One of the popular ways to meet new people online is through Craigslist. When it was founded by Craig Newmark in 1995, Craigslist began as an email distribution list for friends in the San Francisco Bay area. However over the years it expanded to a vast centralized network of online communities, featuring free classified in categories like jobs, personals, property, services, gigs and other community events. Today its wide reach and extensive network makes Craigslist a hugely effective medium of finding singles.
TIP: Visit Match.com to browse photo profiles of single women and men looking for dates.
Craigslist is free and really simple to use. If you are looking to meet single men and women through Craigslist, start by visiting the site. On the homepage, look at the far right side of the screen where you will find an exhaustive list of countries and US states arranged in an alphabetical order. Click on your city or the one closest to you and you will be directed the page where a variety of listings is available for that city. Choose ‘Personals’ or ‘Community’ if you are interested in meeting single men and women. After this you can begin your search for potential partners. You can make use of keywords like M4W (Men for Women) if you are a guy and looking to meet a woman or type in W4M (Women for Men) if you are a woman seeking to meet a guy. The search result will open up a page containing all the listings in the order in which they were posted and from there you can pick and decide to contact whoever seems best suited to your needs.
Apart from looking at the listings posted in the Personals section of Craigslist, you can also post your own ad. A key aspect to the popularity of Craigslist is ease of use which is why you need not register yourself on the site. Simply go to the Craigslist home page and select "Post to Classifieds." Then choose the "Personal/Romance" sub-category link and there select one from the given list of choices, including "Missed Connection," "Rant & Rave," "Strictly Platonic " "Dating, Romance, Long Term Relationship," "Sex With no Strings Attached” and so on. The next step involves coming up with an attractive heading that best expresses what you want from a partner and says a little bit about yourself. Thereafter fill in the description box with an accurate description of yourself, your interests and the qualities you are looking for in a potential partner. Consider accompanying your ad with a photo – sometimes lack of an image will restrict your ad from reaching out to a lot of people. If you don’t want a photo of yourself out there for all to see, post the photo of your favorite park or restaurant. This will increase the reach of your ad while also protecting your privacy. Finally put down your email address in the appropriate box. Your email address will be kept secret so that viewers don't see your real email address, but a series of numbers and letters instead that forward email to your account.
As a fall out of its popularity, Craigslist in the recent past became a favourite resource for listing of ads offering ‘erotic services’. But you may be out of luck if go looking on Craigslist for the same now. This is because following the barrage of erotic services postings on the site, there was a huge outcry from users and social commentators. As a result in May 2009, Craigslist announced that it was shutting down the ‘erotic services’ section, replacing it with an ‘adult services’ section to be reviewed by Craigslist employees. Then last year in September Craigslist closed the ‘adult services’ section of its website in the United States and in December closed 'Erotic Services' and 'Adult Gigs' from its Canadian website too.
Keep in mind all the rules of safe dating while initiating contact with someone over Craigslist. The email is the best form of communication at the first stage of getting to know someone; in fact for dating purposes be wary of giving out your regular email address to a complete stranger. The best way to go about this is to open a free email account and use this solely for online dating purposes. Also avoid giving out other details like your full name, your credit card number, your cell phone number and especially home phone number at the very beginning. There are ways by which a home phone number can be used to find out where you live, work, and your property details while a credit card number can be used to extract your financial information. Apart from a new email account you can also use free web-based phone services to talk or chat with people you meet for the first time.
In case you have found someone likable through Craigslist and now want to meet them physically, keep your personal safety in mind. Always choose a public venue like a restaurant or a café to meet someone new. Avoid having them pick you up from your home and dropping you off at the end of the date. Your instincts are often the best guide telling you when something just does not feel right. Trust your gut feeling and cut short a date if you don’t feel comfortable with someone on a date.
Finally remember that being a free classifieds service and not requiring user registration, Craigslist is a favorite with scammers of all sorts. Beware of anyone who asks for your credit card number or wishes you to send them money by coming up with excuses like meeting transport costs or for an emergency expense. Also take a closer look at a person’s email address; search for real names and numbers and avoid email addresses with famous names. Over time it can become quite easy to recognize a fake email. If you do come across a contact which seems fake, then flag it by clicking on ‘prohibited’ at the top right of the page. Once a listing has been flagged for a certain number of times, it will be removed from the site.
Craigslist is a great way to meet new people free of cost and if you take basic precautions, there is no reason why you cannot come across someone interesting and worth getting to know better.