Lets be deadly honest about whats happening behind the dating sites

I had hoped I wouldn’t be back dating again but thats the way things go. Stepping back out into the online dating world I’m shocked how worst things have gotten.

Now OKCupid is now very driven around the hot or not mechanism. If you are on the web site, it is possible to search via questions and a keyword. But thats about it. I got sick of Bumble which once again wants way too much attention and removed the app. I requested my GDPR data again, as I’d love to get to the bottom of the cisgender male issue I had.

However saying all this… It was good to see the buzzfeed post and the connected Reddit thread which was pointed to me via Herb Kim.

Before I say anything, sadly almost zero of this was a surprise to me. Its exactly why Herb sent it my way, having the past talked a lot about the problems with dating.

Anyway I wanted to run through some of the reddit thread and add a touch more.

“We used to create fake accounts and chat with users. It was everything from someone having a premium account that wasn’t getting responses, to bored employees.”

The amount of fake accounts on dating sites is a real problem. All the sites are affected by this problem but the site team blame fake accounts on spammers. Most people don’t realise the problem is actually being caused by the dating site its self. People don’t connect the fake accounts with being ghosted over and over again.

“The algorithms are less sophisticated than you think. … The main goal of the algorithm is always to get you to pay, never to actually ensure you meet somebody in real life, as much as we tried to lie to ourselves that it was.”

With everything we know about algorithms in recent times (bias). Its been mentioned so many times and I made the judgement that this is exactly the same as the birthday paradox.

“Female dating app users tend to sign off for the day several hours earlier than male users, which results in men who log in after about 10 p.m. generally not encountering many logged in female users. In order to keep these men feeling like there is genuine female activity on the site (and thus continuing to pay for memberships), dating apps can pay for entire armies of ‘ghosts.’ Ghost profiles use photos of real women, but are  operated by men, typically young men in their late teens and early twenties, living in France, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia.”

The fake account problem again but targetted based on stats. Its something I’m aware of but I gather its different for different sites.

“Many apps seed attractive bots to keep people engaged. The bots will send/respond to a couple of substandard questions. ‘How was your week?’ ‘What are you looking for?’ and then ghost. Despite the ghost, the high of matching with a super attractive person who spoke to you is enough to get many people hooked and chasing the dragon.”

You start to spot a pattern with the chats. Heck you can spot pattens in the profiles. For example in OK Cupid, there is something I recently noticed with huge number of profiles which have answered the same 15 questions and in the same way. Their profiles were also pretty new.

“I worked as a software engineer for a dating site in the mid-’00s. Literally every single female profile was fake. They were ‘generated’ profiles using arbitrary data and paid-for lewd photos from various sources.”

I have actually seen packs of profiles (1000’s at a time) complete with photos and data you can buy to populate a new or young dating site. Most are grabs from different sources but when I last spoke to a person, they were suggesting some have been generated by machine learning practices.
As for the data, I have seen SQL and XML dumps but most are CSV and JSON.
Prices? I’m not sure but I gather a lot cheaper than getting real people to sign up.

“Most of the female users were fake. We would import thousands of fake profiles all the time to prop up the numbers and let the men think there were all of these women on the platform.”

I experienced this with Bumble a long time ago. For weeks I could get to through most of the users in my filters. Then suddenly there was a influx of model like profiles. They all had a similar style and shouted to me fake. That’s even before you read the small amount of written profile info, which could be a user or operator not bothered. Either way, its not necessarily someone I would be interested in contacting

“I ran operations for an online dating company (notably not affiliated with Match). IIRC, we were able to determine that it takes on average about three dates before sex happens (I don’t recall how we worked that out, I’m not a data analyst, but presumably it was some keyword-based algorithm looking at chat messages).”

Some people forget all messages between users are tracked and analysed. All those things you are sharing with another person is being logged and tracked. If you read some of the  terms, you will see they also sell the keyword data

“The most depressing stat…was the histogram of word count in messages. Something like 91% of opening messages were just one word ‘hey,’ and ~85% of conversations were just one exchange long (‘hey’ -> no reply ever). Looking at human, digital mating habits splayed out in data science form was really depressing.”

This is why I stopped reading OKCupid’s Dataclysm, I started to loose faith in humanity with the conversation lengths.

“My roommate used to work at one of the big dating apps and one of the issues they had was that their algorithm changed at one point to more emphatically enforce dating ‘pools’ where people who got more right swipes would only see profiles of people who get more right swipes, etc. With the idea being that it would put people in similar ‘tiers’ to actually match. One big issue they were having was…well, racial ‘preferences’ or sexual racism being pretty amplified as a result. Black women and Asian men especially were being overwhelmingly shuffled down the algorithm because there are a lot of people who will basically automatically swipe left on them as soon as they see they’re a Black woman or an Asian man, even if they were hot as hell.”

https://i2.wp.com/image.slidesharecdn.com/dating-against-humanity-ian-forrester-final-160214222131/95/dating-against-humanity-47-638.jpg?w=840&ssl=1

Its clear by algorithmic bias that users are boxed off from each other. This is why its important to be able to find your own way around the users rather than the way the algorithm presents things to you.
My recent ex made it clear I was found outside of the recommendations. If she stuck to the algorithm we likely would never have met. I know some of you might say, well not everyone has the time to manually go through the site. But if you look at this way, madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results.
I can’t tell you how good it was to read OKCupid members blogs and get in touch. Likewise I’ve been looking for abstract terms across POF to see where people have used it and how. Years ago I had a great conversation with a woman who included a circus skill in her profile. Unfortunately it wasn’t the Diabolo but the Poi is still cool.

My ex bf worked for the Yahoo Italy dating site back in the earlyish 2000s. His job was to pretend to be a woman, and message male customers just as their accounts were going to expire. This would encourage them to pay to renew their subscriptions. Once they renewed, he would ghost them.
He only lasted for a few months due to how unethical it was.

So common and I know a few people in the past who have done this. However recently I met a person who did this for a while for a small amount of money. They are paid to engage with users as they close to the end of their membership period then once they renewed their membership disappear/ghost.
Of course the profile is a fake one, sometimes they are made up by the person or are rotated by the dating site (this has limitations of course, where the ).

A couple met on the dating app I worked on.
Unfortunately, the man passed away and the lady returned to the app where they met for remembrance.
One day, a bug in the system made some profile likes to be sent again after months and she received one from her deceased boyfriend.
Her bug report was heartbreaking.

This is horrible but I have seen similar examples of ex-members receiving emails by accident or their profile coming out of a dormant state. Mistakes happen but this should never happen

Good luck to all the singletons dating in a pandemic, its rough out there and to be fair the dating sites could make things a little easier if they wanted to.

I still have a strong feeling this is all too important to be left to the private sector. Imagine if the covid19 pandemic keeps us apart for another year? Or the next pandemic? We can’t rely on the unethical practices described above to connect people for the future…?

As if perfect timing… The Guardian has a piece about this…

Falling fertility rates have been a problem in the world’s wealthiest nations – notably in Japan and Germany – for some time. In South Korea last year, birthrates fell to 0.84 per woman, a record low despite extensive government efforts to promote childbearing. From next year, cash bonuses of 2m won (£1,320) will be paid to every couple expecting a child, on top of existing child benefit payments.

The fertility rate is also falling dramatically in England and Wales – from 1.9 children per woman in 2012 to just 1.65 in 2019. Provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics for 2020 suggest it could now be 1.6, which would be the lowest rate since before the second world war. The problem is even more severe in Scotland, where the rate has fallen from 1.67 in 2012 to 1.37 in 2019.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Dec 2020)

Jessica gordon nembhard

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, watching people shaming others for not working extra hard during the pandemic, employers spying on their employees and our continuing reliance on centralised servers.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this happening with Google implementing Signal’s open source E2EE protocol and Google loosening control of the Chromium project


BBC R&D’s New forms of value research explained by MaxAlexLianne and myself

Ian thinks: Yes this is a bit meta but its great to deep dive into the cutting edge research of BBC R&D’s lab. Remember its all for the benefit of the citizens of the UK and far wider. Worth also listening to the Human Values podcast series if you want to know more about what Lianne talks about.

The Solid project hits a mile stone in development

Ian thinks: Following BBC R&D’s new forms of value, one of the key research aims is using personal data stores. Solid is one such personal data store and its hit a mile stone with a number of different partners.

Hacking society for the sake society

Ian thinks: Bruce Schneier’s talk from Tech Open Air is well worth 20mins of your time. Its a combinations of what goes into these notes. Security, privacy, hacking, dis-information, policy and the internet.

The key for securing our shared water future

Ian thinks: In this sobering Tedx talk, Seth makes clear we are running low on shared water. Seth talks about a rethink of our policy, technology and cooperation around this space.

What black ideas from the past we could take into the future

Ian thinks: Jessica and Douglas talk about how black communities already developed circular economic mechanisms and how effective they have been.

Technology always transforms ethics

Ian thinks: Juan’s thoughts are important to take in, he touches on so many points from ethics to politics. All framed within alongside technology disruption. I did find it strange he never used Brexit in his last reply about example of breaking up a nation.

An unscientific look at algorithms and my phone is still listening to me

Ian thinks: Wired magazine creates a quick and dirty test looking at Youtube’s recommendation algorithm. Plus that classic notion that your phone is listening to you.
Both are crude but if the social dilemma has taught me anything these actually help convince people

The challenges of IP in the coming world of ubiquitous game engine use

Ian thinks: Found via Simon Lumb, a real in-depth look at the challenges around IP in a world of game engines. There is also a podcast if like me you prefer audio

A musical trip into Nerdcore *explicit language

Ian thinks: Hip-hop artists talk about their reality and Nerdcore is no different. Its impressive and fascinating to hear how integrated internet & hacking culture has become in these artists life.


The archive is available here

OkCupid doesn’t like my profile picture?

Ian's Profile picture

What could be wrong with this picture?

I got a email from OKcupid the other day and it took a little while to work out which one was removed from my profile.

Hi,

OkCupid’s photo rules are in place to make OkCupid enjoyable for everyone. We are letting you know that we have removed one or more of your photos that were found to be in violation of these rules.
The most common reasons for a photo being removed are:
1. Your face is not visible, but the photo is in your “profile photos” album
As long as the photo doesn’t break any other rules, feel free to upload it to one of your profile essays instead. We love pet photos!
2. The photo is copyright/ not yours
All photos must be of you or taken by you. No copyright material allowed, including memes.
3. The photo contains erotic content
We ask that you appear in your photos as you would in a normal public context. Because of that, we don’t allow sexy bedroom photos, underwear photos, nudity, erotic poses, etc. Swimwear photos are ok only if they are in public at a beach or pool.
4. The photo contains inappropriate content
We don’t allow advertising, publishing of private information, photos of children alone, or hateful, threatening, or upsetting imagery. Profiles with inappropriate photos may be banned in addition to having the photo removed. See our full photo rules

Please note that if you disregard our photo rules multiple times, it could result in your account being permanently banned.
If you’re shy or concerned about privacy, you might want to check out our Incognito feature, which allows you to only be visible to people you have Liked first.

Thanks, and best of luck on OkCupid!

Sincerly,
OkCupid Support

Okcupid always be selling… They can take their incognito and stick it.

Worst thing is I can’t actually get a proper answer why the computer/algorithm says no. Love to know if its gotten it all wrong and why? I thought about making some changes but don’t fancy my account getting banned.

Great to see nothings really changed…

Every once in a while its a win win for all, except the algorithms

Tampon box in disabled loo

Every once in a while I like messing with the algorithms which rule our world. As Cory says in this critical piece, found via Ade,

Machine learning is fundamentally conservative, and it hates change. If you start a text message to your partner with “Hey darling,” the next time you start typing a message to them, “Hey” will beget an autosuggestion of “darling” as the next word, even if this time you are announcing a break-up.

This isn’t a new thing and I have to thank Miles who gave me the idea a long time ago to mess with the algorithms every once in a while.

Every once in a while, when I feel the recommendations are getting pretty good I buy something completely different. For example with Google I’ve done some very strange things, but the impact isn’t so clearly felt as with shopping algorithms.

Recently I bought tampons which were 2 for the price of 1 on Tesco online. I bought them because I wanted to screw up the algorithm but more importantly I wanted to support my female colleagues (extra special shout out to Jasmine) who have been fighting the good fight to provide women & girls with free sanitary products in BBC buildings. As they really should have!

Maybe this is a triple win, one for my colleagues, two for messing up Tesco’s recommendations and three for my pocket? What ever it is, I noticed Tesco recommendation now includes pointers to shampoo products which I certainly don’t need  but makes me laugh the algorithm is so easily manipulated.

Already planning similar on Amazon and Ebay…

So ironic being a Airbnb superhost again

Airbnb superhostI have no idea why but I was given superhost status again for my spare room which I open to Airbnb. I only raise this because its certainly not something I’m bothered about or will make a great deal of. I find it ironic as I was being told off by the airbnb algorithm not that long ago.

Manufacturing algorithmic good behaviour?

Taxi sign

I read that Uber is now going to start punishing users with low scores by cutting them off.

Uber is now requiring the same good behavior from riders that it has long expected from its drivers. Uber riders have always had ratings, but they were never really at risk of deactivation — until now. Starting today, riders in the U.S. and Canada are now at risk of deactivation if their rating falls significantly below a city’s average.

“Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability,” Uber Head of Safety Brand and Initiatives Kate Parker wrote in a blog post. “Drivers have long been required to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city. While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it’s the right thing to do.”

For drivers, they face a risk of deactivation if they fall below 4.6, according to leaked documents from 2015. Though, average ratings are city-specific. Uber, however, is not disclosing the average rider rating, but says “any rider at risk of losing access will receive several notifications and opportunities to improve his or her rating,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

This is another example of the insanity of  algorithmic telling off and the secrecy is stupid.

Airbnb telling off
Airbnb telling off for my 4.8 rating

Airbnb is still telling me off/trying to help with my score of 4.8/5 with 34 Total reviews and 76% 5 star reviews.

Mainly because I don’t accept most people into my flat. There’s no understanding about timing, workload, etc. In the algorithms view, everyone should be maximizing the amount of people using the flat. They keep trying to push auto-booking on me. I expect it will become a requirement one day and I’ll leave Airbnb as its completely unsuitable for me.

The whole idea of perfection is flawed and humans are never perfect. Sure Douglas Rushkoff has lots to say about this in #Teamhuman.

Update June 2nd

Talking of Uber, there was interesting piece in the Guardian around the same time, which could apply to Airbnb too. What is Uber? Forget the sharing economy – it’s just a libertarian scam.

 

Google apologizes again for bias results

Google once again was in hot water for its algorthim which meant looking up happy families in image search would return results of happy white famalies.

Of course the last time, Google photos classified black people as gorillas.

Some friends have been debating this and suggested it wasn’t so bad, but its clear that after a few days things were tweaked. Of course Google are one of many who rely on non-diverse training data and likely are coding their biases into the code/algorithms. Because of course getting real diverse training data is expensive and time consuming; I guess in the short term so is building a diverse team in their own eyes?

Anyway here’s what I get when searching for happy families on Friday 2nd June about 10pm BST.

logged in google search for happy families
Logged into Google account using Chrome on Ubuntu
incognito search for happy families
Using incognito mode and searching for happy families with Chrome on Ubuntu
Search for happy families using a russian tor and chromium
Search for happy families using a russian tor node on Chromium on Ubuntu

 

Sunspring: A movie written by algorithms

I don’t actually believe Adrian was the first to tell me about Sunspring, but I spent some time watching this morning.

Its certainly not the first time someone has spoke about algorithms and machine learning to create media. But its the first time I’ve actually seen something… well…ummm interesting of sorts?

I wouldn’t say it was hilarious, more weirdly uncomplete. The training material can be eviladanced in what you see but as it jumps around a lot. Its worth watching and I’d be interested in what happens when you got something more clearer and unique? However what I was really wondering is…

screenshot-2016-06-09-123615jpg

Were the camera angles, shots, special effects, music, mood and colour grading also written by the algorithms? Heck was the title? It doesn’t seem like it but who knows. I guess the bigger question is does it even matter? So much of our media is middle of the road and made for the biggest audience, in my own opionion of course. Would it make much difference?

Of course the most interesting ideas are using a combination of machine learning with human direction. But thats for another post…

The press feedback is varied…  best to go check it out for yourself

Exposing online dating lies with burritos

dating-against-humanity-46-638

It started as a April Fools’ Day Prank but it may have exposed something they never talk about online dating. The truth that the matching algorithms are actually rubbish

Almost every major dating site (including several Burrit-oh took a swipe at in a press release) touts the importance of sophisticated matching algorithms. They’re praised as the most effective way to pair people based on some “deeper” measure of interests or personality that guarantee “real” compatibility.

But Burrit-oh? Well, it’s anything but sophisticated. The algorithm is as basic as it gets, and it’s built on the flimsiest of foundations, and yet… users are still hitting it off. This supports the finding, long promoted by social scientists, that matching algorithms aren’t really science – they’re just good marketing. Behold, the unbeatable power of the burritos.

Burrit-oh, exposes the fact that once you connect people around something (burritos, beards, film tastes, journey to work, type of phone, almost anything) they find interesting (social object style). The chances they will fall for each other; birthday paradox style as much as the custom expensive algoithms. Aka those custom algorithms most of the dating sites go on about so much is bollox and what are you paying?

BBC Horizon explores how to find love online

dating-against-humanity-46-638

Its weird how things all seem to happen at once… First my TEDxManchester talk, then a chance enounter on BBC News 24 Live stream with LJ Rich, then me and Kate’s listening project recording is edited for Radio4. Now the BBC Horizon documentary about finding love online.

They were nice enough to tell us this afternoon via email, but I wasn’t sure I could blog it (nothing on their programme page or facebook page either) till I found it in the Radiotimes.

Update – The programme information page is up.

The internet has transformed every part of our lives and is now changing arguably the most important – our love lives. Internet dating is a cultural phenomenon and is now the second most common way that couples meet. But what is the best way to make the online search for love successful? What are the ‘matchmaking’ algorithms that the big companies use? Do they really deliver the goods, is it really clever marketing and actually a giant con – is there really any science?

Funny enough Mr30notsoflirty and Maren I met through the show filming (as you will find out soon, in a post I wrote straight after the filming). We were talking about the trailer on twitter, and Mr30 said he spotted, Mr30 and some other people. I watched a couple times and spotted myself! Scary stuff!

BBC Horizon dating experiment

So look out on Monday 25th April at 9pm – 10pm on BBC Two. It will be fancinating to see how its all crafted into a hour show and how much success they have in the matches compared to the Birthday paradox.

Hannah Fry the pressure is on…!

Lets change the world?

I won't change the world....

Its not unknown for me to say “Lets change the world

But Umair Haque writes about why this kind of thinking drives him up the wall.

Auughhh. Like yours, my skin crawls every time I hear it. “Changing the world” is the latest nails on the chalkboard of Modern Life…an eye-rolling platitude…a gut-churner of a buzzword…shouted daily by thousands of high-fiving business-class wannabes in chinos…the worst invention since the Company Theme Song.

Ebola? Who cares!! Dude!! We’ll call them emergency Ubers!! Climate change? Buddy, chillax!! We’ll send the flood victims tacocopters!! No life? No problem!! Everyone can have robo-friends!! They’re better than humans!! Unemployment? Let them Taskrabbit!! Who needs a career…an education…a life…when you can be a butler?!

Don’t worry, bro!! Dude!! Don’t you get it? Digitally connected superwatches will rescue us!! They’ll make us transcendent superbeings!! The Human Condition?! We’ll app our way out!! Glory be!! Hallelujah!! Sing it with me!! We’re not just here to make money, we’re…changing the world!!

I do see what he saying and his examples picking out the mentality of Uber, Taskrabbit, AirBnB and Tinder is spot on. Maybe the creative disruption these guys hide behind isn’t really creative disruption at all?

Think about it for a moment. Do you think Travis from Uber or the creepily misogynistic guys from Tinder “changed the world” more than Jonas Salk…Galileo…Einstein…Gandhi…Martin Luther King? Do you need a brain transplant…and asoul? Are you a dummy? There have always been billionaires, tycoons, hucksters. But there haven’t always been polio vaccines…cosmologies…theories of relativity…civil rights.

Those are the guys who really changed the world, and to be fair they didn’t shout creative disruption as they went about it.

Changing the world isn’t helping your bro find a date by coding an app. Changing the world isn’t feeding your frat house by building a tacocopter. Changing the world isn’t turning life into a perma frat party by making a shot that can fulfill all your daily nutritional needs.

Things that make people…butlers, chauffeurs, maids, courtesans…debtors, sharecroppers, zombies…don’t change anything. They are merely more of the same. They redeem no human suffering; enhance no human potential; spark no human accomplishment; transform no human being. They do not create anything truly worthy that might not have been otherwise. There is no greatness, nobility, goodness, justice, or truth in them. There is merely the same old ugliness, cruelty, despair, and self-deception that has always been.

I think what I took away from everything Umair wrote is the empowerment for all. Even I have been thinking a lot more about the gotchas when using Uber and even AirBnB. Everything is tied into an algorithm, how fast you reply, how slow, collecting and build reputation for you which you have no control over. Even when you decide to opt out, its a problem. This is all without even looking at the overall societal, social and humanity effect of dancing with algorithms (as I am now calling it).

Its all very good critique and quite a bit to think about next time I shout “lets change the world!

Dating, lies and algorithms the primeconf talk

The short talk I did for Primeconf is now live like most of the talks on the site. I blogged about the conference here already but its funny looking at the talk from a audience point of view. Not only because there is a 3min section which is dropped in to cover some technical problem, but also because I now notice the lack of smooth transitions between sections. Putting in the books as reference was somewhat missed too, which is a shame.

I didn’t know I was running over, as the mac timer said 6:50 mins when I finished. I certainly wouldn’t have elaborated on certain areas if I knew the time. Its always best to have a countdown clock somewhere very visible for speakers. Must remember to never trust a mac with keynote…¿

So as a whole and based on the fact it is a subset of a much deeper talk. Its not bad. It would be good to explore in more detail some of the sections and bring in some of the video evidence I have. But alas that’s for another day maybe…

Thanks again to Thayer and the prime team for the invite, the amazing venue and recording the talk. The other talks are well worth watching.

Freemium dating gone horrifically wrong

Online Dating for Bears

Lunch time at work is a interesting experience. Somehow we got into a discussion about online dating and Elizabeth asked me what kind of sites I’m on, out of curiosity. I mentioned I only do free dating sites and before you knew it we were on to a discussion about freenium dating sites vs paid sites.

The logic seems to conclude that a paid for sites would attract a better match, however in my own experience this is not true. Actually the opposite seems to apply, with the tricks the paid for dating sites pull on you. But we started wondering… If you were really evil or lack in moral judgment, what kind of things would you do?

Here’s some suggestions,

  1. Default all profiles would be ugly (there was a suggestion of green on brown with comic sans) unless you pay for colour changes and font faces changes.
    There would be a charge for every character over 320 characters (it was suggested 140 actually). Bit like plenty of fish’s extended profile.
  2. Depending on the time of the month certain words would cost less and more. Of course there would be a algorithm working out the most likely used words in profiles. But the cost would be reversed, as to charge the most for those words in their prime like selfie. Likewise Phrases go down in price depending on over use of the word across the site.
  3. There would only be allowed one photo like eBay use to have. More photos can be added at a cost of course. Oh and the one photo would be restricted to 256 colours and a size of 640×480. If you need colour, you can choose a animal photo which best represents you. One photo to impress… make it a good one.
  4. Messages can only be accessed on the site or the application. There will be strict limits of 10 meg storages and of course all messages will be monitored and fiddled with. So there will be no swearing, rude or lude content (lots of dating sites do this to kill off email and phone number exchange in messages). It would also have the right to change words and sentences to aid with communication. Well I say aid but expect all type of nonsense and mucking around.
  5. All messages will start at 200 characters maximum and grow by 10 characters based on the messages exchange. You
  6. Matching algorithms will be switch depending on paid membership. If you want the super-dooper algorithm you got to pay. And remember you have no idea how good it is till you try it out, at which you are offered the mega search for another upgrade in membership… Of course this time it includes advance options, thankfully. Okcupid already has multiple methods/algorithms for search and some are only accessible to paid members.
  7. Conditions for using the site is allowing the site to have access to your Facebook account. Not just for authentication but so it can read and write to your friends. If you want to stop the spamming, you need to pay for the yearly membership. Remember when Plaxo and many others did this to convince your friends to join?
  8. Don’t even get me started on adverts, you never seen adverts like this before, well maybe. Not only will you see them on the site, but also in your facebook timeline because you allowed us to do so, duhhh stupid…! Of course we could hijacking your cookies for even more fun, unless you pay the subscription money but that would be so… wrong!
  9. Feeling the pitch when it comes to the matches, well don’t worry most of them will be automated bots sent to lure you into paying even more or at least another few months of subscription. Hummm where did I hear this before?
  10. Of course our starred profiles will be ranked highly and you will need to digg through those before you get to the cheapskates. As a free user, you will have to do this with no sort and no option of how many users per page. Good luck with that…
  11. Did I forget to say, how our search doesn’t work correctly for free users. You will have to search through male and female users from all over the world till we can find a way to fix it. Of course paid users get access to the beta server which does support these (some people say) essential things.
  12. Random username allocation. Don’t like your username which was randomly given to you? Well if you pay the money, you can change it. Don’t pay, and you will have to put up with snugglemuffin666 or even snddjoidjidb81.

I could go on but frankly you go the picture. Some sounds a little crazy while others you may recognise from being on paid for dating sites. Free dating sites are rarer than they should be, but the freemium sites are going to be the next big thing. Don’t believe me? Look at Tinder.

Scratching at the online dating bubble

Freakonomics recently put up a podcast about online dating. I love the it the show and you know your in for a good show when someone says…

…if only everybody approached it like an economist would…

Online dating through the eyes of an economist is a very intriguing world indeed. But unfortunately not everyone does. In actual fact theres a well known phenomenon which happens when faced with love.

…being attracted to a person is a lot like being on drugs. The release of chemicals into our brain and body creates an altered mental state in which we both perceive and behave differently than we normally would..

But back to the Freakonomics podcast. The bulk of the show was dedicated to AaronCarterFan, who I have written about before.

Theres some nice juicy parts in the show including,

OYER: Okay, so as I look at what you’ve got here, well, before we even look at it we have to stop and think about the first thing an economist is going to do is think about supply and demand. So I don’t know if you realize this, but you’re in a great position. New York City is demographically more female than male. I’m not entirely sure why that’s true. Out here in San Francisco it’s the opposite. We have an oversupply of men relative to women, at least compared to other cities. New York City and Washington D.C. tend to swing much more towards more available women. So you’re in a good position from a competitive point of view. You’re providing a good, single, straight male, which is in relatively high demand. Now the other thing to keep in mind here is time is very much on your side. So you’re in a good position for two other reasons, and that is the male/female differential I just mentioned is going to swing much more in your favor over the next 10 years. So you’re under no pressure to hook up for a long-term relationship right now. So that’s one thing that’s good. The other thing is just more generally, aside from your gender, the fact that you’re 28 years old from an economist point of view means that you should be very picky. So you should be picky, you should be looking for a really good match. And the reason for that is suppose you do find just the right person, and get married and live happily ever after, well you’re in no rush to do that because you have, let’s just say 50 more years in which to enjoy the relationship you find if it’s a successful one. So when I was on the online dating market recently, you know, I’m much older than you are, and from a rational economic perspective, I should be less picky than you. I should be searching a little less carefully. I should be settling, settling is an important idea, it’s a very important idea to economists because of what we call search theory suggests that at some point you should realize that  having what you have is better than expending more resources to try to do better. And that’s more true when you’re my age, I’m 50 now, than when you’re your age, which is 28.

And the guys are right… no rush, be a picky, nothing worst that rushing into something which isn’t going anywhere.

Justin WOLFERS: The Internet has turned matching upside down. It used to be that you would find compatibility first and then learn more about someone else’s attributes. And now you see all the attributes and then you learn about compatibility later.

This is something which certainly makes things very different. I always say to people who say, its easy. Go find someone and your done. Well here’s the big difference… Attributes before Chemistry. We’re still grappling with this major shift, and to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it in these terms before. This is the internet’s effect on the way we meet. We truly do live in the age of algorithms, like it or not!

Even the likes of Speed dating, Singles party’s, etc are holding to a somewhat dying tradition?

What you want to remember in your profile is that you want to be very upfront and forthcoming in anything that is what an economist would call a coordination game. It’s where our interests are aligned and as long as we have the right information we’re going to make the right decision. So in my case I was very upfront and forthcoming in my profile about the fact that I had a large and badly behaved golden retriever, and the fact that I have two teenaged children. Because if somebody was against those things, then those were deal breakers. And in your case, you want to be honest about the fact that you’re a public radio producer because on the one hand that’s very attractive to some people, but it also indicates that you’re not going to be rich, at least in the short term. You don’t want anybody who wants you just for your money, either because you don’t like those types of people or because even if you do you’re not going to get them once they have the information anyway.

This for me is an argument why you need to be honest on your profile. Its not about attracting everyone but the right people for you. Define your dealbreakers too. Although I joke I wouldn’t date someone who shopped in Aldi, its not really a deal breaker. I would have to wonder about their taste buds when it comes to fruit and veg, but its no deal breaker. A deal breaker is someone who drinks to get drunk all the time, dabbles with hard drugs, strong right wing views, can’t think deeper than what the soaps are showing.

Of course deal breakers can change, for example a while ago a deal breaker was having a child. Not because I have anything against kids, but I just wasn’t ready for that. And I’d rather be upfront about that. Hence on my profile it says…

I have little time for the mainstream garbage of pop music/fashion/celeb driven nonsense.

I removed the sorry if that winds you up part. As I’m not sorry, it was never going to be…

The podcast or the transcript is worth a listen/read, theres some great down to earth advice for online daters and all from people who look at the hidden side of everything. Of course I’m very tempted to write them a email asking them to look at other parts of the online dating world including the crack of the dating, the 3day trial.

Perceptive Media isn’t about algorthms alone

BBC Perceptive Radio

From the Independent today… something which sounds like a episode of Black Mirror

The most cunning trick of the internet is that, with the help of some clever algorhythm-tracking piece of technology, it follows  our online behaviour and reflects  it back to us in the browsing choices it offers.

Dismayingly, radio may soon be playing the same game. A new invention called the Perceptive Radio, unveiled at the recent Thinking Digital Conference, is said to be able to respond to the kind of device listeners are using and to where they live. It will then adapt its output to include, for example, mentions of their local town, or the weather outside.

The aim, according to the team behind Perceptive Radio, is to provide “a more immersive experience” and, it almost goes without saying, to encourage diversity.

It sounds creepy to me. The very last thing I want from my radio is that it is customised to me and reflects my own world. True diversity lies in difference, not similarity.

Terence Blacker misses the fact Perceptive Media isn’t about algorithms alone. Its about giving the storyteller freedom to tell stories which make sense to the audience at the time. It also considers the space and place where the story is being told.  It doesn’t simply reflect your world back at you. I would say its a very lazy writing to do so, you also fall into the trouble of the mediabubble theory and finally how do you cover a group or audience?

Luckily Bex jumps in with a comment…

Interesting re ‘Perceptive Radio’. I was at the launch at Thinking Digital, and went to the lunchtime session as had somewhat of the impression that you give here – that it would become yet another ‘echo chamber’ – something I’m always seeking to avoid – but it seems more about intelligent reactions (e.g. volume changes if you’re singing along), and augmented information dependent upon location. I’m sure as with all other tech, can choose to enable, customise or disable..

Perceptive Media is smarter than machine algorithm alone. It empowers the scriptwritter and storyteller…