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Subject: Usenet Personals: Advice for Gay Men FAQ (Part II of II)
This article was archived around: 26 May 2006 04:24:17 GMT
THE NOT-SO-STRAIGHT FAQ, Part II of II
OTHER GENERAL / MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS
2.1 Q: Why aren't there separate USENET groups for straight and for gay
people, men looking for women, men looking for men, women looking
for women, etc.?
A: This comes up periodically. Frankly, it strikes me as a fine idea.
However, some people are against it, some sites would not carry
groups for "members of the same sex" (motss), leaving them with
nowhere to post.
On the other hand, with the high traffic and multiple cross posts
we see in the alt.personals.* groups, it makes lots of sense to
separate the categories.
Ultimately I'm not sure exactly where I stand, but if you're
really interested in seeing something like this happen, write up a
proposal and bring it to the alt.config newsgroup for discussion.
Arguing about it anywhere else is pointless.
2.2 Q: With the current configuration, how may we make better use of the
cluttered space in the alt.personals.* newsgroups?
A: For a start, we may include GWM, GAM, G*M or similar abbreviations
in the subject lines of our posts. Those looking for straight ads
might use a kill file to eliminate these postings from their news
reading software. And those looking for gay postings might
perform keyword searches across newsgroups.
To take it one step further, except in the *.motss groups, we may
use the above abbreviations to start the subject lines, for
GWM ISO GWM ... <blah, blah> or
GAM ISO GWM ... <blah, blah>
This way, those looking for gay postings may set their news
reading software to sort the subject lines alphabetically and
display all the subject starting with G's together.
Some of you might ask why gay men have to change their posting
habits to suit the straights. Well, it doesn't matter how we
interpret the statistics, homosexuals are in the minority, and the
fact is, this also makes it easier for us to find each other. This
is not about politics, this is about how to find a person you want
to be with. I believe this is a very reasonable compromise to make
it easier for both straight and gay people to share the space in
the alt.personals.* newsgroups, and to make it easier for everyone
to find what they want and to sort out what they don't want,
without anyone having to hide anything.
2.3 Q: Are there any OTHER LOCATIONS to place gay personals on the
A: There are, of course, many World Wide Web based personals
services. All I will say is buyer beware. The best place to find
a comprehensive list of such services is probably in Yahoo! at
http://www.yahoo.com Do a keyword search with the word PERSONALS.
Personally, I have had positive experiences with WebPersonals'
Manline - http://www.manline.com and Ruralgay -
http://www.ruralgay.com (NOTE: Ruralgay is not specifically a
personals service, it's a meeting place for rural gay and lesbian
folks from around the world.)
(The authors do not necessarily endorse any third-party service.
The services listed here are provided as a resource to those who
might find them useful.)
Alternatively, you might want to put up a personal homepage. You
can say as much or as little as you want and it won't expire like
most personal ads. In some cases, you can remain reasonably
anonymous, if that's what you wish. If you decide to build a
personal homepage, you can also place personal ads and include the
URL (web address) of your homepage in the ads.
Most service providers offer web spaces at no extra charge with
There are many resources in the World Wide Web with technical
advises and tips on building web pages, do a search with Yahoo! or
with other popular search engines.
2.4 Q: Some people keep talking about using "Kill" files to avoid seeing
messages you don't like. What the heck is a "Kill" file anyway?
A: This really just applies to Usenet, not the Web. It is a feature
in some news reading software to filter out unwanted messages. You
tell it not to show you articles containing certain words or
phrases or posted by certain people. It can be helpful in some
places, but until more people start using simple, easily
identifiable titles to their personal ads, this will remain a
mostly-useless feature for personal ad readers.
2.5 Q: What's the deal with all these messages from "Anon." Mail
A: Anonymous users. This feature is most common to Usenet, but you do
see it in some of the Web services. It allows someone to create
messages without having their actual e-mail address on it. Instead
they use the anonymous address, and when you write to that
anonymous address, it forwards your letter to the person's real
address, which you never see unless he decides to tell you.
Now, there are several "anonymous name servers" out there that
allow people to post on Usenet, or send and receive e-mail
anonymously. How this is done is beyond the scope of this FAQ;
however, the Remailer List at
http://www.cs.berkeley.edu/~raph/remailer-list.html could be a
good starting point.
There are also a number of Web personal services that offer
anonymous mail as an option. Those services will have instructions
on them for how to use and access that feature.
2.6 Q: Why would anyone post anonymously? Are they weirdos or what?
A: Some may be weirdos, but for the most part, they're just people
who'd prefer not to be publicly identified at this time. There are
several very good reasons for this:
1. You may be uncomfortable letting someone know your real e-mail
address until you know more about that person, since it may be
possible to track you down this way through Finger, Ph, or
2. Some people get e-mail addresses from work, and would rather
not have their company name affiliated publicly with their
3. Some may just be private people who are shy or don't want their
friends to know they're using online personals, or that they
Some people seem to think that using an anonymous name server
means you want to hide so you can play tricks on people. I must
admit, it does seem that a lot of the more rude or dishonest
people use anonymous e-mail addresses to hide themselves. But for
the most part, there are all kinds of very interesting and
worthwhile people, male and female, who use these services. So my
advice here is that you may want to be a tad more cautious in
approaching an anonymous person, but otherwise, I wouldn't read
too much into it.
One tip though: DO NOT give your phone number or address to, or
agree to meet with, anyone who won't provide you with their own
name, address, and phone number. You may want to wait until you've
exchanged mail for a while before asking for this information, but
you're going to have to have it eventually if the relationship is
to get past the e-mail stage. It's okay to be patient if the other
person seems shy or wary, but eventually you're going to have to
have this information. Don't involve yourself with anyone who
insists on maintaining secrecy beyond a reasonable point.
2.7 Q: What about e-mail privacy?
A: I'm assuming you are using a personal e-mail account. There are
many legal and ethical implications in using your employers'
e-mail account for personal messages, and neither Dean Esmay nor
myself is qualified to discuss here.
It was brought to my attention that certain Internet Service
Providers regularly monitor e-mail for security reasons. In any
case, open (un-encrypted) communications over the Internet should
not be considered secure anyways.
You might consider using and encourage others to use PGP(tm) to
protect your privacy. Visit the following sites for details:
Network Associates, Inc.
The International PGP Home Page
My PGP public keys are at http://www.greatwildwest.net/nssf/pgp
2.8 Q: Some person has posted something really rude in response to me, or
is picking on me. What do I do?
A: There is a certain type of being that's all too common in the
online world. I call them "Energy Creatures," a term I first heard
from Dean Esmay. Energy Creatures are a bizarre lifeform which
grow and feed off of the negative energy generated by others.
Energy Creatures' favorite feeding tactic is to try to hurt
people's feelings or get them angry. Then they can feed off the
pain and anger they've generated. Their second favorite tactic is
to hurt one person or group's feelings while gathering the
sympathy of others. That way, when the injured party lashes back,
others will jump to the Energy Creature's defense. Then the Energy
Creature need do nothing except feed off the attention and the
negative energy generated by the people fighting.
We'll never be completely rid of these noxious beings, but we can
do a lot to keep the herds under control by remembering this
simple formula: DNFTEC. This stands for Do Not Feed The Energy
Creature. If you encounter such a beast, your best bet is usually
to say absolutely nothing. No matter how hard it is, sitting on
your fingers and posting nothing in response is usually the best
Remember, if you fight them, they just get stronger. If you ignore
them, eventually they weaken, wither, and go away. This may be
hard to remember, but in the long run, that's exactly what you
need to do. The temptation to fight back is incredible, but
remember, fighting them only makes them stronger. Believe it.
Always keep in mind that your goal here is to meet other people,
not to feed energy creatures.
2.9 Q: I got some really nasty, crude, rude, or threatening E-Mail. What
do I do?
A: DNFTEC! DNFTEC! DNFTEC!
Some pathetic Energy Creatures don't even have the balls to start
fights in public, so they just do it in e-mail. They may say rude,
hurtful, or disgusting things just to get your goat. Typical
comments might be sexual, bigoted or simply rude and hateful.
Ignore all of these. All they're designed to do is get you upset
and make you waste time and energy responding.
Mind you, if you receive legitimate-sounding threats from someone
who you think may actually be able to carry them out, contact your
system administrator. Another good thing to do would be to send a
copy of the threat to "postmaster" at the domain name of the
person who sent you the e-mail (so if you get a letter from
"email@example.com", you send e-mail to
"firstname.lastname@example.org"). Another good contact would be the
police; threatening people is illegal in many places, and the
police might be able to help. Contact any or all of the above and
just say, "I've received some threatening e-mail, which I can
provide you with a copy of. Please help me figure out what to do."
Do this immediately.
Otherwise, simply ignore any rude, crude, or harassing mail you
get. Responding merely feeds the Energy Creature and makes it
Remember this: anyone, male or female, can get mail from Energy
Creatures. Really. It's almost certainly nothing special about
you, and no piece of e-mail from someone you've never met and who
has no chance of ever meeting you is worth spending even one
second of your time on. Throw it in the trash and move on.
Keep in mind that your goal here is to meet new people, not feed
2.10 Q: Okay, I didn't get any vicious or threatening mail, but I did get
something just plain weird. What about that?
A: Well there are some very odd people out there, no question about
it. There are people out there who are ready to move in with you
based on your ad and a couple of e-mails alone, or who just want
you to fly across country to suck your toes. Keep a cool distance
from such people, but don't freak out about it. The world is full
of weirdness (and wouldn't it be boring if it weren't?). Just
smile and move on, and keep looking for the right someone for you.
2.11 Q: Anything else you want to tell me?
A: 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 ...
Good luck to you all! <>