Last Friday afternoon my co-worker Ms. Quah and I were engaged in our usual pre-weekend banter. Plans for the weekend were discussed and work was avoided. Somehow we ended up on the joy and mirth of searching through Craigslist's "Casual Encounters" pages. Whether it be women searching for men, men for men, women for men, women for women, or men for transexuals; the ads and sometime photos are hilarious. (But they are most certainly not safe for work) During the course of our conversation we began to wonder how different cities used this illicit and somewhat pathetic portion of Craigslist. This idle wonder turned into an idea for action, or as we now call it, "The Craiglist Project".
We first had the notion of placing the same W4M (woman looking for a man) ad in 5 different US cities and then comparing the responses. The cities that we settled on were Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Tulsa (we were curious how a 'buckle' of the Bible belt would fare). Some things that we talked about looking at in the responses were:
- How many responses the add received
- How including a picture effected the response
- The number of pictures we received
- The ethnicity of the folks who sent the picture
- Age of the sender
- Any other trends that may appear that we had not thought of.
Our excitement grew at the prospect of so much trashy, entertaining, and perhaps even enlightening information. Our excitement became such that we expanded the scope of our special project. We decided that it would also be very interesting to explore arrangements other than W4M. M4M, M4W, and W4M would also to be included in the comparative special project. On top of that goldmine of information; Ms. Quah brought up the point that Craigslist is not only in many, many American cities, it is also in most major world capitols. So we decided that after finishing up our American portion of the study we would cast our net out to the rest of the world and see what their appetites were. We wanted to hit every continent without including every city or country, so, now also included in our study are Paris, London, Sydney, Japan (Tokyo), Rio De Janeiro, and Egypt (Cairo).