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In New York City (NYC), the men-seeking-men section is extremely active—one study noted that between two to four thousand ads were posted every day .The structure of Craigslist makes its virtual environment different from many traditional membership-based websites.Given that it is largely unknown whether Internet-based samples are representative of the target population and whether they are comparable to samples recruited through other methods , this descriptive study was intended to provide data on online recruitment using an adaption of time-space sampling for in-person interviews in order to inform decisions about sampling and enrollment approaches that target MSM in online environments., a pilot study investigating the places where sexually-active MSM meet their sex partners.To be eligible, participants had to be biologically male, at least 18 years of age, report at least two new male sex partners within the last 30 days, able to complete an assessment in English, and have a working phone number.Automated filters on Craigslist prevent users from posting a duplicate ad within seven days (even if said ad was pulled offline, for example, five days ago).
When the time came to post a new ad, the old ad was pulled off the website; however, note that our older ads were “pushed down” by newer posts from the Craigslist community such that within hours of posting our ad, it was queued behind hundreds of other postings (greatly reducing visibility to users).Craigslist—an online bulletin board—is a medium where users post single ads through the site, but subsequent correspondence occurs out of the website via private email.The site is organized by city and neighborhood such that users can search for and post ads near their geographic location. Participants scheduled via online pre-screening were more likely to present for their face-to-face assessment than men deemed eligible directly via phone screening (72.3% vs. Online pre-screening was a useful tool to offer potential participants when recruiting on Craigslist and improved study enrollment.Online recruitment has become a popular approach to reach large numbers of people for research on HIV prevention and sexual health [1–3].
The body text of the ads were identical and included the study logo, study description (i.e., face-to-face assessments at our Manhattan office, $40 incentive at baseline), and instructed men to respond to the ad via email.