When congress screws up your love life

craigslist personals bannedMost people still don’t like to admit they met on a dating site, although more and more do. Hoping to run into “the one” randomly, at the right time has odds about as good as the lottery, or getting hit by a self-driving Uber.

This week, in the tumultuous chaos of Trump’s Washington, between firing and hiring and budget fights and gun protests, Congress passed a law March 21, 2018  and killed the only truly free dating site on the Internet: the Craigslist personals.

Now instead of ads in M4W and MW4MW etc- all that’s left is “Missed connections.”

The rest have this message:

US Congress just passed HR 1865, “FOSTA”, seeking to subject websites to criminal and civil liability when third parties (users) misuse online personals unlawfully.

Any tool or service can be misused. We can’t take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline. Hopefully we can bring them back some day.

To the millions of spouses, partners, and couples who met through craigslist, we wish you every happiness!

I stay pretty informed, and I had no idea this was happening.

In the senate- only Wyden (D-OR) and Paul (R-KY) voted no. In the house- Local Warren Davidson was one of the 25 No votes. BTW- the senate site is WAY better than the house.

FOSTA stands for Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act of 2017.

And, while I’m sure Craigslist has led to some prostitution and all kinds of other illicit behavior, there are obviously other sites that rate prostitutes and provide “GFE” – girl friend experiences- that have zero legitimate dating ambitions. They will probably stay in existence.

For me, this move by the nanny state, saddens me. Back in 2009, I posted the following ad on Craigslist:

Life works better as a couple. (Downtown Dayton)

age: 44

If there is one thing that becomes more and more obvious as I get older, it’s that our society and our success comes as a couple.
The bit about behind every successful man is an amazing woman- and visa versa- isn’t folklore- it’s as real as it gets.
I really don’t mind being alone- but I’m tired of losing friends to spouses and children, I’m tired of going to music, culture, film alone- and cooking for one is the pits (esp. when I actually can cook worth a damn).So- who would you be coupling up with?
A bright guy, with many interests including: art, architecture, music, pop-culture, advertising, design, photography, politics (liberal), mass media, urban development, reading, old houses, dogs, SCUBA, ice hockey, motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, theater, film, food, pilates, computers, the internet, writing, travel.
I’m 5’11”, non-smoking, non-drinking, 205lbs (which drops when I am cooking more at home), and, this is important: a secular humanist/atheist/jew. If you want to convert me- forget it. If you don’t get it- Judaism is a culture as well as a religion.
I’ve got a bachelors degree in Business. Regret not getting an MBA or a doctorate. I’m a veteran – and proud of it.
Never married, no kids.

You: able to write in complete sentences, would rather walk over broken glass than; watch NASCAR, listen to Country, vote Republican, or smoke.
Employed. Baggage minimal, and matching. Able to carry on a conversation, work a room on your own, able to receive as well as give a great massage. Have a passport. Willing to try new things.

Write me- meet me for coffee- what do you have to loose?

And a woman, with two wonderful girls, ages 4 and 9, wrote back. We met at Tanks for lunch. She liked their Reuben. I liked her smile, her eyes, and her boldness. I wouldn’t say she lacked a filter, but she made things very clear. We started dating, 2 years later we were living together. After 5 and some, she moved out- a block away, we still acted like a family when it came to kids, dogs, and having each others backs for about another year and a half. All thanks to Craigslist.
We traveled to Paris, to Boston, to NYC to Disneyworld, to LA. – to Fallingwater.
All this, thanks to a free ad on Craigslist. You know the saying, if you don’t play- you can’t win. Craigslist was a winner for us.
There are still some free dating sites out there- Plentyoffish.com and OKCupid.com are two that come to mind- but, all have paid options, and various matching algorithms. That was the beauty of Craigslist- it wasn’t anything different than a bulletin board at a coffee house – totally random- based on geography.
She was the longest and best relationship I’ve ever had. Her kids meant the world to me.
Now, there is no more Craigslist personals- and there may not be another woman like her- or there may be- we just won’t meet on Craigslist- thanks to Congress.
That ad was 11 years ago. I’d just have to change a few things to it today to run it again- but alas, I’d have no place to post it- other than here. I’m up 10 lbs, and, I’d probably claim 6′
The world of online dating has turned into swipe culture- with sites like Tinder and Bumble reducing it down to looks and photography skills. Almost all the sites are now owned by one company, the Match Group. The problem with corporate dating sites is they control the experience- with Craigslist- it was up to you and the community. Now Congress has ruined that.
Of all the dating sites I’ve tried, the one I liked the best was OKCupid- and the way it “matched” people. Another Harvard based Internet startup, it was originally a market research company masquerading as a dating site. One of the problems with asking most people deeply personal questions and getting them to answer honestly, is they won’t- unless there is something in it for them. OKCupid- asked a question, often contributed by the community- and you would answer how you would answer it- how you would like your potential mate to answer it and how important it was to you. Lying about these things wouldn’t help you meet the right person- so you answered honestly. It was up to you if you wanted to make your answer public or not- but if it was private- it would still help tell you who matched up best.
That said, we don’t always know that what we think we want- is really the best thing for us. Some ladies have a broken “manpicker” and some men “are shit magnets”- and vice versa…
The way OKCupid attracted people in the early days were funny surveys- much like the same ones Cambridge Analytical used to harvest the pscyhographic data everyone is up in arms about right now. Those got discontinued by the corporate overlords of Match. Those surveys told you what kind of motorcycle was the right one for you (my results were pretty close- a Yamaha FJ 1100- close to my BMW R1200RT) and the infamous “Slut test” where I scored… I don’t remember. Now, I refer to the site as OKStupid- since it has been dumbed-down. 
All that said, the real reason that Craigslist bears the brunt of Congress’s brute force is probably because Craigslist has no friends, other than its users. It destroyed the revenue stream from Classified ads in the local newspaper, changed the face of real estate advertising by owner, upset the job listings, ticket scalping became a business, and even saved landfills by making it easy to give away stuff that might end up in the trash.
It also was an essential tool for community organizers- looking to promote events.
Part of the problem was that since it’s debut in 1995, it never really evolved as a platform- allowing others to specialize and replace it with new and improved versions for specific areas- StubHub, Zillow, AirBNB, Monster, Etsy etc- all did the same thing only better.
But, that was the beauty of Craigslist. It was simple and community driven.
And, now, it’s no longer a place to meet your mate.
And, I still believe life works better as a couple….
but, now, the only place I can post this ad is here.

2 hours of your life you’ll never get back: Esrati + Gem City Podcast

This was recorded about a month ago. Libby came over to the office and we had a really long chat. You’ll have to click over to their site to listen in, and those who’ve listened already said they enjoyed it.

It’s great to have other local media giving the community information in different formats. After you’ve listened- please comment here.

Episode 548: A Conversation With David Esrati

Gem City Podcast continues its “community conversations” with David Esrati, a community activist, veteran, small-business owner and political campaigner in Dayton, Ohio. David has been particularly vocal about the vision and plans for Dayton Public Schools. As we continue to explore the challenges facing Dayton, we invited David to have a conversation with us about his ideas for the schools and neighborhood development.

Co-host Libby Ballengee conducts this long-form interview, in her first ever conversation with Esrati. He is a provocateur, yet we think it’s important to hear a variety of voices and ideas to distill solutions to our City’s challenges. We hope you continue to learn and listen with us, and we will continue to explore new perspectives.

Source: Episode 548: A Conversation With David Esrati – Gem City Podcast || Dayton, Ohio

First Four at UD Arena. First, look for the flag

$72 Million dollar renovation.
New seats, new floor, new scoreboards, new sound system, but, wait, where do we put the flag?

Normally, it’s hanging in a prominent position, in wide view, and well lit.

It has a place of honor. It’s respected. And it’s where we turn when the National Anthem plays.

But, we’re UD, home of the Flyers and a town built on the back of Wright Patterson Air Force base, and we don’t need to do any of that.

We’ll have a color guard march out to center court- and display the flag that way, and that’s fine. But, on the rare occasion when there is no color guard- where is the flag?

UD Arena hides our flag in the dark, instead of in plain sight. Photo and options by David Esrati

UD Arena hides our flag in the dark, instead of in plain sight. Photo and options by David Esrati

Well, if you peer behind each of the giant stats boards in the corners- there is a very large flag, one in each corner, hung on the wall, in the shadows.

You can hardly see them through the uber patriotic digital light show they play on the monitors- with stripes waving, as the National Anthem is belted out live from in front of the scorers table.

All this is well and fine. But, in the year of national turmoil where standing or kneeling was headline material, you’d think UD would make an effort to properly display the flag. Just one. Well lit, in a place of prominence.

I brought the issue up to rookie president Dr. Eric Spina- his response- As the Arena is finished in the next two years, the flag issue will be addressed directly and in a positive way. Until then, compromises are being made while still being respectful.”

I brought the issue up to the guy in charge of the renovation, Scott DeBolt, his response: “We will evaluate the placement of the american flag next summer when once we identify the locations of the new sports lighting.”

I’m sorry, but, as a veteran, as a UD Season Ticket holder, as a member of the Dayton community, as we invite people from across the nation to our arena for the first four, I don’t think these answers are satisfactory.

If you want to place a value on the importance of flying our flag- I suggest you ask these guys:

Flag Raising on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal

Flag Raising on Iwo Jima by Joe Rosenthal


When you’re bad, mediocre looks good: Dayton Daily news attempts at social

I had a talk with Ron Rollins last night at the Sideshow X. Ron’s an artist, and the editor of the “Opinion pages” of the Dayton Daily news.

He assured me that the Dayton Daily news was not for sale. I think that decision is way above his paygrade, but, I’m glad he’s so sure.

In the world of journalism, there had always been the struggle of keeping the journalism and the business/ad side separate. With the advent of the internet and the free sharing of content news organizations got scared. Very scared. The first and biggest enemy was Craigslist- where their bread and butter money maker- classified ads- went flying away too. Instantly.

Craigslist isn’t perfect. They have a real problem with spammers- especially in the personals sections (the benefit of these spam ads has never been obvious to me, same way spam email never made much sense either). But, the prospect of free for a listing to hire your new office manager or to sell your crib beat the hell out of $7 a line of micro type for a day on the non-searchable, version the newspaper provided.

Hence, newspapers love to run stories about Craigslist killers, thieves and scams.

The real issue of the “newspaper” was never the news part- it was the “paper” part. Taking the electron bits that were used by word processors, digital cameras, page layout programs, etc.- and converting them into physical atoms- was and is expensive. It’s also stupid. For the price of a bad tablet- you can rent subscribers a digital version much cheaper than the cost of printing a paper, and distributing it across the region. The brainiacs at Cox built the state of the art buggy whip printing facility (in Warren County) just about the time the Internet was about to take off. They try to put frosting on the pig by calling it a “Print Technology Center.”

In an everlasting quest to make a buck- they follow other models blindly and think they know what they are doing as page counts go up- which means ad showings go up. This was what Ron was so proud of last night- and I’m just laughing.

Besides being a pain in the ass to Dayton, with this blog, my real job is owning a small ad agency. The reasons it’s small, and in Dayton are because of personal choices I’ve made as the only son of two amazing aging parents that I have to take care of. Although I may bitch about it sometimes, I can’t think of anything that makes me happier than to have them across the street from me- and for me to be able to give them back the time they spent raising me.

All that said- my ad agency isn’t like the others- it’s called “The Next Wave” for a reason- and the main one is that I’ve always been ahead of the curve on where the industry is headed- first with a Mac for Desktop publishing and direct to film print prep, digital video, open source content management, organic SEO, customer relationship management systems, social media, and now working with sophisticated marketing automation.

Advertisers no longer struggle with finding space to run ads- online there is an almost infinite supply of ad space to buy, and while it’s easy to sell ads to the unsophisticated locals who still think they know how to buy ads and make them on their own, the real money in advertising these days is going to companies that can directly target very specific customers- which is why Facebook is cashing in beyond it’s wildest dreams and Yahoo is not. Note, the Dayton Daily had a partnership with Yahoo for a while.

In order to directly target customers for advertising, there are a couple of keys online: very specific content that is accessed by a distinct URL, with very little chance of inadvertent clicks (meaning ads that you are trying to navigate past to get to  more content- don’t count as clicks when most of them are accidental) and that the content can’t be accessed without a click- meaning the whole paper as a picture on an iPad that can be scanned- isn’t worth a damn for generating targeting data.

Facebook is fighting click bait like crazy- the idea that you post content that forces a click with teasers is bad in their book- because it makes you go off their site to another- and this is the main way that the DDn is driving views and thinking they have a “social strategy”- they don’t.

Social media has been co-opted by idiots who think it’s a one way platform to foist your content and ads onto people. That may be 95% of what social is by current day practitioners- but it’s not. Social is two way – with hosted, moderated conversations- like the comments on this site. Where social discussion takes place. Very few old media have figured out the power of subscription to comments either via email or RSS- but, it’s what makes Facebook so powerful- example in case I’ve lost you- you comment on a friends post, every time someone else comments, you get a notification asking you to come back and comment again- that’s social strategy.

I could write an entire book on the strategy of effective social marketing- but instead I’ve been teaching my www.websitetology.com seminars since 2005. No one from the Dayton Daily news has ever taken the seminar- and it’s too bad- they might have learned something.

The Dayton Daily thinks their launch of www.Dayton.com is somehow a success. Rollins even thinks the clown posse they hired to help them with the marketing of it know what they are doing. Of course, when you’re bad, mediocre looks good. The reality is, adding more properties to manage isn’t the answer- launching good ones is. We’ve seen them try this before- and I mocked it then, anyone remember MeetFred.com?

The reality is that most of the people in journalism still don’t know how the internet can make their content gathering and curation so much easier and more powerful. You wouldn’t believe what I can learn in advance from this site and its web-stats. I know when almost anyone in the public sector is job hunting- or been naughty, before you’ll ever read about it in the Dayton Daily news. And just remember, this is the hobby site of one person- they have an entire paid staff doing theirs….

The real question is- and I ask this of my readers who’ve taken the time to read this, if they call, how much should I charge the people at Cox Media to tell them how to save their sorry “media empire?”