This article is from the Internet Personals: Advice for Gay Men FAQ, by Fred Young email@example.com and Dean Esmay firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
Yeah. Once in a while in various personals groups, you'll see
discussions start on certain topics that aren't really personal
ads. People might discuss their dating experiences or argue the
finer points of this, that, or the other thing related to personal
ads. This may seem kind of pointless if all you want to do is
answer ads, but in my experience, these discussions might be worth
it. Dean Esmay has heard from a number of people that they met
someone special not by answering an ad, but instead, by replying
to something someone said in a discussion in alt.personals.
Since the first version of this FAQ, the Internet has changed
tremendously. Other than "formal" personals, you can meet people
in web based chat rooms, forums, IRC, and possibly other venues of
which I'm currently unaware. We live in an exciting era ...