Geographic Distribution

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Although the Site has a national base of users, they are distributed differently from the U.S. population on a state-by-state basis (Table A.1 in Appendix A). Heavy use appears in upstate New York, the Southeast, the Midwest and Great Lakes regions, and certain secondary urban areas in the West, such as Sacramento, Calif. Figure 2.1 shows a plot of users by geography, with communication between them overlaid. Although this display highlights longdistance communication, most contact occurred over short distances (Figure B.7 in Appendix B).

Two factors may account for this irregular distribution, and perpetuate it: first, advertising by the company seems to target secondary urban and suburban markets rather than major coastal markets like New York and Los Angeles. Second, because online dating systems require a critical mass of users — i.e., an adequate catalog of people — to be useful, areas that reach critical mass will grow even faster, because their selection of potential mates continues to become more appealing, while areas without enough users will have comparatively more trouble recruiting new users. (Grounded in geography by the desire of users to meet others in person, online dating systems require critical mass in each area separately.)

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