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Online Dating

Updated on February 17, 2018 at the 04th hour
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DISCLAIMER: Expressed views on this blog are my own.

(First off, I am not proposing a solution, just what I think about the current solutions so far and what I think the ideal solution is. In another post, I can think about how to define a solution with a better user experience.)

I've been thinking about the whole idea of online dating and how it should work. Personally, for me it requires too much effort to put in and I think the point of technology is to make the things in my life effortless. No one uses technology to make their life harder right?

Let's set some context here. Take Instagram, Facebook, Google and the mobile phone, they make it easier to accomplish a task that you set out for yourself. Instagram, in particular, makes it effortless to upload photos as well as make the average photo look "better". If made the connection with the title, this is not to say that existing online dating apps don't make life easier, in fact they do!

Popular online dating services such as OkCupid and Tinder make it easy to define your "profile", put yourself out there and see who else is looking to date. These are very low hanging fruit and I get it. If you are willing to take generally attractive pictures of yourself (friends or photographers who can take pics), willing enough to craft a good profile of yourself and stick around long enough to find a way to connect to who you desire to date, then yeah it works. Does this scale to the average person though? Can we do this without superficial images and "defining" yourself designed to make yourself look good?

Is online dating just an extension of dating services? There is no reason for it to be more than that. I think many people come to the same ideal scenario of sign up, look for person, talk to person, go on date and then live happily ever after.

There are some apps that talk about location based service, but is a bar really where you will find people using their phones for location apps? I guess if push notifications about people interested in other people nearby makes sense. Sounds like a battery drain in my opinion.

What problems does online dating have today?

  • Elephant in the room is that you craft a profile and you are one of many fishes in the pond, so by chance you will find someone to even speak with, but that's part of the game right?
    • 6 -12 months on a service and how do you feel about the service so far?
  • So, you sign up for a service, define your profile and send a couple of messages. Online dating services makes me define myself and then expect me to put more effort in trying to find someone to even SPEAK with. Again part of the game right?
    • Emphasis of filtering is similarity of profiles in the current services, which I do not think fits the bar in match making since everyone has their own internal scoring system.
  • Let's say you get connected to another person and so what is the first thing that one wants to talk/ask about? You practically know everything about the other person since you looked at their profile once or twice. Realistically, this is the hardest part to get right since everyone wants to different.
    • There are tutorials on how to craft your first message huh? Why is that? High school is over right? Shouldn't I just be myself and ask questions? "How was your day?" from an attractive person is sure loads different from the same from an average person.
    • In general I think, people who do not talk when the other talks should be negatively penalized in some kind of scoring system.
  • Paying for additional features, I mean come on... paying for the idea of when your messages are read. RLY? Paying for anonymity because you want to STALK? Let's be more creative than that.
    • Storage space is a limited resource, so why not charge for that?
    • It takes two to tango, why not add an matcher/curator for an extra charge who will compare profiles, talk to the paying members and recommend. Why offer recommendations for free anyway?
    • Membership is a great way to charge people for things, but again enabling what I think are basic features as part of the membership is sleazy.
  • How do you vet people? Just date them and see where it goes right.
    • What happened to video? Why can't two people just video chat each other as a light hearted attempt at feeling each other out? Texting and talking are very different and I think the ideal progression should be from chatting through keyboard to video to going out.
  • Interracial relationships appear to be on the rise, but online dating services are lagging. Why is that though?
    • There is a prominent study by OkCupid on message respond rates across racial boundaries, so clearly bias exists.
  • People who write one line messages as the first attempt at contacting.
    • I would argue that this is due to the number of people you can see in a service, so the more you can see then the more spam behavior you are likely to see. There are many reasons, but I focus on what people on dating services perceive to be unwanted (spam).

What is a ideal scenario?

Simple ideal scenario is that you sign up for the service, find someone that you find attractive, go on a date and then live happily ever after.

What qualities of the ideal scenario are realistic?

  • Signing up should be quick and easy.
  • Defining yourself needs to be quick. A few physical attributes, beliefs and lifestyle choices are essential.
    • Age, height, do you smoke or drink. etc.
  • What are you looking for? Searching and filtering people is the biggest pain. The ideal might be to just not let people browse at all and send them notifications about new people in the area who match their filter.
    • Letting people browse the pool is not ideal because wasting time looking? Let technology take care of that.
    • Filtering in a way to corresponds to attractive qualities such as mindset and lifestyle choices.
      • No age range choices. It is not worth it.
      • Do you want a smoker, drinker, druggie or etc.?
      • Let us recommend through your Facebook friends of friends
      • Let us reach out to past good/neutral connections?
      • Proximity is important, but people cannot be be allowed specify it directly. Should it even be asked the way it is? (do you prefer people near or far?) Maybe reframe it as do you move around a lot or is your typical day is to go to to work and etc. to figure out if proximity is important to the person.
    • Targeted recommendations, I argue should only be for paying members via match makers. Having a third party interact with two people is the best way to go forward as machines cannot play match maker.
      • Would be interesting if people talked to bots and if the bots could recommend some people right off the bat to talk to.
    • Looks are not the emphasis here because we are online. Why do we treat online as if you are in the vicinity of that person? Seriously need to get past that and focus on the things you can display online such as personality.
      • For instance, Disqus changed it's system to allow anonymous comments in a yik yak/secret (apps) way because identity (this includes pictures and social links) doesn't scale for comments and anyone who has been online reading comments can tell you that. Who wants to sign in to leave a comment under their name anyway?
  • I want to talk to potential mates. Connecting people, just another filter. Once we filter out the noise, how do we get these people to just talk without biasness included?
    • I would argue that if you invited more than two people to a blind restaurant then there will be a conversation that has topics of many sort. Some will like each other and others will not, but mutual respect is obtained in just talking about it. I cannot say this can be replicated online, but definitely there has to be a good way to get people to see each other not through society's lens.
    • Chat room with multiple people (mutual friends who can introduce to people?) in it may be a way to get a conversation started.
    • Video chat is a great starter since it is not the first date. It has quite the few benefits,
      • Identity verification. It is easy to fake images and harder to fake a live stream.
      • You get to see if this person is actually someone you want to hang around and have a conversation.
      • It is noncommittal. No one is pressured to stay in the chat if it is boring. Just press a button, get out and never speak again.
      • You get to see the face.
  • Happily ever after
    • Give feedback on the experience.
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