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There are lies, damn lies, and personal ads. Dave Winer, a newcomer to The Well, an online community, posted one in 1994 that said he had an "athletic build." I don't have a photo of Winer circa 1994 (anyone?), but this one from 2001 doesn't show much supporting evidence. Winer's ad, courtesy of founder Andy Baio:

From: Dave Winer (dwiner) Date: 1994-08-17 17:52:00 Conference: singles Topic: Personal Ad experiences

Well, here goes — my first message on The Well. I've just been lurking for the last few days, trying to figure out what's going on. It's pretty daunting, but maybe I'm getting the hang of it... You all seem like VERY nice people.

Photo by Kris Krüg on Flickr

Anyway, I wrote a personal ad last week, and sent it via email to a bunch of friends, most of them women, for their reaction. Here's the ad:

SWM 39, 6'2", athletic build, Bay Area, software entrepreneur turned massage therapist, gentle hands, romantic, emotionally developed, born-again hippie. Loves gardening, road trips, walking, skiing, writing. Looking for a great gal who's ready to create a safe space for love and lots and lots of play. Send email to:

One of my friends had a pretty animated response:

"You're going to find a nurse or a chiropractor. Why? The self-description sounds too needy, as if you're looking for succor. Anyway, i never describe you that way to anyone i know. Your description entirely omits your shining INTELLIGENCE — you're a genius; you assimilate new ideas like most people consume their morning cereal. You see shapes when there are only nebulae. You're also kinetic, always soul-searching. grounded and yet ready to leap. You're body's pretty irrelevant, but obviously you want to be of athletic build (for what sport, exactly, would your body be considered athletic? no offense, but REALLY). As long as you've got some hair left and your sexual organs, your body's functioning, or do you really want to be a combination of Yogi Berra and Albert Einstein? — Love, Sylvia"

Of course I liked Sylvia's version of the ad better. ;->


PS: I'm a great skier. Definitely athletic.

The Sylvia in question? Most likely the sharp-witted, sharp-tongued Sylvia Paull.