"Best Practices" is in the context of BDSM is a term that indicates what generally passes as "reasonable behavior" and can cover myriad topics from how to tie a specific knot, to providing answers to morally ambiguous grey area.
Best practices are not to be considered the One true way but are the present supported view for new explorers of BDSM and are frequently accepted as a good orderly direction for operation. The term best practices was put into place by the BDSMwiki in response to the notion of "One true way" as a way of recognizing that there is not one true way, but that failing to identify good information because it might be poorly construed by others and wouldn't apply to every single possible situation means that some may fall victim to not having access to a bank of what would otherwise be common sense and good information. Further, that it's best not to leave new BDSM explorers to try and figure out things on their own when an absence of technical information and reasonably good advice could at times make a difference of life and death.
Best practices are specifically called "best practices" because they are "the best reasonable answer that could be come up with at this time."and in many cases involves original research, bias and opinion in the absence of reliable, peer reviewed, scientific studies.
Even though best practices are generally acceptable methods, remember, there is no such thing as safe play and there is always some risk you are accepting by attempting any BDSM activity. BDSMwiki.info strongly discourages anyone from trying especially dangerous activities listed as edge play at home.
Criteria for Best Practices
Best practices should satisfy the following criteria:
- not presenting reasonably identifiable risk to a person new to BDSM if performed
- that they will err on the side of caution if there is a questionable amount of risk involved in the activity
- the practice is considered reasonably practical.
Best practices are often hotly debated publicly because of perspective issues about what is to be considered appropriate behavior or advice for someone who is new, and what values are to be applied concerning the best practice in question. What is to be understood is that the benchmark for best practices is entirely arbitrary and not everyone will agree with what is designated as best practices.
Further, failing to follow best practices at times decidedly does not necessarily indicate a failure or serious violation by the perpetrator; in fact, in many cases best practices can be seen as a legitimate hindrance by some as best practices are written for the intent to be that they will be appropriate advice for individuals that are brand new to discovering BDSM. As such, the concept of best practices is often considered controversial as the notion itself presents a potential double standard where more experienced community members are to be considered exempt from best practices.
Best Practices Disclaimer
There is no such thing as inherently safe practices for BDSM.
Everything that we do has some risk associated with it and some things some advanced folks do may be entirely to risky for many to want to consider even trying, ever. While that may sound scary, taking a morning shower also has some safety risks that can be deadly as well. It is worth mentioning that with a little bit of knowledge you can mitigate risks to very minimal levels for many things you might want to do concerning BDSM, so educate yourself as much as possible.
Best Practices are not professional advice and are not to be taken as such, they are simply good ideas for newer practitioners to start with. Further, some things that beginners may be told never to do can be done with a reasonable degree of safety by those that are incredibly experienced. This does not mean these people that take such risks are unsafe, nor that a beginner will ever learn or attempt these things, nor are they objectively better or worse than someone just starting out, nor should they necessarily have to be considered reckless, nor assumed to be in possession of special knowledge and skills. As with any dangerous profession, many times the most experienced practitioners may choose to attempt activities that beginners are, with good reason, told to avoid.
Example: A highly skilled mountain climber may decide to brave the deadly faces of Mount Everest and come through alive and with a very dangerous, but also very rewarding experience that few others will ever know. However, while they are able to informed choices about their consent with this activity, newer folks have too much to learn to really have much insight into wisely taking such a risk, therefore it is considered best practices to tell a beginner to stick to short, marked hiking trails in a moderate climate to start out.