Data portability in online dating sooner than they think?

Dating Apps make money from attention & personal data

I have written a few times about disruption in online dating, heck its something which will be discussed at Mozilla Festival this year (tickets are available now).

But interestingly the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation may get in there ahead of any setup/network disruption. In the Guardian I saw a piece called Getting your data out of Tinder is really hard – but it shouldn’t be.

Its all about getting data back from Tinder (which remember is part of IAC/Match group)

…Duportail eventually got some of the rest of her data, but only on a voluntary basis, and only after she identified herself as a journalist. Her non-journalist friends who followed suit never got responses to similar requests.

Finally armed with the 800 pages she had clawed back from Tinder, Duportail wrote a story reflecting on her own relationship with her data, and the myopic view Tinder had of her love life. I feel her story helps bridge the chasm between those with information stored in the database and the architects behind it, providing much needed neutral common ground to democratically discuss power distributions in the digital economy.

Given the popularity of her story, and my overflowing inbox, I would say many agree. And indeed, you should expect more similar stories to be unearthed in the future because of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). From May 2018, the new European-level regulation will come into force, claiming wider applicability – including on US-based companies, such as Tinder, processing the personal data of Europeans – and harmonising data protection and enforcement by “levelling up” protections for all European residents.

I know there is a lot of push back from the big American internet corps, but this is coming and the there is no way they can wriggle out of it?

…beyond the much older right of access, the true revolution of GDPR will come in the form of a new right for all European citizens: the right to portability.

It seems like such a small thing but actually it has the potential to be extremely disruptive. Heck its one of the things I wanted back in early 2011. Imagine all those new services which could act like brokers and enable choice! It could be standard to have the ability to export and import rich data sets like Attention profile markup language (APML).

I just wish we were staying in Europe, although the UK has agreed to take GDPR, thankfully! There was no way, if they were left on their own, this would ever come about; like it looks like it might.

OkCupid without the explicit data?

I was reading through OKCupid’s interview on the Wall Street Journal. I highlighted a few things which got me thinking about whats wrong with OKCupid.

WSJ: Could you explain the “substance over selfies” focus?

MR. SEIDMAN: If you look at what we have seen in online dating in the past four to five years, there is a huge increase in speeding up: Let’s get people to go faster, let’s get people to spend more consideration over booking a restaurant on OpenTable tonight than choosing someone to connect with on an app.

We said, we are actually going to double down on what is fundamentally true for a large part of people dating, which is, I want to meet someone based on who they are, not what they look like. One of the ways we do that is during sign-up we take you through a minimum of 15 iconic OkCupid questions. These go through religion, culture, sex and gets to what you are like.

Our questions emulate what is happening in the real world, like a conversation you would have at a bar or dinner party.

There are a lot of people who have strongly held beliefs but no overlap, and we don’t want to waste their time. We push people into not just answering these questions but creating profiles that are more than just their photos. The real issue now is, how do we make that easy and enjoyable on a mobile phone?

We recently renamed our swiping product from Quickmatch to Doubletake, because we realized the name doesn’t support the values of our community: We don’t want people to be quick, we want them to be slow. We look at it proactively through the lens of product and marketing, so when you get to OkCupid it’s clear it’s the place for you.

Nice in theory but as I pointed out a few times, the days of when people would spend time filling in the questions; has kind of gone. Even OkCupid doesn’t really put any emphases on the questions. Instead they seem to be pushing for more implicit data collection. Which leads you to a place where swiping left and right works in favor of both parties I guess? Although I obviously have a total distaste for this mechanism.]

Ok Cupid's top bar in mid 2017

The mobile app and website are more similar but its interesting to see the questions pushed to the far right of the page now. Even the top menu now is just Browse Matches, Double Take and Purchase A-list.

So my take away thought especially with the recent changes around visitors is frankly this whole thing about creating a community around online dating, is just PR nonsense.

Match group in full effect, time to rethink online dating

Stop Screwing with okcupid

It was a while since OKCupid was bought by Match group/IAC. They then went on to buy POF, Tinder and others.

OkCupid one of my top dating sites has finally dropped a key feature which for me was one of the defining features.

On Friday, online dating service OkCupid introduced its biggest change since its 2009 paid “A-List” add-on package. Starting today, the site’s users no longer see a major data point that has been standard for nearly a decade: the “visitors” tab.

“What’s the value of a visitor?” the company wrote in an e-mail to users. “Short answer: zero.” However, that valuation is shaken up by a follow-up sentence, and it may explain why the Match.com-owned company made the change. “A person who visits your profile and chooses not to follow up with a ‘like’ or a message probably (read: definitely) isn’t worth your time.”

The Visitor feature was key because it allowed you to see if someone visited your profile. Its a really nice feature and useful to understand if someone is interest or not. (there is a way to opt out if you are worried about this feature of course, but you don’t get to see who looked at you).

In short, a user could look through and see who looked at them, which is a potentially quicker path to determining who out there might have actually tapped “like” on you. (Without real-life cues like body language, online dating users can benefit from round-about paths to finding potential interest. As an occasional OkCupid user over the years, I can attest to appreciating any cues beyond seeing what happens when I send awkward, unsolicited “HI HOW ARE YOU” messages.)

Today (Saturday 29th July 2017 1300 BST) I haven’t received the email or the link to visitors is still there in my app and the site.

The statement from OKCupid is such bollox and clearly a sign they want more people to pay them for the A-list (premium service) which will get the feature of course.

I have used the visitor feature when sending a message and seeing if the woman is maybe interested or not. Generally if she looked at my profile, after I sent her the email. Then its very likely shes just not interested in me and thats fine. Its a good indicator rather than the like feature which leads towards a tinder like system.

I also tend to get about 5-7 visitors a week which is a nice place to look for potential matches.

Thus, OkCupid’s statement doesn’t necessarily add up. If a person visits your profile and does follow up with the “like” button, they just might be worth your time, and a “visitor” tab would let you tap “like” in kind and find out. But as of today, OkCupid now only has one option to reveal that information: A-List subscriptions, which cost $19.95 per individual month or $59.70 as a six-month bundle. (“A-List Premium” was introduced years later with an additional $15/month charge and more features.) Free users still “pay” for the site via advertisements, which A-List users can disable.

Once I saw this, I did look at the OKCupid EULA for changes and of course the site.

While OkCupid’s public-facing blog is typically transparent about changes, features, and site-driven research, the company elected to only inform users about this visitor-tab change via e-mail. OkCupid did not respond to Ars Technica’s questions about the changes in time for this article’s publication.

Suspect stuff… or a clear sign the match take over is in full effect now.

John from M14 industries asked how many features have they really got left?

RIP okcupids journals

He’s right really…

I think it is time to look elsewhere, as the original OkCupid idea died a long while ago and there is little which makes it better than POF (another Match group site!). At least they still have the visitor option (currently!)

All this drives my thoughts about decentrialised dating again. If I wanted to leave how would I take my profile? Could I take all those questions and answers I spent much time answering? I have had a task for a long while to make my okcupid profile public or duplicate it on a public platform I can control.

The best thing is there is a proposal which went into Mozilla Festival from the ever capable Evan Prodromou about this exact issue.

I realize it seems trivial to people thinking only of press freedom, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Almost all major dating sites are owned by a single company (Match.com). It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems are fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.

He is dead right!

Some people, especially those married or in long-term relationships; but they have no idea the personal nature of the data being shared and mined by pretty much one corporation which just wants to toy with you and your life. I called it Endemic corruption and I wasn’t mixing my words.

There is an opportunity for something far better and much more useful…

Updated…

I looked at OkCupid tonight and found the notice saying…

We’ve removed visitors so you can focus on better connections
Without the distraction of visitors, you can focus on the people who really want to get to know you. And when you’re focused on those people, your chances of higher quality connections improves.

As I said in a follow up tweet, this is such a load of crap! The justification is just a joke and their blog is lacking in actual data.

So one last time before they took the feature away, I was able to grab a snapshot… Goodbye OkCupid visitors

goodbye OKcupid visitors

Misunderstanding dating apps from a far

"i saw you on tinder" Trastevere 2014

Tinder, tinder, Bloody Tinder!

Even now people keep going on about Tinder…

In the past I have been pretty down on Tinder and to be fair I still am, but its true people do meet, hit it off and even get married via Tinder. Of course I say the Birthday paradox is in play.

dating-against-humanity-48-638

The thing I keep hearing from people (usually in relationships) is tinder IS dating apps. When I tell them there is a new dating app/service every month, they never believe me. At a party on the weekend I tried to put into words why I use OkCupid and recommend other services over Tinder (yes I know they are owned by the same people).

The point I made is that unless you both swipe right, you can’t talk or get to know each other. Thats ignoring the fact men are more likely to swipe right, profiles are mainly pictures with little text and you can’t see the next person (grass is always greener beyond the swipe) unless you make a decision one way or another (gamification).

I insist the system of tinder encourages or even dictates playful interactions. This is fine if you like playing but not ideal if not. Its clear people are using Tinder to fill their time when bored or playing around with friends.

The tinder/hot or not system is setup that way, and the human behaviour follows suit. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can work the other way but Tinder is strongly built with this mentality in mind. I am reminded of addiction by design, simple as this – tinder is built to maximum shallow activity. There’s no other way around that unless you pay them money.

Other services have similar systems (OkCupid has likes, POF has meetme, etc) but each one of theses have the ability to just see a user and message them. This subverts the tinder behavior but requires more effort like getting over your fear of rejection.

The key point I’m making is each service is different and requires a different way to look at it. For example Bumble although it does have the hot or not dynamic, the system is set up to give the women the control. As a result the behavior of the users is quite different?

It’s a mistake to think of Tinder as the de-facto dating app. It would be like thinking McDonalds was the de-facto of restaurants from those who are vegan!

Now that’s one scary thought, I think we would all agree?

I won’t even dig into why all these people with partners always want to get wrapped up in their single friends lives? Thats best left alone…

This is what disruption of online dating looks like?

202. Girl
Be on the lookout, distruption could be around the corner

Elisa of queekd.com recently challenging me about my thoughts on online dating, especially after watching my TedXManchester talk about the same subject.
I concluded that the dating industry needed a serious kick up the backside and the only way this is going to happen is if you change the model. I then mentioned what P2P protocols did to media sharing. Instead of centralisation, you can have a more decentralised and even a distributed approach to online dating.

Easily said, but what do I mean?

I was trying to find examples of what I meant but it’s very difficult googling for them as they get lost in a sea of other stuff, some of it very weird.

There was a period when a whole bunch of sites with domain names like…

youshoulddatejo.com, smartandhandsomeian.com and samwantstodateyou.com etc… (not real sites of course) Were the rage for a short while, they would pop up now and then. These people without knowing it could have changed the dating field. They all seemed to contain similar elements and it wouldn’t take long for someone or myself to modify microformat hresume into a hDating microformat (I’m not going to talk about Microdata or RDF/A as its outside the scope of this post, but yes to both). semantically rich data published on the web as way to bring a distribution model to online dating.

Steven Pemberton @ TWAB2010
Why you should have a website

I am always reminded of Steven Pemberton‘s XTech 2008 talk, Why you should have a Web Site.

The nice man from the BBC filmed it and put it online. “Provocative and contentious” said one reviewer, who later said “I should never have doubted Steven Pemberton” and “Steven Pemberton was right”. Another said “The crowd completely disagreed. In hindsight he could not have been more correct.” and “grows more relevant with each passing year”. Text of the talk here.

Steven was talking about the advantages of machine-readable Web Pages and his point knocks right at door of the walled gardens of the social networks. Swap social networks of facebook, instagram, etc for Match.com, EHarmony, OkCupid, etc’s walled gardens… and you got the same problem and same solutions?

Online dating has taken all its bad habits from social networks and to be fair most of the social networks have learned from online dating in the same way. I once talked about dataportability in online dating and to be fair everybody laughed.

But imagine if profiles were part of the public internet? When I mean public, I mean not hidden away behind a walled garden (hidden/private web). Because really what are you paying for, if you are paying at all?

I can hear you panic or even laugh… Here’s questions which might be crossing your mind

Friend of a Friend project (FOAF)
Think FoaF for dating
  • I don’t want my profile to be public!
    This is fine, I understand some rather not be so open about their status. It doesn’t have to be connected with the rest of your online profiles by the way (this is down to you)
    It doesn’t necessarily need your name or even a public photo of you (there are many ways to verify someone without such information, think about what PGP, GPGP Escrow services, Ebay, Airbnb, etc do). Also like FoaF you can even hash or encrypt parts to avoid spam, catfishers, stalkers, etc. Maybe hide parts of your dating identity till its required. Theres endless possibilities, which I haven’t even explored.
  • How do I message or email someone, and what happens if things go south?
    South meaning, things start breaking up or you want to stop them messaging you. This is a partly solved problem. There no need to have you’re real email address. Services can step in and provide emails or instant messaging solutions which expire or forward on transparency. It could also be done with a standard protocol and encrypted for further privacy. Off the Record already does this, for goodness sake lets not build new protocols (badly or jokey) to do already solved stuff! (Yes this is what most dating sites are doing now)
  • How do I trust what I am seeing or reading?
    The same is true of most dating sites now, how do you know the picture isn’t a catfish, they really are the body shape they say or show? How do you know the picture isn’t 10 years ago? All the dating site/service is really offering you is access to single people (not that is always true of course)
    This is where the idea of a blockchain for online dating could come in quite useful, to verify with reputation, but if you don’t trust the technology. You can opt for something else… or even build your own! You only have to look at the people who have hacked OkCupid (Amy Webb and Chris McKinlay’s). Imagine what they could do if not restricted to the wall garden and the systems they could write for the rest of us.
  • But its easier to pay the money and sit safely within the closed garden?
    Safely…? Total illusions. But yes its easier, but you are limited by how much you are willing to pay. The open way you can have access to many more profiles, better ways to filter them and theoretically better solutions which you can share with friends.
    This way also puts more emphasis on you to do work, but I can imagine systems and services like wordpress, medium, squarespace, etc doing the heavy lifting for you.
  • How would I search?
    You don’t think some startup will jump into this arena? If not one of the big search giants?! The beauty is if you feel one is better than the other, you can easily switch. No rubbish claims, which can’t be verified. Just imagine when gocompare/money supermarket get involved to show you the best sites to find what you seek. Or imagine crowd sourcing this all.
  • But dating site x’s algorithm is great
    Don’t worry there will be multiple services jumping over each other for your money, data or other things to prove they are the one you should use. Some will be highly manual, some will be heavily automated. Currently there is no urgency to fix, innovate or try something different. Its not all bad news for dating services, they can run their magic algorithms on the public data set.
  • But my dating service offers X, Y and Z.
    Thats nice but have you thought how effective X, Y and Z actually are? Are they a distraction or actually making dating life better? Regardless… there is the perfect opportunity to have a ecosystems of services blossom and offer unique services on top of the open, machine readable profile network.
Future of Fabrication
Distributed models are sustainable?

Think about the way search engines innovated on the structured data and offered better matches as a result. The important part is, if you don’t like what a certain service is doing  or how they treat you, you can just move elsewhere without the fear of loosing access to that person still.

Interestingly OkCupid allows you to make your profile public (very few do), so you could see it without logging in. For example, https://www2.okcupid.com/profile/beach-s?cf=regular. I have considered making my profile public before but theres not quite enough benefit to me currently. OkCupid use it as a marketing tool and there’s little you can do once you view it. Its clear OkCupid was setup to break some of the legacy behind online dating but when they sold to the Match group, that drive to change things changed focus.

Me with Canvas
Ownership?

What I’m suggesting is similar but on your terms. There are other advantages such as having access to the biggest market of daters, personalised choice, better tools than one dating site can/want to create, bespoke advice and guidance from people who really give crap. This could issue in a new era in the art of match making!

But it doesn’t stop there, oh I’ve just scratched the surface. I feel a lot of the endemic corruption in online dating is due the centralised model.

Imagine if you could aggregate that profile into the legacy dating services. Almost a IFTTT recipe or Atomkeep? to update parts of your legacy profile on a schedule or manual push.

You could allow tinder to use one photo, OkCupid to upload 4-6 photos and a deeper description, Match.com only my photos marked professional and the deeper description.

What I’m talking about is Vender relationship management applied directly on to online dating, putting the users in control.

All is possible if you rethink the current setup. unfortunately the controlling companies (MATCH group currently own 27% plus of the online dating market and they own, OkCupid, POF, Tinder and many more) have zero interest in changing much. On top of that daters seem quite lazy and less interested in working for dates?

As you can imagine, there isn’t much in this area but I did find fermat. Its a p2p matching platform. I have yet to really look and see if its doing things how I would imagine

Blockchains for online dating?

Thinking Digital 2016 Newcastle

I was listening to Sarah Meiklejohn from UCL talking Blockchains at Thinking Digital Newcastle 2016. I tweeted an idea I’ve been thinking about for a while…

Blockchains for online dating… The crux of a blockchain or a distributed ledger is a way to encourage trust in a sensible networked way. Chris asked…

So here is some logic behind my thinking… I’m doing that dyslexic trait of having to reverse explain how I got to where I am at; although I recognise not the only one thinking about this.

There is a problem with online dating (not pointing to the white elephant in the room, as I have many times before); how do you know who you are contacting is really who they say they are? This has given rise to not only the 419 scams, catfishing but also sexortation scams. Also most of the research/hacking (amy webb/chris mckinlay) has been done through the loop-hole of people being able to just fire up (you can automate this, I’ve witnessed scripts) another profile.

There has been questions in the past why online dating sites haven’t done more to protect their users? Some of the Asian dating sites have started to verifiy their users, others are following, Tinder did so for celebs and even Badoo just launched photo vertification. Each is a very clunky solution and usually an after thought added on.

How about if you could see the interactions between the people on the dating site? There actions verify who they are, the patterns speak volumes. Want to send the same messages out to 1000 people, go ahead but we (all) will see. Currently that data is only accessible by the owners of the site/service. Would that be a step too far into radical transparency?

Would that influence the way people interact? Knowing the interactions (not the actual messages/content) were publicly logged and could be looked at by anybody in the site?

One of the things I quite like about OKCupid & POF is the notion of the visitor. basically you can see everybody (unless they are paid members and turn off the visitor option). I quite like this because it makes you more careful about who you click on and view, knowing they will see this too. But with a public ledger system, others could see this too. This would solve my issue when trying to find the most popular person on OKCupid and throws up the question Hannah Fry talked about in a TED talk about finding love with mathematics and I experienced at MOSI.

Too many steps forward? Ok how about we hide the end points, like in a traditional blockchain system. You don’t see the interactions but you do get stats about how many times that person has fired out messages, what kind of reaction they got, etc.

Basically blockchain or distributed network ledgers could tweak human behaviour slightly towards something more positive for everybody? It’s an idea but something I’d like to see tried at the very least, expecially because its a total wild west out there right now.

Some accountability for some of our actions, isn’t a bad thing I have to say.

OkCupid founder on online dating…

dating-against-humanity-31-638

I almost choked on my coffee this morning at breakfast while reading what Christian Rudder – co-founder and former CEO of OkCupid, Harvard alumnus and author of Dataclysm. Wrote about the online dating industry…

Dating is rough. That’s why there are always so many dating startups: Because users of dating startups are always like, ‘God, this thing is broken, I’m going to fix it.’ What they don’t realize is that dating itself is the thing that’s kind of horrible and no app is ever going to fix that.

Interesting take on the problems related to online dating… although I still think the dating industry is endemiclily corrupt. Dating is very rough, I agree but I think its over shadowed by the lies and false promises of the industry which capitalise on this. Of course this is what I think but… I’d love to ask Christian directly what he thinks?

Can you pay me back for the Coffee? #OcadoAndChill

date @ simone's 2324

When Hannah sent me a link to the metro piece about one of the bloggers I follow a bit

Basically person A meets person B, things don’t go so well on the chemistry front. Person A decides things to call it a night or go home. Person B goes away then a few days later, contact Person A wanting compensation in return.

Here’s the story as my date told me

My mystery into who pays on the first date stemmed from a journal I wrote on OkCupid when I went on a date with a previous woman. She had made a bit of a song and dance about paying and I kind of innocently wondered, out loud. I do wonder sometimes if I should wonder a little quieter. This time my post on OkCupid caused a small flurry of comments and discussion (and I guess more dates).

My date brought up who pays on the first date and we natter away about that date. However My date told me a story which literally made my chin drop for ages.

On her previous date, she had gone after a bit of chat back and forth. The man had come across quite strongly and My date decided to give him a chance anyway. On the date he wasn’t really make a good impression, and when the bill came she offered to pay half. The man didn’t think this was a good idea and insisted on paying for the whole thing. My date said again, she was willing to go dutch and split the bill. Again the man insisted to pay for everything. Feeling like she may have insulted his inner ego, she backed down and let him pay.

The man walked her to her bus stop and suggested another date should be on the cards. My date righly said maybe she will see. The next day he called her to see how she was and about the second date. She broke it to him nicely, there wasn’t any chemistry and there wasn’t going to be another date sorry. His answer back was frankly shocking…

He said WHAT? I couldn’t believe it… I felt like I had misheard My date in the low level buzz of Bakerie.

“He said he wanted his money back!”

Yes the man My date had last dated wanted his money back after My date had offered to have pay half orginally.

My date must have sat there looking at my face of shock and horror for about 5mins. Every once in a while I would repeat her words again… “he wanted his money back?”

Both are pretty shocking to be honest even in the face of Dating awkwardness.

As nobaddatesjustgoodstories says,

I don’t come with a money back guarantee. Dates aren’t commodities.

I actually felt angry, because as you’ll know if you read this blog often, I am a massively big believer in women always offering to pay for dates.

His response is just beyond me!

Absolutely… I can not even imagine what it must be like to be treated like this.

However my date had a very good reply, one that was genius…

After a while we broke up in laughter, when it had all sunk in and I could ask what happened next?

My date was a strong willed woman and I just knew that couldn’t be the end of the story. It wasn’t… She told me.

She explained how hurt she felt but she thought on her feet and told him, to send his address to her and she will send him a cheque for the exact amount of the money to the penny.

Oh my date was good! I commented to her… Yes she continued. And I have not heard anything from him since.

I pretty much fell back and clapped my hands, attracted a few glances around the Bakerie environment. “Amazing!”

My date was amazing, and what a story. I thought my dates were bad but she had taken the biscuit, put cheese on top and eaten it whole.

This is only one chapter out of a collection of stories in a book/blog keep meaning to make public… Maybe its about time?

When Tinder met Vanity, we all got popcorn and watched

TechCrunch Disrupt Europe: Berlin 2013 (Day 2)
…at the helm of the company that’s changing society in ways they can’t stop, or even fathom because they’re right in the middle of it. Scary.

Tinder (which I have written about and am now somewhat convinced will be seen as a bad bad joke in many years time) was recently written about in Vanity Fair and… Oh dear, tinder took to twitter to complain!

The best deconstruction of the whole thing comes from David Evans over at onlinedating insider.

I couldn’t even bring myself to finish the VF article. Story after story about relationship-challenged New Yorkers. Men in New York treat women terribly and brag about it in Vanity Fair. Wow, you don’t say?

The VF article is a retread of a topic that’s been beaten to death by the media and dating bloggers for almost two years, but VF decided to hang out with a bunch of New Yorkers who rack up Tinder sex-mates like there’s no tomorrow and talk to them like they are adults or something. The writer clearly emerged from a cave last week and the first thing they did was go on a Tinder date and now she’s scarred for life.

Tinder is simply a throw back to old skool dating (when it was al about looks and not the personality), but it doesn’t stop a whole host of articles, posts and shows being written about it… even in mid 2015! Tinder has become the symbol of our misogynist culture much like how the game was a few years ago?

“It’s an eye-opener and validation of a woman’s worst fear. The guys are swiping right to hook up and it’s all just a game.” Give me a break. The women who enable men to behave this way are just as complicit in the degradation of modern courtship as Tinder is. And Tinder is at the bottom of the pile, along with Ashley Madison.

Add gamification and repeat

The gamification of online/social dating can be scary stuff which I’ll cover in my TedX Talk early next year… Don’t miss it, its going to be pretty wild…! Ironiclly it will be on Valentine day, so expect a blood path of broken hearts and trashed dreams

Its so clear there is a problem, as many people including Sherry Turkle and even comedian Aziz Ansari’s modern romance, identifies. They wonder about current social impact of not just its users but on the mating process as a whole!

David really gets into to the metric problem of the throw away action of a swipe.

What is the equivalent of a right-swipe on a dating service? Replied to emails? If I email you and you email me back, that’s a match. Sam Yagan at Match told me that years ago. Back when he was the Co-founder of OkCupid, and they always said Match wasn’t worth the money and nobody should have to pay for a dating site

…Tinder’s definition of a match as two people physically moving their fingers about a quarter of an inch to the right compared with writing and responding to emails. Comparing swipes to responded-to emails is ridiculous; they’re not even comparable. But we’re talking about Tinder here, so anything goes.

How about this. Whenever two people like or favorite each other’s photos on a dating service, they are a match. Is that comparable to Tinder mutual swipes? I don’t know and I really don’t care anymore. And neither does anyone else, because all I read about in the media are stories about people on Tinder hooking up three times a week and 25 million matches a day.

He’s right, no body is really thinking about what the metrics mean when  writing about Tinder. It might as well be 25 millions acorns! There is so much more David writes in the post but I love the ending line, and I’m really starting to agree (even though I know a few friends who have successfully had serious relationships via tinder)…

Tinder is the worst thing to ever happen to the online dating industry. End of story.

Match, OkCupid, Tinder and now POF?

Swallow your fish

Big news on the online dating scene… The picture above sums it up

The Match Group, the global operator of digital dating products such as Match, Tinder, OkCupid and Meetic), and a subsidiary of IAC, announced today that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase PlentyOfFish for US$575 million in cash.

Yes if you didn’t already know IAC own Match, Okcupid, Tinder and now Plenty of Fish.

Plenty of fish has had its ups and downs… but $575 million isn’t bad for a dating service which was independently run and managed. Remember Instagram was sold to Facebook for just under double that at $1billion, which goes to show.  The community aspects certainly made it stand out from the rest and this was emulated by some of the others. While the freenium approach back then was quite unique.

Cheers Chris for the heads up

Dating after a long relationship

Chess on the High Line

Lifehacker has a well reasoned piece about returning to dating at a older age. Its something nobody really wants to think about, married and happy then things go wrong. Before long you are separated or divorced and you are pondering what to do.

For me I decided to get back into dating as its very easy to slip into a endless cycle of regret and depression. To be fair I wasn’t really dating much beforehand just like the Thorin.

I’ve always felt dating was a weird experience in general, but somehow, coming back to it in the last few years feels different. I was married for several years in my late 20s, so I missed out on the earlier days of online dating sites. It was also a much more carefree time, when if you liked someone, that was enough. But now that I’m in my 30s, the rules and expectations are completely different—making it a lot harder to get back in the game.

I have said it before many times, this is why when talking to people in long term relationships, its hard to explain why things are different now.

…you have billions of other human beings at your fingertips through a variety of channels. As always, you can hit up bars, clubs, and shows. You can venture off to parties and barbecues. You can also go online and have access to loads of single people in your area. It’s a far cry from even high school, when your dating pool was largely pretty much your friends and their friends.

Online dating gives you more options than ever. Not just in people, but in sources. Dating sites like OkCupid, Tinder, Match, eHarmony, and Plenty of Fish all give you access to other single people in a matter of seconds.

I have a talk inside of me all about this and much much more. I gave a 10min overview at Best of British, which you can watch on youtube.

There are some really good points raised

The Deal Breakers Have Changed, and They’re Much Bigger Deals.
Yes the deal breakers are serious now, if something isn’t right for you. There are enough other people to give try. There is the downside to this of course, paradox of choice and people seeking the greener grass on the other side.

The “Game” Is Different, and Bluntness Is King
No body likes time-wasters and you need to be blunt and to the point otherwise things will drag on.  It doesn’t mean you have to be super rude, just honest and direct. People will thank you for it deep down, even if its painful at first. Of course you got get a think skin and be prepared for honest and direct feedback too. This is why getting over the fear of rejection is so important.

Inside the mind of a catfish

Its funny most people haven’t really heard of the term Catfish. I wrote about the term a while ago and mentioned it a few times in passing.

Now you don’t become the wikipedia of online dating without bumping into a few here and there. But I have been lucky to never really fallen for it, but I have been known to play along waiting for the moment when they suggest I give something up. Be it money, photos, phone number, address, etc.

I quite enjoy fishing the catfishers, trying to get into there minds about why they do it. There’s certainly warning signs, just like the scams. In my experience its started with a message out of the blue like “How are you?”, “You like what you see?”, “hey daddy!”, etc

Before long they try and move away from the original platform to something more free like text message, snapchat, facebook, etc. Most of those other platforms don’t really have the protections of the original, and you have to tell them something about you. For example the latest catfish suggested a number of ways to keep the conversation going. Usually romantic or dirty talk, nude pictures, etc.

I did the usual googling, image search, etc to see if I could find where things are coming from. But found nothing, it was actually Chris which found and linked the pictures to the twitter account.

With my latest catfish, we moved to Facebook but messaged only in the other inbox (aka I never added her as a friend). Lots of pictures were shared from a glamour model with the same name (NSFW! Thanks Chris), but I shared not a single thing.

Unlike most catfish, there was a push to hook up quickly. This kind of surprised me, and I agreed to meet up. Outside Tesco metro supermarket in Salford Quays (weird location but there was no way I was going to director her to my flat, she/he suggested it). Unlike other times before, I thought I’d better inform people just in-case.  Anyway the long and short of it, was I popped by Tesco with Chris and nobody showed up.

I thought there would be a no show (she/he/it never replied to messages after yesterday) I assume the fun was done. But to be fair in the past, when they have turned up and sometimes we’ve had a fascinating discussion about why they lied and used somebody elses profile.

It is a shame I didn’t get the chance to find out who was behind the scenes but they have been blocked and reported now. Like I should have done, many of you are saying instead of entertaining there warped scene of fun.

I did elude to this happening before multiple times (you will be surprised how many messages) . Usually I find there stolen/ripped pictures or trip them up on something. One such time was with a woman I’ll call Cat. I found her pictures easily enough and started calling her a scammer. She got very defensive and I convinced her to meet in a public place.

Here’s a extract from my ever elusive fictional book…

We met up in Piccadilly Station. As you can imagine, she was nothing like her profile pictures. I could have had the pleasure of telling her so over and over again but it didn’t seem right. I asked her how she was going to pull off the fact she was nothing like her profile suggested. She said she was so frustrated by me calling her a scammer and she decided to meet.

She was overweight, young and had a friend in tow. She was like one of those girls you see hanging out with skater guys at the park. Over baggy clothes, piercings, slightly frumpy with a bag load of self confidence issues.

I wanted to rip into her about using someone else’s identity but I just couldn’t do it. She was young, foolish and her friend even more so. After a cup of coffee, a pastry and a quick talking to it was time to leave her and her friend to it.

Simon suggested I could seek out catfish but unlike the MTV show, offer support and get into the meat of why they do it. I’m obviously not the man for that but its a interesting thought anyway. Although I do worry some people can’t help themselves, not that counts as a excuse!

The science of popularity in dating

I recently watched Hannah Fry: The mathematics of love and I thought it was fascinating, especially the part about beauty, which is taken almost directly from OKCupid’s mathematics of beauty.

It was only a few weeks before I ended up  at the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) in Manchester, on their evening sexology event. They had a number of free talks about sex related topics but they also had speed dating.

It’s speed dating, but not as you know it. Although we can’t reveal the exact details of this experiment, you can combine romance with research in this one-of-a-kind speed dating night. It’s fast, fun and you might just find love…

Let's Talk About Sex

The speed dating was like the many times I have been before but this time, there was a number of small differences and a big twist which reminded me of the mathematics of love/beauty.

Unlike other speed dating events, we only got to meet/date 8 women in total. Everybody also moved around each time. I thought I spotted the twist by the women I met (most were from the University of Manchester or MOSI staff), I was expecting something along the lines of my experience first time I ever went speed dating in London.

Let's Talk About Sex

But … I was pleasantly surprised when after filling in my matches form. I was treated to a form with the popularity of the 8 women I had seen. To make this clear, out of the 8 women I had seen, there was a number of ticks next to them, so you could see how popular they were.

The hypotheses I guess being, would you change your votes if you knew the person you picking is very popular. Or even the opposite way around? This got me thinking, would I change my picks? I generally decide on women based on, would  I want to spend some more time with them beyond the 3mins we had?

I decided recognising what Hannah Fry and OKCupid served up, I’m going to play along and only go with the matches who really excited me in the 3mins. Looking at the tickets, there was a mix of unpopular and very popular, not much in the middle.

Right now we (Chris also took part in the exact same thing) don’t know how the matches work out, but I’m expecting the results in the next few days. Lets hope it worked out after filling out a 130+ questionnaire in the name of science, during the process.

Afterwards there was just enough time to catch the last talk which was about pole dancing. I do wish I could have gone to the other talks but they all ran parallel to the speed dating.

Let's Talk About Sex

Generally the whole event was great, but I got the feeling although the speed dating was well thought-out. There was a problem with getting people to commit to the speed dating, but regardless it worked out nicely. As I said before it was the most scientific dating thing I have ever been to, and I have been to quite a few in the past.

Well done to MOSI and I look forward to the next one! Great work… When is the next one?

Breaking the rules of online dating with bristlr

At Silicon Drinkabout last night, I was introduced to John Kershaw who created a social network/dating site for people with and like beards – Bristlr. (yes this is the uniform dating style thing, basically for anybody)

  • Tell us where you are, and if you have a bear
  • Got a beard? We find people looking for beards
  • Want a beard? We find people with beards worth looking for
  • Send messages to people you match with
  • Your life now contains more beard love, you’re welcome

John seems to have got quite a few people on-board with no advertising or promotion. Its a interesting site and hits a niche really well.

How does it make money? Well funny enough me and John talked about this at length. Unlike most dating sites, he won’t be collecting and selling the data  of the users. His privacy policy seems to follow through on this

Bristlr

We take your privacy seriously. We won’t sell your data. That’s a dick thing to do.

When you use Bristlr, we collect a fair chunk of data about you, but it’s the bare minimum required for the website to function. All of the information is collected explicitly from you.

As this is the internet, our servers collect loads of info like your IP address and some browser details. We do use standard internet tracking and monitoring software, namely Google Analytics, to tell us about who is using the website.

If ever we need to use your personal information for any reason which isn’t essential to the running of Bristlr, we will ask for your consent.

We may disclose your personal information if we are required by law. But we would be super fucking unhappy if this happened.

There is a premium option (there always is!) which shows you the people you’ve yet to match with who have “liked” you.  But realistically, its the price of a coffee or theres the pyramid approach with a referrals..

Bristlr Matches screen

I’m signed up, giving it a try and of course you can give it a try too for free. Theres a referral if you like to enable me premium for a bit  http://www.bristlr.com/?referral=cubicgarden

Online dating? Why so serious?

Why so serious?

In passing I also found the hierarchy of seriousness in the Guardian’s post, interesting following the last post

At the top is something like Guardian Soulmates or Match – the ones you pay for. At the lower end are the likes of OKCupid or PlentyOfFish (POF) which are free, more casual and less “Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?”

Although I do agree about the statement, I think of it as more like a spectrum. You have your Match and Guardian Soulmates on one end and your Social dating apps like Tinder at the other end. Around the middle is something like OKCupid.

The more serious end of the spectrum is full of people wanting kids and marriage quickly. Theres also a certain amount of desperation you can feel coming from that end. Its very much what people use to make jokes about when they thought of online dating.

The other end is less serious and more casual. Yes you get casual hookups that end too but also you get people who are more laid back and less pushy about being in a relationship. Right now my circumstances would favor somebody from this end.

The mistake people make, is thinking all the quality is at the non-casual end of the spectrum. I’m not economist but dating is a bit of a numbers game. I guarantee the number of people you meet at the social dating end is far greater, even if its to meet and think never again. I would also contest that you will get more tech savvy young professionals and geeks than the other end.