Yes, I'm still talking about dating. It's what I spend an hour or two working on every day. I've had 25 first dates, somewhat less second dates [probably half a dozen], and one relationship lasting more than a month since my divorce in mid-2009. My ex and I were separated a little more than a year before that, so sometimes the exact date of signing papers is uncertain.
Some rules and guidelines for on-line dating:
1) It's OK not to know what you want, but better if you do know. I didn't know, and am only now realizing what I want based on repeatedly running into the things I don't want.
2) Do not argue with them. There's no point, and I've found that any early disagreement poisons the well and so you should seriously consider terminating the connection and moving on to the next profile.
3) Don't take it personnally if you don't get replies on holidays. Remember that the person you're looking for has a life that does not involve you and they're currently busy living it. Also, some people may like their routine and may not want to deviate from it too much.
4) Don't smother, stalk, or ignore the person you're trying to date. My preference for emails is respond, receive reply, respond, receive reply, repeat. Don't respond, respond, respond, and try to avoid people that make you receive receive receive. Getting two messages in a row is OK once or twice, especially if they're short [30 words or so]. Be aware that if you're doing 90% of the emailng, this person is probably NOT interested in you. Don't send long emails [more than 4 paragraphs] without a reply between.
5) Don't take it personnally if the first meeting doesn't work out for some reason, especially if it's a long distance thing. I had a long distance relationship for half a year, but we were unable to meet the first time due to weather issues. I always contact her after the first date and I usually say I'd like to see her again even if the first date didn't go well. In that case, I just don't try very hard to have a second date.
6) Don't talk only about yourself. Show genuine interest in the person you're talking to. Ask questions. Remember important dates. Look for ways to impress her with your attentiveness. I've met several biologists and I've been learing about biology. It's actually fairly interesting....
7) Bring her a gift on the first date. Nothing too large that she won't be able to carry, and nothing too expensive. Treat it like a gift and remove the price tag. Ideally, it's something small that can be fit in a purse. It must be of something that doesn't require too much explanation and must be something she'll remember talking about. One time I used gold fish animal crackers, another time I used golf balls, and another time it was a plastic bug.
8) Be complimentary when you first see her, but don't sound insincere. I have some trouble with this because I often forget that a pretty woman needs to know if you think that.
9) Vague on-line profiles generate more replies than providing specific details about likes and dislikes. I see the women with motorcycles and just pass them by. I don't have a motorcycle, so how could I relate? Also, remember that anything specific can be misunderstood. With that in mind, don't include that picture of you in a Stat Trek uniform from that one visit to a convention. Readers will assume that you're learning Klingon and non-Trekkies may feel they don't have enough in common with you.
10) Use correct grammar and spelling. Double check this and have a friend look it over before posting. I know better, but I do still tend to lower my expectations or just move on when I'm reading a profile with obvious spelling and grammar mistakes. If you don't know the difference between "your" and "you're," please go ahead and ask someone. :-)
11) Some notes on safety. Be prepared to share personal data a little at a time, but remember that you will be expected to share the same kind of information he or she shares. I keep a tracfone for the first phone call so she never has to know what my home number [or address] is if things go badly. Tracfones are $25 with 60 minutes of use built in. Obviously, first meetings should always be in public places and well lit. I like coffee shops or restaurants for that first date, but I've done the park thing as well and I met at least one at a museum.
12) Birds of a feather flock together. This kind of goes along with #9. My "feather" thing is actually learning, and I look for women that are college professors or researchers. Also, I'm not a very paternal person and I've found that science oriented women tend to share my views on children. Whatever your feather thing is, put it on your profile and see how prospective matches approach it. Ideally, you'll get at least a few that say things like "I'm the same way!"
13) Do your home work on your date after you get his or her last name. Ideally, their last name will be something unique and therefore you will find it easy to track down relevant information. You may even get some blog posts! Be careful how [or how much] you let your date know that you know. They may be impressed by your interest, or they may decide that you must be a stalker.