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

Wellbeing is more important than checking your dating app

Woman looks at her phone wondering

I was reading no bad dates just good stories and read the point about Bumble.

Bumble is full of feminists?

And this is a problem why? Sweet Jesus, a dating app that puts women in the driving seat, whatever next? Quick guys, delete it – don’t let the vagina army overthrow your seat in power.

I liked the concept of Bumble, love to meet more female feminists being one myself and know there was a massive backlash from the manosphere (read with caution!). But it should be a dating site I’m regularly on.. but I’m not?

When I first signed up it was early and there was little people from around Manchester on it. Then suddenly there was a ton of supermodel type women showing up. Most men would have loved it. But something didn’t seem right, I couldn’t tell for sure but it felt like quite a lot might be fake (from previous experiences and what I’ve read, it certainly seemed possible)?

Fake profiles is a quick way to keep people on the site and interested, or keep them using the app?

Fake match profiles

That was off-putting but then they changed the terms so if a woman messaged a man, had 24 hours to reply. Encouraging/forcing you to look everyday at least. This for me is not the habit I can not see a positive outcome from. I understand some of the reasoning but it feels unsustainable, at least to my mind? I check my dating profile only once or twice a month (to be fair this is very low), unless I’m chatting with a woman or planning a date of course. I have to question the benefit to the people using Bumble vs their ability to tell investers they have a large number of uniques per day?

I have to say checking your dating app everyday can not be good for your wellbeing; be it bumble, okcupid, tinder, grindr, hinge, pof, etc. It leads to cognitive burnout, which is something a lot of regular daters talk about in different terms. This is why the idea of a online dating break is a real thing.

Cognitive burn-out

Regardless, I’m willing to give it another try, but frankly if it’s not a big improvement I’m not going back; another good idea executed badly in faviour of business? Maybe its time for total distruption as mentioned previously?

The BBC horizon dating experiment

Horizon dating 2015-09-12
My scientific perfect match

The Horizon episode: How to find love online just aired and here’s a blog I wrote straight after filming for the show. I have no idea what just happened or if I’ll even be involved, but judging by whats been seen so far, it looks like I might be. I trust BBC Horizon have done everybody proud but he’s my view on what happened that afternoon in central London.

I’m writing this the morning after the BBC Horizon dating experiment in central London (Sunday 13th September 2015).

We were asked and signed a contract saying we wouldn’t talk about the programme till the TX (TV transmission date). However the programme should have gone out by now.

It was an interesting time and the experiments were quite good too. From what I gather on the day, Hannah Fry wrote an algorithm to match people and Xander? I heard Xander is going on 3 dates today (day after the experiment). With the algorithm, she (Hannah) needed a large pool of people to match him with but also she wanted to see if it worked for other people. Hence the afternoon-evening of Horizon dating (I’m sure this will change).

Ok being brief (very hard for me). We were divided into 4 groups using colour wrist bands, then did some rough speed dating (I say rough because it there was no real flow, no direction and we were kind of left to get on with it, with the occasional call to change).

The four groups were…

  1. Told everybody in the group was matched and we actually were (this was my group – Yellow)
  2. Told everybody in the group was matched but that was actually was a lie
  3. Told no body in the group was matched but actually everybody was
  4. Told no body was matched and no body actually was (control group?)

You can see how this all works right?

The results were actually quite good and seemed to go with the algorithm and the priming of what were somewhat told. Hannah seemed confident it might actually work beyond this stage.

There was another test but to be honest, I got pulled away to do some stuff in a back room to the waiting camera about online dating. So much I wanted to say, but was told to keep it brief and look directly down the lens of the camera (hate that). Anyway I briefly touched on things related to my experiences and observations, should be interesting enough.

After some finger food and lots of chatting with various people, the results were announced to the room. They were cavatted with the notion, it was getting most matches in the room rather than most ideal matches.

Regardless, our usernames were read out and we stuck our hands up to show pairings.

My match was a woman who I had speed dated earlier but thought we didn’t really get on because of my lack of knowledge about the smiths. Can I remember her username? Nope, but we did take a couple selfie on both our phones.

After the matching, were had the opportunity to spend time together just chatting away and some quick interviews from Zander and Hannah.

Weirdly enough, my match lived in Bristol, had lived less than a mile away about the same time I lived in Croydon, London and shared similar views on certain things. Of course the location stuff  is a coincidence, as there was nothing in the questionnaire about previous locations, etc. But interesting one regardless.

We chatted away then we talked about circumstances currently. I wrongly guessed her age and it turned out we were quite distant on age and places in our lives. She had 3 kids, while I’m obviously child-free. It was clear the algorithm did work but only on the matching part, but did not factor in all the other things like looks, circumstance, desires, etc. The stuff which is unquantifiable?

End of the night, she left and we said goodbye while a bunch of us went to the Yorkshire Grey pub (George would be so proud) to discuss and carry on into the night. It was a warm night, so we sat outside on the benches, telling dating stories to each other. It was an nice end to the evening.

The last lot of the Horizon dating event

Everybody I spoke to had a good time they also had some good and bad stories about dating in recent times. The matches were somewhat hit and miss. Some numbers were exchanged but to be honest I think there will be maybe one or two who actually carry it further than a date or two (which still means Hannah’s algorithm would beat the year of making love!) . My match I’m unlikely to meet again, we didn’t swap anything and the pleasantries at the end of the night said it all. The initial excitement just seemed to break down once we discovered the difference in lifestyle, age and place in life.

Over drinks much later, a couple of us stayed out till about 1am. mr30notsoflirty, asked me if there were others I was interested in. I said yes and funny enough she was in my speed dating round, which meant she was likely matched quite highly with myself (remember I was in the one which was matched and were told so). I got a hint there might be some actually similarity in outlook earlier on but then got pulled away to do the pieces to the camera. There was another lady who stayed out later but had to get a train back to Kent, who was quite intriguing asking lots of questions about the scientific nature of everything, especially when I mentioned my geekness for dating. At the market place bar, we talked briefly and she said the comment of the night.

“You smell really good…!”

“well thank you” I said in return with a puzzled look on my face

Over all, it was intriguing and I’m happy to say Horizon did me and the BBC proud. It was pretty fluid, they seemed to get lots of footage (which I wish they would talk to BBC R&D about, as each couple have a interesting tale or two I’m sure). Met some lovely people and  my fears of the Year of making love were ironed out with the small contained venue, good people and a professional but friendly crew.

Just hope this is reflected in the show when it went live…

Update…

There’s a iWonder guide related to the programme (BBC iplayer).

On watching the programme, I was surprised how much of the vox pops from me made it into the programme. The show was mainly about Xander and the challenge of getting him a decent match. But it was clearly me on screen…

In the end, it was stalemate between the matching algorithm and random choice, which was a good conclusion I felt. Makes you think as you sink money and time into online dating, right? Also summing up why I find this area so interesting.

dating-against-humanity-46-638

A couple of things interested me, Helen Fisher and Lucy Brown‘s theory sounds interesting but once again where’s the paper or study? Prof Eli Finkel is absolutely right its somewhat rubbish and theres lots of papers proving it, even OKcupid’s OKtrends blog (and the deepend blog) doesn’t go into enough detail or give up the data for others to pull apart themselves. Xander was also wrong to say he was skeptical of algorthims, it was the premise which he wasn’t happy with. Even Hannah at one point said she wasn’t sure about the data which drives the algorthim she wrote.

I have already publiclly said it just doesn’t add up and the number element looms large. Hence why I chalked it up to the birthday paradox after much thought.

dating-against-humanity-48-638

While watching the show, my twitter and facebook was pretty busy, so busy I had to watch it again on iplayer. But some things came up which I wanted to reply to…

Xander and Hannah! Yeah they were very comfortable with each other, a few of us kept saying surely the two should get a room? But we all knew Hannah was happily married, but was so strange that Xander finally met a woman who from the back looked like a shorter version of Hannah. I actually thought it was her at first glance. Then I remember talking to some of the guys on the day, saying how she was very attractive.

During the show there was some comments about the lack of sexual diversity,  and I wanted to say, yes most were straight but there were a few gay couples too. The cameras missed a lot on that day but thats TV for you. There was also a diverse age range from quite young right up to much older than myself. Culturally it was quite diverse also, the BBC certainly did a good job and its important to once again say what you saw on screen wasn’t just it.

As a whole it was good and enjoyable, BBC Horizon did a good job touching on aspects of online dating problems and joys. Even down to Xander’s text exchange at the end of the programme. The whole worrying about what to say how long it takes for someone to come back to you is a real drama in modern dating. Although I do feel for the woman who went on the date with Xander because shes going to get a lot of angry women looking for her now…

Massive thanks to, Rachel Clarke I may have missed this great opportunity if she didn’t tweet me ages ago.

Celibacy, Intimacy and iffy smells of religion

dating-against-humanity-54-638

I haven’t written on the Single Black Male blog for a long while, but I still read and keep thinking about adding a different viewpoint on the subject in hand. The guys behind it are a good bunch and its always interesting reading the emails back/forth.

One such post recently spiked my interest. Is Celibate The New Single?

To which I say no… and then;

Have you ever had one of those intimate conversations that just could go on forever? You don’t even realize the hours that have flown by, but your cheeks hurt from smiling and you can’t stop blushing? You share parts of yourself in ways you hadn’t expected, or maybe even experienced. You feel truly known, and you truly know the person across from you: dreams, goals, loves, everything. You are known intimately – not known physically just yet – and even though you’re ready, you’re not in a rush. Imagine if this were the core of your relationship; this love you always express, and this lust you haven’t tapped into. Imagine being intimately and truly seduced, before having sex.

Yes… this is what I call intimacy, and it doesn’t need to be tied to sex.

Unfortunately the rest of the post talks/links in a load of celebrity couples I’ve never heard of. I couldn’t really care less about them but I think its misguided to call it celibacy.

These things all exist on a spectrum, including intimacy.

You can have physical intimacy, cognitive intimacy, activity intimacy and emotional intimacy. I’m sure there are more… I have a feeling there is tangible link with the 6 different types of love.

Interestingly

It’s 2016, and we may be in a new era of singledom. Actually, maybe it’s the old days of being single coming back around, full-circle. There’s something kind of poetic in knowing you have touched every part of a person’s soul before you’ve touched their body.

I get the cycle argument, I have even talked about the cycle back and forth within online dating between physical and mental. However, to the point of singletons, its always been there. People have found intimacy over the internet, via text, in the street, while at meetups, in many different ways. Its doesn’t sound sexy (pun intended) but it just happens.

Singletons are not subscribing to celibacy, they are doing what comes naturally by finding intimacy in different ways. Some find it through physical means, some through mental means. Little has changed, and if it has its certainly not because people have decided celibacy is the only option.

By knowing a person in every way but sexually, and saving that for last, the foundation of the relationship just seems stronger, more stable, almost even … sexier.

There is no right or wrong, its what works for you and the potential partner(s). If celibacy is that, then great. But to claim that the new celibacy is the new singletons is frankly ridiculous on so many levels.

There is a iffy smell of religion running through the single black male post. I know its American focus and it wouldn’t be the first time but I wanted to say, its great they highlighted things but the conclusion seems off the mark. Singletons are not

The Effect Of The Internet On Dating In The 21st Century

The 1st of November feels like so long ago now, since I did so much in the 2 weeks afterwards. I’m going to try and avoid doing this again as my voice started to strain afterwards and I’m fighting off a cold with meds now.

But the effect of the internet on dating in the 21st century was a good talk and thanks to the 20-30 people who came out to listen and ask questions.

I wasn’t at my best after 3 Halloween parties but Ragged talks got everyone together and did a brief introduction.

I had created a google slide set but converted it to docs as a outline, which I could refer to on my tablet. Reason for no slides? The Royal Exchange wouldn’t allow ragged talks to plug in electronic equipment incase they bring down the power system. Little frustrating but I knew this when I accepted it to be fair. I just forgot how rubbish I am without slides or not just talking from my own experience and have to refer to facts & figures.

Don’t worry it was recorded, so you will get to hear it for yourselves sooner or later…

I used a whole hour but it was full of interesting parts and some interesting answered questions. The Mafia talk was also good and learned a lot more about the most dangerous ndrangheta including how to find out more in Ambers new blog.

A busy few weeks between dating, personal impact, #tdcmcr and #mozfest

Tokyo rush

The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy…

As usual its kinda of stressful but ever-so exciting!

 

Delete that dating app ffs!

"Have Your Awkward Tinder Dates Here" Sign at Vaucluse Lounge - Hollywood, CA

Great piece by datingsitesreviews.

Online dating fatigue: it sounds silly, but it’s a real phenomenon. You can only spend so much time in cyberspace before your head starts to spin and arthritis sets in on your swiping hand. When burnout begins, it’s time to take a hiatus from the smartphone. Do yourself a favor and delete your dating app.

Absolutely… There is a cross over with what I saw in Tokyo, what I see when going out and read about in places. Today its dating and games tomorrow its who know what?

Its worth thinking about as technology defines the way we behave and live our lives. (Won’t even mention the issues with who is writing the software).

But back to dating for this one…

  • You’re logging in out of habit, not out of interest.
    Yes, if you are unlocking your phone just out of habit or you are bored… Find something else to do, but please not some pointless game.
  • You’ve resorted to stock messages.
    In the book Dataclysm by one of OkCupid’s founders Christian Rudder. I had to put the book down after reading that the response rate to stock messages actually works (depending on your success criteria). It might work to a degree, but it feels unhuman to me. If you are sending stock messages, its time reconsider your priorities.
  • You immediately look for what’s wrong instead of what’s right.
    Indeed, and maybe its time to take a break!
  • You’re desperate for a boyfriend or girlfriend.
    Never be desperate and enjoy your time being single.
  • You’re on there for a reason that isn’t dating.
    Enough said…!

Its worth remembering deleting the app won’t remove the account and the data is still held somewhere. Thats a whole different issue

I am going to explore stuff like this at the Manchester Royal Exchange as part of the Ragged Talks university series. Sunday 1st November, its going to be a free event and will be more of a conversation than a talk.

More details coming soon…

Horizon takes on the science of online dating?

Its happening againI swear everybody has caught on to the fact dating has changed and are studying it from a data point of view.

This time its Horizon who are sniffing around doing some dating research, and they actually have someone who really knows there stuff involved. Hannah Fry… yes the same woman who did the Tedtalk about the popularity in online dating. Ironically the most scientific dating experience was using her work around popularity at Manchester’s MOSI.

But even with Hannah Fry involved  I’m nervous because of 2 experiences.

  1. The year of making love – I mean I couldn’t believe it was actually the BBC behind this smoking cluster of a show. I should have known with it being aired on BBC Three.
  2. How to have more sex – Ok it was ITV and I guess it was the first time I had speed dating but seriously, when the guy tapped me on the shoulder in Brighton during the d.construct after party I was so shocked.

Saying all that, am I going to sign up?

Yes I did… I really hope its not a mistake I will regret! Now time for 150 questions, in the style/vein of OkCupid. I have a feeling I could be in for something interesting…

horizon goes okcupid on us

The right to delete in online dating

Delete billboard by Ji Lee

You know how I’m very interested in the ethical dimension of  services and data. Data portability is something I have a long history with and alongside that, there is related idea of having access to delete.

Of course this can be very controversial like the much talked about, right to be forgotten.

Its intriguing to look at the online dating world where data is thrown about with little regard for the users.

Turns out, there are many people who think deleting a dating app from your phone is the same as deleting your profile – but it isn’t.

Dating apps and online dating sites make it kind of tricky to get rid of you altogether – after all, they attract people (and investors) based on user numbers, so they are not motivated to make it obvious how to delete your account.

Okcupid plays by the rules while eHarmony requires a web action and then a email to confirm. Hinge a mobile dating app, requires you to use a desktop browser before you can delete it the account on your mobile via uninstalling the app.

With Tinder, I disconnected my Facebook account from Tinder meaning the account will be rejected by Facebook if it was started again. Its not elegant but saves me having to install Tinder again. I kind of refuse to install it again.

Makes you wonder how many loops some of the other dating sites and apps will make you jump through…?

Enviable things about online dating

ber-antem

Online site reviews wrote a piece titled, 4 truths about online dating you have to accept. It well worth reading and the basic list is …

  1. Eventually you will run into someone you know.
  2. You will be ghosted.
  3. Photos will lie.
  4. A 99% match could be meaningless.

I tend to agree but I would add…

  • You will be misunderstood and even blocked, for something which seems trivial
    It happens, people misread something or misunderstand the context and before you know it, the response is frosty or returned with a block. This also leads to ghosting…
  • You will be stood up
    Dates… where do I even start, I could do a enviable sublist about this alone. Its going to happen, you will be stood up and theres no point getting angry about it, its part of single dating life.
  • It will be attracted to somebody far away
    You edit your filters to only include people so far away and then somebody you think is local pops up in the search. Maybe they are visiting friends,  living locally for a short while or just about to leave the area. It will happen at some point, how you deal with it is the question.
  • You will come across women doing gang signs or men with their tops off in photos
    Self explanatory I think? Of course if you are a woman or a gay man, expect dick pics at some point too…

Did you see the Channel4 Tinder documentary?

Tinder

Did I see it, did you see it?

Well I finally saw it and I was not impressed. Sensational and stereotypical topics. What a load of rubbish I’m sorry to say. There was no depth whatsoever! The tinder title says it all… It was mainly about dating apps in general, but of course the secret life of dating apps wouldn’t have worked on TV.

To be fair it will make popular TV but I was just waiting for the catfish and danger aspects to come along. I mean who invites a date to their home on the first date? Seriously WTF! Thats dating 101!

They bumped against the paradox of choice but it was for about 5 secs. I far preferred Dawns guide online dating, which was also from Channel4.

Thanks Claire, Mr Brislr and others for highlighting it to me… but I say garbage!

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?

Does online dating work?

"Does Not Work"

It’s a simple question and a common one — one whose answer could determine the fates of both a multi-billion dollar industry and millions of lonely hearts. It’s a question that seems distinctly answerable: we have user data, surveys, clear metrics for success or failure, entire books full of colorful charts.

And yet, just this week, a new analysis from Michigan State University found that online dating leads to fewer committed relationships than offline dating does — that it doesn’t work, in other words. That, in the words of its own author, contradicts a pile of studies that have come before it.

Starts the Washington Post article… This is the start of much of my thoughts dotted throughout my blog. A while ago I stood up at a conference and said

There is no compelling scientific research indicating online dating algorithms work.

Well the new analysis by Michigan State, leads nowhere new. The answer to the question is complex…

We don’t actually know.

Some of the reasons for that ambiguity are clear in this latest study. For starters, there’s this greater cultural issue of how we define relationship success: Is it marriage? Is it monogamy, a la Patti Stanger? Is it what OkCupid’s data team calls a “fourway” — four messages back and forth between two semi-interested parties? That’s a tough one to parse, and different studies have defined it different ways

So the success criteria isn’t clear but if one thing was clear it would be around matching algorithms.

Most paid sites claim, for instance, that it’s their highly scientific matching algorithms that lead people to serious relationships; in his 2013 book on the subject, however, the journalist Dan Slater concludes that most of those claims are bunk. (“Everyone knows that all personality profiling is bull****,” a former Match executive told him. “As a marketing hook, it works great.”)

And as I’ve been banging on about for years… Why pay for online dating? They simply make bumping into random people more likely, just like most social networks.

In reality, dating sites are most effective as a kind of virtual town square — a place where random people whose paths wouldn’t otherwise cross bump into each other and start talking. That’s not much different from your neighborhood bar, except in its scale, ease of use and demographics.

Hence the popularity and rise of the social dating apps and services.

No compelling evidence online dating algorithms work

Shoreditch dating backlash?

Herb highlighted this on Facebook the other day. It seems to be some shoreditch protest against online dating. I couldn’t find anything else about it, so it might all be a flash in a very small pan but they have good reason to protest.

I quoted in my Primeconf Best of British talk

There is no compelling scientific research indicating online dating algorithms work.

This fact has not been lost on many others. I’m not saying online dating isn’t a bad way to meet someone (heck I still use it) however the chances are about the same as meeting someone on any of the other social networks, chatrooms, forums, etc

Online dating simply connects people, but so does Facebook, twitter, Google+, etc, etc… and they are free to use (yes they use and sell our data but at least they don’t do that and charge us for the privilege!)

The compelling part reminds me of what Derren Brown was talking about at the infamous show.

Extraordinary claims need extraordinary evidence…

Herb Kim found out where the pictures come from…
It was a protest against ‘Online Dating’ by @rendeevoo – an app that encourages you to ‘Date Offline’ with one click.
As I thought it was a publicly stunt by another dating company trying to convince people to use their service not the rest… Pretty lame, especially because it didn’t make any news and I couldn’t find out who did it… Poor!