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Match.com Used Fake Ads to Swindle Users, F.T.C. Says (nytimes.com)
519 points by mlthoughts2018 20 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 471 comments



Juicy part from the actual complaint.

Since at least 2013, Defendant has maintained the following five deceptive or unfair practices to induce consumers to subscribe to Match.com and to keep them subscribed.

First, until mid-2018, Defendant sent consumers misleading advertisements that tout communications from persons Defendant identified as potentially fraudulent users of Match.com and led consumers to believe that the communications are from persons interested in establishing a dating relationship with them.

Second, until mid-2018, Defendant exposed consumers to the risk of fraud by providing recent subscribers access to communications that Defendant knew were likely to have been sent by persons engaging in fraud.

Third, until mid-2019, Defendant guaranteed certain consumers a free six-month subscription renewal if they fail to “meet someone special” but failed to disclose the requirements of its “guarantee” adequately.

Fourth, Defendant has misled consumers with a confusing and cumbersome cancellation process that causes consumers to believe they have canceled their subscriptions when they have not.

Fifth, until mid-2019, when consumers disputed charges relating to any of these practices and lose the dispute, Defendant denied consumers access to paid-for services. [1]

[1]https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/cases/match_-_com...


Wow, apparently they had a stock line they used when customers paid them money to try and view those messages that were sent by fake accounts, got a message saying the account was unavailable instead (because it had been deleted for being fraudulent), and complained to Match.com that they thought they'd been swindled:

"Please be assured, Match.com does not send members misleading notifications, e-mails or winks professing romantic interest. We have too much respect for our members to ever compromise their trust. If you have received communications from members with profiles that are not immediately available, the member may have temporarily hidden their profile."

That is impressively scummy.


I'm actually working on a startup where my business interested on aligned with users. We are monetizing mostly through trips, so we can't have fake users and send fake messages. Those won't result in real trips.

This aligns our financial incentives with our user's incentives to have amazing experiences with someone they like. We also have a product for couples, so we won't lose 100% of our users.

More info if you're interested: https://blog.fairytrail.app/2019/09/reinventing-online-datin...


> That is impressively scummy.

It's also indistinguishable from every other company doing business.


CRAPitalism at its finest!


> led consumers to believe that the communications are from persons interested in establishing a dating relationship with them.

reminded about that Ashley Madison actual ratio in their database of something like 3 real girls to ten of millions of men, with the employees&bots producing all those "communications"


I've tried a number of dating websites in the past year, and all of them are like this.

First and foremost: No matter how hard they try to hide it, the male/female balance on all straight dating sites is completely off. I'd say it's about 80% male. So most of them fill with fake accounts to get the balance backs.

The matching algorithms don't really exist, they are extremely primitive and usually optimised for engagement. All services show you a whole load of super attractive people on the first use (either fake or just popular profiles), only at the second day of use you get to the real profiles.

Due to the imbalance and fake accounts, as a male you rarely get response on messages. Most men just give up after a while and start to spam generic pickup lines to just about every profile. Woman get loads of messages per day and stop responding. It's vicious circle. As a male, it becomes very difficult to stand out if you are actually interested in someone.

The marketing is optimised badly towards your emotions (loneliness or sexual drive), I regularly got email messages where they "urgently need men to sign up for the next dating event, because only woman have applied so far". One of the services send me a total of 8 (!) reminder emails after I cancelled my subscription, that suddenly all these photo models were trying to send me a match request but couldn't because my account was closed.

I like meeting new people but online dating just raises my anxiety and frustration. I don't think this can be 'disrupted' either, it's just a terrible business to be in since the incentives are completely misaligned.


I think the most effective way to stand out is for women to contact men. With men spamming all women with meaningless messages, there's little point for women to respond to men contacting them. But if a man received a message from a woman, it's more likely they're real and not a fake profile, and that they're actually interested.

But dating sites that create fake profiles and use all these dark patterns to try to con you into joining should simply be avoided like the plague. Nothing good can come out of those, and there's no point in rewarding bad actors with your money.

Articles exposing these bad dating sites serve a very important purpose here.


That's the idea behind bumble. AFAIK men and women rate each other similarly to Tinder (yes/no). However, when a match occurs, women have to send the first message.

This doesn't solve the gender inbalance though. This problem is much more difficult to solve, and requires further homogenization (?) of the male and female gender role.

This should be one of the more important challenges of our time. Lonelyness and sexual frustration have only negative impacts and are two accelerators for radicalization - which is a pressing concern in developed countries.


That involves women doing more work.

The reason why women tolerate the current system is that it is less work. You just apply a filter to the incoming requests.

It's much easier than having to produce requests.

That's why women's profiles say "don't just say 'hey'" and they get to respond with...

Hey.


I met a lot of great women on Bumble. I really appreciated having them do the hard work of speaking first.

Yeah, I got a few "hey"s, which just put the ball back in my court, and I'd decide whether I wanted to put for the effort of opening the conversation. It's actually a really good skill for showing that you're interested in her, by picking up on some detail of her profile. It shows that you're perceptive and have some common interest. And conversely, if she can't do better than "hey", that tells me something about her.

I like it better than the assumption that I was required to do it, as on most other dating sites/apps. That assumption is sexist, though less annoying than being bombarded with dick pics and "DTF?" openers as so many women are. Dating sites are hard for them, too.


The reality for someone like me, a very average looking guy, is then that I get zero messages. Doesn't really solve anything either.


Average looking shouldn't be a problem to most people. Just don't look for people who want to date models. Use a dating site that focuses on content and interest rather than looks. But even if you're somewhere where the initial decision has to be made based on a photo, you can make that photo interesting.

I met my wife on a dating site 13 years ago (a small, cheap one focused specifically on Christians), and although I probably had a profile with a whole supposedly-witty story about myself, the thing I remember is the photo; I used a photo from a recent vacation to Africa, with me selfie-style in front of the gate of Timbuctoo. Her first message to me included some reference to Ouagadougou, and that got the ball rolling. (Her photo was her on a sailing boat; also effective.)

Don't use a photo where you look average, use a photo where you do something interesting. That says more about you than a chiseled jaw line.


Apps like Tinder seem like they'd be looks-focused, but it's true that a picture is worth a thousand words. What you're doing in the picture says a lot about you. So does being well-groomed and choosing a picture that's well-focused and well-composed. A nice smile goes a long way.

Women aren't as looks-focused as a lot of frustrated men present them. Average is just fine, as long as your picture suggests somebody that they can engage with. "Below average" can also go a long way if you've chosen a picture that makes you look like what she wants, which might be "fun" or "family" or "kind". The men who think it's all about their looks are most likely the ones who only judge women by theirs. And while some women do that, the vast majority don't.


Do you have any data to back up your claims? Everything points to this not being the case.


What exactly points to that not being the case? A lot of people of average looks are happily married.


You've been off the market for 13 years and have no clue how much things have changed.


That's entirely possible, but at the same time, I don't think the nature of people themselves changes so fundamentally. Culture and customs change, but not everybody wants to go along with that.


I'm also an average looking guy but got successful from learning pickup IRL.


Given how most men just swipe right 100% of the time to find the women who swiped right on them, I’m surprised there isn’t a dating app that has just admitted to this and made the matching unilateral: men would be assumed to be okay with matching any woman, whereas women would have to swipe right on a dude to “match.” Then either party could contact. It’s sort of like Bumble’s attitude, just moved one step forward in the process.


> "men would be assumed to be okay with matching any woman"

That assumption might be correct for some men, but certainly not for all, and I would expect not even for most.

In any case, requiring men to swipe right first doesn't hurt the process in any way. And requiring both sides to agree to contact makes a lot of sense.


No, not for all; but it’s an assumption, it doesn’t have to be true. Bumble itself assumes that women will ever bother to make the first move, even though most women won’t. That assumption just means that Bumble draws in an audience of the people who fit that assumption, and pushes away the people who don’t. It’s serving a niche more particular than “everybody.” If you’re a woman with social anxiety who just wishes someone would help you get over your mental block around striking up a conversation? Bumble might not be for you.

(But, to be clear, this assumption isn’t that men are okay with dating any woman interested in them; allowing-to-message doesn’t imply interest. The real assumption here is that, while the average woman sees a spammed message of interest as an annoying bit of desperation, the average man will see that same message as an esteem-boost (“hey, someone actually contacted me on this website!”) even if they are just as unlikely to engage with it. In other words, the assumption is that men are more okay with receiving spam from women, than women are okay with receiving spam from men; and so that a site that favours men receiving spam from women will have less churn than a website that favours women receiving spam.)

> requiring men to swipe right first doesn’t hurt the process in any way

I see you’ve never actually tried to enact a “swipe right 100% of the time” policy: it’s tiring, and also, apps have daily limits on how many likes you can give, precisely because this forces this rote “engagement” with the app to turn into a daily return to the app to continue swiping.

There are actually other apps, built to directly submit batched “like” API calls to these app’s backends, in order to avoid doing what is basically “work” every day (just in order to allow people who have already expressed interest in you to send an initial message to you!) And these services do everything they can to kill these auto-like apps, because they want to make men go through this pointless work, because it “fosters engagement” (i.e. makes their DAUs look better, and increases the chances someone will get fed up with running out of likes—because it turned out nobody in this batch had already seen+swiped right on them—and so pay for Gold to be able to continue swiping right.)

I guess, if you’re speaking in a game-theoretic sense, then yes, the same equilibrium state is achieved either way, because men are willing to go through a lot of pointless “work” to meet women. (You could probably build a Tinder-like app where men have to solve a CAPTCHA every time they swipe right, and use this to power a botnet.) But in an economic sense, you’re introducing a lot of inefficiency; these men could be doing other stuff with their time. (And women would prefer they do; what’s less interesting than a guy who spends all his time trying to hook up?)

> Requiring both sides to agree to contact makes a lot of sense.

No, allowing either side a choice to first have to verify the other side before they can make contact, makes a lot of sense. Requiring it is just a dark pattern. Even Facebook has the option to allow others to “reach out to you” with a message when you haven’t added them yet. It’s an option; you can disable it; but it’s on by default, and not that many people disable it.

Isn’t it weird that the current popular model for online dating is more paternalistic (“you can’t have a default-allow policy even if you want it”) than our current model for regular social networking?


> "It’s serving a niche more particular than “everybody.”"

That may be a good thing. Different people prefer different ways of dating, so expecting one way to suit everybody may be unreasonable.

> "The real assumption here is that, while the average woman sees a spammed message of interest as an annoying bit of desperation, the average man will see that same message as an esteem-boost (“hey, someone actually contacted me on this website!”) even if they are just as unlikely to engage with it. In other words, the assumption is that men are more okay with receiving spam from women, than women are okay with receiving spam from men; and so that a site that favours men receiving spam from women will have less churn than a website that favours women receiving spam."

I would expect that's strongly influenced by how new that spam is to you. For plenty of women, the first time a man expresses interest may also be a self-esteem boost. It's just that after 50 times, it gets a bit tired. A system that turns this around so men get all the spam may be interesting and new to men, but I would expect that when they get that kind of spam as much as women do on other systems, many men may also get tired of it eventually.

> "No, allowing either side a choice to first have to verify the other side before they can make contact, makes a lot of sense."

I agree that making this configurable probably makes more sense than enforcing one specific type of behaviour. It's certainly something I'd generally prefer.

On the other hand, men who just want to contact everybody who expresses an interest in them and only start considering whether they are actually interested in the other party after that contact has been established, may still end up wasting a lot of people's time. So in that sense I can still understand if a site doesn't allow it. Which dating site you choose to use will always be a user option.


Bumble's rule is that Men are not even allowed to initiate contact. This is gender-based. Given everything else happening in the world around gender discrimination, I find it interesting that a discussion around Bumble's practises has not come up. Maybe it's because as humans we are not always internally consistent with how we apply our logic to the world.


Context matters. People concerned about gender discrimination aren't usually as concerned about distinctions drawn between genders when the context is ballroom dancing or weddings. They're almost always concerned when the context is employment. Somewhere in between you've got dating and religious rules.


A good point regarding context.

Gender-equality has been coming into religion (i.e. women bishops in the Church of England) and dating (i.e. splitting checks). Given the way things are trending, it feels like this will continue to the point that it will impact things such as ballroom dancing and weddings.


I love Bumble's concept because it attempts to complete what feminism espouses. Aren't we all about empowering women, and how we can all be capable in the jobs we do, and the lives we lead? It's a great thing and I believe in it.

But... Women collectively stopped short of picking up an equal responsibility for initiating romantic or casual interest. As a guy, you are absolutely expected to make the first moves. That doesn't sound very fair to me.

(Don't say it's because women aren't as interested as men. We're all pretty horny on average, and we all want to make connections. Equality, remember?)


I agree with people being empowered regardless of gender.

However...imagine an app where only men could contact women. I feel like certain groups would be outraged....what do you think?


A big difference is that that app would double down on a specific gender-based inequality in dating, whereas an app that turns it around, subverts that traditional gender-based inequality. That is less sexist, and might indeed be more effective because of it. It forces women to take a more active role in dating when in traditional society, they're often expected to take a passive role.

So it doesn't confirm the sexism, it addresses and counters it.

If at some point in the future, it becomes expected that men take a passive role while women always take initiative, then your imagined app would be better because it would subvert that sexist expectation. It's all about context.

Ideally of course we should end up somewhere in the middle, where men and women are equal partners in the dating arena.


Nobody would be outraged because the app would fail and nobody would be using or talking about it. We’re only talking about Bumble because their approach works in some sense.


Are you trying to say that there's a responsibility for women to hit on you in order for feminism to not "stop short"?


Nobody owes me anything; but (single, lonely, would-really-like-a-partner) women might have a responsibility to strike up a conversation with somebody, somewhere, some of the time. Like a “good deed for the day” sort of thing, but a “fearless attempt to satisfy one’s own desires of-the-day” sort of thing. (Sort of in the mould of Rejection Therapy?)

Though I would say, since a lot of the reason women don’t seem to hit on men comes down to inculcated social anxiety from being raised to view strangers as unpredictable scary people who can only mean harm (a view which sticks around even in adulthood, long after it’s “helpful”; a view that boys seem to get along just fine never being burdened with), maybe the real responsibility here is on parents to... not do that. If that’s the case, I don’t know what to suggest for the generations of women that exist right now and have already been screwed up by being raised this way. (What do you do for the adults who were victims of foot-binding as children? Their feet just are that way now. And these women’s brains just are this way now, too.)


there's a phrase I use to remind myself of reality when I go down these thought paths:

>Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.

Remind yourself the demographics who overwhelmingly commit violent crimes, especially domestic abuse, when considering relationship dynamics. Eliminating violent domestic abuse by men would help bring equity this situation.


Simple counterarguments: gay and lesbian culture.

If fear of romantic socializing were something correctly calibrated by knowledge of violent tendencies of your potential partners, then gay men would be just as afraid of asking other men out as women are—because, of course, there's the same probability of a male stranger to turn out to be a homicidal maniac, whether you're a man or a woman asking out that male stranger.

But gay men are not afraid of approaching other men—in fact, they approach one-another quite successfully, usually very quickly after first deciding they're attracted to someone. And gay men aren't all suddenly dying in ditches from all the homicidal maniacs they run into.

Meanwhile, lesbian women are just as socially-anxious about approaching other women, as straight women are about approaching men. One of the "universal experiences" of lesbian culture is feeling mutual attraction with someone, but neither of you working up the nerve to ask the other out, sometimes for years.

Seems less like this is any rational reaction to any properties of the romantic target, and more just a property of the subject.


I see you're making a lot of sweeping generalizations about groups of people. Could you provide any evidence?


I don't understand the inconsistency, are you saying that Bumble discriminates against men somehow? The issue for the people I've talked to is the underlying asymmetry in dating that leads to Bumble, not Bumble itself.

Edit: essentially I don't understand how men are getting hurt by Bumble, I know a lot of people that prefer it to something like Tinder so maybe that skews my perspective.


I feel like in Western society, a certain narrative is being pushed that everyone should be treated equally regardless of gender (i.e. Wimbledon winners should get paid the same amount). From what I can tell, it is selectively being used by certain groups when it suits them to push their agenda.

However when observing the real world, it is clear that people are not treated equally based on gender (i.e. Bumble, restrooms, changing rooms, dating). And I am fine with that to a certain extent which is another rabbit hole/discussion. What I find interesting, is that the generation using Bumble tend to be more progressive and aligned with the "all people are equal regardless of gender" ideology yet this is not consistent with how the Bumble app works. This is where I find inconsistency in terms of thinking but I recognize that I'm making wide generalizations which is not ideal.


I think to understand your argument I would need to understand how you think Bumble is harming men. In my experience people generally care much more about situations where there is harm in the discrimination (there are so many better targets for energy is a waste). As someone who cares a lot about gender issues Bumble is a symptom of the problem but not problematic itself, why should I care?

Edit: you are talking about a whole generation but the people who are vocal about things like Bumble are a very very small minority and not really indicative of the movement at large in my experience.


I never said it is harming men. I just said that the rules are gender-based. What made you think that?

I find it an interesting thought exercise to understand why society apply rules differently in certain situations. Context certainly plays an important role here and I feel like you made a good point around harm.

EDIT I feel like sometimes this is a sensitive topic to discuss broadly within Western society. From my end, I want to break things down to first principals and have a frank discussion. However I feel like certain elements within society would shoot down these kind of discussions since it threatens their ideology which is akin to a religion which cannot be questioned. I feel like I am going to get downvoted for saying this and I'm already negative on my karma for my other comments today...


To me I've always run in liberal circles do it feels like your assumptions of the philosophy are off in my experience. I've met very few of those sorts of fundamentalists (literally only 2 ever), most people are more into dismantling the systematic forms of oppression and therefore prioritize things that actually harm people.


I feel like I was making an observation rather than outlining a philosophy. Secondly, I feel that my observations are not quite aligned with the liberal status quo so that may be why they are "off" in your experience. I also agree that most liberals are reasonable people and there are only a few outliers.

The fact that you thought that I said Bumble was harming men and the way you identified my thoughts as a 'philosophy' as opposed to an observation to me speaks directly to point I was making in my previous post albeit you come across as someone who listens and is reasonable.


“Man” and “woman” are role scripts, i.e. requests to be treated differently in traditions that have those gendered role-slots (e.g. chivalry, weddings, etc.), which society goes along with.

Society is fully willing to dispose of the scripts if you dispose of the gender identity. Just call yourself nonbinary and cultivate an androgynous appearance, and most of (the more cosmopolitan parts of) Western society—including the dating parts!—will literally stop caring about your gender.

(Come to think, I’ve never seen a 100% enby dating app. You could make one where—like France with religion—having a legible gender-presentation would be against the rules!)


> Society is fully willing to dispose of the scripts if you dispose of the gender identity

Why is disposing of said "scripts" a good thing, especially to the extent that they are at least in part shaped by biological pre-dispositions?

> cultivate an androgynous appearance, and most of... Wester society... will literally stop caring about your gender

First, why would I need or want to "cultivate" an androgynous appearance? I'm not necessarily that handsome, but I am very distinguishably masculine. Why would I need or want to obscure natural characteristics? You are also greatly over-estimating the number of people, even in "cosmopolitan" parts of society, which would ignore gender. The population of transsexuals, homosexuals, etc. is still very small in relation to the broader population, and most people have definite ideas of who they are romantically interested in. They will not simply "stop caring".

> like france with religion

France does not allow religion on dating apps? That seems like a very silly rule, as it is an excellent predictor of shared values.


> France does not allow religion on dating apps? That seems like a very silly rule, as it is an excellent predictor of shared values.

I was talking about this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_law_on_secularity_and_c... (though I didn't realize until looking it up just now that it was only "in schools"; I was under the impression that it was in all public spaces.)


Bumble was founded because online dating is broken to a degree. Of course they're going to go to extreme measures to attempt to solve it.


Nature gender discriminates, there’s only so much people can do to fight it without also restricting freedoms. Nature would say the top males get all the females, but that doesn’t lead to very stable, productive societies.


One simple technique a dating website could use to “disrupt” this market, without doing the only-women-can-contact thing, would be just to disallow men (or anyone) from sending messages with the same content as any message that person has sent previously.


So now I have to find new and unique ways to explain what I do for a living or where I live?

> So where are you from?

> Austin, Texa^H^H^H^H^H^H^H

> Uh... the capital of Texarcana


The point is to require people to put some effort in their first message and make it personal to the person they're messaging, so they won't simply spam every person they can find with identical pick-up lines.

I like the idea.


First messages, not messages generally. I.e., you could never repeat a pick-up line, and therefore you probably wouldn't be able to use "pick-up lines" at all.


How long until we get messages like:

> Hey!

> djdjrntbdjc


It sounds like a good idea, but on average women are the absolute worst at first messages.

A site where women message first means their first message is a limp cold “Hey”, after which you are expected to craft some sort of interesting and thoughtful message for them to grace you with their response, otherwise they’ll just move on to one of the other hundred men available.

Online dating cannot work without the asymmetry in the dating game being resolved.


I don't know about the ratios (or how a user looking through could really tell what the true ratio is) but as far as none of them having a decent matching algorithm... I'm a big fan of OkCupid here... (I know they were aquired by match but they still operate independently AFAIK) I interviewed for them 12-13 years ago but never worked there, but they were Harvard math guys who founded SparkNotes and "opensouced" an early version of their basic matching algorithm in 2004 or 2005 on their blog, I'll see if I can find and post here or perhaps someone else will share bit the gist was only using the intersection of questions you both answered, and both of you don't just answer the question but also give how much you care about the answer to this question and "acceptable" answers from your match (if you care at all, if not answers don't matter) and they use those to customize weight of each question in matching... I don't know if it has any special romantic matching qualities but it's WAY better than anything else I've tried for a metric of people worth meeting and who you'll sometimes have INCREDIBLE amount in common with, when match percentage is over 90 or 95%... I've dated two 96+% matches for over a year FWIW.

EDIT: couldn't find original blog post but this article seems to have some of the same math/details in less entertaining form https://blogs.ams.org/mathgradblog/2016/06/08/okcupid-math-o...


> couldn't find original blog post

When match.com bought them a number of posts about the inner workings, along with any posts that were critical of paid dating sites, were quickly taken down, and they took some effort to chase down exact copies hosted elsewhere and demand they be taken down too.


It's worth pointing out that the Match buyout made the entire experience significantly worse. All of a sudden there was a lot of swiping ala-tinder and suddenly you can't actually see messages that've been sent unless you both match with each other...

OKC used to actually be a nice place to meet people (I'm still in contact with a number of friends I met on there) but it's turned into a cesspit. Off topic, but if anyone can suggest a non-awful replacement I'd be all ears. Ideally one where I can talk to people rather than having to make a yes/no decision based entirely on 3 photos.


The co-founder also wrote a book about statistics behind dating sites, as well as a variety of other topics, called “Dataclysm”. I read it a couple years ago and I definitely recommend it if you’re interested in this kind of stuff. https://www.amazon.com/Dataclysm-Identity-What-Online-Offlin...


* I don't think this can be 'disrupted' either *

Tinder disrupted the online dating scene by introducing the feature that you can only write someone after you've liked their profile, AND they've liked yours.

That makes a huge difference, and solves the spam problem.


That may have solved the problem initially, but not forever.

I got back on Tinder about 6 months ago and bought a premium account after they kept waving the number of potential matches I had, only to discover that the vast majority of them (roughly 18 in 20) were 2,000+ miles away from me and looked like spam.


Tinder most definitely has not solved the spam problem. I think it's gotten even worse over the past couple years.

Photos with spammy gmail addresses and URLs written in them has been on the rise recently too.


From what I understand, it didn't entirely solve the problem since the behavior of men has evolved. Some of my friends are swiping right on everything to get matches and seeing what sticks.


Men are setting up emulator rigs to swipe right in parallel.


The app should create a fake account listed as a woman, but with a picture of a man and the text: Fake Account

Ban anyone who swipes right on it.

Or limit the amount of right swipes allowed per day.


Possible, but you'll end up in the same arms race you get with cheaters and on-line games. I.e. I could probably sniff the requests and responses coming off a phone and throw together a python script which would automatically "swipe right". They add a fake account, so I now parse for "Fake Account". It seems as though the model of having women initiate conversation makes more sense anyway, from what else I've read in this thread.


Why go through all that trouble when you would get the exact same effect from banning people who swipe right on everyone


It's my understanding that swiping right on everyone already results in a penalty on Tinder and lowers your chances of actually being presented to your potential matches - you're simply moved to the back of the queue.

However, of course I can't be sure about that.


The reality is that they don't care at all. It's not in any way aligned with their incentives.

It's been a while since I've used Tinder, but they were rate-limiting swipes - unless you paid up for premium features.


It also made it that most guys never get noticed, because women have thousands of likes to go through.


Google should do dating based on people's every day searches...

"Hey, we know you're both single, or at least looking for other partners. You're literally the only two people on earth that share this fascination, everyone else thinks it's weird and creepy. You should chat. Based on the personality profiles we've created for you both based on your search history, we think you'd make an amazing couple."

That could totally disrupt dating, it would be organic in a way that could actually work for relationship longevity and it would be based on things people are actually interested in rather than what they think they should present as being interested in to signal mates. It has the potential to be far more real than dating sites.


Well, why would I want a partner with the same interests? To share one or two, great. But I can learn much more from a person that is very different compared to me.

This is why I think this clustering based on interests was always bullshit on dating sites. And this is why people use Tinder now.


I think Google is probably able to determine based on personality profiles created from our searches who we're most likely to mesh well with... whether that's based on interest or personality profile, who knows. It would be an interesting experiment.


Google can't even figure out that when I search for something in maps I probably want locations that are close to me and not across the country


The essential problem with dating websites is this:

- Women and men join.

- Women are immediately dogpiled by creeps, catfished, dick-picked, called names and given death threats for saying no.

- Women turn right the fuck around and leave.

- 80% ratio if you're lucky (and 100% plus bots, employees, and ghost accounts if you aren't).


It might also be an age thing, younger women have no problem meeting people IRL. When I used a couple of these sites, including Match, when I was in my late 40's and I had no problem setting up multiple coffee dates. Nothing came of it and I met my wife at the running club.


I'm actually working on a new type of dating app that addresses this conflict of interest.

Most dating apps want you to be addicted (single and swiping) to their screens so that they can keep earning billions of dollars from subscriptions, power-ups, and ads. Even if you aren't paying, they want you addicted to their platform for their paying members. There is a serious conflict of interest.

We are different. We understand users want to find someone, so they get on with their lives-- to have amazing life experiences with someone they like. We give our users exactly that and our main revenue stream is tied to that. Just like Uber and Lyft sell rides because customers want rides-- we sell adventure dates because our users want breathtaking dating experiences.

We also hate screen addiction. We want to be in the background, so people can focus on living in the moment. And every day, we'll sprinkle their lives with like-minded, kind people and travel opportunities.

Would love your feedback on it. Here's more info I wrote about our business model:

https://blog.fairytrail.app/2019/09/reinventing-online-datin...

Also I am happy to share my user data with the community too.


The only evidence I've seen to counter this (very common) critique is the disturbing practice of 'chadfishing'. If you make a profile and put a picture of a hot guy, you will be flooded with female interest.

Make a profile with a really hot guy pic and see what happens. You'll find there are way more women on those sites than you thought. Or better yet, don't do that, but look into the people who have. They tend to be crazy people (who invented 'chadfishing'), but their results are fascinating.


> Most men just give up after a while and start to spam generic pickup lines to just about every profile Exactly! I mean it doesn't make any sense not to. I'd bet most of the men that do this have spent a very long time making long thoughtful messages only to get absolutely nothing back. Every single time. And honestly getting something back like "Next time If you want to talk to a woman then say more than just 'hey'" once in awhile is far better than feel like you're trying to talk to people that don't actually exist.


> Due to the imbalance and fake accounts, as a male you rarely get response on messages.

That may have an effect, but it is also that women tend to go for the "top" guys while men in general have an more even spread on what they like. This is a more likely scenario.

If you are male and not an alpha male that is very good looking and / or successful, it is unlikely that you will have a good experience on dating apps.

This has been found again and again:

OkCupid (which later deleted the post because the truth is controversial, and they are progressive): http://archive.is/pLAWq

Tinder Study: https://i.redd.it/huqtbknjvoc31.png

(There are many more, just search for it)


I think the main differentiator is whether you pay for the dating site or not... These sites are all geared towards generating money from accounts. When you're operating on the free side, profiles are fake and you get limited interactions with people (and bots) just enough to keep you engaged. When you pay, it's still not great in terms of matchmaking and functionality, and most of the features now are meant to up-sell you, or to keep you paying monthly. Actually connecting people has really become the last concern of most sites.


I've liked Bumble's solution, make it so only woman can start a conversation if matched with someone.


And typically they don't or just write "hi" and wait for the men to answer.


The other thing some will do is just not say anything, and wait for you to use your one daily "extend", to show her you're really interested in her and not just right-swiping everyone.


or they won't write to anyone, and they're merely collecting matches for self validation.

Bumble is also (or was) loaded with fake profiles too. I had a friend see my own profile on there, with a city that I wasn't in (but had been) and there's no indication that I wasn't an active user - I had deleted the Bumble app 6 months before. I did finally go and delete the whole account after their anti-gun stance.


That's pretty sad. I used OkCupid pretty successfully 5+ years ago in Chicago. I did not notice a spam/fraud problem at all (maybe one or two obvious spam messages here or there). It worked almost too well, to be honest. Women initiated contact with me rather than the other way around, and I had enough flow in that direction that I only initiated contact once. I ended up marrying a woman I met on OKCupid. I assume that as online dating has grown in popularity, the spam and fraud problems have increased. It probably also depends on location, age, and a bunch of other factors.


For-profit dating sites also share a common problem: they need to extract revenue out of you, but the more successful they are at being dating sites, the sooner they lose you as a customer.

All the problems we discuss are pretty much related to this point: They probably have good matching algorithms, but they only showed you actual good matches you'd be gone from the site (taking the other person with you). So they have an incentive to show you 99% noise and 1% signal, and some go to the length of more or less explicitly paywalling the good 1%.


That's one dynamic. But there's also the opposite incentive of word of mouth from positive experiences.

When I hear of real people paying money on a dating site and finding what they want, that's a powerful motivator.

So we can only hypothesize whether a few desperate users do cough out more cash than a larger number of one-time subscribers would, but the later strategy is certainly more sustainable over the long term.


It's a strange situation where they're literally telling you the great thing they found on that website is no longer available!

It's also a very personal decision, perhaps more like picking movies or music you'd like. I don't generally trust any of my friends' movie or music recommendations.


That's an amusing comparison, but I would compare it more to job or house rental listing sites. Of course the "item" you end up settling on is always going to be an intimately personal decision, but the benchmark would be the number of decent candidates you had the opportunity to consider, and the effort you had to expand during the search.


To some extent, isn't that true of all products? When you sell a product to solve a problem, once you make the sale, assuming it actually solves the problem, the customer won't come back.

That's why, for example, Photoshop used to cost $1000 (outrageous!) and now costs $20/month (outrageous!), and users hate it both ways. Or why electronics are less repairable than ever, and companies are optimizing for cheapness, and you can just buy a new one when it breaks. When you open the hood on your car you just see another hood, and you couldn't really work on your engine (it's a big noisy proprietary computer now) if you even could get to it, anyway.

This is simply how the economy works today. People complained yesterday about software patents being legal roadblocks to make easy things hard. Then they go back to writing proprietary APIs for closed-source web services, which are mostly just technical roadblocks to make easy things hard. Most of the work we do now is to serve the preservation of the capitalist system, not because it's actually useful work.


> I don't think this can be 'disrupted' either

I know one French dating website, AdopteUnMec, where it's free for women and paying for men, the owner are claiming the user split is 50-50 between men and women. But I've never used it, so I don't know how well it works.


I think it also depends on what your looking for.

At my small office of 10 people, where's 2 people that found matches on e-harmony, resulting in marriage.


i'm not a woman, but i've seen women getting spammed with dick pics leading many to stay away completely from these sites


I think the users on eHarmony are mostly women.


I tried eHarmony for a little while. I finally gave it up because 1) it wasn't free and 2) most of the women were religious, so I got almost no dates on there. I've gotten most of my dates in the last year from CMB; that one doesn't attract as many religious people for some reason.


What about the ones on those pop-ups that keep telling me about horny women in my area?


> I'd say it's about 80% male.

It's more like most women will go for 20% of the men. If you're part of the 80% you'll feel alone. As an experiment just make a fake profile with some model's picture to discover how many women are around.


Both are true. Most people on dating sites are men, and the women that are there heavily skew towards a small portion of men.


This is correct. It’s become a winner takes all situation.


It probably was that way since the dawn of humanity. In 100 BC it was probably worse, if anything


Is this more than just speculation? According to the linked occupid data (https://web.archive.org/web/20170330131859/https://theblog.o...) while women underrate attractiveness of men, the distribution of messages fllows the attractiveness curve: Men receive about the same amount of messages independent of attractiveness (https://web.archive.org/web/20170331084200im_/https://cdn-im...). Especially compared to the behaviour of men, which tend to value attractiveness much more.

One hypothesis is that it depends on the service you use. E.g., Tinder vs Okupid, where Tinder reinforces decision based on looks while Okupid encourages much more detailed profiles.


The study from OkCupid that I saw a long time ago showed that the top 78% of women were only interested in the top 22% of men (where top denotes a score that rates how often others are interested in you, the amount of messages you receive etc).

The reverse then meant that the bottom 78% of men had to compete for the attention of the bottom 22% of women. They retracted that study after a while, but other dating sites roughly get the same percentages eventually.


It’s interesting to see the Pareto Principle working here as well.


If it is 80% male, that would mean that the women generally simply matched available males and then were done with it all.

There is no way to achieve monogamous one-to-one pairing for everyone in place that is 80% male. Of course only minority of men succeeds. And while here it is not exactly 1-to-1, it is not actually all that much far off.


On tinder the issue isn’t that women only go for the top 20%, the issue is that the elo algorithm is so aggressive and the gender ratio is so skewed that women won’t even see your profile if it’s in the bottom 80%


there was an interesting data-analysis blog-post about this, I think i found it on HN but right now I can't find it. It presents some evidence that your statement is very true.

edit: here it is https://web.archive.org/web/20170330131859/https://theblog.o...


Here is another one I have seen floating around, but I am not sure the veracity of its analysis.

https://medium.com/@worstonlinedater/tinder-experiments-ii-g...


Create a fake profile to prove these are not all fake profiles?

In any case, any site where the profile focuses primarily on your photo is probably going to see this going both ways: men going for the hottest women and women going for the hottest men.

If you focus more on people's interests, I'd expect you're going to see a very different pattern.


The only major remaining website that tries to match people based on interests is OKCupid. And even it is changing every few months. Unfortunately, the success of Tinder and move to mobile phones first ruined most of the dating websites, which try to emulate its success. Because people mostly use phone nowadays for dating websites, long profiles are mostly gone, sending long letters is gone, many conversations are single sentence now. Also, instead of matching based on shared interests/values, most of the matching is based on "swipe left/right on photo".


I don't get why Match.com, OkCupid should converge to a Tinder-like working model if they share ownership. I guess that there are different niches of people for those different websites/apps, no?


Perhaps so that later on they can transition all OKC users onto Tinder and maintain only one product?


Use profiles from one site as basis for fake profiles on another site, and when someone responds to those profiles, mail the user to pressure them to also join the other site.


Highly doubt that's their goal. Maintaining multiple dating sites probably just increases their reach and revenue...


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Yeah, no. Noone needed to read some long ranty message to the end, on the "long form" dating websites of the past. And I doubt there were even that many long form messages from men, given how many women complained in their profiles that they don't respond to "Hi! How're you?" and demanded men to put more effort in.


[flagged]


"Think of it as her being a customer and you being a sales person at Best Buy."

Well that's the wrong approach right there. I'm glad to serve the needs of the other person, but I'll not approach someone with this mindset at the beginning (like sales people have to do).

My approach at the beginning is that of exploration, and careless fun. I certainly don't want to start a relationship in a subservient role.

Anyway, how's tinder any better?

d) You walk up to someone, start opening your mouth for a word, and they swipe you aside, ignoring you.

This weird liking of online interactions to real life ones doesn't really work. People act differently online, just a fact of life. Someone saying "Hi, how're you?" online may just end up being quite fine in real life. Not sure about the dickpic people though. LOL


> Well that's the wrong approach right there. I'm glad to serve the needs of the other person, but I'll not approach someone with this mindset at the beginning (like sales people have to do).

And how is it working for you? Because this seems to be the approach advocated and practiced by the "nice guys" who complain that they can't get a date.

> You walk up to someone, start opening your mouth for a word, and they swipe you aside, ignoring you.

It is great! It is called "No product market fit!"


Would you please stop posting flamebaity, unsubstantive comments to HN? You've been doing it a lot lately, and it's too much.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


Sure, I will stop.


Appreciated!


Guys that claim that women aren't interested in them because they're too nice can't get a date because they don't understand women or themselves. There are plenty of nice guys that have success meeting women on their own terms. Women grow out of dating jerks in their twenties. Also, when a guy starts complaining about that, pay attention to the women he is pursuing. Are they nice, well balanced, and in his "league"? In my experience the guys who say that are chasing the female version of the "asshole" they claim is stealing all the women. Source: nice guy who has been dating nice girls for 15 years.


It worked great. But it was not an online dating.

> It is great! It is called "No product market fit!"

But that's not really differentiating it from the other a,b,c options you provided.



OKCupid doesn't have fake profiles, right?


OKCupid has many fake profiles. Some are real people, just using fake pictures. Some are obvious fakes with copy-paste description that you'd see on hundreds of profiles and professional photoshoot photos that have hundreds of matches with google image search. There is a more advanced fake profile method though. It involves professional scammers writing people lengthy, personalized messages for days or even weeks, and then luring them into payment, either through some different "russian brides" website, or telling some sob story about missing money for rent and asking for help.


I think tiglionabbit was being sarcastic ;)


I met my previous girlfriend on OkC, with whom I was for 3 years, and the current one, 1 year and counting, hopefully a lot of counting.

There are definitely fewer people than e.g. Tinder, but they tend to be a lot more real vs spammers / scammers / engineered profiles designed to keep you in.

Most Tinder matches were bots, most OkC matches were actual people. Of course this is with a sample size of 1, in Germany. Your mileage may vary.


"...with whom I was..."

Is that grammatically correct? It appears to be, but wow does it ring strangely in my ear.


English is not my first language, but yes, to my knowledge that is grammatically correct.

Maybe it is a bit ambiguous, although from the context it should be reasonably clear that I was with my (now-ex) girlfriend for that period of time, and not with OkC itself :)


Most English speakers would say, "a woman who I was with for 3 years." In this case "with" is understood to mean in a romantic relationship.

I don't think what you said is technically correct. "With whom I was" calls for something (a verb or phrase) to be tacked onto the end, but it would still be awkward. For example, "with whom I was dating for three years."


> Most English speakers would say, "a woman who I was with for 3 years."

Actually, I'm pretty certain you're supposed to use "whom" there, not "who".


From another perspective: whom is one of the few relics of the entirely dropped dative case in English (via the also disappearing objective or oblique case which mostly only remains in English personal pronouns I versus me). It's generally relegated only to formal writing, and some (including the Oxford English Dictionary since the 1980s) consider "whom" to be entirely deceased, ancient, and no longer an active English word.


It depends on whether you are using who/whom as the subject or object. Who = subject, whom = object.


There is a delightful sketch that might help you see things differently: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTv5ckMe_2M


I'd say OKcupid is better than most (the higher barrier to entry i.e. having to answer questions) helps to a degree but there's still plenty of fake / scammer accounts.


But you don't even have to answer those


They're owned by Match, so I wouldn't bet on it.


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I agree that dating is basically marketing for yourself.

But dating sites are there for those who are generally bad at that. The requirement of marketing 101 to be successful on a dating site kind of defeats the purpose.


Let's see if we can apply this to finding a job. You need to do marketing.

Let's see if we can apply this to filling a job. You need to do marketing.

Let's see if we can apply this to selling a watches in a store? You need to do marketing.

Let's see if we can apply this to selling your specific CBD online? You need to do marketing.

Why would you think that dating would be different?

Dating sites are the top of the funnel. You still need to close the "sale". To do that one has one of the two options: time to experiment and develop sales tactics or have the needed resources. I do not know what Evan's "style" was if any but him being a billionaire definitely helped to close the deal with Miranda.


This.

The experience of women on dating sites is this: lots of messages from men that basically say (often exactly this): "Wanna fuck?" Like, that's the whole message. Except there's almost always multiple misspellings, no matter how short the message is. So it's more like "U wanna fuk?". And then those men go on their local message boards and complain that no one is responding to that pithy, well-crafted message and they can't find a spouse to settle down with and raise a family.

Put some effort into it. Wear a collared shirt. Brush your hair. Take a shower. Spellcheck. Find your smartest friend to help you make your profile. Don't pick things off your feet and eat them. Try to be funny.

It's really not that hard. Lots of humans have successfully mated with other humans. You can too!


The number of men in the US aged 18-30 reporting no sex in the previous year has almost tripled since 2010 [1]. It seems there are economic or cultural factors at play besides not well-crafting their messages or showering enough.

[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/03/29/share-ame...


"It's really not that hard. Lots of humans have successfully mated with other humans. You can too!"

The overwhelming majority did so without the use of online dating. I think that speaks more to the quality of online dating than anything else.


It really is that hard though. There's plenty of men that follow all of your advice and receive hardly any matches.


If my reading is correct, the person who you responded to is a woman who has tried online dating. Even if it is not, that is probably a man who has tried online dating well and did well enough to be able to ask a woman he is dating/dated and shared what was told to them.

Your response is quite illustrative of reactions men have to observations on this topic the women make -- they do not like it. They especially do not like the implication: in this specific situation men just don't bring enough to the table to make them interesting enough for a woman to engage with.

Just look at @TinderNightmares. That is men's competition. That's what men are failing at exceeding. Let that sink in.


You seem to be confirming his viewpoint, if anything - the person is saying that some people are finding it difficult. Could be for any reason.


Mostly the reason is that the women don't find most men as passing their physical attractiveness threshold.


The instagram mentioned contains mostly messages. Most guys aren't even getting matches, so they are not being disqualified because of their messages.


Correct.

The images and the bio on a tinder profile has to so bad that women quite literally pick people whom women pretty much know will interact that way because even that is better than the alternatives.

You are on HN. There are hundreds of posts about negotiations and evaluation of available options. BATNA is thrown around in every one of them. I am baffled that people continue to pretend that it just does not magically apply to dating.

Your profile is your pitch deck. If no one wants to fund you, you should ask yourself if you need to change your pitch deck if you are convinced that your idea has a merit. Or maybe you can follow the HN startup advice and pivot to something else.

If doing the same thing over and over again does not achieve the desired result, one is ought to adjust approach.


I think it's a fatal flaw in the dating site business model, to be honest. Their incentive is for you to stay on the site for as long as possible. If you could find a relationship quickly and then they would leave the site quickly. This would reduce the amount of ad and subscription revenue, in addition to reducing the size of the pool of "potential matches", discouraging those who have more trouble finding someone.


Okcuipd (and Sparknotes!) co-founder Christian Rudder wrote an article entitled "Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating" saying exactly that. When Match Group acquired them, they took it down. I found a mirror, though.

https://web.archive.org/web/20190429100515/https://static.iz...


That's an amazing article. (Like, good enough that I'm not just upvoting you, but also telling everyone else to read it. It's worth it.) I had no idea the numbers were that bad. And I can see why it got taken down after the acquisition.


It's really too bad. Before they were acquired, they had all kinds of data-driven articles/discussions like this. Some really pissed people off too (mainly because they didn't like the data revealed). This was back in the day when OkCupid still had old-school forums. It seems like you can't even find any data-related articles before 2016. How things have changed. Really sad.


So good that I won’t just upvote your comment but again tell people: read it!


That’s brutal.

My new hypothesis is that Match acquired OKC just to get Rudder to STFU.


The OKC blog was also full of good advice and interesting research about how online dating works. In some sense it was probably considered a threat that was revealing trade secrets.


That blog was amazing - one of the best overviews of the realities of dating published anywhere at any time.


The Dataclysm book is even better and goes into more detail.


Excellent article.

One trick I think that was missed though? :

> eHarmony seems to do quite a bit better than Match, claiming in their ads to marry off 236 people a day

That doesn't mean those people marry people they meet through eHarmony, nor that they people used eHarmony at the time they found their maate etc?


I wonder if they ever considered explicitly marking which profiles are paid vs unpaid, and then allowing users to "gift" a subscription to the unpaid / dormant accounts.

Seems like a good potential revenue source, although it might require a little bit too much honesty for their taste.


It would be nice to have a dating site where potential matches were verified, including height, weight, and photo. Perhaps have them visit a kiosk in a participating business to get a photo taken from a standard angle (no "myspace" angles) along with a verified height and weight (stand on a scale!)


potential matches were verified, including height, weight

I am happily married now (met my wife through a mutual friend, the old fashioned way) so my experience of online dating may be obsolete but women on dating sites tend to be very specific about their partner’s height. And income, and what car he drives and a big shopping list of mainly physical and materialistic traits. If you could verify all of that you might be onto a viable business.

How you attract the men to your platform is up to you...


> How you attract the men to your platform is up to you...

Women. Period. If you have women, then men will come. And they'll jump through absolutely every hoop and hurdle to do so.


The population of men who fulfil one of these shopping lists and would subject themselves to this verification process is insignificant. They are in bars successfully pursuing women who don’t write shopping lists on dating websites.


yep its cause women dont have to do any work they just get chats all the time from guys

but its so bad now because women are competing for the top 5% of men who are like models and everyone else gets no response


An honest question: Do you have any evidence to back up this claim? I keep hearing this claim, but I haven’t see any solid science or other data supporting it.

My understanding is that women are more picky than men about who they find attractive, but less picky about who they will message and respond to.


Before the above-mentioned buyout, OkCupid's blog used to have at least one article documenting this exact phenomenon. If you are not an 8/10 or better rated by women, you are fighting for the bottom 20% attractiveness of women, and EVEN THEN still have a low response rate.


Create a profile of an average looking guy, then create a profile with a model looking guy. The first guy will have zero girls messaging him first and will get 5% reply rate, the second guy will have girls throwing nudes and phone numbers down his inbox.



Thanks for the links.

I have seen that @medium link before; this is an informal survey done by a single person so there’s probably a lot of methodological issues with the survey. The third link is just a screenshot from that same article, so it is just as dubious.

The second link is quoting the actual article out of context.

Here is the entire article: https://archive.is/yse2

To wit: “Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women [...] women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium. Very harsh. On the other hand, when it comes to actual messaging, women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, which is a healthier pattern than guys’ pursuing the all-but-unattainable.”

Point being, it’s men who only want the most attractive girls, and it’s women who are more willing to give a homely guy a chance.


nah women start chats like 1% of the time so theyre just messaging back men who actually reached them first

okcupid was from 2009, its way different now after ten years. women control the scene and they only go for the top. thats what the tweets i linked from 2019 show


I see you're getting downvoted, which is funny because I've proposed the same idea on HN a few times and a lot of people thought it was a good idea. Maybe the weight thing isn't necessary with everything else in play, but otherwise I think this is something that should be tried. Yet nobody has bitten. Perhaps that means it's either not viable or of interest to investors.


People have a right to an “affectional preference.” The strange thing is that the same people who wouldn’t question the right of a man to not be attracted to women (for example) are most likely to be disturbed or that someone may have a weight preference.


Perhaps the concept of outsourcing the vetting of potential mates' physical characteristics strikes folks as disturbing.


And yet it's been pretty common for a long time and still is in a lot of cultures - mostly for traits like income/wealth and family though. Matchmaking and forced marriages are still very much a thing.


Really!? You don't care if your potential mate is male or female, young or old?


Dating apps are creepy enough as they are.


I think what is disturbing is people’s propensity to lie about something so objectively false.

As far as I know, vetting potential mates’ physical characteristics has happened for thousands of years, whenever families/friends/coworkers propose a match.

I might even think this is a superior system as people are bad at perceiving their own price in the mating market, and an outside appraisal is frequently more accurate.


Ignoring the expense of those kioskes, for this to be fair, we would need to verify height, weight, photo, marital/relationship status, and income (paycheck stubs will need to notarized).


Plus fully functional anatomy, ready to produce offspring, and no use of hormones or antibiotics. No bodily modifications without approval, including docked ears or tails. I need to see the GMO certificates.


I'm not sure DMV photos would inspire romance...


Is people misrepresenting themselves something you encounter frequently? Seems like a short sighted move.


It's completely understandable to put yourself out there as the best version of yourself, but yes I have frequently seen people exaggerating themselves to the point of misrepresentation.

You see profiles with only pictures that clearly were taken 5-10 years ago, or only picture of the face with a filter so heavy they are barely recognizable. It is certainly short sighted because you can only hide behind a carefully curated profile for so long. If I was looking for a dating service I would certainly pay for one with just verified, unedited photos. At some point this could get creepy but other stats like height, age, and weight could be optionally verifiable and public.

If this could save me from even one awkward date a year with someone I don't find even remotely physically compatible it would easily be worth it.


You see profiles with only pictures that clearly were taken 5-10 years ago

Again my experience is long ago but I would occasionally be matched with someone I knew IRL and women shaving 5-10 years (e.g. moving into a lower age bracket) was very common.


Right. And then you meet someone that doesn't meet your innate "affectional preference" and what do you do, leave? (Yes!)

What's funny is I didn't make any value judgements when I proposed a verified physical characteristics site. I never said that it's better to like fat or thin, or tall or short, or blonde or redhead, or bald or hairy, black or white. There's someone for everyone and that's great!

But it's not OK to lie about it, and hope the other person will overlook the fact that you are a liar or that you'll change your mind "once you get to know him/her"


There was a really good OkCupid blog post that analyzed their member profiles and found that men that were 5’10” and 5’11” would round up to 6’. It was a pretty significant portion of them, too.


Do you know if they said what would happen if the user just left the height portion blank?


yea cause every girl on tinder wants a guy over 6 foot tall


I'm 6'2" and it seems to have done nothing for me. I only have maybe 1-3 people to swipe on anyway. Once you get outside of densely populated cities, Tinder is all but useless.


i mean you still gotta be good looking sorry its tough out there


It's the paradox of choice. If you get to pick from many, and people are just a photo + description, it's easy to get more picky than you'd normally be.

If someone asked me if I want to date an overweight woman. I'd say no. But if I met a great person, and she happened to be overweight, it wouldn't really matter to me that much. So, within limits, I could accept being 'lied to' on a dating website.



People wanting to flatter themselves? The nerve. Get off your high horse.


You're missing the fact that deceptive profiles negatively impact the experiences of everyone they interact with.

Robbery? People just want to enrich themselves. Rape? People just want to pleasure themselves. The nerve of society to criminalize these behaviors, we should all get the fuck off our collective high horses.


If you're going to say adjusting a photo angle is equivalent to rape, please never use a dating website.


If you're going to be so obtuse that you can't understand a logical analogy, please never debate people on the internet.


It’s making sure people are honest. I’m making no judgements. Some people use photos that aren’t even of them. Is that ok?


There’s a huge difference in flattering yourself and exaggerating to the point of misrepresentation.


> I think it's a fatal flaw in the dating site business model, to be honest.

I think it is just one exhibit of the fatal flaw of the idea that shareholder value maximization is the correct objective of a corporation. The very original raison d'etre of limited libility was to enhance wellbeing of public, not shareholders. And for some reason that has been forgotten.

(No, I have no good solutions for proper corporate governance, but I still think acknowledging we have a problem is the first step.)


In reality, dating sites/apps are really first date apps (even when they're being honest, not like here). I would like to see a start up that will connect you to someone, but their business model is around keeping you connected. So much of their tech is around curating good dates and helping you maintain a healthy relationship.


This is not unique to the dating industry, other industries get by just fine without resorting to outright fraud.


In other industries it is called growth-hacking, but in the dating industry the business model depends on it, even when the business has reached maturity.


It's a fatal flaw in the monthly subscription-based model, to be sure, but I don't think that many customers are subscribed for months on end - either they find someone, or give up (on that particular website/app) because "it isn't working". Thus, a feature-driven per-use pricing scheme which Tinder uses for "Super Likes". It sells them a la carte even if you don't have a subscription. (They also have a traditional scription model.)


The interesting thing is this is Hinge's business model but they have the problem of abandoned accounts sitting there instead of people deleting them for whatever reason.


I may be misremembering the specific app and timeline but I’m fairly sure Hinge sent me an email among the lines of “you look like you’re no longer active so we’re hiding your account” after a few days of inactivity.


Ah yes, the only profession aside from medicine that exists to eradicate itself.


The goal of any consultancy should be to get your clients to the point where they no longer need you.


[Cough] Gov't consulting companies would like a word.


Well I did say "should". :/

Also there's a difference between specialist consultancies and contract labour hire. I'd say most government contractors fall into the latter camp.


"Consulting: If you can't be part of the solution, there's a lot of money to be made prolonging the problem."


Not quite. Teaching counts too, with the the end result of a good tutor being that they're not needed any more (same with a college or university).Quicker you pass say your driving test, the less money the instructor makes.


> Quicker you pass say your driving test, the less money the instructor makes

Only if people never recommend driving instructors to friends and family. If they do, a driving instructor who consistently has people passing their test quickly is much more likely to make more money long term


Medicine does no more eradicate itself than food industry does. Of course, once you've eaten in a restaurant, you are not hungry anymore, but that's far cry from food industry "eradicating itself".


I work in information security and we have effectively consulted ourselves out of a job and were happy to do it. Some customers only need our help for a while, others need it for much longer :)


I can't tell if you're being sarcastic. I'm inferring a tone of sarcasm from your comment but I'm not sure what you're really trying to communicate here.


I don't think they're being sarcastic. It's a market that when done efficiently and successfully, puts itself out of business. The better medicine gets, the less patients they get.


Well I met my wife with OKCupid so can't complain! It really worked for me.


isn't this the job board model too? Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Linkedin?


No, LinkedIn works to establish the network of professional connections which stays with you even when you got a job.

Now, I'm not sure if these are of any worth (I never got anything useful out of LinkedIn... either people trying to sell me something, or colleagues I know already).

I've heard of people (of gold digger kind) using LinkedIn as a dating site.


Former CTO of a multi-mllion user dating app. I am certain Match will claim plausible deniability here, the reality is such an argument would be a total farce.

While spam prevention is technically not a "solved" problem, simple and clever techniques in addition to shadow-banning go a long way. Once an account has sufficient activity, which for spammers takes anywhere from 30s - 4hr, even modest systems can confidently identify the vast majority.

A company like Match that has conglomerated other upstarts in the space surely has spammer identification systems far in excess of smaller apps. Yet somehow those competing apps often cite account authenticity as an advantage over Match. The Ashley Madison scandal exposed this business tactic. Match clearly followed suit and has been just-subtle-enough to evade legal action until now.


Speaking of plausible deniability, those 1000s of illegally downloaded videos on my harddrive were uploaded to my computer by a botnet.

But come on, if you are a large business then you should know what is going on in your company.


I worked for about 3/4th of a year for a dating website. The market is ...unique, to put it nicely. Employees are constantly poached. When my boss told me this I couldn't believe it but it actually happened. During lunchtime, it became an often occurrence for someone to come and talk to me to try and reveal secrets.

Also they had a lot of people on payroll to pretend they're available girls on the website, in order to increase engagement and lure subscribers. One of them was a huge biker dude and it was hilarious. The truth is that on all these dating website, as someone else pointed out, the ratio is about 30 guys to 1 gal so building a dating platform is hard.


Rewriting one of my earlier comments: I have used Tinder (owned by Match) before and it was one of the must frustrating experiences ever.

First, they do shady things with your data. Since I made a Tinder account I been getting constant ads for random dating sites. This have been going on for months. God knows how many companies now have my data.

Second, they employ dark patterns:

1) Easy account deletion. Why does that matter? Because they own nearly all dating sites. Including: "BlackPeopleMeet.com, Chemistry.com, Delightful, FriendScout24, HowAboutWe, Match.com, Meetic Group, OkCupid, OurTime, People Media, PlentyOfFish, Tinder, Twoo, Hinge" So, they don't care if they lose a user as long as they can shuffle them around.

2) They will keep a tab of the number of users who have like you. Then eventually that user will shown to you and you will swipe left or right. In that case the tab count will decrease. This is a complete scam. They would withhold these users to push to a pay subscription. Example: https://i.redd.it/e13yeek795x21.jpg . Moreover, most of these likes a bots and fake profiles.

3) Fake notifications: https://i.redd.it/r0lheira9rh31.jpg

4) Shadows-bans: I saw that my profile was getting no matches. So I made a new profile, ban! a match within minutes. Essentially they shadow ban users as a form of Neg.


Re 2.

They changed it so swiping left on someone who liked you no longer decreases the like counter

Also before that if you were out traveling the likes you got while on the road will not show up in your stack when you leave the area where you got them

Also if you swipe left on someone and you’re in their stack and they swipe right on you, they’ll show up in the count

The rest is still super scummy, but the “rules” of the like counter are at least somewhat logical


I've used tinder in the past, and I remember there were recommendations online to completely delete your account and start from scratch from time to time if you suddenly found yourself unsuccessful, to get around potential shadow bans or just having fallen in a pit of the algorithm.

Do you happen to know if that was a valid strategy, and if it still is?

I always wondered if it was/is actually possible to completely reset your data, considering they have pretty strong links to you like payment information.


It is, but you should use a new name/profile pic combo to get around the algorithm re-slotting you into your old position. Ideally you'd only use your first name, a couple of new pics and don't link any other account so they can't track you(if you must - make a new instagram/spotify to link)


Totally a valid strategy if you delete your profile and wait a week before recreating, even if you reuse the same profile

I imagine you risk being shadowbanned if you do it too often, but it’s pretty natural to do it once every couple of months


Regarding 4, I don't think that is necessarily a shadow ban. AFAIK Tinder will sometimes surreptitiously give you a boost, the huge one being when you create a new account, and subsequently when you change areas, and probably a few other triggers


It FEELS like a shadow ban, no matter how many people you superlike or swipe right on you'll never get a match.

Current time to shadowban seems to be around 3 months


And if you complain about your experience in an open forum you get berated by people assuming you arent attractive or your profile isnt good

Glad to see the FTC curbstomping it


Reddit and other anonymous social media sites have "profile rates" where you can just submit your profile and have people point out issues.

Lots of people are told they have no problem with their profile and that they should just recreate their account to get around their shadow ban.

The house of cards that Tinder built is falling down


To be fair on the last part, shadow ban can be an extremely efficient moderation tool, though for people caught up as false positive collateral damage it can really suck.

This is true even in hackernews I would assume, certainly it is any other place I've moderated before.


When an account is established, we usually tell people we're banning them and why. Shadowbanning on HN is mostly for new accounts that show signs of either spamming or trolling. You're right, though, that there are still false positives in such cases, and those suck.


"Shadowbanning on HN is mostly for new accounts that show signs of either spamming or trolling."

You routinely shadowban people you disagree with. Or post-limit them. You don't get to act innocent here when I guarantee you're just as guilty of these dark patterns as every other site.


> You routinely shadowban people you disagree with

We don't ban people we disagree with. If we did, hardly anyone would be left unbanned.

As for shadowbanning, the practice is as I described it: if the account is established, we tell people we're banning them and why (your account was an example: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15615092). If an account is new, different rules apply: we (meaning some combo of software and moderators) have to make a guess about whether the account is legit or not. If the guess is that they're spamming or trolling, we shadowban the account. We guess wrong sometimes, but we do what we can to correct those cases. And we're always happy to unban anyone who gives us reason to believe that they'll follow the site guidelines in the future.

Rate limiting is a separate issue. If an account posts too many low-quality comments too quickly and/or gets involved in flamewars, we rate limit how much they can post in the future. It's annoying and crude, but it's one of the few software tools we have to prevent comment quality from degenerating too quickly. Again, people are welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and we take the rate limit off if they commit to not repeating that behavior. It's not hard to get an account unbanned or unpenalized if you really want to use HN as intended.


"It's not hard to get an account unbanned and/or unpenalized if you really want to use HN as intended."

For the most part, I DO use HN as intended, IN SPITE of your shadowbanning. You just refuse to read my posting history to see that much.

This clearly shows I have more integrity than you, as you won't dare unhide any of my decent comments, instead preferring to make yourself look the victim by only unbanning my comments which you can unban to make me look bad. You're the real issue here, not me.


We've unkilled a lot of your comments and would be happy to restore more if we missed some good ones.


On a free product, I have no problems with shadow bans.

On a paid product, shadow bans seem like a pretty clear case of fraud.


Yep, having used Tinder's paid boots and seeing no results. And then making a new profile with the same photos and bio! and getting results within minutes left me feeling rob and manipulated.


This is an excellent case for a chargeback. It's up to the merchant to prove they were in the right, and in the meantime you get your money back.


Ah I've never used any of those apps I just sort of assumed they're free.


> 1) Easy account deletion. Why does that matter? Because they own nearly all dating sites. Including: "BlackPeopleMeet.com, Chemistry.com, Delightful, FriendScout24, HowAboutWe, Match.com, Meetic Group, OkCupid, OurTime, People Media, PlentyOfFish, Tinder, Twoo, Hinge" So, they don't care if they lose a user as long as they can shuffle them around.

This sounds like something the CCPA was trying to change.


A decade or so ago I worked at AdultFriendFinder.com, then the largest dating site. We had 20 or so different properties, covering every niche from "jewishfriendfinder" to "alt.com"

On paper we had about 50 million users. The reality was that we were a porn site, and our business was entirely driven by porn site referrals. Our smarter referral partners would game the system to setup thousand of users to get extra bonuses, and we encouraged it, so that we could ethically claim that we didn't create the fake users.

These sorts of lies are pretty much status quo in the dating industry. Zoosk is far worse, I walked away from a contract there when I realized how much of a sleazeball their founder, Shayan Zadeh, really was/


Back when I was single, I was on a dozen dating sites. It was frustrating as heck to keep getting led on by fake profiles.

eHarmony is the worst: they actually sold my email address to spammers. How do I know this? I have my own domain, and use a unique (hard to guess) email address for each site I have to give an email address to. So it was trivial to nail eHarmony as the culprit.

Someone has already linked to the OKCupid blog post which explained pretty well why you should not pay for a dating site. Then they were bought out by Match (how did the anti-trust people let Match accumulate so many sites?), and any principles they had went down the drain.

Basically, the market is ripe for a respectful dating site. But OKCupid started this way; and in the end they sold out. What makes you think you won't sell out when the money is right?


eHarmony is disgusting. Or they were, the one time I tried to use their service ten years ago.

My wife and I had been separated for a while and in the divorce process. (We were and remain on friendly terms, but it was definitely over.) I thought I would check out some dating services, and eHarmony sounded like one that wasn't sleazy or weird.

So I filled out their lengthy multipage onboarding form, with all kinds of personal questions where they ask you to write heartfelt essays about various things.

At the beginning they asked my marital status and went on from there through the whole questionnaire. After I entered all of my information and wrote my personal essays, they got to the last page and said:

"Sorry! We don't serve your kind. You are separated! Come back when your divorce is final."

Those weren't the exact words, but that was the message.

Now if a dating site wants to serve only a certain market, and if they don't want to serve people who are separated but not yet fully divorced, I totally respect that! But they need to say it up front after asking your marital status.

Instead, they led me through the entire questionnaire, asking all sorts of personal questions, without even a hint that the very first question about my marital status was going to disqualify me.

And then they offered no way for me to recover any of the information I had just entered into their site: all the essays, personal questions and answers, all gone.

No online service of any type, dating or whatever, should ever do this to anyone.

Luckily, I'd had the sense to copy and paste all my little essays into a text file and not trust them to give them back to me. That just seemed like common sense. But in the case of eHarmony, it was necessary!


>And then they offered no way for me to recover all of the information I had just entered into their site - all the essays, personal questions and answers, all gone.

What's worse is that they probably saved it and profited from that data.


I met someone out of area on EH in 2012, and we communicated for a couple of years.

We both quit EH. Many months later, I found them still using her (quite attractive) photo in their advertising.


In my market, eHarmony pretty blatantly advertises itself as the morality police type of Christian platform - so this sort of thing is implied.


Yes indeed, and I have no problem with their choice to serve only those who fit with their mission.

If they had only been honest and up front about it, and as soon as I said I was "separated" they said "sorry, we're not the dating service for you", it would have been fine! I would have respected that and moved on.

But when they actively lied to me by leading me through the entire onboarding process - when they knew from the beginning that they would reject me - that was beyond the pale.


The "separated" issue makes sense because on Planet Dating "separated" can mean anything from "The divorce papers have arrived and I haven't updated my status yet" to "I'm still living in the same house as my spouse and we have sex in between rows, but I'm not sure where this is going" to "I didn't mention I was married? Oh. Well. Sorry."

But I suspect incompetence rather than malice. They simply didn't care enough - or weren't self-aware enough - to do a basic sanity check on status before onboarding. Or perhaps decided to add the check later and didn't have the spare braincells required to rearrange the onboarding sequence.


You are right, and I ran into a few of those variations including "we still live together and sleep together, but we don't feel any emotional connection any more."

And point well taken about suspecting incompetence rather than malice. Or not even incompetence. I can easily imagine some poor overworked web developer (maybe someone like me!) trying to meet their deadlines and business requirements and not even realizing that the "funnel" should have had a filter at the very top instead of waiting until the end to note the error.

This is why I try to put myself in the shoes of whoever is using my app and hopefully look at it from their perspective. I try not to just to ask myself if the interaction I'm building meets the technical requirements, but how will the person feel who is using my app?


It may have been incompetence instead of malice (eg they only implemented the marital status filter a while after designing the onboarding form). Either way that sounds really annoying, though.


It sounds like they did ask that question first, but only validated it after all the following questions were asked.


> But when they actively lied to me by leading me through the entire onboarding process - when they knew from the beginning that they would reject me - that was beyond the pale.

It doesn't sound like an "active lie," but more like a badly designed on-boarding form (a.k.a. a potentially innocent mistake). They should have presented the dealbreaker questions first, but they didn't.


I do the same thing with a gmail address -- just do myemail+uniqueid@gmail.com, because gmail drops everything after the + for routing the email but still tells you which address it was sent to.


I used to do this, but it is troublesome some times because some websites use libraries that strip or replace the plus sign and the final email ends up being an address that you don’t have access to.

Most of the time this is not a problem because you can create the account again with the correct email, but I have lost a few good usernames in some popular websites because I pulled this trick on them, Gravatar is one of these websites and the simplest one to explain.

I wanted a specific username that was available; I signed up with an email that looks like username+gravatar@gmail.com and the operation went through, then when I tried to log in, the website kept saying that the email was incorrect. I tried to reset the account using the username instead, which would force them to send a reset link to the email associated to this account, but the emails never arrive. I gave up that and other good usernames in many websites because of the inappropriate handling of email addresses by some popular web libraries.

Also, the same way you learnt this “trick” other programmers discovered it too and implemented a stripping algorithm to remove the unique ID during the registration process, so it is not very useful nowadays unless the website is very obscure and their developers either are rookies or do not have time to prevent this.


> are rookies or do not have time

Reputable websites don't have an incentive to strip out the ID. It is only websites like "sold out" dating websites or otherwise nefarious websites that have that incentive in the first place. So, name+id@domain.com is still useful for filtering and indexing, and in fact if a website does strip out the ID you should ask yourself why would they need to do that.


Any many just fail, assuming '+' is an invalid character


I was once at the receiving end of business talk clearly addressed to someone else on my gmail account.

At first I believed it was some scam but it soon got clear that my account was accidentally siphoning mail from someone using this supposedly clever scheme...


What's frustrating is that very many sites know of this method and simply trim the "+uniqueid" from a gmail.com address before inserting it into their database.


Pay for your email address to solve the problem. On my email provider, I can create a catchall alias: *@example.com will end up in my johndoe@example.com mailbox.

So, instead of doing johndoe+hn@example.com, I can do hn@example.com.


If your email provider does not offer a catchall alias option, this is also achievable with an email forwarder (e.g. mailgun), provided you are ok with giving another service provider access to the content of your received mails.


Technically most email is not encrypted so every single mail server in the middle also has access.


If only it were possible to encrypt emails, oh well


> So, instead of doing johndoe+hn@example.com, I can do hn@example.com.

Fastmail has an interesting variation of this that supports multiple users on the same domain: hn@johndoe.example.com. My wife and I both use that feature heavily on our domain.


That's a bummer. FWIW there are a fair number of non-gmail domains that are gmail-backed (e.g. a lot of universities' email systems) so it should still work with those consistently I hope.


It don't need to be gmail-backed for + to work. I use it on my own domain without any problems and there is no gmail involved


On my domain I made _ and . Also work the same as +, for annoying sites that somehow think + is an invalid character for email addresses.


>What's frustrating is that very many sites know of this method and simply trim the "+uniqueid" from a gmail.com address before inserting it into their database.

Unfortunately, there is a mathematical theorem (greater idiot theorem) that makes it technically impossible to generate a new random string that becomes an inbox that goes to your inbox.

How do I know that it's technically impossible?

Because otherwise Gmail would have done it already, since this takes 20 minutes and fixes a glaring security issue that gives spammers access to your email that you didn't grant.

I can't have an IQ 50 points higher than all Gmail engineers, so it must stand to reason that I'm the greater idiot. Hence there must be something preventing this obvious solution. QED.


Wait, isn’t this exactly what Apple is doing with Sign in with Apple?


yes. But that doesn't mean it's possible, or Gmail would be doing it too. they have PhD's and stuff. (or used to).

so for sure it isn't possible for some reason, even if someone else is doing it.

what other explanation can there be? why would they just have a glaring security hole like that, allowing anyone you try to give a trackable email to with + to just remove it with a regex? It doesn't make sense. there must be some reason it can't work.


Because there is a top tier spam filter that is powered by the ai, and cloud computers? qed qft


Outlook and Apple already offer this service, it’s not impossible.

The + need not have been intended as a spam filter; I use it for bona fide filtering of separate clients’ projects.


I used to do this, but I kept forgetting the "uniqueid" for the sites I used. I'd often resort to using my regular email for the forget password prompts and then would have to search my inbox to figure out the correct email (if using from another device where the creds aren't saved).


Today that problem is solved by the use of a password manager.


Unfortunately, being part of the standard, it's become fairly common to strip this from email addresses.

It's more effective to have an entire domain at your disposal and just invent $vendor-specific-thing@mydomain.com whenever an email address is needed. On the server end all you need is a catchall to handle it, and you can blackhole whatever addresses become spam magnets (while also knowing which vendor's responsible).


It is not part of any standard. + is a valid email address character and is not special in any way.


It's specified in RFC5233 [0], by "standard" I meant codified in RFC form, like everything else we treat as open internet "standards".

[0] https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc5233


> On email systems that allow for 'subaddressing' or 'detailed addressing' (e.g., "ken+sieve@example.org"),

This rfc merely acknowledges that some systems do this. It doesn't say the must or even should.


RFC 5223 uses + as an example. It doesn't even specify whether the detail part comes before or after the user part.


This used to work a decade ago when spammers were clueless.


This is ok but many sites strip the plus now (usually the most nefarious ones). Plus you’re linking your identity back to your gmail account which is probably not what you want to do on a dating site or in general online.

I wrote about this here: https://idbloc.co/blog/background/2019/04/14/keep-your-addre... and it’s one of the main reasons https://idbloc.co exists


They may not have sold it — they may have just had their database hacked.

I used to use unique email address per site too, and at least one was clearly hacked rather than sold.


I worked at a company who's bulk mailer company got hacked and all our customer's emails spammed. For a while we could refer irate customers with tagged email addresses to the mailer companies blog post about the breach (although they cleverly never admitted it, just wrote they were investigating it) until a few months later the blog was upgraded to a new system conveniently wiping out the blog post.


How do you know?


> Basically, the market is ripe for a respectful dating site.

I contend that no such thing can possibly exist. The reality of online dating is that it is garbage, and generally the only way to sell people garbage is to lie to them and convince them it isn't garbage. Dating is a gigantic pain in the real world for a lot of reasons that just can't be fixed by a fucking website.


This is why I really miss Craigslist personals, where I could put my writing skills and humor to use.


>Basically, the market is ripe for a respectful dating site. But OKCupid started this way; and in the end they sold out. What makes you think you won't sell out when the money is right?

Seems like it's a problem that can't really be solved by a profit seeking company, and has to be left to a non-profit foundation or something like that.

Image hosting has a similar problem. Imgur used to be the "good" image hoster, but they have been slipping immensly. In the case of something like image hosting I could see publicly funded infrastructure solving the problem. Not sure how comfortable I'd be with this in the case of dating.


How does a respectful dating site make money if they don't charge consumers?


You can charge your customers without indulging in shady practices. You just can't make obscene amount of money doing so.

I remember when PoF was run out of some guy's basement. He was the only one (well, aside from a part-time systems support guy) running it, and he was banking $1M/month (he posted a photo of his check once) from ads.


what does respectful mean to you?


Respect the users. Respect the process. Don't sell out your users for a few $$.


I don’t know much about this space, but is that not true of some of the other apps (Hinge, Bumble, etc)?


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