I’ve recently been poking around an online dating site. No, I’m not single. I’m wildly happy with Mr Right, and we’re moving into a rental house together soon.
I had a job interview at a dating site about a month ago, and they wanted me to get to know the site. So I am. Yes, I told my boyfriend. Yes, I made it REALLY clear in my profile that I’m taken, I’m happy, and I’m only there to check the site out for a job interview with the company.
That hasn’t stopped men from sending me messages through the site. Clearly these are non-readers. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say they would be crappy boyfriends. If you are not going to read ONE single sentence I put on my dating profile (and EVERY sentence says I’m not looking to date and I’m just there to get to know the site for a job interview), then what kind of boyfriend will you be? Attentive? Caring? Supportive?
And worse than that…
Worse than that is that nearly every message these guys have sent me have ONE cheesy line. It’s not like, “Hi, I’m Steve. I saw your profile and liked that we both like New Wave music.” It’s just one cheese line like, “I think I found the angel I want to be touched by,” or “I lost my phone number. Can I get yours?”
Does that actually work anywhere? Does it work in a bar? Does it work in online dating? Have you ever been impressed and swept off your feet by a guy who opened up with one of these?
It’s hard to not rip these guys a new one. I was able to control myself enough to only write two of the 30 I got back and say are you f’ing kidding me? Does anybody fall for that crap, and why write me if you haven’t read a word of my profile!
So happy to not be on dating sites anymore. So happy I found the guy who’s perfect for me. Ugh to everybody else still wading through these dudes!
I’ve noticed on a few sites that a scale they give you doesn’t really mean what it turns out to mean.
Take eBay. They found that their feedback system of positive, neutral, and negative wasn’t really doing the job. They created 4 criteria, and let people rate 1 through 5 stars. So if you ask me to rate how someone’s shipping speed was from 1-5, it’s a sort of Likert scale. eBay shows the average score for each criterion, and you can be in trouble for having anything under a 4.6 average out of 5 for any criterion. That means you’re in trouble for getting under a 92 on a test. WOW.
Most people will give a 4 out of 5 even if they were very happy. 4 out of 5 feels like the seller was great. Most people would reserve 5 for such amazing service it’s nearly off the chart.
But what most people don’t know is that eBay penalises you for getting anything lower than a perfect score of 5. You’re in super trouble if you get 1s or 2s. But think about what I said about about how any average under 4.6 starts to get mean trouble for eBay sellers. That means that giving someone a 4, which feels like a perfectly good score, actually lowers that seller’s average, bringing them closer to a 4.0 average… and closer to being on eBay’s poop list.
Then is a 5-star scale the right thing?
I’m not sure a 5-star scale is the right way to approach this if you have decided that 1 and 2 are equally bad, 3 and 4 are almost equally mediocre, and 5 is the only good score. It’s almost positive, neutral, and negative all over again just with more granularity and more for sellers to stress over.
I also saw this on eHarmony.
I also saw what I felt was rating scale abuse on eHarmony when I was trying it in 2011. They asked you what you wanted in a partner for a particular quality. For example, is it important that the person have a certain level of education? You pick what level of education, and then there was a slider from 1 to 7.
It turns out that rating something 1 through 6 lead eHarmony to mostly ignore whatever that preference was. When I said having a college degree was of importance 6 out of 7, I got guys who never went to college. When I slid it to 7, I only got people who graduated from college.
To the user, this appears to be binary, not a scale.
I either get guys who match my preference, or they get filtered out completely. On/off. Binary.
Behind the scenes, perhaps a scale is being used. Maybe they weight people with a college degree more than people without because of your preference. But couldn’t this still be achieved with a three-point scale? Let’s say I tell the dating site I want a guy with a college degree. It could then ask me to pick how important it is to me to have a partner with this quality:
- Not important at all.
- Somewhat important.
- It’s a 100% must-have.
This could still be enough info to let the dating site weight people. And it’s enough to let me put my foot down on mandatory qualities where I need to. If he has to have no kids, be of a certain religion, or be a certain ethnicity, this scale of 3 should be enough for a good user experience AND behind the scenes data crunching experience. I mean, how differently will you rank someone who never got a college degree when I say having a college degree is 3 on a scale of 7 vs 4 on a scale of 7?
I have a photo album on Facebook called “Online Dating WTFs.” I screen shot CRAZY photos and/or bios of people to share the comedy with my friends. I keep wanting to upload this to that album, but I have to remember this wasn’t from OK Cupid. This was from when I unsubscribed from the AppSumo email mailing list.
It’s an Online Dating WTF except I’m not trying to date this guy. Click for full size.
Yep, in bed, no shirt… just like so many online dating pics I’ve seen. Creepy choice, AppSumo!
I guess I feel badly for this guy because I’m trying to hide his identity… but only somewhat. I logged into OKCupid to find this staring at me on the home page like he’s some sort of featured guy. What caught my eye fairly quickly was his username.
This reminds me of when I try to tell my clients that their logo or slogan is trying to be too many things at the same time. This guy’s online dating username is trying to convey WAY too many ideas that should NEVER be this close together.
Sure, he might be a great Dad! Sure, he might be born in 1969. Sure, he might like the double entendre of 69 since I see it just about every day in online dating usernames. However, let’s please NOT put “69” after “Dad.” They just shouldn’t go together, especially when you read it as “one great Dad 69.” No no no no no. FAIL.
This sounds like another of my dating advice posts, but it’s definitely not. It’s about the usability of a dating website that claims to be one of the best on the planet.
I’m paying for eHarmony right now. Call it an experiment as I don’t really expect to find much there. Making a new friend would be great. The price was low enough that I figured I’d give it a try, though I’m more likely to find my soul make on an airplane. 🙂 I was matched with someone on eHarmony in late 2009, and we’ve become good friends. I figured maybe I can find another good friend.
I am in month 2 of a 3-month paid commitment. eHarmony is sending me nearly zero matches. The ones they do send, I “archive” immediately because although the men on eHarmony write the shortest profiles on all of internet dating, I can still tell these guys aren’t matches to me. I attempted to write to one guy, but he tended to take about a week to write me back every time I sent something in eHarmony’s scripted communication process. I figured anybody taking that much time to reply is either not interested in eHarmony, me, or both, so I archived him. It’s not like I was that excited about him.
So I emailed to ask if I can cancel because clearly, they can’t find me anybody the last roughly 6 weeks, and if they can’t find anybody, why am I paying. Their response was basically too bad, you committed to 3 months at $X/month, and you’ll see that through. But we looked at your profile and settings, and here are some things we suggest you change:
* Widen the radius for potential matches. I have it set to 60 miles. That means in Bay Area traffic, I’d be willing to drive 1-2 hours to meet somebody. They suggested I go wider with that. They didn’t say how wide. One might think that I could find a FEW eHarmony matches in the entire Bay Area. Just matches! Not soul mates. Just people I’d like to meet who would want to meet me.
I had tried that a few weeks ago. Put in something like 3000 miles. It sent me New Yorkers, Alaskans, and all sorts of people from across the country. And zero of them were a potential match. All archived immediately. Not sure radius is the problem here. I set it back to 60 miles.
* Be more flexible in what you want. eHarmony has a few screens that ask me for qualities I’m looking for, and how important those qualities are (you get a sliding bar to show how important). When I didn’t have the bar slid all the way to 100%, I got all KINDS of things. If I marked it 6 out of 7 in importance that someone be educated, I got uneducated people… because hey, I’m flexible! I got tired of getting people who didn’t match what I wanted (eHarmony calls them Flex Matches to clue you into them being not quite what you wanted), so I set all the sliders to full blast. I can’t think of a good reason to move those sliders, and spend all my time archiving wrong people.
* Be more patient. They suggested that I wait TWO WEEKS each time I go to communicate with somebody because work, family, and vacations can delay people (that’s how they put it). I think about the times I HAVE connected with people on dating websites, and none of them took two weeks to get back to me. They all got back to me within 24 hours each time one of us wrote to the other. It’s a brave new world. I think with all of our phones, tablets, and easy internet access, especially here in the Bay Area, it doesn’t make sense to wait 2 weeks each time a guy has something to say.
Here Is What I Wish They’d Say
I wish they’d say, “You know what? You’re right. Our average client gets piles of matches each day. I can see that you have tried changing your standards. You tried being less flexible, and you tried being more flexible. I also see a history of you writing into customer service, and being unhappy with your experience here. It looks like we are not the right dating site for you. Sure, we match X people each day, and take responsibility for Y marriages each year, but we won’t be the right website for everybody. You won’t get a refund, but we won’t charge you for next month. We’d like to give it to you free to give you a chance to become a happy eHarmony customer in the holiday season. Maybe you’ll find a date for Valentine’s Day!”
It’s not about the money. I think I’m paying them like $15 per month. This is not about $15. It’s about my experience on this website, and my experience with support, which I tend to find just bizarre. The canned responses are really out there. When eHarmony staff allow themselves to break out of the canned responses, they seem like nice people who understand why I’m so frustrated. They should also know the canned responses make me frustrated.
Oh, eHarmony. I wish you were hiring for a UX person. I find your site so frustrating. Today, let’s take a look at my home dashboard sort-of page. This is what I see after I log in. Well, it’s mainly what I see. There’s top and bottom stuff, and a pile of crap in a left column. But this is the main area. Click to enlarge:
So they’re put in some sort of activity stream. That’s common. But what’s interesting about this is that every guy they are showing me is a match I “closed.” That means that either at first glance or at some point during the “communication,” I decided I wasn’t interested in this guy, and clicked a button to “close this match.” Anything I was showing up as for that guy then gets archived. So that’s it. No dice, baby. Not gonna happen.
Then why show me updates from these guys? I’m sure I don’t want them. I’ve done the equivalent of blocking them. I don’t want to communicate with them. I’ve made my lack of interest clear. If I were communicating with these guys, and therefore showing interest, I can imagine them showing up in my stream. However, I’m not interested. They shouldn’t be in my stream.
I’ve been on and off online dating sites for years now, and I’m back on. It’s amazing that as far as they’ve come, there is still one area where they have it really wrong. This would affect just about every user each site has, and I’m surprised they haven’t done more about it.
The issue: do you have children and do you want children. Seems like something you really want to get RIGHT. You don’t want to match someone who doesn’t want children with someone who does. You don’t want to match someone who already has children to someone who doesn’t want to date someone with children. OKCupid uses things like “likes children.” Does that mean you want them? Or you don’t mind if someone else has them? Or you kinda don’t like them, but might date someone with them?
I noticed the problem in 2009 when eHarmony kept sending me guys who had children. It was easy to figure out who those guys are because in the “what I’m most thankful for,” parents typically write things like, “My kids.” And let’s be clear: I don’t have children, I don’t want children, and the older I get, the more I feel like I don’t want to date someone who has children. So my profiles are all marked things like, “Doesn’t want children,” or for eHarmony, “Has kids at home: no. Wants kids: no.”
But there is the problem right there, and they still haven’t fixed it. eHarmony matches me with men who “don’t have kids at home.” This means the kids are adults no longer living at home. Or someone else has custody. Or the state took the children away from this man. I have no idea. So the “What I’m thankful for” part is the only clue I get to whether a man marked, “has kids at home: no,” has ZERO kids, or has kids he’s really thankful for, and they just live somewhere else.
When I complained to eHarmony in 2009, they told me that their system treats child preference as low priority. No idea what UX or product person decided that whether or not someone has or wants kids is not an important matching point on a dating website. But that was their answer: they are matching me with these men because other than that, the system says we are a GREAT match, so maybe matching in other ways is more important.
It’s not more important.
It makes no sense to match a man who has kids with a woman who doesn’t want kids. Religion, kids, and politics are often things that people really need to be on the same page about to have a successful relationship. I can’t imagine starting a relationship with a man with a ticking biological clock knowing that I have no biological clock. Not the same page. I have dated men who have children, and I’m a good spare Mom, but it’s my strong preference to date a guy without kids. If you have kids, you’d better be my otherwise-100%-perfect-unbelievable-soul-mate-life-partner match!
I’m on eHarmony again as I write this, and I complained again about how nearly every match they send me has kids. The email I got back basically told me that if not having kids is important to me, I should mention that in my profile. It’s already in my profile. That doesn’t keep the system from matching me with guys who are so grateful for their 2 daughters.
Let’s Boil This Down To The Product Level
If I worked on a dating site as a UX or product person, one of my main thoughts would be, “How I do I keep two terribly-matched people from being matched?” You wouldn’t want to match a Born-Again Christian with an atheist. What questions do we need to ask people, and how do we need to ask them so that two badly-matched people are not presented to each other as potential life partners? If I got to affect the product, here is how I would do this:
- How many children do you have? [number] (My number would be zero.)
- (If the above is >0) Where do the children live? [choose one below:]
- They mostly/always live with me.
- They mostly/always live with another caretaker.
- They are adults, and live on their own.
- Do you want to have or adopt children in the future? [yes/no] (I’d say no.)
- How do you feel about a partner who already has children? [select all that apply:]
- My partner must not have any children. (This covers me.)
- It’s OK if my partner has children, but it’s best if they don’t live with him full time.
- It’s OK if my partner has children, and it’s OK if they lived with him full time.
Super! We now have all our data. All they then need to do is match me with guys who otherwise match me, AND answered zero to question 1 and NO to question 3. The dating website would know that’s my preference because I answered NO to question 3 and only checked off A for question 4. The other questions and choices cover everybody else, and we don’t have to go into weird grey areas like, “Likes kids.” If you want or have them, we’re going to HOPE you like them.
There are dating websites out there for every religion, ethnicity, and in some cases fetish. If I decide I am a Portuguese-American lesbian Jewish little person, there is probably a dating website for me. Yet, I have not yet found any decently-operating dating website aimed at those of us in the “child-free” movement. No, I don’t consider dinklink.com or kidfreesingles.com decent websites. Could someone please whip that up? Thanks!
Men typically don’t have a frame of reference for what it can be like to be a woman, especially in a male-dominated industry. In 1995, I went on tour with a band as their booking agent, tour manager, production manager, road manager, and sound engineer. 16 shows over 24 days in 5 countries in Europe. And every time the band introduced me to someone as their tour manager and sound engineer, the guy I was meeting typically said something like, “Well, aren’t you pretty!” or “Which guy in the band are you dating?” I was rarely taken seriously. And I couldn’t imagine that if that guy were meeting David, the tour manager and sound engineer, he’d tell David how handsome he is.
Fast forward to this week. Even though I have a serious boyfriend, I am still listed on an online dating site as looking to make friends… because I’m in a new city, and I’d like to make friends! My profile is very clear about this, and my profile is full of all the work I’m doing. The name I use on the dating website is the word “Busy” and then another word relating to business. So I don’t give it away, let’s say I’m “BusyEntrepreneur” as my online name.
This is the email I received yesterday through the dating website:
I’m too old for you. But this is a networking note, not a boy/girl thing.
I’ve been a CFO for a couple of telcom start-ups and returned from 4 years in Europe to this crappy job market. I’m a bit underemployed at my current gig at [a local well-known university].
If you need a snarky finance guy for one of your ventures, send me a note.
By the way, did you accidentally leave out a “t” between the “s” and the “y” in your screen name 😉
Really. Just to make sure you didn’t miss the subtlety of that communication, please note 1) he’s basically asking me for a job, and 2) he suggests a letter T is missing from my online name… which would turn my online name into BUSTY Entrepreneur. Following that?
Sure, he’s a jerk. Sure I’d never hire him. Sure, he’s out of his mind. But it’s not like this is amazingly rare. So today, I ask each guy out there to think about how he looks at the professional women in his life. Even those of us with nice breasts, that’s not all we have. You may have nice eyes or be very good-looking, but in the professional arena, I’m interested in your qualifications and ideas. I will NOT be making any references to your looks or your body parts.
Facebook ads. Ugh. Who comes up with these things? You’re supposed to be selling me something I want, right? Something that’ll make me stop posting pictures of cats, and instead click on your ad. Right?
Really. My idea of a mature, single guy is not a “dude” in a ratty ball cap, angled off to the side. If you had to make guesses about this guy based on his look, which isn’t fair but we all do it all day, we’d probably grab keywords like “pickup truck,” “high school education,” and “football.” I think he would fight a dog for a spot on a couch. We probably would not rush to “mature” thought we might assume “single.” 🙂
Sell me what I want. At least try!
The dating website, OKCupid, decided to grab over a half a million profiles from its database, and start crunching numbers. It looked at a variety of things, and broke it down by gender, race, religion, and other “self-stated” profile elements.
There are some pretty wild things in there, like the grade level of people’s writing divided by their race. Eeek. They even create their own stereotypes. Eeek squared.
But if you like tag cloud and lots of charts, you might find this interesting.