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So how do lesbians and gay men date differently online?

I think on a general level men are much more adventurous and more interested in poking around and seeing what's there, whereas women will really take time and really investigate possible partners or dates online. I find that women tend to keep a lot of things private in their profiles. On our sites, for example, you can mark pictures as private, which means that you can only share them with someone you're actually chatting with. Because of security, women tend to take advantage of that feature more.

Is it true that women are more likely to write to people whose profiles don't include photos?

That is true. That really points to the investment that women will make in their online personae. They will spend much more time than men in filling out every piece of the profile. They'll actually fill in the essay questions, which men rarely do. They will write long essays and not include a [public] photo. And that's markedly different than the behavior of men. For men, pictures are really a deal-breaker.

I suppose there's no way to know whether gay men or lesbians are more apt to meet up with one another offline.

No, but we certainly get letters from people who have met, and there are trends. Women tend to be more drawn to the topic areas of our chat rooms, so they will go and chat about what it's like to be an ex-Catholic, for example. In that environment, it's less likely that you'll find someone in your immediate geographic locale. So we've received letters from women who have moved across the country to be with each other once they've chatted for a year. And that's much rarer for a man, because men have more topic areas by region. Men are much more likely to sit outside of a room and just click down the pictures and find someone local to chat with on a one-to-one basis.

Do gay men tend to send more private messages than women?

Yes, I would argue that they do. Often men's chat rooms will be populated with 99 men, but if you watch the screens, they're not really scrolling very quickly because the men aren't chatting in the rooms, they're chatting with each other [in private message sessions]. For women, that's not true.

Are lesbians and gay men more likely to be online at different times of the day? For instance, do men go online at night more than women?

You know, that's a very interesting question. Men actually tend to be online more during the day. I think they leave their Messenger on all day at work, which is something that I think women wouldn't do. Women's chat rooms tend to be much more populated in the evenings--when they get home from work, I'm guessing. But men are on all the time. And again, that points to the nature of the experience for men. They'll go through a room and look for someone they want to talk to and then send them a message. So if you leave it on all day at work, you can be getting these messages throughout the day.