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Show HN: Overlap.me - a new way to meet people & share your identity online (overlap.me)
112 points by h34t on June 29, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 49 comments

Does this really overcome awkwardness? I don't think awkwardness is ever a function of not having enough common interests. I've had brilliant dinners with girls who've had zero interest in theoretical physics, and yet, I talked about it for a good half of the dinner. Reciprocally, I have very little interest in shoes, but I've been fascinated by explanations of shoes.

Yet, there have been times where we share the same interests, but the other person is especially boring. It doesn't matter what interests you share, if the other person can't elaborate on their interests or offer insight/comments.

Also, sometimes I like talking to people with completely different interests. One of my favorite persons actually is my exact polar opposite. We get along great, but we share 0 common interests.

I'm pointing this out as a consideration factor, not because I don't like your project. I think you do have a good start... but feedback never hurts? :)

Of course, feedback is most welcome.

It's not that you need to have a lot in common with someone to get along. The hypothesis of the app is simply that the least-awkward way to begin a conversation is by starting out with the common ground you share. From this warm introduction, it's then easy to move on to other topics.

And, the awkwardness I'm trying to overcome is the small kind--how to make the first comment, how to send that first message. I personally find blank message screens intimidating.

If this works out as you expect, I'll definitely be looking forward to it. Your problem identification is spot on, even if we have different thoughts on the solution!

This is a really, really good idea. Much time has been spent discussing separating different parts of your social life, but the idea of doing it based on "shared secrets" is great.

A big obstacle in my mind is duplication of overlaps, e.g. 'I read Hacker News' and 'I read HN'. The both mean the same thing, but if two users click "Me Too" on the different versions, they won't see the common interest. People may be tempted to just add a new overlap instead of searching for an existing version, especially as the number of users and possible overlaps grow. Hopefully you can find a way to have the community help aggregate overlaps.

Yup, this is definitely a problem that will need solving. Aware & thinking :).

I would recommend a user curated feature to that marks 'overlaps' as duplicates that then get sent to some human to moderate. Similar to user curated spam or inappropriate material.

I like the simplicity of this. Here's your biggest problem I think: I just filled in a bunch of overlaps (which was kind of fun), but that's probably all i'm going to do right now & I'll likely forget all about overlap.me by tomorrow.

Somehow you need to get back in front of me--say next week--with some reason I'd want to return.

A big challenge is simply having enough users to give you the sense that when you're bored or lonely, you could rely on Overlap.me to help you find connection.

I figure "small wins" -- like the initial fun of joining your first overlaps -- are a step towards building this critical mass. They don't encapsulate a long-term value proposition, but they get the site part-way there.

Some of the early testers found the service quite addicting and were returning every day to see who had joined the overlaps they've created. So another opportunity might lie in building more of an experience around this sense of belonging/community.

Bravo. It could be either a browser extension that pops up every other day and ask me if I like A, B or C. Or it could be an email reminder.

I've been thinking about this space a little too & seeing your site reminded me of a tv clip I saw some time ago that compared the western and eastern approaches to social networking.

The western approach was described as bringing your real life network online (fb etc)[1] and the eastern approach was described in terms of sites that allow people to create temporary ad-hoc networks based around shared interests. The example of this given in the program was mixi.jp which is apparently huge in japan.

This latter approach seems to be closer to what you are trying to do. It'll be interesting to watch how far you get with this, so please keep posting to hn to keep us up to date.

[1] This description works for fb but I don't think it really applies to twitter.

First marketing message received!

"You like data visualizations? Check out my company!"

Please be sure to mark spam as spam

One thing I don't understand when I sign up:

Should I use a pseudonym or my real name?

In general, I prefer to use my real name. However, if personal sentiments of mine will be shared publicly, then I prefer pseudonymity.

I've gone back-and-forth in my mind about this. At the moment I have my real name on the site, but I don't think it's necessary.

When you meet new people in real life, names are only given after a certain amount of trust has already been built.

Are you the founder? (If you are, we have 11 things in common!) This is a really neat idea, and the post does a good job explaining it. I just signed up and I'm playing around.

A brief note: the "Show me [Safe for all ages|Moderate\Unsure|Restricted] overlaps" is awkwardly phrased-- if I select Restricted, is the site gonna be all sex, all the time, or will I still get the unrestricted overlaps?

Also in that little settings pane, having to click OK after selecting from a dropdown is annoying-- I expect it to work like other dropdowns, where it stays like I left it if I click somewhere else.

I like that after searching for an overlap and not finding it, I can click "New Overlap" and it auto-populates, but does that need to be a separate text field? The transition feels a little awkward, and it needs to be very smooth to encourage people to create new overlaps.

I'm still playing with it, but I think it's a very neat concept that could get big.

EDIT: Okay, if I "Me Too" and overlap, I get to see who else did too, over on the right, but it's still one more click to open up our overlaps, a scan through the list, some typing, and another click before I can send them a message about how we both like Nutella. What if there were a message button by each person that I could use right after I "Me Too" something to talk to them about it?

Sorry if this is disorganized and long, I'm just adding as I go through the site.

Indeed, solo founder here :).

Good points re: settings UI. Will fix shortly.

Hmm will think about the New Overlap flow. I wanted there to be more space than the search field allows, and also to make sure people review the options available.

Originally I had a single text box that would automatically find/create an overlap for whatever you typed in... but I want people to review existing overlaps first. If a similar overlap is already popular it would make sense to join that one.

What if, for a search with no good results, it spat down the extra "new overlap" UI with the search text already filled in?

EDIT: Or keep it the way it is, just with the same field for search and the new overlap, but with the other stuff being visible on the button click.

Hmm now that makes a lot of sense.

I am currently living in Seoul for short term and we are always talking about how this social segment is really missing outside of specific online community meetups.

Overall, I think this is really cool concept and on the right track. Currently, I would like to drill down first by Location/Region followed by interests and then have you show me who fits those two criteria. If there are too many matches I would refine/add more and if too few pull back on my interest selections.

Good luck on the project!

Great ideas... these features were added a couple days after launch.

Suggestion (for the future): use the Last.fm API to, if the user is interested, link his/her profile to overlap.me. Then you can use his/her top artists, albums or tracks to provide suggestions for overlaps.

EDIT: A faster suggestion: please make the overlap "suggester" ignore common prefixes such as 'I like', 'I love', 'I am', etc.

Both great suggestions. Thanks.

Interesting - signed up, created a few overlaps, will see what happens.

Apologies if I'm blind but I couldn't see an easy way to see who matched overlaps? Could be useful to do a list of users according to match rates, or to find those who match a certain profile.

Also, might there be some value to doing negative matches as well as positive?

The best way to discover users now is to browse overlaps. Sorting user lists by match rates is temporarily disabled until I ensure the back-end is ready to handle the load (this is the first major public posting of the site).

Filtering, by both match rates and location, will obviously be a high priority as the # of users increases.

Are you worried at all that people will add things that they aren't interested in - just to see if others are? Curious what you've thought about that, and how you plan to mediate it. Definitely good ways to do so. BEST OF LUCK! Identity is a majorly messed up space, and this is a much better direction.

This is why I liken overlaps more to 'tact' than 'privacy'... because you can't prevent people from lying/misrepresenting themselves, nor can you prevent people from changing honestly wanting to change their overlaps over time (you might be Christian today, but atheist tomorrow...).

One possible solution is to only let you leave an overlap a week after you've joined. But then you have an incentive to create a fake account, and you can't use it for short term overlaps (like joining "I feel like shit" for four hours).

Gotcha - makes sense. Could be fun to go into anonymous mode, or something of the sort. If you want to drive true identities just make each overlap a public declaration (you have to tweet to add) or something like that. Always tricky where to place your barrier to participation ;)

This is pretty sweet! I like the idea a lot... Just out of curiosity, did you develop this yourself?

Yup, in Ruby/Rails 3.1 & CoffeeScript/Backbone.js.

It's actually my first web app.

I have to admit that my first thought was, "Yawn, yet another social something-something," but then I read the blog post and was pleasantly surprised. I might just sign up.

Btw., the design could use some tweaking. It looks a little like a Microsoft FrontPage template.

Just signed up. Looks like an interesting concept. Just a thought, but why not hide the overlaps I've already added? Or as an option. Would definitely help out; less scrolling down the better. Also, newly added overlaps with a "new" icon?

Hmm an option to hide does make sense. Still need to have an easy way to navigate to your overlaps (there's a "My Overlaps" link, but it's not very prominent).

With more data it'll be also be possible to suggest overlaps to you based on what you've already joined.

Really nice take on the issue of not forcing users to create a "one-size-fits-all" online persona (which currently is such a limitation of most social & dating sites). Obviously, you've got issues of how to reach a wide enough audience to get it off the ground if you are flying solo, but some of the dating sites are fairly acquisition-oriented (e.g. Cupid plc over here in the UK) and so attracting their attention might be the way to go (if you haven't already raised some external funding by the time I've posted this comment...)

When I set my location to "New York City, NY, USA" I think that should auto-trigger overlaps like

  - I live in New York City
  - I live in New York State
  - I live in the United States

This is actually pretty interesting.

Like the concept and if you work on the feedback, then you are onto something and I think your competition ATM is Google+(haven't used G+ yet). Get a co-founder and a strategy. Your "Add tag" should read "Press Tab to add tag" or similar. I should be able to comment with my OL(yeah, Overlap) acc since i have one. Nice design, but needs more work(you have set a high par,run with it). Breath deep and give us something great.Good Luck

I'd love to use this for finding co-founders or team building, so some form of grouping feature would be helpful to organize certain overlaps together. After signing up and adding a number of overlaps I immediately thought that this is how Hunch, Quora, and/or LinkedIn should feel in terms of experience. So far I really like this. Looking forward to seeing it grow.

It's a great idea and I've experimented with UI's for grouping in the past (grouping/lists were a victim of the simplify-before-launch phase).

All tweets, blog posts, postcards, phone calls to friends, shouts from rooftops etc. would be greatly appreciated in helping Overlap grow ;-). My marketing budget is less than what I spend on coffee, and I'm currently in Colombia.

Yes, a good call in this case, and a rallying tweet has just been sent.

I decided to check it out and take a look around and I'm already running into my first issue! It won't let me update my location at all.

Running Chrome 12.0.742.100 on Maverick.

Unrelated feedback wrt the dating settings: restricting the gender identifications to male/female and most definitely restricting the "looking for" to male XOR female leaves a nontrivial number of people in a bit of a bind.

Pushing a fix for the location bug right now.

Dating settings will be updated... I removed extra options yesterday to simplify the user queries, but they will be put back in.

That UI is also has several UX problems:

1) Poor defaults - better to pick "Choose One" / NULL instead of misclassifying gender, etc

2) Small widgets, hard to click/read

3) Confusing "OK" button and saving behavior

4) Hard to even find in the first place!

The placement is deliberate -- dating won't be a viable use case for the site until user count has increased substantially. Right now it's mostly there to make people feel comfortable that if they leave dating off, they shouldn't be bothered.

male/female/other is actually pretty good afaik.

Very nice!

It'd be cool if you could select a bunch of "Me too" options when you first sign up without it reloading the right sidebar. On Chrome at least, it slows down, gets choppy, and makes it hard to click on other options & scroll until its fully loaded.

Once you've made some initial overlaps, you should be fine. Starting off it just is a bit tricky.

Besides this, it's a cool idea. Good luck!

Good to know, I'll think about how to handle this. (The problem of not testing on other people's machines!)

This is an interesting concept.

You could definitely release interesting stats on what people like, particularly on how certain subjects correlate with each other.

So, after only 3 answers it went from girls to hardcore geek; damn.

Put a flattr up buddy! I want you to succeed, this shizz is awesome.

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