New dating app aims to help users have better first dates

First dates are meant to be exciting, but as we all know, there’s always the possibility of things going horribly wrong. Different people have different views about what makes a good first date, ranging from the location to whether or not you’re meant to split the bill. I’ve heard so many first date horror stories that I was intrigued by  a press release that landed in my emailbox from a company called TakeMeOut Dating (or TMO).  The app is apparently aimed at busy professionals who want to simplify the first date experience by specifying their first date preferences before being shown any potential matches. Once you choose stuff like who you think should pay for the bill or whether or not you want to go to a posh restaurant, the app will show you only those people who match your date choices.  The next phase of the app promises to give you the option to actually book a table at a restaurant, plus a more vigorous screening process of potential dates. While not as extensive as personality profiling, this does sound like a good way of taking some of the confusion and awkwardness out of the dreaded first dates. And as dating should really be about having fun, this can only be a good thing.  Also, to celebrate the launch, they are currently offering a free night out for you and your date for people who join and invite five friends.

 

The app is available on both Android and iPhone.  For those interested in more details, full press release is below, including the free date offer (at the very end). You can contact them via: http://www.takemeoutdating.com/contact-us/

 

TMO (TakeMeOut) – The Dating App That Lets You Choose Your First Date Experience and Review Your Matches

Traditional dating apps leave users with many questions that often lead to incompatible dates, something busy

professionals do not have the time to endure. Will the person I meet have proper dating etiquette and similar first

date expectations? Who is paying for the date? Will we end up going to a place both of us will enjoy and feel

comfortable in?

TMO (TakeMeOut) is designed to cater to the needs of busy professionals by allowing users to control their dating

experience and set expectations upfront. By checking the matches rankings and reviews, users are able to quickly

eliminate unsuitable partners and match with only the best!

When you join TMO you have the option of choosing whether you want to take someone out, you want someone

to take you out, or whether you prefer to go Dutch and split the cost of the date.

Then you specify the desired type of dating experience expected on your first date. Whether it is going out for a

drink, to a restaurant, or something more sophisticated, TMO will offer you the different options

For example, a female user could decide she wants to be taken out to an upscale dinner on her first date. TMO

algorithm will then only show her men who like to wine and dine their dates. When both users swipe right, the

match is made and they are able to chat with one another.

A very unique feature TMO offers is by letting users rate their past dates so that others can know whether or not

they are a genuine person they want to spend their valuable time with. The rating system is one of a kind

algorithm that allows trustworthy users to stand out, and makes the anonymous dating experience safer.

TMO is the only dating app of its kind that offers these unique features. It was created for the purpose of

improving the dating app experience for busy professionals by giving them more control over the process,

increasing the quality of their matches, and ensuring they are matched with real people who they want to spend

their limited free time with. The matching system is robust as it is seamless, designed to be as simple and highly

efficient!

TMO’s next phase will be to provide even more unique features, such as a booking system to book restaurants

online and a more advanced screening process to make sure that you would always meet the person shown in the

picture on your first date. Our goal is to take the work out of dating, provide perfect matches, and let our users get

the most out of life and their dating experiences!

TMO is all about giving their users the best dating experience possible, while building it’s community to become

the standard in online dating. If you join now and share the app with 5 friends, TMO will book a night out for you

and your date with 2 cocktails on us.

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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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Match.com launch Date Explorer competition

If you’re in the UK, are single and want to travel the world on Match.com‘s buck, I have some good news for you. Just have a look at this info I got sent and, if this is you, follow their instructions for your chance to win what sounds like a pretty sweet deal.

 

For 6 weeks this June/July one lucky single could be travelling to Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Stockholm and NYC with flights, hotels + generous travel money all courtesy of Match.com.

 

All the lucky single needs to do is apply to be a Date Explorer, have an outgoing personality, and send us Brits back any dating tips they find.

 

The deadline for applications is the 30th April 2015.

 

For further details please check out http://advice.uk.match.com/date-explorer/apply-be-our-date-explorer

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.

Dating sites selling user profiles. Dodgy!

I know it’s sometimes difficult to think of the individual user when you run a dating site or work for a dating company. When I worked in one, we used to often think of things in terms of trends, statistics, demographics. When we started a new site, we’d sometimes populate it with suitable people from our database and email them to say they got a new account set up. Sometimes we’d even give them a trial subscription to try it out. Some people complained, but most only complained because they didn’t realise the new website was also owned by us and thought we’d sold their details on. We figured, these people already have us our details, so they might like to try a new site where they can meet more people, especially if they can try it out for free. I still don’t see anything inherently wrong with that. There are also a few companies that run white label dating sites where the whole business model is based on providing new websites in the “family” with an off the shelf database to kick things off. But when you start selling your users’ data to the highest bidder, well, that’s just plain nasty.

Check out this article about this worrying trend. I won’t call it a new trend, because it’s been going on for years. It’s just that now someone’s caught on and is spreading the word.

What are the top dating and relationship deal breakers for men and women?

Ever wondered what the top dating and relationship deal breakers are for men or women? eHarmony actually asks its users exactly that question as part of its personality matching process and they’ve released the data. I came across a post on the Detroit Free Press site listing the top 10 of each. Handy if you want to know what to avoid if you’re looking for a long term relationship or marriage.

It seems both men and women (on eHarmony at least) see lying, cheating and rudeness as the top three deal breakers, in that order. Infidelity follows at number 4 for women and is, interestingly, number 6 for men, preceded by poor hygiene and mean-spiritedness. I am at a loss as to how infidelity and cheating differ on this particular scale. Could it be that cheating at cards or cheating people out of money is further up the list than cheating on your partner? Ho hum. Men will surely be encouraged by the fact that poor hygiene is only number 7 on the list of women’s turn offs and being overweight isn’t even in the top 10. Women, on the other hand should note that excessive weight is the number 9 male turn off.

See the full list here.

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When dating online, women prefer slightly overweight men

The Vancouver Sun recently published an article with some interesting online dating statistics and recent research. It makes for some interesting reading. Apart from stating the obvious – that men on online dating sites prefer women who are skinny and shorter than they are and that women prefer men who are taller than they are and wealthy, it did point out the interesting fact that men who are slightly overweight tend to get more replies from women. I wonder if it ties in with that bit of recent research that showed women are happier in serious relationships where the man is the heavier one? Or could it be that being slightly overweight is some sort of subconscious signal that the man is financially stable?
Either way, these figures are good news for men (go on, have that doughnut!) and somewhat bad news for women worried about their weight.

There are a few others interesting bits of statistics in the original article, including the answer to the age old question – how many people lie in their personal description.

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Worst online date ever?

Next time you think you’re having a bad online date, spare a thought for poor Leah Gibbs who went out with a guy she met on Facebook only to be used as a getaway driver when he robbed a bookies (gambling shop) for the princely sum of £245. Mr. Right asked to stop at a Ladbrokes on the way to the date, only to emerge from the shop minutes later brandishing a gun and wearing a black bandana. He shouted “Drive!” at the shocked Gibbs.

The young single mother of two was initially arrested, as it was thought she was in on the fun, but was released when it turned out the guy was acting alone and she was merely an unwitting victim.

The world is apparently full of charmers!

You can read more about this story here.

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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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Online dating for older women

There’s an article out on the Guardian website about older women and the online dating industry. I occasionally get asked about this and it saddens me to say that yes, women in their 40s, 50s and 60s do suffer online, as men are often looking for younger women. This is the one time when I tell people to lie online – when the woman looks and feels younger and just wouldn’t make it into most guys’ search on the site. The fact is, online dating on standard sites – the ones not aimed at older daters in particular – can be pretty harsh for older ladies. It’s not impossible and some women do find love in this way, but it’s not as easy as finding someone when you’re a happy go lucky girl in your 20s.

One of the ideas touted at older women in the article is to look for younger men on sites that cater for “cougars”. Personally, I hate the term cougar, because I don’t think women interested in younger men ought to be such an unusual thing so as to warrant a special name or a club. Men do it all the time and while some of us may raise an eyebrow when a man dates a woman half his age or younger, it seems to be socially accepted as a common enough thing. I guess we’re OK with men doing it cause it reminds us of polygamy days when it made sense for the guy to keep adding younger women to his harem so that he can keep producing kids even when his other wives got older. Women doing it for companionship and fun? Maybe weird enough so that we have to counteract it with cougar pride.

Either way, dating younger men if you’re both up for it can be fun. You can get more tips in the article itself.

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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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UK chat show looking for people with dating stories to tell

I’m just the messenger here. I just had this email land in my box. The same production company is responsible for QI, so obviously I’m going to help them out with this! They’re looking for interesting dating stories and online dating is a definite angle, if something interesting happened to you along the way.

If you’re interested, drop them a line and you could be on the telly 🙂

Back with a second series, The Rob Brydon Show is looking for people with funny / interesting stories to be in our audience.

Have you got any dating disaster stories? Did you meet your partner in an unusual way? Are you a strange pairing?
If you have ANYTHING funny or interesting you’d like to share with us we’d LOVE to hear from you.

Please get in touch ASAP via therobbrydonshow@talkbackthames.tv

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Match.com to begin sex offender screenings

match.com in the USA is to begin screening its members against the registered sex offenders registry. This follows a sad case where a sex offender met a woman on the site and assaulted her. She’s now suing Match.

It’s important to note (as the site’s president points out) that these lists are not exactly reliable. Match say that since there have been improvements in the quality of these measures and the lists then it now makes sense to do so.

Unfortunately, even with these measures there’s no guarantee criminals won’t slip through the net. Not every rapist or sex offender in the US is on the list. Some haven’t even started raping yet. Now, before you freak out and stop online dating entirely, just remember that these people don’t live inside the Internet. They come from somewhere outside of the Internet and can be met in bars, shops, bible classes and dark alleys all around the country.

On the other hand, you shouldn’t let the fact that Match (and probably other sites soon) are covering their asses stop you from observing the safety rules. I know I keep repeating myself here and talking about safety rules quite a lot, but I worry that measures like this one could make people complacent and actually put them in more danger, as they’d assume they’re 100% safe when in fact, they’re only a little bit safer than they had been. I think it’s great that Match are adding another layer of safety to their already strongly moderated site and I hope more sites do this, but that should never take place of personal responsibility and awareness of personal safety.

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A one man dating site

When I first started working in the online dating industry, I had a conversation with a friend about the concept (it was a bit less common then) and we joked about him making a dating website where there would be no other men but himself. Women who joined would be given a choice of dating…. him. We weren’t sure about whether it would be funnier to have different profiles for him or just the one profile with one picture.

Now it seems someone in the States has gone and done more or less exactly that, only he seems serious, even though the idea seems like it could be plucked straight out of a viral. I keep expecting some sort of story to enfold with a match.com punchline, but for now, it seems there really is a guy called Chas who wants to be hooked up with his future wife and is willing to pay $10K for the pleasure. If the pictures are anything to go by, Chas is actually quite dishy, too.

So if you know anyone who would like to date Chas, you can go to HookChasUp.com and try to claim your $10K. It’s a great idea and, frankly, I don’t even care whether or not it’s real.

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Do people lie more online? How can you tell if you’re being lied to?

Everyone I talk to seems to assume that online dating is full of liars and cheats, mostly because lying appears to be so much easier to do online. But now someone has started looking into whether people really do lie more online and about lying in general Vs. lying online.

The research revealed that while people lie less in, say, emails and online CVs than they do in phone calls and offline CVs, we tend to mistrust the Internet more and assume people will lie more while using it. This is probably more to do with our fear of the new and unfamiliar technology than with anything else.

In regards to online dating, it seems that most people will put tiny white lies in their profiles (which, by the way, is something I sometimes encourage people to do) but when it comes to the big stuff, people don’t just pull their motivations for lying out of thin air when they’re online as opposed to in person. This is something I’ve discussed before and even put in my book: cheaters cheat. They will either use the net to cheat or they’ll go to a bar and cheat. Scammers and thieves will either use the net to steal or they’ll use other means to steal. Either way, it’s the same cheaters. You may just come across more of them online because you have access to more people. Even the famed African scammers with their 411 scams (aka “Nigerian Money Scams”) predate the Internet. Before the Net they used faxes and before faxes they used posted letters.

What’s interesting is that it seems our intuition is as strong online as it is elsewhere – we may not have visual or aural cues to tell whether someone’s lying, but we’re still likely to get that odd feeling that something is just not right. This site is full of comments from women (and men) who had that feeling when dealing with scammers, ran a search and got to the posts dealing with common soldier scams. Ultimately, I think if we learn to listen to our intuition, not even the Internet can stop us from uncovering liars.

You can read the full article here.

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Another online dating survey I’d missed

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this was published in time for Valentine’s Day, though I managed to somehow miss it. It’s the results of an eHarmony funded survey of people and how they meet / have met their partners. The results, as expected, are not unexpected, especially considering eHarmony’s target audience.

Apparently, while most people still meet their partners through offline means (introductions through friends and family being the most common), online dating is very popular and effective for more mature daters (40s and up). Younger people still prefer to hang around in clubs and bars, it would seem, though one in 3 people has tried online dating. It also shows things like industry growth, as well as differences between people of different countries when it comes to the sort of dating sites they prefer. For the full article about this survey, go here.

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Christian mobile dating app released by ChristianCafe

ChristianCafe.com have released what is said to be the first ever Android app aimed specifically at the Christian dating market. It allows members of the site to browse profiles and communicate with others on the site. Those who are not members yet but want to be can download the app and sign up directly from their phone.

In case you’re wondering why there isn’t an iPhone app, well, there is. It’s been out for a while. You can search for these apps by typing “christiancafe” in the Android app store and “christiancafe.com” in the iTunes store.

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Go on a Great Relate Date this Valentine’s Day

Parship dating and Relate, the UK’s relationship counselling charity, have banded together for a great charity campaign this Valentine’s Day to raise awareness of the great work Relate do. Take your online dating belle or beau on your first date this Valentine’s and you could win some fab prizes, including vouchers for yummy meals at Italian restaurant chain, Carluccio’s. Actually, you don’t have to go on a date with someone you just met. Friends, couples, family members and work colleagues can all join in, go on “dates” and earn a chance at winning a prize. Just go on your date, take a picture and submit it to be judged on the Relate website. The most creative picture wins the prize.

While you’re at it, why not text Date to 70007 to donate just £3 to Relate? Your £3 will pay for 15 phone calls for people who really need relationship counselling.

For more details about Relate and The Great Relate Date campaign, visit the Relate Site

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Match buys OKCupid

I can’t believe this went by without loads more noise and publicity. Or did it? Did I just miss it because I’ve had a busy week?

match.com just bought OKCupid, the free dating site that is known for its brilliant compatibility matching system and rich data mining blog. The industry is seemingly abuzz with speculation of how this will affect OKCupid. Apparently the original company will still run it from their NYC offices, so people are hoping things like the blog will keep being run as they are now, with plenty of research and data available for all of us to chew on.

Having been a “victim”, shall we say, of a buy out myself, I’ll be interested to see how this affects both the way the company is run and the final product output to the public. OKCupid was not really run like a standard, money grabbing online dating business as far as I can tell. I know there were some changes along the way geared towards making money, but those were relatively harmless compared to what you
see on other dating sites. I doubt Match bought the site without intending on making it deliver some return on investment so my main concern is not the blog but the character of the site itself. I have no idea of what Match are like when they buy stuff out, but I’m hoping they’ll keep the spirit of the site going, rather than try to make it a Match clone. I have nothing against the match.com site, but OKCupid has stood out for years as unique so it would be a shame to lose that vibe.

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Online dating related robberies in Canada

Two men have been arrested in Canada after arranging to meet gay men off dating site Plenty of Fish and then driving off with them and robbing them. Nasty, nasty stuff, though luckily no one was physically hurt. Still a pretty unpleasant experience, I’m sure. This is a good opportunity to remind everyone about the online dating safety rules. I know men are less likely to be affected by violent crime as a result of meeting people online, but this case shows how dangerous it is to just drive off with a complete stranger.

So guys, not to sound like your mom or anything, but even though it’s a lot more common on the gay scene to head off somewhere and have sex on a first date if you fancy the guy, do think twice about it, or at least keep everything to a relatively public place to begin with.
Don’t drive off into the woods with a total stranger where no one can hear you scream.

These robberies happened in Halifax, where I assume there are less gay clubs than, say, Berlin, but I’m pretty sure there’s somewhere people go to meet up that’s not the ‘hood or the wood.

You can read the full article here.

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New online dating movie to air on HBO on Valentine’s Day

I really wish I lived in the US and had HBO so I could watch this!

When Strangers Click: Five Stories from the Internet is a documentary about finding (or at least looking for) love on the Internet. It follows five different people and their stories of using dating sites and even Second Life to find love.

HBO will be airing it on Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s so people who are still looking can find hope? I really hope it gets to the UK at some point.

You can read the full synopsis of the film on the HBO site:

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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Online dating soldier scam – men beware!

There are a few very active posts on this site discussing the online dating soldier scam (see related posts below for the list). It’s generally understood that this scam is usually perpetrated by men against women.

I just had a comment (see comment #84) posted on the site from a man who came across a “woman” online who claimed to be a US soldier and reeled off the same sort of bullshit the male scammers use on female victims.

I guess it makes sense that both men and women would be targeted, but I have never come across a female version of this particular scam.

So men, beware. Apart from the more familiar damsel in distress female scammers out there, you may also come across pretend female soldiers.

Luckily, it seems these scammers are as simple to spot as their male counterparts, once you familiarise yourself with their methods.

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Global day of action for reporting online dating fraud

I seem to have blinked and missed the global day of action against online scams, but if you’ve been a victim of online fraud of the online dating variety (and, of course, any other variety, but this is an online dating blog) and are a UK resident, you are encouraged to report it to the UK’s National Fraud Authority where each complaint is taken very seriously.

Check out the press release.

This is good news in a way, but the fact that “millions of Britons” are losing a total sum of 3.5 billion pounds a year to online scammers is pretty worrying.

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Online dating liars – strange new research

CNN ran a weird article recently, about people who lie on online dating sites. The article details research done by a professor in the University of Kansas, looking into people’s lying habits on one “big long-term relationship dating site” (unnamed, but I have my suspicions).
The researcher spoke to over 5000 people and asked them whether they would lie on a dating site and why.

The results seem to imply that those people who said they would lie are the type of people who want to please people and tell them what they want to hear. They don’t lie out of malice, but because they want people to like them.

Both the article and the research seem to blatantly ignore things such as scammers, married people passing themselves off as single and players passing themselves off as serious.
All of these are, sadly, a big part of the online dating industry, which people should be told about and taught how to spot and avoid. Unfortunately, I doubt any of those types of online dating liars would take the time to answer the good professor’s survey and share with us the reasons why they choose to lie and cheat.

On the other hand, we’ve learned that people who are lonely, looking for a serious relationship and willing to take a (most likely lengthy) survey for no personal gain are apparently keen to please. Who’d have thought?

And… get this!

“Online daters shouldn’t be concerned that most people are presenting a false impression of themselves,” Hall said in a news release before Thursday’s phone interview. “What influences face-to-face dating influences the online world, too.”

The fact that the professors conducting this survey tell people that they don’t have to worry about people lying to them online just shows me how out of touch they are with what’s going on out there. The only worthwhile conclusion of this so called “research” is what everyone in the online dating industry knows already and has done for years:

the people who would lie to you online are the same people who’d lie to you in the real world, be they scammers, compulsive liars, cheats or just “self-monitors”, to use a term from the article itself.

Did someone actually pay for this research? If I were paying taxes in America I’d be well pissed off.

You can read the full text of this, frankly rather lame, article here.

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Lovestruck.com have a new iPhone app

Lovestruck.com have come up with a convenient little iPhone app (convenient if you have an iPhone, at least).

Subscribers to the site can use the app for free, which is handy, as the site is aimed at busy city professionals who want to meet like minded singles who live or work near them.

Being able to easily arrange such informal dates on your mobile sounds like a damn fine idea.

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MatchAffinity – a new dating site with compatibility testing

Here’s an interesting new site from match.com . The new site is called MatchAffinity and is based on Match’s personality test. Once you complete the 10 minute test, you can get matches sent to you, as well as look them up yourself.

If you like the way the match.com site works but want a bit more of a psychological assessment to help you think of people in terms of long term compatibility, then this is a good site to have a look at and see if you like their style.

If you like DatingDirectAffinity, you will find this site extremely familiar…

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Online dating on the rise as snow keeps falling

Well, that’s hardly surprising, is it? With the UK braced for even more snow madness, everyone’s apparently been staying at home and hitting the dating sites.

This is a brilliant opportunity to start your new year on the right foot. I know a lot of you will have made a new year’s resolution to find someone, because this is the perfect time to do it. Not only do you have the power of the new year behind you, you also have many thousands of people out there who have made exactly the same resolution. Maybe one of them is your person?

So use this time (when you’re not out making snowmen and stuff) to work on your profile, try out a few dating sites and teach yourself how to work these to get what you want.

Oh yes, and keep warm, it’s cold out there!

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Online dating news for this week

A busy week in the world of online dating! Here’s a quick newsround of what’s been happening.

eHarmony UK have another Free Communication Weekend. It’s on now until Monday. You know the score – you can go through the comms process for free and communicate with your matches. Obviously better if you already have matches, which sometimes takes a while (as the site needs to match people to you).

In other news, there is now an iPhone app that lets you look up a potential online dater (or offline one, undoubtedly) and find out stuff such as whether they have a criminal record, their marital situation and their financial worth. I believe at the moment this service is only for Americans, but I’m sure it’ll spread here quickly enough. The full FT article is here while Intelius, the company that makes the app is here.

The whole thing seems a bit big brother, but if it gives people more confidence when dating online and make life more difficult for liars and rapists then I say bring it on. Of course, some things can never be discovered by trawling public records, so users of this app should beware of developing a false sense of security.

I am not so sure about finding out people’s net worth, myself, but I think services like this one are the symptom and not the cause. We do live in a society where such materialism is seen as the norm. The need to know how much money someone has was always there. The only difference is that now we seem to have more tools at our disposal that can actually give us the answer.
Financial equality between partners is an important factor of compatibility for many, but an obsessive need to find out about how much someone is worth before even going on a date with them… That’s something I don’t think should be particularly encouraged.

To finish off, another bit of analysis from OKCupid with some interesting charts and graphs but no great news for anyone who’s ever used online dating or worked in the industry. Apparently, men choose women according to their pictures (and choose the prettiest ones to message), while women also seem to message men they don’t find quite as attractive. And in other news, a large continent was discovered today in the Western hemisphere and was named “America” by the intrepid explorers. Interesting times indeed!

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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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Fun singles’ night for charity in London

On the 22nd of April, the Long Acre Bar in central London will host Ree-cycle, a singles’ event with a few great twists. The first twist is the concept: a very Sex and the City-like concept of “recycling” your love life. Each guest is to bring someone in their life they think is a great catch but is somehow still single. Everyone can then look around and hopefully find the perfect match among someone else’s rejects. It sounds like fun but the second twist makes it even better – the proceeds go to Phab Kids, which is a disabled children’s charity.

So go on, dust off that ex you’ve been keeping tucked away in your wardrobe and take him or her out for a spin. Who knows what fab finds you might uncover!

More information is on their site: Ree-cycle

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UK woman loses £10k in online dating scam – Afghanistan soldier

A while back, I warned about a common online dating scam involving an Iraqi soldier.

Now news has come out about a British woman who fell victim to a very similar scam, losing £10k in the process. The scammer pretended to be an American soldier serving in Afghanistan.

This is a very common scam nowadays and so it’s worth keeping your wits about you. It always pains me to see women (and men) fall for these scams. Just think – even if this pretend soldier hadn’t been an outright scammer, what sort of relationship are you building if you start it by financially supporting someone you’ve only just met on the Internet?

Never give any money to someone you met online and if in doubt, let your dating site’s support team know you’ve been asked for money and ask their opinion (this is one of the reasons why it pays to date on a reputable dating site with a good support team).

You can read the rest of the article about this latest scam victim here.

UPDATE: This post has been gathering quite a lot of very useful comments from women who have either been victims of similar fraud or have been contacted by scammers. It’s essential reading if you suspect the person you have been talking to online may be a scammer. All opinions expressed below represent only the people who posted them. If you have a problem with any of the posts and would like them removed please contact me.

Many women have asked me what to do in case you are a victim of fraud. In the UK there is now a service called Action Fraud, which is a website and helpline where you can report any time of fraud (including online dating fraud) and get help and support. Please consider sharing your stories with them as well if you are in the UK. Most of these fraudsters hail from countries where it’s harder to do anything about them, especially for your local police force. However, sharing your story with other women will help starve these assholes of money.

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eHarmony launches gay/lesbian compatibility dating site

It’s finally happened! The gay and lesbian dating site from eHarmony has launched. CompatiblePartners offers all the best features of eHarmony ( and eHarmony UK ) for gay and lesbian singles who are looking for serious relationships.

The site’s launch follows a legal battle, as eHarmony were sued for their refusal to allow non-heterosexual daters on their sites. After losing the battle, they finally decided to invite gays to their compatibility matching party, but decided to keep things separate, possibly to avoid putting off their more conservative members or to appeal to their founder’s own conservative views. Either way, the site is now up and running and looks every bit as shiny as its hetero counterparts.

The interesting bit is that the site’s compatibility test has been changed very little (if at all) and is practically identical to the standard eHarmony questionnaire. eHarmony claimed for years that gay dating is so different from heterosexual dating, that they simply couldn’t allow gays on their site and give accurate results. So how can the new site deliver results with exactly the same set of questions? Unless, of course, they are now saying there isn’t that much difference after all?

I wonder if eHarmony’s plan is to set up a site that is not that great, but *appears* to be adequate (in order to appease the courts), then when it fails, they are covered. for the gay community, this poses a dilemma: do you play into eHarmony’s hands by avoiding the site, or do you play into their hands by giving them your money?

I think it’s obvious to everyone that eHarmony only changed their views about gay dating because they were made to by law. If you dislike their *real* stance (which, let’s face it, is pretty anti-gay and conservative), do you really want to help their growth?

On the other hand, gay dating sites that are designed for serious relationships, are not at all common compared to the more meat markety kind. In the UK/Europe, there is Gay Parship, but I am not sure what equivalent dedicated sites are in the US (please feel free to tell me of any!).

To encourage members to join, CompatiblePartners are currently offering free 6 month membership. Could be a good way to have a look without actually supporting the site financially? I’d have a good read of the terms, though!

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True love online – not just for gorillas

I was reading today that a pair of gorillas are celebrating the birth of their first child after being successfully matched by online dating.

Someone left a comment on the article, lamenting the so-called death of similar love-focused introduction agencies for humans and claiming online dating is now only used by people who want to make use of the large number of available singles to lead lives full of casual relationships only.

But is romance really dead online?

In today’s modern world, people are generally more accepting of the fact that sometimes settling down and starting a family is not on the agenda (for both men and women). Yes, there are serial daters out there, but even people who end up happily married and raising kids can go through phases of just wanting something not so serious. In the olden days, when this was less acceptable (and nowadays in parts of society when it still isn’t), people would just do all their casual dating behind the scenes by cheating on their partners. Personally, I find the alternative, i.e. being honest about your needs and taking things easy, a much better option than fake fidelity.

Online dating is indeed a reflection of society’s needs and wants and so is full of sites that cater for casual dating. But if you look at the large numbr of dating sites set up specifically for those looking for marriage and long term relationships, you realise there is much more to the complete picture. There are also plenty of posh introduction agencies popping up, which tells me love is far from dead. Nobody would pay hundreds or thousands of pounds to find a weekend fling.

Perhaps the days of the meddling, parent-hired matchmaker are behind us, but people are still looking for help in finding serious relationships. Maybe they just want to feel more like they are in control of the process instead of things being decided for them by someone else – after all, we’re not all caged gorillas.

In a sense, people who are looking for that one in a million, rather than a short term fling, can benefit even more from the large pool of singles made accessible by dating online, although they will undoubtedly need to work harded to find that person, sorting through thousands of potential matches until they find “the one”. Like the gorillas in the story above, cautious, serious daters can do more background checks before meeting up, ensuring a minimum level of compatibility exists, which can give them the confidence to let themselves go and fall in love.

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GirlsDateForFree now offers a moneyback guarantee (for men)

GirlsDateForFree,the fast-paced dating site where every night is ladies’ night, has started offering a moneyback guarantee, comparable to the match.com offering.

This being a fast-paced site, often known for being a casual dater’s heaven, you don’t need to wait a whole 6 months to get a membership. If you date on the site for 3 months without seeing any action, you can get your membership extended for an extra 3 months. Obviously, this is for the men. Women never have to pay to use the site, which is the secret of its appeal.

Terms & conditions obviously apply, but they are pretty standard – you have to have uploaded a photo and filled out every field of your profile within a week of registering and you must have made an effort to contact people on the site.

The new offer is available only to people with profiles created after February 12, 2009.

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Valentine’s day singles’ parties

If you’re single and still looking for something to do on the Valentine’s day weekend, you can always try speed dating or a lock & key party. I already wrote in this blog about singles’ events companies in the UK, but I thought I’d also point out that as of today’s date, there are quite a few singles’ parties scheduled for Valentine’s day that still have places. Prices vary but are usually around the £20 mark, although they do vary and can go down to £10 per ticket (or go up to about £25).

Here are the events I know of that still have spaces:

Speed Dater, the UK’s most well-known singles’ party organisers, have a big central London event and a Birmingham event planned with a lock & key party, optional speed dating sessions and a fun-sounding photo wall. They’re pushing the events right now, so I’m not sure how many tickets are left, but there are definitely both men and women tickets available at the moment. The age range for the party is 24-40.

UrbanSocial, the rather swish themed singles’ events company, seem to have the most events on in the week leading up to Valentine’s day. From Tuesday the 10th up to and including V-day itself, every night sees singles’ parties and speed dating events all across the UK including (among others) Birmingham, Sheffield, London (of course), Bournemouth and even Winchester. Age ranges are anything from 20s-50s, depending on where in the UK you are.

SingleSolution, a very busy speed dating company have two separate London events on Valentine’s day itself, as well as events elsewhere in the UK on the week leading up to it. The age range for one of the London events includes people up to the age of 50. The others are for people in their 20s-30s.

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Loopylove has had a mini makeover

Loopylove.com used to be one of the most popular dating sites in the UK. It used to be known as one of the best Internet dating sites for people new to dating online, with a simple, unassuming design and a nice collection of useful features. Then it got sold and had rather an ill-advised botched facelift, making it look both unappealing and ever so slightly pretentious. I’m sure this put quite a few people off dating there, to be honest. Now it’s been sold again, to a company that seems to appreciate a clean, functional design. The pretentious elements are no longer to be found and the site now offers a very simple one page sign up, so people can start running detailed searches much much quicker. Hopefully this will see the return to glory of one of the busiest and easiest sites the UK has ever known!

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Metrodate is now a 100% free online dating site

Great news for cosmopolitan, metropolitan daters everywhere! Metrodate.com, the world’s largest urban dating site is now totally free to use (as in, “no credit card needed ever” free, rather than “sign up free but pay for messages”). Instead of charging for membership, they will sell locally targeted ad space on the site to cover costs.

The site is available in over 220 countries and an impressive selection of different languages. Its main focus is cities (and it offers city guides as well), but apparently it’s now big enough to have members outside of urban areas. I’m guessing it will grow even more now it’s free.

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When worlds collide

*** Please note, the website below no longer works. I had a look to see if there are any others and found this one, which claims to be free to use (and I just love the front page image!). In the UK, Lovestruck.com, the chic international urban dating site, were recently offering poker night singles’s events in London, in conjunction with PKR Casino. They do weekly online poker nights for registered Lovestruck members on the PKR site, which I *think* are open to Lovestruck users from all over the world. The site is free to use in many cities, but not in others (though there is a free trial going on at the moment in those, including the London one)***

I don’t normally pick up on other people’s press releases when they’re advertising new sites unless I have a specific point to make about their workmanship (see earlier post), but this one made me laugh so much when I saw the headline in Google News, I had to blog it:

Poker-Online-Dating (www.Poker-Online-Dating.com) launches its new and exciting free dating site for online poker players. It matches poker players together from around the world who are looking for true love. Our site provides a safe environment where people of similar interests and hobbies can meet. Imagine meeting someone online who loves playing poker as much as you. You can discuss the latest poker tournaments you’ve entered, your best poker hands, or your highest winnings without boring your date. Even better, your date understands you!

(and the rest)

Of all the niche fusion ideas in the world this one’s right up there with the Korean Pizza.

“Are you ready to combine online poker with online dating?”

I’m not sure I am, really!

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Serial dater finds love

Internet lothario meets his match

A serial internet dater who was banned from one site for displaying a “lack of commitment” has finally met his Ms Right, it is reported.

(Full story here)

I totally missed out on this when the news came out, but just found it on the Pocado news section.

I remember this guy from my moderating days. It wasn’t our site that banned him, and looks like that was the right move 🙂

Maybe all he needed was the love of the right woman?

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To all those who say you can’t fall in love online

From the BBC:

Man proposes after four minutes

A single father-of-two proposed to an American woman he met on the internet four minutes after flying 4,000 miles to see her for the first time.

Sometimes the face to face meeting is only needed for a final confirmation.

Warms your heart, doesn’t it? 🙂

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No wonder the online dating market is booming in the UK

According to the UK’s office for national statistics, more than seven million people in Britain live alone now, compared with three million in 1971. Single parent families are also on the rise, especially those with lone mothers. Not only are more people living alone or without a partner, people are also getting married later, especially the men. (Full BBC article here).

Add this to the fact over half of the UK’s adult population now have access to broadband and you’ll realise that not only is there a real need in this country for online dating services, the infrastructure exists to make it relatively easy for comapnies to fulfil that need.

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Plentyoffish in the UK

Looks like Plentyoffish is going to do more stuff in the UK, with the launch of a new affiliate programme. The UK market still has a lot of scope for growth. I would say much more than the US market right now. We’ll see how big a chunk of that growth Plentyoffish can get.

I’d just like to point out the happy fact that 3 of the 7 sites mentioned in the Hitwise report are ours. Dating For Parents took a lot less than a year to hit the top 10. I’m not sure where our latest site stands, but it’s growing pretty fast so if it’s not there already it will be soon.

Oh, and our affiliate programmes (via Webgains or Tradedoubler) pay better. Just saying 🙂

Let the games begin.

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New research claims to disprove popular astrological matching

Dr David Voas from The University of Manchester said that zodiac ‘love signs’ have no impact on our chances of marrying – and staying married.

The Senior Research Fellow at the University’s Centre for Census and Survey Research analysed the birthdays of all 20 million husbands and wives in England and Wales.

The investigation – using 2001 census data – failed to reveal any evidence of attraction between star signs.

(Full article here)

The research takes into account the fact that professional astrologers view the complete birth charts, rather than rely solely on sun sign, but assumes that sun signs would account for a level of measurable influence, if it existed.

There is no shortage of dating sites out there that offer astrological matching but somehow I doubt any of them will suffer too greatly from the publication of this report. Astrology is still a highly popular way for people to measure their supposed “compatibility”.

Astrology has different trends in it, much like psychology. Astrological compatibility tests are used to measure particular compatibility factors and ignore others (much like trends in psychology 🙂 ).
The important thing people should keep in mind following this survey is not to take astrological compatibility too seriously and, in particular, not to write off any supposedly “incompatible” matches.

Anything that pigeon-holes people based on factors they cannot control is limited at best.

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Rising standards

I’m surprised hotenough.org is the first site in the US to vet people based on looks. The UK’s Gorgeous Dating has been doing it for years and attracting some pretty well-off members who often say they’d never dream of dating on a “normal” site.

With online dating having now become so big, there’s gotta be a way for people to weed out those potentials they’re not likely to ever want to date. Regardless of what qualities you choose to vet people by, the mere act of making a site exclusive only to some daters is always going to be somewhat controversial. By the same token, there will always be a demand for it. The more people discover the fact that online dating usually involves a lengthy process of browsing, searching and physically dating a multitude of unsuitables, the more they will require market niching to make their lives easier. Clubs and bars reserve the right of admission to ensure the right atmosphere, so it was only a matter of time till dating sites started doing it too.

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Shaadi.com advertising on the tube *

* That’s the London Underground, for you non-Brits

Just saw this ad today for Indian website, Shaadi.com:
Shaadi.com ad
Crappy pic, I know, but I didn’t have a proper camera on me. Click on the image for the bigger version.
It’s a bit unclear in the pic, but the woman is said to be a model into “modern art and boxing” and the guy is a “businessman” who likes Stallone and wildlife. The man is 5’11” and 29, the woman is 5’4″ and 25. Seems like some very traditional, stereotypical assumptions are being made about the preferences of the target audience. Then again, The Asian community is often quite traditional so maybe they’ll all be flocking to Shaadi.com to find their own businessmen and models.
I noted there aren’t any calls to action, nor are there any promotional codes, mobile shortcodes or any other method of tracking conversions from this campaign. Pure branding? I hope they have money to burn. I know how much these campaigns cost…

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Online dating more popular in UK than US?

A recent report has shown that 20% of British Internet users used dating sites in December last year compared to only 13% in America . The French, however, beat everyone, with 22% of their Internet users logging on for love.
December is traditionally a busy month on the sites, because the holiday season can make people feel pretty lonely. I wonder whether the figures would have been significantly different if the research had been done in a different month. Either way, if you account for the fact that not all Internet users are single, it emerges that online dating has now become pretty much standard in the UK. About time, too.

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