Want to be on a Channel 4 TV pilot? Man and woman wanted

I’ve been contacted by a TV casting company working for production company Keshet, who are producing a pilot for channel 4 about relationships and dating. They are looking for a man and a woman to be in the pilot. This will not be broadcast on TV, but could be a fun experience if you’re interested in being in front of a camera. These are their requirements:

I am looking to interview a woman in her 20’s – early 40’s (who went to University) who will only date men of a certain social standing, and has extremely high standards when it comes to choosing who to date. I’m also looking to interview a man in his 20’s – 30’s who is university educated, loves online dating and not wanting to settle down yet as having too much fun dating.
The interview is for a Channel 4 pilot so will not be for broadcast and will take up an hour of their time. Filming will be in London on a convenient date and travel expenses can be arranged etc.
Contact Victoria on: tvcastingvic@gmail.com if interested.
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Marketing online dating sites – little things matter

While editing my biography on this site recently, I noticed that the Google ad block in the middle of the page had an ad about “senior dating”. Google obviously knows my age (it’s not mentioned on this site), so I rather took offence at what it was insinuating.  Senior? I’m  not a pensioner! Looking closer at the ad I noticed that the rest of the text refers to “people over 40”. People over 40? Senior? Surely they mean “mature”. And then it hit me – the ad text was for a website aimed at Israelis. Could it be that whoever wrote the ad text obviously thought it up in Hebrew and then translated it into English (possibly using a dictionary or even Google Translate)?  In Hebrew, the word “senior”  is almost interchangeable with “mature” when it comes to being the opposite of “minor”.

So there are two options:


Whoever wrote this ad text got the translation wrong, using a word that is technically right but culturally inaccurate.

Whoever wrote this ad text believes that lumping people in their 40s and 50s in with those in their 60s and 70s is a good business strategy for a dating site.

Either way, the result is an alienating ad that made me (a potential customer, obviously, as I’ve recently gone into my “senior” years) less interested in the product.

How could this have been prevented? Better research into cultural implications of words in the language you’re advertising in, better demographic research about what people in their 40s and 50s are looking for (hint: probably not being thought of as being as old as our parents / grandparents when we’re trying to put ourselves out there). While it’s true that many older daters are looking to date younger ones and may be encouraged to see a significantly younger age range listed on a site, I doubt that many people in their 40s would want to date specifically on a senior dating site.


When open science goes bad – researchers scrape and release personal data of 70k OKCupid Users

We all love OKCupid’s wonderful insights, gained because of the site’s algorithm and the fact that users often answer thousands of personal questions while using the site.


Apparently, this has not escaped some Danish researchers of dubious ethical standards, who scraped the site for publicly available info (the site is free to use and is a dating site, after all) such as names, genders, religion, personality traits and answers to many very personal questions (not pictures, though, because “that would have taken up too much hard drive space”).  This was done without contacting anyone involved, not even the website itself. Then the info was dumped onto an online open science forum for the world to see. Dick move, guys.

It looks like the people involved, although flippant and obnoxious when called out on social networks about this, frankly, rather mean act are already being dumped in it by the University they are supposedly associated with. Also, OKCupid are probably going to file an official complaint and take legal action. Hopefully this will drive the point in, as they seem to not really understand the difference between publicly available on a site and free for anyone to use for their own purposes.

People dating on a dating site deserve privacy and the ability to express themselves online in a safe forum. Taking away that right is a violation. To me, it’s the online equivalent of basically being  a peeping tom or recording people’s private conversations in a cafe. There are laws against peeping and recording people without their knowledge and hopefully, as these researchers violated the OKCupid terms of service, there’s a law or a rule that will be used to make sure these people get the slap they deserve. I must say it’s a terrifying thought to think of people with such lack of empathy and a blatant disregard for people’s privacy working in anything related to psychology. I hope they never deal with actual patients, though I’d be wary of even being a research subject for them, to be honest.

You can read more about this story here. There are also screen grabs of Twitter discussions with the friendly researchers (hint: this is his publicly available Twitter account). This might be handy for anyone who might want to chime in on the subject of ethics and stuff (in a respectable manner, of course).

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OKCupid’s “Crazy blind date”- you can say that again!

So, today OKCupid, which I generally rate as a very good (and free) site, has come up with an app called “Crazy Blind Date”. The idea is for OKCupid to basically set you up on a blind date with someone with details kept to a minimum. When I looked at this feature, I could see names and ages, but the pictures on the site have been scrambled to make the dates really blind. I also couldn’t access the full profile of any of the blind date guys in any obvious way, though looking at explanations of how this works, I gather it lets you chat to people beforehand at least.

I’m guessing someone out there came up with this idea as a way to make online dating less calculated and bring back the sense of excitement but really? The thing about real blind dates that are organised by someone who knows both of you: a well-meaning relative whose friend’s son is curiously single, a friend who works with a cool girl she thinks you’d like. You may still end up meeting some boring or weird person, but it’s not likely to be a crazy stalker or a total freak. On a free dating site I’d probably need a bit more convincing and interaction before getting my coat. And I’d want to see a picture. I know most men look better in real life than in their profile picture but I’d still want to see it. I also know that looks aren’t everything, but I’d still want to see it. The problem with online dating is not lack of information; it’s not uncertainty and a multitude of unknowns. Why on earth would anyone want to take away the little bit of information people do get online? Well, at least they got the name right. Stay safe, people. Follow the safety rules if you’re going to try a weird thing like this.

Should Google stop running dating ads?

The National Association of Victims of Human Trafficking Advocates (an American organisation) says Google should stop displaying all online dating ads until it can be sure none of them point at fronts for human trafficking. I’m sure Google is not keen to part with all that money (lord knows there’s loads of money in advertising online dating), but I’m also sure it doesn’t want to support slavery. I’ve seen quite a few Adsense ads in my time that reeked of mail order bride of the worst kind. In fact, this was one of the reasons I never signed up to Adsense in the first place, because it doesn’t give you the freedom to reject ads. There were all kinds of ads appearing on my site that were obviously aimed at Western guys with am Asian women fetish and I didn’t like the language and pictures used (nor the sites they pointed at). But can Google really filter out the baddies and should all reputable dating sites suffer if it can’t? It’s a tough one. I’m sure Google is working really hard already to ensure it complies with legalisation. An article in Search Engine Land wondered whether something can be done similarly to the way Google handles the healthcare sector, requiring advertisers to go through a certification process. The author mused whether the US could learn from the UK, where there is an association of dating sites (an organisation that is hardly the seal of approval it may appear to be from outside, not because it’s dodgy or anything, it’s just not quite as official as it may appear). Maybe Google should just treat this highly explosive area of advertising even more seriously and put even more resources into actual human vetting of new advertisers. Having worked as a moderator I know mistakes can happen even when you have whole dedicated teams working on something, but when actual human lives are at stake, you can never be too careful. I’d rather see advertisers denied until they can prove they’re legit than all those horrid ads for sex slavery fronts.

Stalker app gets withdrawn

Seriously? They couldn’t see this coming? The “Girls Around Me” app, an app that draws info from Foursquare and tells guys which girls are in their area right now, has been withdrawn after complaints. BBC news tells the story, which should really be of no surprise to anyone but the nerdiest of geeks.

To be fair, I never understood why anyone would want to check in anywhere online anyway. It’s practically doing big brother’s work for him (it? them?). Let the government (and the stalkers) work for their money if they’re so keen to know where I am. If you check in online using Facebook or Foursquare then you shouldn’t be surprised if your privacy gets invaded. After all, you’re kinda giving up on your privacy by giving everyone your private information for free. But this app…well…

When I was working for Allegran (online dating company), we got contacted by a company offering the technology to allow people to check in and find the users who were physically near them. This was before foursquare and before all the current apps. There was a debate among our directors as to whether we should use them. In the end, one of the directors simply asked us girls in the office whether we’d want to use such an app. We all said the same thing, and quickly: STALKERS!!!

The decision was made to let other companies iron out the creep outs, stalkerfests and eventual lawsuits before joining the party. The men, by the way, thought the app would be a great idea, but in online dating, nobody cares about what men think. Men wouldn’t want to join a site that only had other men dating on it, unless they were gay men and women wouldn’t join a site that got them stalked by weirdos.

So there you have it. Women may not actually like having all kinds of guys knowing where they are and popping up uninvited. Yes, I’m sure a lot of it is to do with privacy settings and can be fixed by tightening them up and only sharing your location with close friends, but privacy settings are hardly ever set to be pro-user by default, are they? Unless the user in question is an exhibitionist or his/her friends are stalkers, then we’re doing fine.

Sugar daddy parties – is the UK ready?

The Telegraph tells me “Sugar Daddy parties” are about to become a hit in the UK, having established themselves as a “thing” in the US. This isn’t the first time the sugar daddy debate has come up in the UK, where several sugar daddy online dating sites are already active.
Whenever I read about this sort of stuff, I tend to get annoyed about several things. First, it always amazes me that some of the women involved are naive enough to think these sort of “arrangements” are not akin to a form of prostitution. This could be owing to the women’s young age, or the fact that they don’t really want to think of themselves as sex workers, but unless your “arrangement” specifically does not involve the promise of sex from the offset, don’t be surprised if the man who’s paying for your time and company expects to be able to treat you as a high class hooker.

Of course, most women who enter these arrangements wouldn’t dream of stating in advance that they are not intending on sleeping with their sugar daddy. After all, the sugar daddy might choose to go with someone else. Instead, most of the action happens in the grey area between what the man expects to get and what the woman expects to give. With a big of clever maneuvering, a woman can pocket some handy dosh before push comes to shove, without having to actually sleep with her patron, although the much more likely result is some form of borderline non-consensual physical contact before the relationship is severed. So in a sense, while prostitution is an honest trade, these “arrangements” can often end up being deceitful and dishonest. The women don’t necessarily get paid for sex, they get paid for the promise of potential sex, which may or may not materialise into the real deal. So basically, a woman entering such an arrangement can either be a prostitute or a liar, using naivety as an excuse for being either. This is, of course, unless the arrangement is clear in advance on the fact that sex is not part of the deal. I assume this is actually the case with some sugar daddies, who are happy to be seen in the company of young, fit women.

Another issue I have is the hypocrisy involved in the whole morality debate. Personally, I have no issue with what a woman chooses to do with her own body. My issues with prostitution on a global scale is that women are often forced or coerced into the business, but in this particular case, women are choosing to meet rich patrons out of their own free will. If both the woman and the man are clear about their aims and goals in this matter, then I see no real problem with it. On a personal level I may well find such men desperate, sleazy and psychologically damaged and the women calculating, naive or cold, but morally I see no reason why we shouldn’t let them just get on with it.

You can read more about sugar daddy parties here.

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OKCupid shares users’ personal data with other companies

I actually think OKCupid is a really good dating site. It’s also free to use, which means they need to make their money by other means. Still, I was quite surprised to read about how they sell user information to external companies that then auction that information off to advertisers and who knows who else. Dating sites often do stuff like this (especially free ones) but in this particular case, some of the info sold on is bound to make people rather annoyed. This is according to a recent privacy study highlighted in the WSJ. The original article came out on Tuesday and made some very seriously scary claims. It said that apart from the “usual” (but still scary, if you’re one of those people who think the Internet is private and secure) information like user ID, gender, age and zip code, OKCupid also shares relationship status and “drug use frequency”. Since them, there have been a few clarifications made, but if I understand all the crossed out bits and non-crossed out bits in the article, things are still a tad creepy.

Two companies buy data off OKCupid. One gets the relationship status and drug use info and one doesn’t. The one that does, something called Lotame, claims it doesn’t use the drug frequency info, which begs the question of why they buy it in the first place and why OKCupid sells it to them.

Of course, considering the fact that this follows recent debate about whether Facebook tracks you online even after you’ve logged out (which it supposedly doesn’t) this is not going to go down well at all. I guess the most you can say for OKCupid is that it’s not alone. Apparently 45% of the top 185 websites in the US share some sort of user info with others. Happy surfing!

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VeggieDates – the problem with running white label niche dating sites

With so many dating sites out there, people are constantly looking for better ways of hooking up with people who are likely to be more like them. So the Internet is full of all kinds of niche dating sites aimed at particular crowd. of course, if you’re not working in the dating industry, what you may not realise is that many of these sites that cater to particular types of people with similar religious views, hobbies, lifestyle choices, etc. are actually owned by the same company and using the same database of singles.

For example, many of the dating sites “run” by various newspapers and magazines are actually run by “white label” online dating companies. If a newspaper wants to cash in on the online dating craze, it’s actually a lot cheaper for them to use this white label solution than to write and populate a dating site from scratch. So if you sign up to the site via the newspaper’s branded user interface, you may well meet people who also read your favourite paper, but you’re likely to also meet people who don’t.

But what happens when the people you meet on the site you signed up to are radically different to the ones you were promised? Well, trouble ensues, as can be seen in this recent story about a “vegetarian dating” website run by Global Personals. Apparently people who expected to meet and date vegetarians were not at all impressed when they realised most of the people on the VeggieDates site were not actually veggie.

This is a bit of a poor show, really, because if you have a system set up to work your database into something suitable for white labeling then surely you should be asking your members about their dietary habits and using that info to feed the right people into the right website. I understand that you may want a bigger database than what your vegetarian pool alone would allow, but filling it up with blatantly unsuitable matches is disrespectful to the users. If someone’s going to pay to use a site that’s branded as a veggie site, it most likely means that this issue is important to them.

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Sexbots for women – no longer pure fantasy. Apparently

OK, this has to be one of the weirdest things I’ve seen in a while as part of my search for dating and relationship related news. Yes, ladies, apparently sexbots for you are not that far away (note: this is just someone theorising about them one day being available. You can’t buy them in shops yet and as far as I know, none are currently being built). so there’s a whole discussion about how they could be used for women as well as for men. Personally, I think that’s stretching it a little bit – just look at the ratio of men and women on dating sites. That’s to do with the fact that men are a. early adopters, b. more financially affluent and c. are a better market for sex dolls in the present.
Even if cyborg sexbots are in the pipework, I think we’re going to see loads more femmebots before any male cyborgs are lining up on the shelves in the vibrator aisle.

Anyway, if you need a laugh on a rainy day (it’s raining in London today), here’s a full discussion about sexbots for women and how the whole thing might work.

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On online dating and humanity

John Walters recently wrote a piece in the Guardian about how online dating sites are “eroding humanity”. This is where I would be expected to get in to a big rant about how he’s wrong, which I do believe he is, though I do see where he’s coming from as well. If the world was really as he seems to see it, then we’d potentially have a problem on our hands.

Walters claims that by using online dating, we’re trying to control the uncontrollable thing that is love and turn it more into a business transaction, the way arranged marriages were, but worse. Personally, I think it’s an exaggeration, possibly for the purpose of making headlines and sparking off a debate. But if online dating really did manage to take the unpredictable out of love, it would indeed be quite a change from what we know of as humanity. Unlike Walters, I don’t necessarily think that would be a bad thing. To me, the reason people have so much trouble with love is that as a species, we’re struggling to combine our primal urges (remnants from when we were living in the jungle and love was free and a free for all) and the confines of an advanced society with rules, regulations and religion. Much of what we see as beautiful art and poetry grew out of real misery of the people involved in creating such art. Ultimately, wouldn’t it be nice if for most of us, there’d be a way to eventually say goodbye to the perils of incompatible love affairs and have a way to conveniently pick the people who were right for us at this moment in time? Wouldn’t we be able to do more creative and productive things with our time if the love aspect was taken care of?

Of course, that is not the case and could never be the case. The human element is far from nonexistent in the online dating world. Even on sites where you rely on a computer to connect you with “compatible” people, there is a random element. Would there be someone compatible for you on the site? Would anyone compatible on paper actually be attractive to you physically, or even genuinely compatible? Would there be chemistry? Would you manage to keep a relationship together through the years? Would you remain compatible or drift apart? As long as there are people involved, humanity is present. Using an electronic tool to find another human is hardly eroding your humanity any more than using traditional matchmakers, some of which would make you fill out a form and never actually meet you in person. At least with online dating, as opposed to arranged marriages, you get to choose your own partner based on your own intuition. If the description you read is accurate – you’ll have a happy, long lasting relationship with someone who wants to develop and grow in the same direction as you. Otherwise, well, that’s pretty unpredictable and random right there.

I have to say that I personally prefer dating sites where you can run your own searches, exactly because of the element of randomness (and I say this even though I write regularly for a dating site of the other sort, which uses what is actually quite a decent and in depth test to send you matches). In my experience, though, people meet and fall in love on both types of sites and sometimes even on really crappy sites you would never have thought would work. If that’s not the unpredictable nature of love at work, I don’t know what is.

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Clare’s law – important safety procedure or another dangerous populist piece of legislative crap?

Clare Wood was killed by a man she met online. A tragic case, no doubts about it. Now Clare’s father and Hazel Blears MP are working to bring in a law that would make it possible for women to learn about their new partner’s history of domestic / relationship abuse. This is one of those proposals that appeals to the most primal of gut instincts – the Internet is a big scary place, women know nothing about who they meet, now they can find out. That is, by the way, what makes it a populist law. It’s not hard to see why Clare’s father would want to bring this law in, to supposedly stop other people’s daughters from becoming victims like his own.

But personally I believe more care should be taken before we open up people’s private police records to, well, the entire public. Now, I know the privacy implications of this law are pretty atrocious, but considering the fact that a woman was killed, I realise many would forsake the privacy of someone else (any man?) because they believe the safety of women comes first. To be fair, if I thought this was a workable solution, maybe I would tend to agree. If it went both ways, at least.

I don’t think the exact details of this proposal have been worked out yet but for now is no mention about whether men can find out the abuse history of women they meet online (domestic abuse by women of men may not be as common, but it certainly does exist and is a real problem). There is no mention of what violations would be enough to tarnish a man as an abuser.

But of course, there is also, as far as I can tell, no mention of the fact that many cases of domestic abuse remain unreported, thus unlisted in the police database. In fact, isn’t the nature of most domestic abuse that which only escalates to the police when the abused women get battered so badly, they can no longer hide it from those around them? With a bit of luck, a man can be dangerously abusive to a GF or spouse and still appear all squeaky clean on record. If this law comes into effect, such men could actually “benefit” from the new system – women would search, find nothing and conclude the man in question is absolutely fine, when otherwise they may have exercised more caution.

In many ways, this law is no different than match.com saying they’re going to background check members in the US. It’s not enough. Not only is it not enough, but it makes people think it is enough, thus making the situation worse. Short of sending the thoughtpolice to scan people’s brains and figure out if they’re prone to murderous thoughts, there is nothing you can do that’s foolproof. As always, it’s best to educate women (and men) to spot dangerous signs, rather than open the door to some really dangerous legalisation. After all, if we’ve got our hands in someone’s private data, wouldn’t we want to be sure he doesn’t have any drunk driving offences (dangerous for our future children), public order offences or drug problems?

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The New Yorker does online dating

Not literally, but they did have a very big long article covering the subject. Really good and thorough article, though seems to be covering a lot of stuff that only few people wouldn’t know about nowadays. Whenever I read something like that I wonder whether there are still people out there (in the West) who know so little or nothing at all about online dating or whether the article is just really really late to the party. Explaining who match.com, OKcupid and eHarmony are, for example, is quite unusual nowadays. Either it’s to do with their editorial conventions or New Yorker readers are way way behind on online interaction. There’s also a lot of stuff about the concepts behind online dating and all kinds of issues to do with it, which is cool and insightful, but again, nothing particularly new.

You can read the full article here.

My favourite bit was actually the beginning, as I never knew about the 1964 world fair pen pal selection thing.

Now one of my favourite songs of all time actually makes even more sense to me.

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“Ugly” people get to date with “beautiful” people, thanks to sneaky computer virus

A dating site called “BeautifulPeople”, which prides itself on careful screening of its members for attractiveness and only allowing beautiful people to be matched has been hit with a sneaky computer virus that seems to have made a mockery of the whole thing.

The site recently had to delete over 30,000 profiles of members who had managed to skip the site’s voting process and put their profiles on their site without being vetted for attractiveness. Talk about revenge of the nerds! But the best part? The virus was actually called “Shrek”.

Supposedly suspicion fell on a disgruntled ex employee, which would make sense, as they’d have an understanding of the way the system works and, most likely, the technical ability to break it. I was sort of hoping it would be a gifted reject who’d create this cyber protest. Perhaps they are one and the same?

My jury’s still out on sites that cater to “beautiful” people. On one hand, rejection can be quite harsh and make people feel bad about themselves at a time when they are looking for love – not a good thing. Also – should being shallow about looks be encouraged?

On the other hand, there are so many dating sites out there with so many people. The ability to concentrate your search on people who actually fit your standards can be a godsend and ultimately, people want to meet singles who are similar to them. Attractive people tend to want to meet other attractive people – it’s evolution in action. On the grand scale of online dating horrors, it’s loads better than sites promoting extra-marital affairs, etc.

Either way, this story made me laugh. Wouldn’t it be even funnier if people managed to meet someone “ugly” on the site and fall in love before the accounts were removed?

You can read the full story about the ugly virus here.

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More about sex offender screening

I wrote a while back about match.com getting sued in the US and deciding to start screening their customers against the sex offenders list. If you’ve been following the story (and my opinion of it), you may also be interested in the following article, published on the blog of Iovation, who specialise in online fraud prevention.

It goes into some detail about your personal responsibility as an online dater and why you should not expect dating sites to be 100% safe, even if they do their best to be.

Check it out here.

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A new matching algorithm aims to match people’s hidden “shames”

Microsoft have patented some sort of algorithm that could be used by dating sites to quietly match people based on stuff they are ashamed of. Apparently the patent is actually from 2009, but it has been revealed recently. In an odd move, Microsoft chose love of comic books as an example of something people might be ashamed of listing publically on a site but would like to factor into their search for love.
An odd choice, because I wouldn’t have thought liking comic books is something anyone should be ashamed of. I guess it’s easier than illustrating this patent with people looking for fellow white supremacists or nose pickers. Of course, telling geek media outlets that comic books are a private shame is like waving a red rag in front of a very angry bull. Maybe Microsoft are touting for dating sites interested in buying this algorithm and need a bit more free press.

Having something match you up based on interests you don’t want to necessarily put in your profile in text form is not actually a bad idea, though. It seems the Microsoft patent gives users a bit more control over the backend search and maybe increases their options of meeting people (although those people who would have turned their nose at their secret shame may not be the best ones for them).

You can read more about this at Geekwire.

Comic book lovers, unite!

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Russian Brides – the other side

My first job in the online dating industry was as a moderator of online dating sites. Apart from all those “fun” Monday mornings when I had to do photo reviews and remove hundreds of photos of penis close up shots, my main jobs was hunting for and getting rid of online dating scammers. In general, we had two types of scammers on the sites – the “Nigerian money scammers” and the “Russian brides”. These were two umbrella terms encompassing any African (or African-inspired) lottery scam, Christian charity scam and any scam that had an African scammer behind it (soldier scams had not started up yet) and any East European scam involving a beautiful lady wanting to meet a Western man (“appearance and age not important”). We learnd to see the so-called Russian brides as either callous businesswomen / prostitutes in disguise or worse – men disguised as women, looking to scam unsuspecting men out of money and then disappear. I’ve heard of several stories where men travelled to foreign cities to meet such women and were fleeced out of more and more cash by the women and their families. In short, in the world of online dating, it was a clear cut case of who was the victim. Save for cases where the women were forced by gangs to play the part of an aspiring Russian bride, the brides were the criminals and the lovelorn men their unwitting prey.

I knew proper Russian bride introduction websites existed, but I sort of always assumed many of these were predominantly populated by the same sort of scammers. In fact, I assumed it was the scammers who ran them. I do recall seeing Louis Theroux do a show on mail order brides, but it was a Thai one, rather than a Russian one, if I recall correctly.

But here’s a different look at this story, making it clear things are not so black and white. An article in Salon sheds light on the lives of genuine Russian women who were not out to
scam anyone but were practically trafficked abroad to serve as sex slaves for Western men. It makes for
interesting reading and gives a totally new perspective on the whole issue. Highly recommended.

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Interesting figures about online dating fraud and scams

I’m sure most of us know by now that online dating is full of scammers. I’ve written quite extensively on this blog about such scammers, especially the seemingly very common, Iraq or Afghanistan soldier online dating scam. While I’m by no means saying anyone should avoid online dating completely because of these scammers, I am saying, educate yourself – read the posts and the comments below and learn the pattern and methods of action the scammers use. Most of these are the same sort of stories again and again.

Recently, anti fraud provider iovation shared some concrete figures about online dating fraud and abuse from around the world. The figures are quite staggering and are available on their blog:

In the last 90 days, 230,000 fraud and abuse attempts were reported to iovation from dating sites alone, including:

• Spamming – 90,000
• Scams and solicitations – 30,000
• Inappropriate content – 20,000
• Chat abuse – 17,000
• Profile misrepresentation – 15,000
• Credit card fraud – 14,000
• Identity mining / phishing attempts – 12,000

Obviously, the details were provided by the company itself that provides a service for dating (and other) sites that can supposedly help stop these. I assume that is the reason for the release of these figures, though knowing what I know about the industry, I doubt any company would need to doctor figures of fraud in order to sell a fraud-fighting product. One scammer or spammer alone can spam thousands of dating site users and lord knows there are enough scammers out there.

Different dating companies use different measures to stop spammers and scammers. Device reputation, as suggested by iovation is one handy layer of protection, but one should never belittle things like behavioural analysis, keyword filtering, etc..

The most important thing, though, is to educate the users of the site. Many sites still fear being branded as a fertile ground for scammers should they go the harm reduction route. There are no dating sites 100% free of scammers. If we can all accept that and learn and share the telltale signs, these criminals will eventually be out of a job.

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Is WooMe a giant scam?

TechCrunch certainly think so. In a recent article, they revealed how WooMe send automated fake messages to users, trying to get them to sign up and pay.

I am always appalled that sites would resort to these sort of tactics. Apart from giving the whole industry in general a bad name, it’s also stupid. Everyone knows you don’t need to scam people to get them to sign up to a dating site. All you need to do is get people dating on your site, which I would have thought a site as big as WooMe would have managed by now. Once you have a database of people, other people will join and happily pay their money to use the site and talk to others. OK, maybe “happily” is taking it a bit far, but they’d still pay. So why do the nasty hard sell on them and basically try to con them?

When writing the piece, Robin Wauters wondered whether all dating sites employ this tactic. My answer is an emphatic no. Only the bad ones employ this tactic. Yes, many dating sites struggle with fake profiles put on by scammers, prostitutes and other unsavoury characters, but none of those profiles would pop up and try to make you pay the site. They have their own agenda and it usually involves getting you off the site ASAP, not on it.

The WooMe evidence seems pretty damning, I must admit. Those do not look like profiles put up by external scammers. They very much look like a con. I echo the advice in the article – stay away.

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Online dating company threatens to forcibly create profiles for people

Online dating company Gotham Dating Partners has apparently decided to start scraping random people’s details off places like Facebook and make them dating profiles on their sites. Wait, what? Really?

Their marketing vice president, Damon Jordan, was even quotes as saying they do not expect any privacy issues as a result.

My Facebook privacy is cranked up all the way. Let me tell you, though… If anyone tried to make me a dating profile somewhere without my consent or my knowledge, I’d sue the hell out of them, as I hope anyone affected by these guys will. I dread to think of all the non-single people who’d find themselves having to explain to your BF or GF why they’re dating on some dating site somewhere.

Luckily, the Oz privacy commissioner (the article I was sent is on an Australian website) seems to know the score and said people should be sent a notice before their details are used and also that the details should not be used in the first place.

I am not sure how these things work in the US, but I’m pretty sure it would be illegal in the UK as well.

Gotham Dating Partners own a few dating sites, some of which are:

Dons and Divas, Faithful Lover, Marry Me First, Prison Hookup, and Ugly People Date.

Actually, looking at their website, I find it hard to believe these guys are for real. They actually have a site called Whitepeopledate.com that talks about how black men are “stealing your white women”. Is this all some kind of sick joke?

I suggest you don’t use their sites. If it’s a joke, it’s not funny. If it’s a marketing trick, it sucks. If it’s serious, then it’s a huge violation. Who knows what other privacy laws they bend on their sites.

The question is, I guess, which site is going to end up with your unwanted profile. Will it be Ugly People Date, Prison Hookup or KKKlove, sorry, white people whatever? So many fine choices.

Full article is here.

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How those personality testing dating sites match you up

I just read a very interesting article about innovations in a way algorithm-based dating sites — those that send matches to you, rather or as well as having you search for them — deliver you so-called compatible matches.
It talks specifically about the sites OKCupid and eHarmony UK, that both use lengthy personality / compatibility tests and complicated algorithms.

This may not seem interesting to you if you’re not an online dating professional or a tech geek, but then again, if you’re going to invest time and / or money (OKCupid is free) in a dating site that promises to deliver you compatible matches, then you might like to know how it’s done.

It seems sites are bringing in behavioural technology and are using it to try and understand their users better.

First of all, I guess I should explain what behavioural technology is. It’s the sort of thing that Amazon uses to send you recommendations of more stuff to buy, based on the sort of stuff you’ve bought before. It’s also the same technology used for serving you “more relevant” ads on the Internet. Have you ever noticed how sometimes you visit a certain website a few times and after a while, when you visit other sites, you see ads for that very websites over and over again? That’s because a cookie on your PC is telling the ad server that you have an interest in the site, so they keep reminding you it exists, hoping you’ll visit again and buy something. Planning a holiday? That same technology can figure that out by seeing your surfing pattern and serve you more travel-related websites. It’s pretty clever stuff. Not to mention scary.

So now, this same sort of thing is being used by dating sites to try and figure out what makes you tick, so they can send you matches you may actually like. Obviously, they can’t get into your head or follow you through your real life relationships (yet?) but what they can do is keep track of your usage patterns on the site, thus getting around some of the issues they face when trying to figure you out via online tests and questionnaires.

So, for example, eHarmony can figure out which of the matches they send your way you actually look at, contact and communicate with. Then they can send you more matches that appear similar as far as the computer is concerned.

Meanwhile, OKCupid, it seems, gets around people’s propensity to have a skewed view of their own level of hotness by calibrating other people’s ratings of a user’s attractiveness and serving up only matches in the same sort of attractiveness range (this is based on quite interesting psychological research, an article about this concept and its limitations can be found here).

Obviously, this system is not perfect, but I like that dating sites are acknowledging the fact that people often don’t tell the absolute truth when filling out personality tests and are trying to work around it. One example in the article was people who say they don’t want to date a smoker but would contact a smoker if he or she had other qualities they found important.

At the end of the day, a large part of the process of finding someone is luck and perseverence. Still, using this type of technology to help people find compatible people, even if it makes the company a few more dollars, still counts as using your powers for good and not for evil in my eyes. I’m really interested in the way it’s going to go.

You can read the original article here, but you need to pay the site to do it.

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Pay for online dating? New research says…maybe

The debate about whether it’s worth paying for online dating has been raging for many many years. Not surprisingly, free dating site owners are always telling you never to pay, while paid dating sites are always on about the many benefits of…you guessed it, paid dating sites!

A recent article in Big Think discusses research into the benefits of paying for online dating.

They raise OKCupid’s research into why you should choose free sites over paid that basically claim that you will always have a bigger match pool on a free site.

As a counter argument, they bring recent research that aims to show that people seem to give more of their time to online dates that are a result of contact made on a paid site.

OKCupid is a good site and their matching system is superb. Saying that, even with its massive size, the site appeals to certain people and not others, like any other site.

Their matching system is the only thing that masks the fact that the millions of people your matching pool would be made out of include thousands and thousands of scammers, inactive profiles and people who can’t be arsed to put the effort in and are likely not to take the online dating process seriously.
If you want to get away from all that, you’ll need to spend hours answering hundreds and hundreds of personal questions. Sites like Plentyoffish don’t even have those questions to shield you from the freaks. They may not have a vested interest in making you message dead profiles, but believe me, you’ll be messaging plenty of those.

The new research seems to show that people are more likely to invest their time in a person if they’d met them through something that cost them money. The way the test was presented baffles me a bit, though. It involved an imaginary situation where the dating site (whether paid or free) yielded someone who didn’t tick all the boxes and this person was pitched against a potentially perfect blind date arranged by a relative. Test subjects had to decide how much time to give the non-perfect date out of an hour, when that hour was to be shared between the potentially perfect blind date and the non-perfect dating site date.

People who’d paid the dating site ended up giving their dating site matches more of a chance. It also showed that men were more willing in general to give the online dating date a chance.

I’m not sure why they did it like that, but I don’t think it’s much of a surprise that people are more likely to act in a way that would justify an investment they had made. In fact, I do believe there’s been research done into that. So while paid dating sites may have a vested interest in making you contact inactive profile, as OKCupid says, the people you meet on such sites may have more of a vested interest in giving you a chance even if you’re not 100% right for them.

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Is the new Internet dating Safety Act is a waste of time?

From now on, any dating sites catering to residents of the state of New York will have to be informed of the dangers involved in using online dating and presented with so,e safety rules after registration.

Seemingly, this is a good thing – after all, we all know that online dating safety rules are important and we want people to be aware of them. As an online dating professional, I always advocate awareness and caution when meeting people on the Internet.

But the thing is, all reputable dating sites feature the safety rules already. The information is out there.
Most people who ignore the rules do it in spite of knowing they exist. They just think it won’t happen to them. The “it” in this case being some unfortunate incident to do with an online scammer or psycho.

Do we really think people will stop to read warnings when they are looking at pretty pictures of people they want to meet and getting their credit cards ready to pay for their subscription?

In my experience, people don’t even bother to read a single line of text that stands in their way of making contact. Terms and conditions? Recurring billing? Who cares! Just show me what I came to see.

And those people who are more level-headed and keen to learn more about the dos and don’ts of online dating safety? Well, they’re the ones who’d also read up about it and use common sense anyway.

The only thing such populist laws are good for is for deflecting future lawsuit. If someone is reckless, ignores the safety (common sense) rules and gets in trouble, at least the dating site will be covered for having posted a bit of text on the screen after registration. A big “I told you so”.
But is that really a good thing? Or is it just going to make dating websites of less likelyt to invest in the real duty of care they owe their clients?

I reckon the latter.

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Man in court over dodgy dating sites

One of the most common myths about online dating is that it’s standard industry practice for dating sites to employ people to run and manage fake profiles in order to attract people to the site and keep them on it. It’s amazing how often I still hear this from people and have to explain to them that no, the majority of dating sites, especially the big, popular ones, don’t actually need to resort to such methods to get people to sign up and stay.

Now a story has come out about a man who had a network of fake dating site he used to cheat people out of money. A lot of money. His network of so-called “executive dating sites” was a collection of fake profiles run by himself and ones he’d ripped off from other dating sites. Daters got identical brush offs when they tried to contact people on the site, which I guess was what got made them suspicious. He is now facing jail time and a massive fine.

I know this will make some of those people I’ve come across rub their hands together and say “I knew it!”, but the fact that this man is a. in court, about to do time and b. in the news for this fraud should be proof enough that this sort of behaviour is illegal and not tolerated both by neither the industry nor the legal system.

Does anyone really believe that the bosses of successful, high profile dating sites with ads all over TV, buses and papers would risk jail time by following such practices? I didn’t think so.

You can read all about the nasty fake dating site guy here.

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Santa Monica, CA says yes to online dating

It’s official – online dating is “no longer seen as sleazy”. Thus decided the city of Santa Monica, CA when it repealed a dated 1954 ordinance prohibiting matchmaking services, lonely hearts clubs and “any business of a like nature” from operating within its city limits. Welcome to the party, Santa Monica! Better late than never…

Apparently the good people of Santa Monica used to lump dating and introduction services together with escort services. They are now ready to make the distinction between the two, so while escort services are certainly not invited, online dating services and genuine matchmaking services are. In particular, one very large online dating company.

It seems this change has come about because of eHarmony wishing to move to Santa Monica from its current location in Pasadena. During negotiations between eHarmony and the city, the council ended up voting on whether or not to change the law, paving the way for the dating company to move there by the end of the year. I wonder if they’d have done the same for, say, Ashley Madison?

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Twitter now used for online dating

OK, now I’ve seen it all. There’s an article in the Ottawa Citizen telling the story of a lady who met and fell in love over a bunch of tweets on Twitter.

Oddly enough, she’s not alone. The article mentions three other couples who met via Twitter and I’m sure there are plenty more out there.

Ironically, as much as I find the idea bizarre and somewhat comical, I have to remember that when I started using the Net, people thought I was pretty weird when I told them I was meeting people over IRC, the then only Internet chat system.

Throughout the years I’ve learned that you can meet people just about anywhere if you are open to it, though you can’t live your life going places and using random systems just for the sake of maybe meeting someone. I have very close friends I met in the most unlikely places online under totally random circumstances. And why not?

While you will most likely be disappointed if you set up something like a Twitter account with the sole intention of finding a date or a mate, there’s no harm in exploring anything that could connect you with others and keeping yourself open to the possibility of getting in touch with people. Not just social networks – anything that could get you out into the world, physically or virtually. Then, if you see someone you think might be interesting
to talk to – do! Respond to their messages, say hello, introduce yourself, etc. You might not find the love of your life, but at least you’ll have made a new friend. Who knows, that in itself could expand your social circle
until you meet someone one day you never would have met otherwise.

The full article, by the way, is here.

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eHarmony starts new casual dating site

Not content with dominating the compatibility testing dating market, eHarmony.com have come up with a site that aims to compete with Match. This time, I think they mean it too, unlike their curiously bad launch campaign for “that gay serious relationship site” they were forced to create after a lawsuit.

Their credentials obviously speak for themselves, which may indeed encourage a lot of people to sign up and try the site (especially as this is now free for a while, as they want to get a critical mass of people going).

However, with so many dating sites out there using this formula and their company being known mostly for compatibility testing and serious relationship dating, there’s going to be some serious advertising and branding needed to get this site off the ground. Will it work?

Match is a major international brand name, so’s eHarmony. In the UK, Match have a lot of competition, but only DatingDirect.com comes close in terms of branding and style.
Perhaps the US is ready for another big brand dating site that isn’t a free for all. I’m looking forward to seeing the ad campaign.

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Gay Parship now worldwide

The fact that Parship, the dating site with the most comprehensive compatibility test, has a gay / lesbian offshoot may come as a surprise to you, especially if you live outside of the UK.

Well, now their gay dating site, gay-parship.com has gone international and is available in 9 (count them) different languages.

Check it out if you’re gay and looking for a serious relationship. The way this site handles things like communications and even viewing pictures is a bit different to most dating sites you’re likely to come across. Handy if you’re tired of the more meat-market sites.

If you’re not gay, you might want to give the straight Parship UK site a go. Or, if you’re in Ireland, you can try the local version for Dating in Ireland.

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Online dating profile advice – good or bad?

Well well well, it seems that online dating profile advice such as the kind I offer on this blog has finally made the BBC news headlines.

They have an article talking about the industry of helping people with their profiles and asking whether it’s good or bad, i.e. whether it’s a legitimate thing for people to want to do or whether it’s fraud.

I have mixed feelings about this industry. When I offer online dating profile advice, I don’t generally write the profile for clients using random information I think would make them look good. I do believe that if you just give information to someone and have them write everything for you from scratch without you having hardly any input then it’s a bit dishonest. Instead, I work with my clients to make sure their real personality is showing.

Sure, this does not involve writing about any negative traits the client might have, but then again, my book also advises people not to write about these things in their profile when writing them without any external help. It’s simply common sense. You wouldn’t write a CV telling your potential bosses that you have a habit of always being late, would you?

I’ve found that while online dating is great in so many ways it does require a certain skill in written expression in order to make your personality shine through. I’ve met a lot of people who are perfectly gregarious in person but find it difficult to connect to the online medium and write a winning profile. Helping them to bring out their personality online is no more “fraud” in my opinion than having professional help with writing a CV if you’ve never done it before.

When I help clients with their profile I aim to give them the tools to express themselves in the profile in a way that would do them justice, rather than create a false persona for them to lure in their “catch”. I tend to ask a lot of questions and get people answering them and then help them pick and choose the best parts to turn into a profile.

Even when doing phone interviews with people I aim to capture their own way of expressing themselves so I can turn that into a profile. What I have found is that most of my clients are actually very good at expressing
themselves online but need a few pointers and tips to make their profiles stand out even more (or tips on better websites for them to try).

I like to think that with these pointers most people can learn to understand the online medium and can then go on to continue developing their profile if they need to without needing any more specific help.

Have you ever used a service such as the one I offer here? Or are you bothered by the concept?

(You can read the full BBC article here)

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Online dating – who’s responsible for your safety?

I read an article recently in SF Chronicle about security screening in online dating, or rather the lack thereof. Apparently, all the way over in America, a convicted murderer was using match.com to find love. His profile was removed once he was discovered by a newspaper in his area.

Over there, some states are already demanding that dating sites vet their clients in some way. A trend that may spread, with some dating sites already voluntarily doing it to attract the more paranoid of daters.

Would you want to have to go through a background check to use a dating site? Would you want to have to provide a police background check, maybe a financial background check, maybe provide a certificate proving you’re single? Maybe later on one proving you’re healthy (so you won’t die on your partner in a few years) or that your parents didn’t die of anything that may be genetic. But why stop here? As we all know (we do know this, don’t we?) many personality tests on dating sites are not really all that. Why not make members take an in depth personality test proving they’re not likely to ever commit a crime in the future? As we all know, many serial killers have no previous known record, so how would you know? Maybe we should make everyone who wants to chat or date online pay for an appointment with a shrink to figure this one out.

As you can see, I’m not wild about this concept of compromising one’s privacy when all they want to do is date online. You wouldn’t do a background check on anyone who goes to your local bar, so why expect dating sites to be able to tell you everything about everyone on their site? And while we’re on it, why exclude ex cons from finding love? OK, in this case, they’ve chosen the complete extreme end of the scale as an example, but there are many lesser crimes people commit that would also appear on someone’s background check and may not be relevant at all to their online dating experience.

Crime happens. Dangerous people are out there. But do we really need to look up to dating sites to dig into our lives and tell people everything about us in order to be able to happily find love online? wouldn’t it be better to simply shatter that false sense of security by educating people and reminding them it’s a mean mean world out there?

Personally, I’d be happy with dating sites just doing what they’re doing now and fighting scammers and fraudsters (only, you know, doing a better job) and ensuring I remember to watch out for myself. How about you?

The full article is available here.

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New dating sites matches opposites – does that work?

Here’s an interesting one. There’s a new website out there called Opposites Connect that aims to match you up with your complete opposite based on a personality quiz. What a strange concept!

I was recently at a wedding. It was a registry office affair, but lovely nonetheless and the registrar who performed the ceremony said something that really hit a note with me. He said that opposites attract but it’s the things you have in common that keep you together over time.
Think about it. It’s natural to be attracted to our opposites – physically (that’s evolution talking there) as well as mentally and emotionally. There is something very exciting about the unfamiliar when we begin dating someone new. If they were exactly the same as us, we wouldn’t need to spend all that fun time discovering. But longer term? Can two people really sustain a happy relationship if both partners are completely different with nothing in common they’d like to do?

I’ve seen too many couples like that who get together and have children. Their children seem to be the only thing holding them together and when the children grow up, often the relationship breaks or stays together out of habit, with both sides having almost completely separate lives.

I must say I’m more of the complementing parts school of thought than complete opposite school of thought. Trying to get together with someone who’s totally unlike me in any way sounds like a recipe for disaster long term. Nice gimmick, but the only way I think it’ll work is if the personality test is so crap it doesn’t do its job and the site attracts people who think the concept is funny and therefore share a sense of humour.

What do you think? Are complete opposites really suitable for each other over time? Does that indeed dictate a relationship where both sides have separate lives? Is it suitable for some but not others?

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Online dating and the World Cup – get in there!

You can try to ignore the FIFA world cup, but chances are that if you are in the UK, you won’t be able to. Signs, flags, big screen TVs and the eternal sound of the dreaded vuvuzelas are everywere and online dating, too, takes its traditional hit, with a small but significant slump during game time.

If you’re not into football, this may be your time to chat up some women, while your brothers (OK, competitors) are glued to the screens waving their little flags. Past experience has shown that competition may be sparser around match times and after victorious England matches, when everyone is out celebrating at the local pub and those not into the so-called beautiful game are hiding at home wishing it all away. What better way to spend your away-from-football time than surfing the dating sites for fellow enlightened souls?

Check the FIFA site for the next England game and you’ll be able to make full use of the relative silence on the dating sites to hit up a whole load of women (or men who are unmoved by football). If (when?) England get kicked out, Brazil may well be your next option to watch out for, as this is where the British turn their affections when denied a victory of their own.

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Lovestruck.com release Android app

I already wrote about the Lovestruck.com iPhone app. Seeing as Lovestruck is aimed predominantly at busy city professionals who are often on the move, it makes sense. Now there is an Android app too, allowing owners of the Google Phone to also interact with their online dates while away from the PC. More smart phones are to follow.
These apps serve London and the UK’s other major cities, plus New York, Dublin, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney.

Lovestruck.com, in case you’re wondering, is a location-based online dating site aimed at city professionals in the world’s major cities.

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An online dating sites for fans of Apple?

Niche dating sites are all the rage nowadays, aimed at people who value certain aspects of their lives and want to start off their search for love by looking for people who share their interests and hobbies.

Usually it’s stuff like common religious grounds, lifestyle choices like vegetarianism, cycling or motorbiking, belonging to a certain subculture (goth, rockabilly and such) or being into photography, bird watching or whatever.

Now there is a site dedicated to fans of Apple, the company and its products. The new site, Cupidtino requires all its users to be owners of an Apple device and to be enamoured with it.

As far as I know, this is the first dating site of its kind – linking people not by hobbies, interests and lifestyles but by their consumer habits and love for a single commercial entity.

I guess you could argue that loving Apple products is a lifestyle choice and in many ways it is, but Apple is still a major commercial entity and the whole thing is therefore somewhat
Gibsonesque as far as I’m concerned.

I guess if people on the site are so into their Apple devices, they will really welcome a place where such fanboyism is welcomed and not ridiculed. I’m interested in seeing how many people find love on there.

You can read more about the new site here.

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Online dating better for marriage than meeting in bars

Here’s a bit of interesting news – online dating apparently yields more marriages than meeting people in bars. It’s now the third most common method of meeting people for marriage.

This is the result of a survey comissioned by match.com, so obviously there’s a slight bias there. Still, it’s an interesting thing to ponder and one that makes sense to me as an online dating industry person.

online dating lends itself better to finding out more about the person before actually going out on a date with them. You can easily find out about a person’s life goals, political views, likes and dislikes and other such compatibility related issues before you decide whether or not you have chemistry. In a way, it’s a seemingly more “sensible” approach to dating and one that is more attractive to people looking for a serious relationship, rather than a short, casual one.

Meeting people in bars usually means letting your body do the thinking and following that chemistry without knowing whether or not you are long-term compatible.

I’m not actually one to fault what I consider to be the traditional methods of meeting people (and yes, hooking up in bars is one of them). Saying that, we all know that when people chat each other up in bars they don’t always have marriage in mind.

The people who’d bother frequenting sites like match.com and eHarmony are likely to be more
marriage-minded to begin with, so the results of this survey could signify a gradual shift in people’s understanding of the various methods of meeting people and a move towards methods to suit each type of demand.

Of course, like everything else in this industry, it could also be an attempt by match.com to associate its name with serious relationships / marriage in order to get more serious daters onto its site.

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Ashley Madison to open in the UK

US cheaters’ dating website, Ashley Madison is apparently going to expand to the UK market. I can’t wait to see the response their incredibly annoying ads will get in the UK. Apparently UK cheaters looking to have affairs can already register on the site, but there hasn’t been any marketing done yet in the UK.

For the record, I think cheating is a complex issue and you can’t (or shouldn’t) judge everyone who cheats and condemn them to hell. I find it sad, more than anything else. Sad that people can be so bad at communicating, they’d go behind people’s backs rather than be open about their own needs with themselves or each other. It’s also sad that in the 21st century there are still people trapped in loveless marriages without being able to legally or safely leave.

On the other hand, I’m not entirely keen on so-called “lifestyle cheaters” – people who knowingly choose to cheat on their spouses / partners because they enjoy the thrill of the forbidden. I’m certainly not keen on sites such as Ashley Madison that actively encourage people to cheat on their partners and then pocket the cash.

Still, I’d rather people who want to cheat go somewhere like that and leave the normal dating sites to actual singles.

What do you think? Will this site get a good reception in the UK? Will ads encouraging people to cheat go down well with the British public?

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What are the most commonly used words in online dating?

A tag cloud generated by leading online dating white label company, White Label Dating (responsible for many many dating sites) reveals what the most commonly used words are in online dating messages.
At least for one day, April 13th, 2010.

The most commonly used words were:

bit, here, good, nice, lol, hope, want, looking, chat, love, know, day, live soon

You an see the pretty tag cloud and read the rest of the original blog post here.

What do you reckon? Are those your most commonly used words online? 🙂

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You know online dating is mainstream when…

If you needed further proof that online dating is now squarely in the mainstream as a household name, look no further than this BBC comedy-drama.

It follows the online exploits of a middle aged woman looking for love online. There are apparently 4 parts and you can listen to it online.

I’ve not had a chance to listen to it yet, I must say, but it’s good to see the BBC are giving the subject of online dating a stage, even if it’s one of those “candid looks” things that are not particularly flattering.

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Easydate buy Allegran

This will mean very little to anyone who’s not a part of the online dating industry, but Allegran, the company I used to work for (the one that launched my online dating career) has been sold again. This time, it’s been sold to Easydate, who know what they are doing, as far as I can tell, so hopefully we won’t see a repeat of the last sale fiasco, when the Daily Mail Group screwed it all up for everyone (including themselves).

Allegran used to be a market leader in the UK, with some of the best minds in the business. Here’s hoping this sale will do justice to its dating sites and will see them helping more and more people find love in years to come.

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New MatchAffinity TV Campaign

I wrote here a while back about MatchAffinity, the compatibility testing offer from match.com that’s recently hit the UK.

Well, they’ve just launched a TV campaign. I wonder if it will have the same effect on this site as their other one did on their main site? Could MatchAffinity become another household name in the UK online dating industry?

Have you seen this ad? What do you think?

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Is cheating in relationship indeed the new norm?

The Pittsburgh Channel recently ran an article asking whether cheating is now becoming the new norm. This article was mentioned in an industry blog I read, because the original article mentions Ashley Madison, the world’s most (in)famous extra-marital affair online dating site.

I’m in two minds about sites like Ashley Madison that make a killing out of other people’s heartbreak and even encourage people to cheat on their spouses in their ads. Why two minds? Because people have always cheated and will keep on cheating and many of the people who cheat turn to online dating sites to find people to have affairs with. Personally, I’d rather such people go somewhere like Ashley Madison and find someone who’s willing to put up with that sort of second-best relationship. The alternative is the same people going to a normal dating site and lying about their relationship status. If someone’s going to lie anyway, it’s better that they only lie and hurt one person rather than two.

On the other hand, I do believe that encouraging people to cheat and presenting the act of cheating in a positive light is more than a little bit evil. The owner of the site, Joel Biderman, has apparently been quotes somewhere as saying he’d be “devastated” if he ever found out his wife was using his site. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who wish him just that.

Cheating is sad. Not the act of “belonging” to one person and sleeping with another, but all the lies and pretense that go with it. The fears and insecurities that would make people who are supposed to be partners treat each other as strangers.

But there is one potentially good thing about having sites like AM out in the open and using their well-oiled PR machine to plant controversial articles like this one in the media on an almost daily basis.

I think maybe it’s time for society as a whole to take a good, strong look at its relationship and family values and start debating whether these hold true for everyone. There are many reasons why people cheat and I don’t pretend to know and understand them all, but let’s make a gross generalisation for the sake of argument and say people generally cheat for one of several reasons:

  1. They are unhappy in their relationship but are unable to end it for whatever reason
  2. They find it difficult to be with just one partner for long periods of time and feel that they need some variety
  3. They’re unaware of being unhappy in their relationship and need something to make them realise that, so they fall for someone else
  4. They get off on the whole “having an illicit, secret affair” thing

How many of those reasons would become obsolete if people just chilled out about the whole concept of marriage and never ending monogamy being the end all and be all of everything to do with life?

People who have accidental affairs will, of course, not hang out on Ashley Madison and sites of its ilk, but the other reasons I listed would never need to happen if people were allowed to end relationships or have them open. Even p eople who get off on the fear and excitement of possibly getting caught cheating would find the whole thing pretty dull if their husband or wife turned around and accepted their partner’s need to be with someone else, don’t you think? Like any other drug, it soon loses its appeal to most people if it’s not seen as an act of rebellion.

In a sense, I think society on the whole and, in particular, the religious mainstream are far more responsible for people cheating than a site like Ashley Madison could ever be. Force people to marry for life, make them ignore their urges and their needs and, dare I say it, give them something to rebel against, thus making the act of cheating a sexy, exciting, illicit thing and you’re practically doing the so called “devil’s work” yourself.

I’m not saying we should all head back in time to the 60s and operate in a free love, free for all world, but I don’t think we should ignore the fact that some people are routinely unhappy in traditional relationships. I have zero problem with open relationships where both partners are honest with each other about their need to occasionally sleep with other people. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, sure, but then neither is monogamy and what it represents. People have cheated throughout history and they will keep on cheating until the reasons behind such actions are dealt with.

Saying that extra-marital affair websites and a public debate is encouraging cheating is hypocritical as well as naive. Cheating has always been the norm. It just wasn’t the norm to speak about it in public.

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Online dating scams on the rise in Australia

The Australian consumer watchdog reports a rise of 30% in online dating related scams. Could it be because people in Australia are becoming more exposed to online dating and are throwing caution to the wind a little bit too much?

With online dating becoming more and more mainstream, there should be more information available about the potential dangers.
People often put their trust in their dating site, sometimes blindly, and no dating site likes to admit that some scammers may have gotten through.
Having worked as a moderator on a dating site I know how hard it is to catch everyone who’s up to no good. We were always aware of how important it is to catch these people before they fleece innocent daters and steal their money, but even with all the hard work we put in, sometimes these scammers managed to con people before we got to them.

Never assume the site you’re on is 100% safe. No site is. You need to arm yourself with information and learn how to spot a scammer, so you can avoid their nasty plots.

Now’s a good time as ever to brush up on your online dating safety knowledge. Here are some handy online dating safety tips from my book.

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Thinking of going speed dating? You’re in good company.

The next episode of House will see the team going speed dating, with apparently hilarious results.

It’s always good to see trends becoming mainstream enough to be featured on top TV shows, isn’t it?

You can watch the trailer for the episode here

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge yourself, you can take a look at my reviews of speed dating and singles’ events companies.

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Online dating is still on the rise in the UK

Comscore (an Internet monitoring and market research company) is reporting a 16% rise in use of online dating among Britons. This is particularly interesting considering the global dating market has seen a drop of 1%

Feeling the pinch in the American market, the big online dating companies are going to be putting more effort into their UK campaigns, so I’m guessing we’re going to see a lot more of their advertising in the near future.

Hopefully, this will mean tougher competitions and therefore better deals and more variety for British online daters.

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Do Atheists really get more responses to their online dating messages?

More about the OKcupid survey…
A recent article in the Telegraph reported the results of a statistical survey conducted by free dating site OKCupid. The survey aimed to discover the makings of the perfect first online dating message, on OKcupid at least.

Unfortunately, by the time the story got around, the headline presented it in a more sensationalist way that seemed to imply, well, that saying you are an Atheist (or at least, not mentioning God) will get you more responses anywhere.

It wasn’t long before the Christian sites intervened and pointed out the fact that on many sites (and not only those specifically catering for people of particular religions), presenting yourself as an Atheist would not be quite as good. OKCupid is known as a pretty secular site and you need only look at the list of user-submitted compatibility questions to get a clear vision of topics that are of interest to its users. Questions about alternative lifestyles and life choices are as common as those about personal hygene and family values.

OKCupid themselves clarified the results of their survey and suggested Atheists may generally open with expressing their non-religious views, while Christians or other religious people may not necessarily discuss religion specifics with each other.
A good point, though I do have a guess of my own about why mentioning the word “God” in a message resulted in less people responding to such messages. Read any dating scammer messages lately? There’s a whole range of scam messages from “God fearing” folk.
As a free dating site, OKCupid is full of scammers who, undoubtedly, try to contact members with such messages on a regular basis and get ignored. The advantage this site over many other free sites is, of course, the compatibility algorithm that shows you better matches once you’ve answered a few hundred questions, but the scammers are still out there sending their messages. I do believe the large number of such messages is the reason why mentioning God in a message is seen as such a negative thing.

OKCupid is a large, popular site and there are certainly some interesting things we can learn from their survey about online interaction, but when it comes to social trends and preferences, things need to be put in perspective. Every site has a particular vibe and a particular type of people who date on there. If everywhere was exactly the same, there’d be no need for all the different dating sites out there, after all.

You can read the original article here.

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Online dating: How long should the first message be?

Back from my holiday and catching up on my reading. OKCupid have just come out with some interesting figures on message response rates and the length a first message needs to be to get a good response.

Nothing particularly new in the figures (at least not to anyone with a basic understanding of the industry), but it’s good to see everything in numeric form.

Basically – women are twice more likely than men (just about) to get a response when they send a message, but they’re better off sending a shorter message – about 50 characters.

Men should put more effort into writing longer messages – 200-300 words was deemed best.

It seems women like to know a bit more about the man before deciding whether to reply, so men need to do more to stand out from the crowd when approaching women.

Men, on the other hand, don’t need so much text to make them decide to reply to a woman’s message, so saying too much can actually work against you, making you appear overly chatty.

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Online Dating Content

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Match.com big advertising push in the UK

Has anyone else been seeing the match.com adverts everywhere recently, or is it just me? they are certainly doing a big advertising push right now. There’s a new TV advert and lots of Internet banners everywhere, all with the (frankly, rather annoying) Cupid and Fate concept and pushing the 6 month money back guarantee. Traditionally, summertime (especially when there’s a bit of sunshine) is a time where online dating growth levels out a bit, before rising again in time for the winter depression. Maybe Match feel people need a bit more of a nudge right now to remember the benefits of dating sites?

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GirlsDateForFree.com – Homepage makeover but still no quiz

GirlsDateForFree is a UK dating site where (as the name suggests) women don’t pay. This has made it extremely popular, as well as somewhat known for being a bit of a party site great for casual dating (though not exclusively for that).

For a while now they’ve been advertising their compatibility quiz on their site, so I wanted to check it out. Alas, it seems to be down and has been for months. I even went as far as sending them a message telling them about it, but nothing has changed. I’ve been giggling about it for a while, but it’s a shame, cause the rest of the features on the site are actually quite decent, including pretty good mobile phone integration. Seems a shame to have a big broken link in the middle of it all.

Meanwhile, their homepage has somewhat of a massive makeover and looks very different, though the rest of the site has not changed. I wonder if they are working on changing the rest of it as well? It’s quite dated, although that has never stopped anyone from using it (and in fact, many people prefer the simplicity of it and the fact that it’s unpretentious). Have you seen the new page? I’m curious as to people’s opinions, so please leave yours below.

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