So if there is some standardized D/s knowledge that it would be good for both subs and Dominants to know about, what's the best way to deliver this content? There are two prominent ways.
1. Books, articles, blogs, etc. Probably the most common way people find things out about D/s. There are countless internet sites with all manner of basic information, and as with any big sampling there are the very good, the totally horrible, and a big 80% middle of more or less good information delivered more or less effectively. [Completely self-serving addendum: There are a number of very good articles about theory and practice of D/s in the older posts of this blog.]
2. Online interactions. I know that online D/s has a bad reputation with some (many?), but as with anything, there is value to be found; the loud exceptions to the rule often are responsible for creating a general misconception.
Online interactions allow for instant feedback. The problem for the neophyte is that it's hard to know who is genuinely knowledgeable and helpful and who is looking to take advantage of someone who might not know any better. One must proceed with caution, but one shouldn't throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. [Completely self-serving addendum: You can find Me on irc.bondage.international, in #Enchanted_Palms.]
And while Gor isn't everyone's cup of tea, and lord knows there's players and phonies there too, but Gor is more oriented around standards, since there exists a "bible" of sorts in the form of the Gor novels.
But is there a better way? Wouldn't it be cool if one could learn about D/s in a real environment, outside of some nasty club at 3AM? I'm thinking of a place like Lady Heather's house on CSI . . . a place where there is interaction of a non-sexual kind in addition to the more notorious aspects of D/s.
There was a place called The Estate, that seems, from what I can tell, not to be in existence any longer, at least on the Internet. The Estate, from what I can recall now, was place where submissives could go and learn how to serve, to put it succinctly if somewhat inexactly.
The Estate's "curriculum" was clearly laid out on its website, expressing their general philosophy of D/s and detailing what the prospective trainee should expect, learn, etc. [Note: The Estate's program was completely non-sexual; I don't know what happened in the reality of the place but their expressed emphasis was on serving in non-sexual ways.]
I can't recall everything expressed there, and I'm not necessarily endorsing their theory and practice of D/s as "right," but The Estate, assuming that their reality matched their website's description, had the essentials in place.
1. A consistent body of knowledge and the resources to teach it.
2. A secluded real-life setting in which to practice/learn.
3. Clear expectations and metrics to determine success and identify areas for improvement.
I hope that there are other places like The Estate, because I think that sort of model, properly, honestly, and faithfully applied, is the best way to impart a standardized body of D/s knowledge.
So, after all this, has the Question That Won't Go Away, gone away? Not completely. But it's resting comfortably.