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Subject: Usenet Personals: Advice for Straights FAQ (3/3)
This article was archived around: 24 May 2006 04:22:24 GMT
THE STRAIGHT FAQ by Dean Esmay
PART III OF III
Q: HOW DO WE PLAN A FIRST MEETING?
A: I recommend picking a safe, neutral spot, and just sitting down
over coffee, or perhaps light dinner at a casual restaurant.
Emphasize that your first meeting will be for just that, MEETING.
Don't expect much more than that you'll sit down, get used to what
the other person looks like, maybe have a bite to eat, then go home.
For guys, you may want to invite her to bring along a friend. This
will make her feel safer. The point is, make it somewhere public,
safe, and neutral, and done in such a way that either one of you can
bow out gracefully if things aren't going well.
And if it doesn't work out, or the other person decides at the last
minute not to meet you, hey, that's okay! It happens to practically
everyone! And who on Earth said you're the perfect someone for
everyone you meet anyway? Who said that everyone you meet is the
perfect someone for you? At minimum, you should have made a new
friend this way; maybe more will develop, or maybe it won't. Stay
calm, don't expect much, but be open to whatever might happen. And,
enjoy your new friend!
OTHER GENERAL/MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS
Q: WHAT ABOUT AGE? I MAY BE TOO OLD TO FIND ANYONE.
A: Nonsense! From what I've seen, most of the women who frequent
personals areas online are in their 20s and 30s, but I've seen any
number in their 40s, 50s, and even older. The age range of men seems
to be bigger, but there're an awful lot of men out there who don't
mind an older woman, and vice versa. In America and Canada, divorce
is also common, so you'll frequently find a man or woman in middle
age or later looking for new love. The people who REALLY seem to
have the most trouble finding anyone are the young twenty-something
males looking for someone in their own age range or younger. That
can suck if you're in that group, but for just about any other group,
the pickings are good... and anyone will find someone if he (or she)
is just patient.
Don't sit there feeling sorry for yourself because you're 45 and not
married. Just post. There's someone out there for you. Really!
Just remember, again and again, be honest, be sincere, be specific
about what you want, and BE PATIENT!
Q: WHY AREN'T THERE SEPARATE alt.personals GROUPS FOR STRAIGHTS AND
FOR GAYS, OR 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, even downright hostile to
the notion. The basic thinking against it comes to three points:
1) Separating gays from straights would amount to forcing gay people "to
the back of the bus" and into a "ghetto."
2) You can just use a kill file to get rid of the posts you don't
3) Some sites would not carry groups for gay people, leaving them with
nowhere to post.
I don't really buy into #1 myself. #2 is specious, because so many
people are inconsiderate and refuse to use subjects that are easily
identified by a kill file.
#3 IS a pretty good point.
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 news group for discussion. Arguing
about it anywhere else is pointless.
Q: WHAT THE HECK IS A KILL FILE ANYWAY?
A: It is a feature in some news reading software to filter out
unwanted posts. 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 us.
Q: WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH ALL THESE MESSAGES FROM "ANON." MAIL
A: Anonymous users. There are several "anonymous name servers" out
there that allow people to post on Usenet anonymously. How this is
done is beyond the scope of this FAQ; however, I will note that
almost every anonymous message posted includes a short paragraph
right at the end telling how to get your own anonymous address. So
if you want an anonymous address of your own, just read a couple of
messages from anonymous people.
(Please, don't email me to ask me how to do this. Just read messages
from anonymous users, and you'll find out what you need to know.)
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 whatever.
2) Some people get e-mail addresses from work, and would rather not
have their company name affiliated publicly with their personal ad.
3) Some may just be private people who are shy or don't want their
friends to know they're using Usenet personals. (I don't think they
should be embarassed, because this is a fun and easy way to meet
people, but hey, I'm not going to pass judgement.)
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 email 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.
Q: HOW MUCH SHOULD I WORRY ABOUT MEETING SOMEONE DANGEROUS THIS WAY?
A: You shouldn't worry all that much about it. Most people aren't
really dangerous, after all.
Still, while I hesitate to put it this way, let's be blunt: we're all
going to be very depressed the first time we hear about someone who
gets raped or killed by some psychopath who posted (or answered) a
personal ad on the internet. And I'd much rather YOU not be that
Now, don't let that make you paranoid! Remember, you can meet
hurtful, malicious, or just plain evil people ANYWHERE: in a bar, on
the streets, even through friends. There's no way you can get
through life without some risk of meeting someone who will hurt you.
However, in every situation, there are ways to minimize your risks,
and online personals are no exception. Use common sense in any of
your dealings with anyone you meet through the 'net, but probably the
most important thing to remember is this:
Before you meet ANYONE or give your phone number or address to
ANYONE, make sure that persion is willing to give you the same information.
ESPECIALLY if you are dealing with someone using an anonymous email
Also, be sure to check with your system administrators to see if they
keep your personal information in WAIS or Ph or other
publicly-accessible forms so that others can find out about your
address or other info through your mail address. Most systems are
far more secure than that these days, especially the big commercial
services like AOL, GEnie, CIS, etc., but some systems, especially
some colleges, are more careless about these things. Be sure your info
is not publicly available when you begin posting (and that's for
posting anywhere, not just personals groups!).
Q: HOW CAN I ASSURE SOMEONE THAT I'M NOT CRAZY OR DANGEROUS?
A: An unfortunate reality is that women usually have to be more
worried about this than men. A lot of women may be very skittish
about meeting a man. Sometimes, a woman will initially be excited
about the romantic nature of an email relationship, but then will get
spooked when the reality hits that she actually has to MEET this guy.
The tips I have for men are as follows:
1) Don't press her for a meeting. Be patient, trade mail with her a
while, and allow the relationship to develop before you try to meet.
2) Don't press her for her phone number. If she offers it to you,
great, but don't ask her for it. Instead, after you've traded mail
for a while, you should offer her YOUR number. If she doesn't call,
or offer you hers in return, that should tell you something.
3) At some point, whenever it feels appropriate, offer her some
#3 is a particularly interesting one, and is an option not many people
think of. What better way of assuring a woman that you're okay than
to have her talk to women who know you? Ask several women you know
(at least two I would think) if they will be willing to serve as
personal references for you. In my experience, most of my female
friends are amused but delighted at the opportunity to tell another
woman about me. Most women seem to love to talk to each other about
If your references have email addresses, that's great, but make sure
they're willing to let you give their real addresses and phone
numbers, too. That way she knows this isn't just a fake mail address
you're giving out.
"Hey, if you want to check me out to make sure I'm all right, why
don't you contact my sister Janie and my friend Pauline? I've
already talked to them about you they said they'd be happy to tell
you all about me! Here's how to get ahold of 'em:
Janie Smith Pauline Jones
1313 Mockingbird Lane #12 Morning Glory Circle
Anytown, IL 60101 Anothertown, IL 60202
(312) 555-1212 (708) 555-9342
Pauline doesn't have an email address but she says she'll be happy to
talk to ya, give her a call!"
You'll be surprised at how many women will be delighted at the
prospect of checking references on you. And the very fact that
you're willing to offer up this kind of reference will tell her
you're a gentleman.
My advice for women is much the same. How the heck does he know
YOU'RE not a psychopath? That happens too, you know. So be willing
to do any or all of the above. I do suggest that you get his name,
phone # and address before you give him yours, though.
For both men and women, just remember: use common sense, make sure
you know as much as possible about someone before meeting, and
remember, if you're harassed, threatened, or whatever, CALL THE
Chances are very good that nothing worse than a disappointment will
ever happen to you as a result of using personal ads, so don't get
paranoid. Just remember, everything in life carries risk; the
healthy way to react to risk is with common sense and reasonable
precautions, not paranoia.
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
on one of the commercial services. Energy Creatures are a bizarre
lifeform which grow and feed off of the negative energy generated by
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 bet.
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.
Remember, your goal here is to meet other people, not feed energy
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 to you just to get your goat. Typical
comments might be sexual ("hey baby spread your legs I wanna fuck
you!"), bigoted ("hey faggot why don't you go fuck yourself!") or
simply rude and hateful ("hey you loser what kind of pathetic loser
needs to post a personal ad, what kind of sick pathetic weirdo are
you?"). Ignore all of this. It's a load of ignorant crap, and all
it's designed to do is get you upset and make you waste time and
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 email (so if you get a letter from "email@example.com",
you send email 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 email, which I can provide you
with a copy of. Please help me figure out what to do." Do this
Otherwise, simply ignore any rude, crude, or harassing mail you get.
Responding merely feeds the Energy Creature and makes it grow
Remember this: Both men and women get mail from Energy
Creatures. Really. No piece of e-mail from someone you've never met
and who has no chance of ever meeting you is worth expending even one
second of your on. Throw it in the trash and move on.
Remember, your goal here is to meet new people, not feed energy
Q: OKAY, I DIDN'T GET ANY THREATENING MAIL, BUT I DID GET SOMETHING
JUST PLAIN WEIRD. WHAT ABOUT THAT?
A: Well there are some very weird 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 emails alone, or who just want you
to fly across country to suck their 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 take it as
par for the course and keep looking for the right someone FOR YOU.
Q: WHAT GROUPS OTHER THAN ALT.PERSONALS ARE THERE FOR MEETING PEOPLE?
A: First off, please don't write me to ask how to post ads to these
groups. If you don't know, ask your system administrators how to post
messages to Usenet groups--the method is always the same regardless
of the group's purpose.
If all you're interested in is reading, or posting, singles ads,
you want to restrict yourself to groups that are meant for that
purpose. In the alt.personals.* hierarchy on the Usenet, I am
currently aware of the following groups:
soc.personals (Probably the very best place to find
high-quality ads, but be sure to read
the FAQ for this group before posting
to it--messages in the wrong format are
alt.personals (general place for personal ads and
alt.personals.ads (for personal ads only)
alt.personals.big-folks (big people)
alt.personals.bondage (bondage lovers)
alt.personals.fat (fat folks)
alt.personals.fetish (people with sex fetishes)
alt.personals.herpes (people with Herpes)
alt.personals.intercultural (intercultural/foreign relations)
alt.personals.misc (Seems to be the same as alt.personals.ads)
alt.personals.motss (Members Of The Same Sex. Gay/Lesbian ads)
alt.personals.phone (telephone relationships wanted)
alt.personals.poly (Polyamory, people with/wanting multiple partners)
alt.personals.spanking (People into spanking)
alt.personals.spanking.punishment (People into mean spanking I guess)
alt.personals.tall (Tall people)
alt.herpes.personals* (No longer used-use alt.personals.herpes instead)
In addition to these, there are a number of region-specific personals
groups. The ones I am currently aware of include:
alt.nv.personals* (Nevada (bogus))
alt.vegas.personals* (Las Vegas (bogus))
aus.personals (Australia (not Austin!))
ba.personals (San Francisco Bay Area of California)
dfw.personals (Dallas-Fort Worth)
la.personals (Los Angeles)
nyc.personals (New York City)
sat.personals (San Antonio)
sdnet.personals (San Diego)
slo.personals (San Luis Obispo California)
torfree.personals (Toronto Freenet Personals)
nv.personals (The real Nevada group)
pdaxs.ads.personals (Portland, Oregon)
pnw.personals (Pacific Northwest U.S.-- OR, ID, WA)
vegas.personals (The real Las Vegas group)
uiuc.classifieds.personals (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
* - alt.nv.personals and alt.vegas.personals are not supported and should not
be used. The official sites for Nevada and Las Vegas are vegas.personals
By the way, I strongly advise you to post your ad to as many groups
as may apply to you. So, for example, if you're in Chicago, you
should post to both chi.personals AND alt.personals. This broadens
On the other hand, there is currently a problem of people posting to
groups which are not appropriate for them, solely for the purpose of getting
more responses. The biggest problem appears to be in the regional groups, with
people posting from all over the country (or world!) into groups with no connection with them whatsoever--for example, people in Dallas posting to New York City and Bay Area groups even though they don't live there and rarely travel there.
To be blunt, doing this makes you look like a major dork.
I recommend posting to as many groups as reasonably apply to you--but no more
THERE ARE ALSO, by the way, a number of interesting "singles" news
groups. These are NOT the place to post personal ads, but they MIGHT
be a good place to meet others and get advice on the dating scene.
Such groups that I'm aware of include:
There are also region-specific singles groups. The ones I'm aware of
ba.singles (Bay Area)
dc.romance (Washington D.C.)
dfw.singles (Dallas-Ft Worth)
ne.singles (New England)
nyc.singles (New York City)
ont.singles (Ontario, Canada)
ott.singles (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada)
sdnet.singles (San Diego)
pnet.talk.singles (PrairieNet singles, central Illinois)
IMPORTANT NOTE: It is generally considered VERY INAPPROPRIATE to post
personal ads to "singles" and "romance" areas. Post your personal
ads only to "personals" groups.
If any of the above groups strikes your fancy, but your Usenet
provider doesn't carry it, I recommend writing to your sysadmins and
requesting them. Most places will carry any or all of these groups if
you just ask for them.
Also, I repeat, please do NOT write me to ask how to post ads to
Q: IS THERE ANYWHERE ELSE ONLINE FOR PERSONAL ADS?
A: There are a ton. Lots are scam services trying to get you to call expensive
900 numbers or trying to sell you on "mail order brides." On the other hand,
there do seem to be some decent ones. Two I've used in the past are:
"The Internet Personals"
At the time I used them they were very nice areas with totally free
access. I haven't looked at them in a while though, so if that's
changed, someone please let me know.
You might also try looking at Yahoo's listing of personals services to see if
there are others that might be good out there. Try looking at:
Finally, I myself am in the process of creating a World Wide Web
based personals service. Whether it sees the light of day or not depends
on a lot of stuff. If it does get started, it will be based at
http://www.syndicomm.com/date if it's anywhere.
By the way, some peaple might also be interested in the following web sites:
Dating service for people with herpes.
The Shy Man's Guide to Relationships
Q: ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO TELL ME?
A: Yeah. Once in a while in various personals groups, you'll see
discussion 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, and here's
I have 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. I met my good friend Carla
that way, and I have even heard of at least one couple who got
MARRIED after meeting in alt.personals, even though neither of them
ever actually posted an ad.
Yes, alt.personals and its associated groups really do work. I
consider myself a success story, and I've heard from many others with
similar success. The things to remember are to be cautious, be
considerate, BE PATIENT, and to never give up looking for that
Good luck to you all!
"She had rings on her fingers and bells on her shoes.
And I knew without askin' she was into the blues.
She wore scarlet begonias tucked into her curls,
I knew right away she was not like other girls..." (R. Hunter)
"All life itself represents a risk, and the more lovingly we live our
lives the more risks we take...." (from "The Road Less Travelled")