strongly for this idea or strongly fearful of it.

For those against it, the risks were too high and couldn’t be mitigated, referencing the negative past of other groups as evidence. The fear of the unknown was a big subject.

For those for it, they couldn’t fathom why this wasn’t already the visibility approach. The idea of funding and being able to network with other organisations was an enticing prospect for some. In terms of advocacy one felt that our community would really set a dent in a lot of anti-sex workers efforts to damage our industry. In terms of business, one mused how this approach would act as a warning to clients that we protect our own and are not as vulnerable as we seem, and that we could ask for clients to donate on our behalf. Other felt this was more conducive to our ideology as a community. Workers felt they would be able to contribute more to the community if this was our visibility approach. One worker even referenced a survey that showed that workers were asking for more social media presence.

Of the two non-members who participated in the survey, they were most interested in this option.



Final findings

When Red Files asked what members were willing to do to keep the website operational under the low-visibility model, 20 said they were happy to donate financially. Looking at our last financial report, this would mean each member would need to donate $1000 every year to keep the website operational. If we operated the website without any wages this would equate to $600 every year. Four members were happy to do outreach and seven members were willing to help out ‘however I can’.

We believe these results demonstrate that the Red Files community does not have the means or willingness to remain sustainable under a low-visibility approach.

In terms of strategy, one member suggested creating a whole new domain which has our ugly mug database and publicly admitting so, thereby misdirect any harm that might come our way. The idea of just jumping ship as the only and last line of defence wasn’t enough for one member. This is worth investigating. Others like the idea of mid-visibility and slowly building to a higher-visibility, but the administration believe this is how it will organically roll out considering the amount of labour that’s required. One mentioned that it’s inevitable that the ugly mugs database will be mentioned and that we would need a clear strategy on how to deal with this.

There results show that the low-visibility approach is not sustainable, that we must create a policy of how to manage risk when Red Files is associated with ugly mugs in a public sphere and how to strategies how we deploy what we do.


To come

We will begin to strategies and plan how to deploy a higher visibility. This will include creating a media policy, social media accounts, possible public fundraising and hitting national news. If you can offer assistance in creating the media policy, managing social media accounts or writing content for the outside world, please get in touch.