It's like, one day I looked up, and the term "pre-slash" had disappeared from fandom.
I remember a Sentinel fan being adamant that "pre-slash" was a useless category. I just don't remember what their reasoning was.
I always thought "pre-slash" was quite a useful term. It meant the guys were headed toward a sexual relationship, but a consummation wasn't going to take place in the story itself. In other words, don't expect a sex scene.
And if you're a genner who wants to read, say, h/c, but don't want exposure to naughty bits, the "pre-slash" gives the assurance that nothing disturbing is going to take place on the pages.
When I published my first fanzine with my own stories -- Heart and Soul 1 -- it was quite a dilemma to try to figure out what to call it. A couple of the stories were, to my mind, clearly gen. A couple were pre-slash. One had a first-time sex scene. If I called it slash, it seemed a lot of readers would feel let down that there was so little sex. But ultimately, I decided that's what I had to call it. The fans accepted it fine, except I did get hear from one dismayed reader. I had an anonymous feedback form to send back, and one of the people that returned it let me know that she was quite disappointed in the lack of sex. If I would have had her name and address, I would have refunded her money, because I could understand how she felt misled.
The pattern used to be that, upon discovering slash and deciding one liked it, most would frantically read all the sex scenes, after first getting a new zine. and then later read all the stories from beginning to end. After one got jaded after a thousand stories or so, then one would often start with reading the stories, but actually skim or even skip over the sex scenes.
So, with the exception of newer fans, I think most slash fans are pretty calm about the degree of sex. I wonder if, in modern times, newer fans are actually calm about it too, since they can easily find stories or photos of male sex from any number of places. Surely, it's not such a novelty as it was in the 80s.
And maybe that's why the term "pre-slash" has gone by way of dinosaur. Readers don't need to be prepped that there won't be sex.