One way for the BDSM-curious to get a better feel for the practices is to hang out online with practioners. There are several popular, free BDSM community sites which offer opportunities for lurking and learning. These sites all have moderated forums and groups. Like any online community, there are the crazies, the sillies, and the utter geniuses.
A sampling of topics you might see: Did you have to "earn" your collar? The anti-feminism bias. Passing out from orgasm. Anal: How do i change a turn-off to a turn-on?? "Do me" slaves.
Here I describe three BDSM sites.
This site requires registration. But there's nothing wrong with creating an anonymous profile to explore. The discussion forums are arranged into private groups, making them more like blogs. You must be a member of the particular group to post, but not to read. (Becoming a member requires a separate operation after you've registered.) The group posts are white on a black background, making it difficult for some folks to read. Color advertisements abound, even on the groups pages. The adverts can be vulgar, so it might be hard to do a discrete examination of this site. The best thing about Fetlife is the ability to search for "events" according to geography. These events can be munches (non-playing kink get-togethers at a restaurant), demonstrations, fetish parties and the like.
Collarme doesn't require registration in order to read the forums. So unless you intend on posting, or are looking for a partner, being a guest is superb. Many newbies do post questions, and there are lively and heated discussions. The text is black writing on white, and especially easy to read. There are also no adverts on the forum pages, so discrete investigation of the collarme site is possible.
This site is one of the oldest of the kink sites. It always seems to be in transition in an effort to survive. Like Fetlife, you have to register before you can read anything. Bondage.com also offers paid memberships, but I don't know what the benefits are. The site provides both forums and groups. The forums are public; some groups are private, requiring jumping over more hurdles. The text is white on purple, which I find utterly painful. Like with Fetlife, bondage.com has some lewd adverts on the forum pages, making examination of the site tough in the presence of shoulder surfers.