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Commentary on Personal ads in Dimensions Magazine
A long time ago when the Internet and the Web were just a gleam in the eyes of science fiction writers, Dimensions Magazine published hundreds of personal ads from large women and their admirers in each issue. People would read those ads and respond with snail mail letters.
In the early 1990s we complemented the printed ads with a series of 900-number voice mail systems. That system was hugely popular but it eventually failed for two reasons. First, 900 numbers were almost totally taken over by the porn industry. Second, a small number of bad people discovered that they could rack up huge 900-number charges and the phone company would not go after them if they didn't pay. Those deadbeats cost Dimensions tens of thousands of dollars.
Then the Internet and the Web came onto the scene and all of a sudden everything was free. Free stuff is totally cool, but in the long run there cannot be a free lunch. As a result, lots that used to be free is gone, is no longer free, or you have to put up with so many pop-ups and commercial messages that it's not worth it. All of that has left us stymied. I know that people love personal ads as much as ever, but we haven't found a way to have personal ads that is both attractive and useful, yet not commercial suicide.
What Dimensions is considering for personal ads:
1) We are still running personal ads in the print magazine and have started putting them online again. You can answer those by writing a letter in response to an ad and mailing it to Dimensions, POB 640, Folsom, CA 95763-0640. Each letter must have the code number of the ad on it and we charge US$2.00 per letter we forward. We usually forward letters almost immediately. 2) We are currently beta-testing a Dimensions Online Matching System. The software had to be heavily modified to fit our needs. DMS lets you describe yourself and what you are looking for in some detail, then computes the best matches. It also lets you do Quick Searches. The system is available for use, but will likely undergo substantial changes over the next few months. Check out the Dimensions Matching System. 3) Bulletin boards are another alternative, but one that I do not like for a variety of reasons. If we allowed them on the current boards, the boards would quickly be overrun by them. Second, while most ad posters are good people, some are not, and for those bulletin boards are easy pickings because they remain anonymous and we have no way of keeping track of them. Bottomline: We know personal ads are a good thing and they should definitely be part of Dimensions Online. We have very significant traffic and we've had a continuous web presence almost since the beginnings of the web.
If you have some other great ideas on how to implement personals on the Dimensions website in a safe, attractive, useful manner that is also economically feasible, let us now.