Nearly all conversations (97.0 percent) were between a man and a woman, but there were 3,270 exchanges between two men or two women. In these conversations, a few users expressed same-sex romantic or sexual intent, or they were looking for same-sex friends. However, most such messages were due to one of the following:
User error in entering gender. Some users mistakenly appear to have selected the wrong sex when they filled out their profiles, either by mechanical error or by confusion over which sex they were versus which they were seeking. These users were identified anecdotally by messages they sent that indicated a sex other than the one they specified; the prevalence of this error is unknown.
Test messages sent by staff of the Site. In testing the functionality of the Site, members of its staff sent a number of test messages to each other. Some of these exchanges were same-sex.
Announcements sent by staff of the Site. A male employee of the Site periodically sent service announcements through the private messaging system to some or all users, male and female.
Spam. A few users sent a large number of junk messages through the private messaging system.The "Nigerian" scam was most common.
Account sharing. Some users specifically mentioned in their messages that they were writing from the Site account of an opposite-sex other (e.g., a woman writing from her brother's account) so that they would not have to pay for a membership. This behavior is contingent on the pricing model used by the Site and many others, in which users receive unlimited message-sending capability for a flat monthly fee. It would likely occur less on a site with a per-message pricing model.
Writing on behalf of another. Some women wrote from their own accounts to other women on behalf of another, that is, providing a third-party introduction (e.g., "My brother is a great guy...").
Backchannel communication. A very small number of women communicated with other women about men on the Site. In the eight-month sample studied here, no men communicated with other men in this manner. One example from a woman to a woman:
Hi! I was checking what my horoscope said on my profile, and our pictures where [sic] next to each other. I thought, "I wonder if any other women are having any luck with this site?" I guess, technically, we are supposed to be in competition with each other, but why not compare notes? :)
Because the sample of same-sex contacts was small and furthermore included few typical personals interactions —
Figure 2.2. Number of dyadic ties initiated and received (based on first message), by age and gender, in different-sex interactions.
that is, most interactions had purposes other than meeting people to date — I excluded same-sex interactions from these analyses. A site directed at a same-sex population, or at least including a significant gay or lesbian population, would be more useful than the present Site for understanding same-sex preferences and behaviors in online dating.
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