This article is from the Internet Personals: Advice for Gay Men FAQ, by Fred Young firstname.lastname@example.org and Dean Esmay email@example.com with numerous contributions by others.
Ah, there's a whole lot to be said here, and the advice can vary a
lot from person to person. I'll concentrate on general advice for
the moment, and on what I personally think:
There is nothing more frustrating for the personals user than to
spend ten minutes reading an ad that sounds very interesting, only
to find out near the end that the person wants someone of a
different age, or body type, or that the person lives much too far
away to think about a relationship with.
So, do yourself and everyone else a favor and start every ad with
the basics about yourself. The basics include:
- Your Gender
- Your Age
- Where you Live
- Your Race
- What you are Basically Looking For
And the best place to put all this is in your subject line. It
saves an enormous amount of time for everybody.
Some people are big fans of cute and creative subject lines. For
CUTIE SEEKS MUTANT. LET'S TAKE OVER THE UNIVERSE!
Now this is pretty funny, and pretty clever. Unfortunately, if
this was from a White Female, aged 42, who only wanted black men
in their 40s in Boston, I'd waste a lot of time reading this ad,
because I'm not straight, I'm not black, I'm under 40, and I don't
live anywhere near Boston. Why not make it easy on me and start
Bostonian SWF, 42, ISO SBM, 40-50, for romance
Then make the first line of your ad say: "I'm a cutie looking for
another mutant, so we can take over the universe!" Another
example might be:
Bostonion Cutie seeks Mutant (SWF, 42, ISO SBM 40-50)
Now some of this advice is less necessary on Web services that
automatically categorize you by your gender and so on. But the
point still remains that your subject line should communicate as
much as possible about who you are and what you're looking for. By
making sure it does, you will not only be doing everyone who would
not be interested in you a favor, but you will increase the
likelihood of someone who does want to meet you of actually
reading your ad.
All right, you've given a nice, concise, descriptive title to your
message. Now you need to put some thought into the ad itself. The
general advice I can give here is:
1. DON'T RUSH. You have plenty of time to write this. Make it
2. Put some effort into spelling & punctuation, and try not to
ramble. You want to make a good impression.
3. Be clear about what you want and what you don't want. If you're
picky about something, it's better to say so in your ad than to
let someone down later. "Please, if you're overweight, don't
respond" may seem cruel or thoughtless, but if that's the way
it is for you, say so. It is much, much kinder than developing
a relationship with someone who you have to let down later than
just telling it like it is up front. What's better,
disappointing someone before they waste their time getting to
know you, or after they've gotten their hopes up?
4. Be honest about your own shortcomings. Don't harp on them,
but man, avoid discomfort for yourself and others and just let
them know up front who and what you are and are not. Saying you
don't want long-term commitment, or that you're overweight, or
that you have kids, or that you have bad skin, or that you have
no fashion sense, or that you want marriage and kids, will be
lots better than getting close to someone who finds out later
and wishes they hadn't bothered with you.
5. Be as honest as possible. Lies will only get you in trouble
6. Do your best to be totally sincere. Insincerity frequently
shows, even if you're not aware of it. True sincerity usually
shines through and is much more attractive to most people.
7. Take as much space as you need.
This last one is an issue on which there is some disagreement.
These days, most people have inexpensive Internet access. Even
for those who don't, most have news reading software which will
let them screen the subject lines and note the length of an
article before downloading it. Don't set out to write a book,
but remember: space is cheap, and the one way in which most
online personals are much better than newspapers is that you
can take as much space as you need.
There is no better way to give an impression of who you are and
what you're like than by taking your time and trying to write
something that really tells who you are, what you want out of
life, and what you're looking for. Your writing style will tell
people a lot about you, too.
On the other hand you want to try not to be too long either. If
you ramble too much, or make a huge shopping list of everything
you want and don't want, you're going to bore people or come
across as demanding and picky. It's a fine line to tread - if
your ad is too short, it doesn't say enough and you're ignored;
if it's too long, you bore people and are ignored. So, you
have to do your best to avoid both extremes - or write just
exactly as much as you think you need to say, and not one word
more than that.
This applies to postings on Usenet only:
If your news reader supports the "Distribution" field, it will
be helpful if you are looking for people from a specific area
to limit your post's distribution. Here's some examples of
valid values for the "Distribution" field:
Value For Distributing To
na North America
two-letter state abbreviation a particular State
local over a very small local area
NOTE: Not all news machines correctly handle distribution
lines, so it is still possible for articles to "leak" out of
their target area. As with any feature, you are encouraged to
check with your local system for the proper use of distribution
lines as well as legitimate values to specify for the