In light of all the hoopla regarding the sexy Russian spies that pop up every day or two (why are there no hot male Russian spies? Only women? Is this some porn phishing scam? Are you trying to ask me to join Adult Friend Finder? Are you a mail-order bride?) I have been thinking about "doing your homework" on a prospective date.
In the age of crazy FourSquare-stalkable technology, it's nearly impossible not to do a background check on someone you are going to go out with. (I'm not saying don't look at essentials like police records, credit score reports, or junior varsity swim team stats.) It's tempting to want to ask who this guy you're going to the Frying Pan with snogged at the SDT/AEPhi/PiPhi Spring formal, or if it was true that he participated in that night, rumored to have included whipped cream, pliers, and a camel.
I'm talking about the Facebooking, the Gchatt, the asking around, et cetera. Yes, Jewish geography is totally inevitable. It's also a fun game ("Omg! Shut UP! Judy Eisen, she and I totally swapped lice at Camp Anawanna... we hold you in our hearts, and when we think about you, it makes us want to fart!" Oh childhood.)
You should stay away from Facebook especially, because this can lead to drawing false conclusions, or turning you off to a potential great mate. Even something as small as having certain friends in common can make you think things about someone before you've come face to face.
Learn from my mistakes -- a great date I recently went on (stay tuned!) I had pegged all wrong.
Try to make your own decisions (to the best of your ability) and go into each date with an open mind and an open heart. Just be warier about hot Russians. (Not to be confused with White Russians, which are crazy delicious.)