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Usenet Personals: Advice for Gay Men FAQ (Part II of II)

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Archive-name: personals/gayfaq/part2
Posting-Frequency: bi-weekly
Last-modified: 1999/09/05
Version: 7
URL: http://www.greatwildwest.net/nssf

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
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
        example:

        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
        Internet?

     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
        Internet accounts.

        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
        Addresses?

     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
           whatever.

        2. Some people get e-mail addresses from work, and would rather
           not have their company name affiliated publicly with their
           personal ads.

        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
           are gay.

        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.
            http://www.pgp.com

          The International PGP Home Page
            http://www.pgpi.org

        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
        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.

        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
        "jerkface@someplace.com", you send e-mail to
        "postmaster@someplace.com"). 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
        grow stronger.

        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
        energy creatures.


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!                                                     <>

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