Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Do you think I'm sexy?

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.

(I wonder how many responses this photograph would get?)

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).
We kicked off our first round in America yesterday afternoon. Our first case was W4M. The add that we placed in each American city is a very close approximation to:
"I have recently moved to ____ from Denver. I haven't had time to really meet anybody and I am lonely. I am not looking for any commitment right now while I'm settling into my new home here. What I am looking for is an extremely good time, where we can both just forget ourselves and have fun. I promise that you won't be disappointed. I am a 5'7" brunette with an athletic build. I'll be much more likely to respond if you attach a picture. I'm not too particular, I just want to know who I'm getting into. If I like what I see I'll respond with a picture of my own and my contact info. Don't be shy, drop me a line."
We also decided early on that we were not going to reply to any of the emails sent to us since we could not think of any further information that could be gleaned. The only drawback for this approach is that our postings will most likely be flagged for removal after 4-6 hours. The effort involved in responding to the emails was such that we were willing to accept flagging. The vast majority of responses come in this first time period anyways.
The plan for now is to update the results of our endeavors on Monday weekly. So, check back here on the 23rd for the first set of results. I hope you are as excited as we are.
PS - If you have any ideas for the project that have not been outlined above, drop me a line.

1 comment:

Marie said...

I LOVE this idea. I want to hear what you learn.

A few years back a work friend and I did almost that same thing with a local online dating service -- took the picture of a Victoria's Secret model, named her Coco LeMar, wrote up a none-too-flattering bio for her, and then waited. Our child-neglecting, sleep-arounding, half-brained hottie got more bites in three days than my coworker's sister had gotten in several months.

On one hand, depressing. On the other hand, fun to catch creeps at their sick little game and watch them twitch awhile before throwing them back in the pond.