My take: The goal is to induce many high-quality men into responding. That means finding the relevant "bottleneck" for those men and getting them over it.
For instance if you don’t mind lying (or writing lots), promise
that you will respond to all messages, one way or the other. More
people will write in. Otherwise men fear they are wasting their time by responding.
What else? Photos, or at least links to photos,
are key. (Even better: a link to one’s vlogging.) The man will judge the woman — as "wife material" — by the
photo. Of course the woman has to pass "the
looks hurdle" in any case, so this won’t rule out many true eligibles. If a man doesn’t see a photo, the odds are he thinks the woman doesn’t pass his test. This is not just adverse selection; the default is that any given woman doesn’t pass the test.
Note: not every man is
looking for a supermodel. But every man wants a wife who doesn’t look a certain way or set of ways.
(When I was single I didn’t want women who wore Prada.) Posting the photo signals to some men that "you look
right" to them, and again increases the chance they will write.
After that, the rest of the ad should be accurate, signal high intelligence in fairly straightforward fashion, but otherwise be bland.
You can say one or two idiosyncratic things, perhaps to attract a few
ardent admirers, but they should not be too edgy or scare anyone off.
Don’t let men
rule themselves out because of fears which may or may not be valid. If a smart searching man likes
how you look, and sees you are smart, he will write to you.
Note that the
male audience is error-prone and self-deceiving, so the self-description
should involve some ambiguity rather than a perfect description of
self. The woman cannot trust the men to do the proper ex ante sorting. Had I known I wanted a
Russian Jewish-Armenian lawyer and former linguist with not exactly my political views?
BUT: What if the advertising woman self-deceives about a good partner more than the eligible men do? In that case the woman might want to be very specific about what she is like. The number of respondees goes down and the woman hopes that the right man will see through her character and choose her.
Does that sound like Megan Non-McArdle? Are highly specific ads an attempt to abdicate responsibility for choice? A pre-emptive move to avoid rejection? Or are they a demand for the near-impossible, to seek the most romantic story imaginable, and to request only a man who is infinitely perceptive and full of love from the get go?
Addendum: If a woman writes a blog, and in part uses the blog as an extended (and thus detailed) personal ad, does this mean she is especially difficult to please? Especially romantic?