Industry stuff

This is a collection of posts about the online dating industry: personalities, sites, industry-specific issues and other things that may be of interest to online dating professionals (and curious online daters).


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.

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Add comment January 15th, 2013

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.

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Add comment April 10th, 2012

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.

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Add comment April 6th, 2012

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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Add comment November 24th, 2011

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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Add comment October 16th, 2011

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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Add comment September 28th, 2011

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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Add comment August 4th, 2011

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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Add comment July 31st, 2011

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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2 comments July 23rd, 2011

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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Add comment July 6th, 2011

“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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Add comment June 22nd, 2011

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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1 comment June 8th, 2011

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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Add comment March 18th, 2011

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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Add comment March 10th, 2011

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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Add comment February 21st, 2011

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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2 comments February 7th, 2011

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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Add comment January 18th, 2011

How those personality testing dating sites match you up

Do you ever wonder how matchmaking sites like eHarmony and OkCupid decide what matches to send you? An interesting article talks about various innovations in the field of algorithms in the dating industry.

Continue Reading Add comment January 3rd, 2011

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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Add comment December 22nd, 2010

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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1 comment December 3rd, 2010

Man in court over dodgy dating sites

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.

Continue Reading Add comment October 29th, 2010

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…

Continue Reading Add comment October 19th, 2010

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.

Continue Reading Add comment September 10th, 2010

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.

Continue Reading Add comment August 29th, 2010

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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2 comments August 23rd, 2010

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.

Continue Reading Add comment July 11th, 2010

Online dating – who’s responsible for your safety?

New research suggests online daters have a false sense of security when dating online. But is the increasingly popular trend of pushing for intrusive background checks the way the online industry should go?

Continue Reading Add comment June 30th, 2010

New dating sites matches opposites – does that work?

A new dating site aims to match up complete opposites but is this concept really helpful or is it just another gimmick with no purpose apart from making the site some money?

Continue Reading 1 comment June 29th, 2010

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.

Continue Reading Add comment June 18th, 2010

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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Add comment May 11th, 2010

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.
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.

Continue Reading 1 comment May 6th, 2010

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.

Continue Reading 2 comments May 3rd, 2010

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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2 comments April 20th, 2010

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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Add comment April 17th, 2010

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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1 comment April 8th, 2010

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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Add comment April 6th, 2010

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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Add comment April 2nd, 2010

Could online dating be bigger than porn?

It is according to Online Schools who also have some other interesting things to say about the industry…

Online Dating Statistics
Via: Online Schools

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2 comments March 27th, 2010

Is cheating in relationship indeed the new norm?

Sites like Ashley Madison that actively encourage people to cheat on their spouses are becoming increasingly popular. The Pittsburgh Channel recently ran an article asking whether cheating is now becoming the new norm and whether such sites are responsible for it. But has the state of play really changed so much? Or are we simply being hypocritical and naive?

Continue Reading 2 comments March 11th, 2010

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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Add comment March 4th, 2010

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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Add comment March 3rd, 2010

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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Add comment February 25th, 2010

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.

Continue Reading 2 comments September 25th, 2009

Online dating: How long should the first message be?

New figures released by dating site OKCupid reveal some interesting things about online dating response rates and important information about sending your first message to someone online.

Continue Reading 1 comment September 12th, 2009

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Add comment July 28th, 2009

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.

Continue Reading 2 comments June 16th, 2009

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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2 comments May 9th, 2009

You know a dating site is not right for you when…

Occasionally, I go and check the email account I sign up to sites with when researching them. Sometimes I find useful discounts and offers sent only to registered users to encourage them to subscribe, other times there’s notices of people who contact me or dating tips. Occasionally, the site will try to entice me to return by providing me with a list of potentially suitable matches or new users who recently joined and live in “my area”. I just logged in and found one of those emails telling me about new people in my area. Unfortunately, this was an American site and their UK membership is obviously rather sparse. The “people in my area” were from places like Manchester and Hull. I live in London.

Continue Reading Add comment April 8th, 2009

Plentyoffish in paid upgrade shocker!

OK, maybe it’s not so shocking to most people, but Plentyoffish made its name by advocating 100% free dating. Now you can pay to get a special “badge of honour” that supposedly marks you as a “serious dater”.

Most people who are dating online will have come across Plentyoffish, but, frankly, I am yet to personally hear anything particularly good about the experience. I’m sure some people do well there, but on the whole it’s a scammer and time-waster magnet, mostly because it’s big and free (which is also the reason why most people end up trying it sooner or later).

Continue Reading Add comment March 20th, 2009

The Daily Mail have a new dating site

Seems like a brave step after what happened to their last online dating attempt, but maybe the newspaper link will bring them some more joy this time.

Most major newspapers in the UK have their own dating offerings, which are mostly run for them by other companies, using the newspapers’ branding on top (i.e. white label).

The Mail are, as usual, a bit late to the party, but I’m sure their loyal readers will welcome the chance to network with each other, like the readers of the Guardian and the Times already do.

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Add comment March 10th, 2009

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