The first is that dating sites typically don't care about people actually finding a good partner, because there's a negative economic incentive for it. If you find your perfect man/woman, you won't come back to the site and keep paying.
The reason why women typically get loads of spam is because many sites are expressly designed to encourage this. A common pattern is where it is not made clear whether or not a profile is active. Since only a small percentage of profiles on the site are active, it's hopeless for a guy to try to send detailed, personalized messages -- odds are, they'll all fall on deaf ears, inactive accounts.
This is intentional -- because it lets the site appear as if they have far more profiles than they actually do. Once they've suckered someone into paying to send messages, they find that they get almost no responses, and end up finding themselves forced to send hundreds just to reach a few live people.
Which of course leaves the recipients flooded by spam... so they leave. Adding to the glut of inactive accounts.
Combined with the general sleaziness of the industry and the type of people who use general-audience dating sites (read: the type who tolerate all these problems), it's no wonder the entire industry is a disaster.
There are definitely niches available for matchmaking sites not built around the typical model, that try to pair up people for long-term relationships based on what actually matters instead of providing sex-starved 20-somethings with people of the opposite sex to ogle. But it's hard to market such a thing, even in a specific niche, because the entire industry tarred themselves with their own brush, leaving a huge number of possible customers permanently turned off from the idea of ever using such a service.
Dating sites that think like this are in no actual danger of having their users fall in love. It's hard enough even for well intentioned sites to set up enjoyable dates, let alone ones that lead to marriage.
If anyone actually had a dating service that worked so well they were losing users due to excessive happy relationships, that would just mean they weren't charging enough to get in: Imagine what people would pay for a service where 30% of all users end up with the love of their life within a year. Hell, imagine the marketing value of having large numbers of satisfied couples going around telling people they met on a particular site.
This matching algorithm has carried us, humans, through millions years. Various opinions and statements can be made about this algorithm, yet it is definitely not "broken" :)
To be honest, its a lot like recruiting - the people sending their resumes to every company on monster rarely get hired for the best jobs. Those jobs instead go to the "good looking" people on LinkedIn, who are approached directly.
No reason this app can't work the same way.
And don't forget, Hot Or Not was an insanely successful dating site.
I don't necessarily disagree with most of what else you say in the blog post, but if this is seriously your conception of how people use dating sites, then you are doomed to fail.
Speaking from the experience of living with various roommates who have done e-dating with the popular services, none of them have ever approached them in this mechanical way. The data helps refine the search, but they're still looking for attractive people to chat with.
And that data part is important. If you're a 20-year-old looking to have fun, you're going to want to weed out anyone who is in an age demographic that wants to have a life-long relationship. And vice versa. So not having that data is a disadvantage that you have to make up for.
Yeah it's spammy, but surprisingly effective, I'm encouraging him to write an A/B testing module for it so he can test the effectiveness of different messages.
Contrary to what one might think he's just using this for LTRs.
I agree that there are people who prefer the time-saving methods used with many of the major online dating services, and they will certainly continue to use those, but we feel they may be missing out on people that they didn't expect.
Instead of matching profiles, match messages, people looking for long term populate one set of bayesian filters, and people looking for short term populate another set of bayesian filters. The spam cut and paste message go away pretty quickly.
The mechanism could be as simple as after a message is read they are prompted as to whether they liked the message or didn't like it, combine with a feature sorting messages by their bayes score?
Displaying your own ads might be something to think about - collecting user info over time and delivering highly targeted ads might be more profitable.
I have no idea on how targeted iAds or Admob are. I'd assume there would be some tracking of sorts.
"We thought about how most people meet. Generally, a person will see someone, be attracted to them..."
That's not the first step. The first step is context, e.g. you're at a party thrown by a mutual friend.
That first step is important, it's context and that's what needs to be fixed. In the real world "dating contexts" are fairly limited, e.g. there are only so many parties you can go to in a week, only so much time to participate in a hobby with someone else, etc, etc.
I look forward to seeing this app evolve. If you address the "context" issue it could really take off.
I wish them luck, and would love to be wrong, but I'm skeptical.
 Yes, this actually happens in the real world. Nothing surprises me anymore.
We also feel that the simplicity will help encourage new users as the months and years go by. We think most people stay away from online dating because of the unnecessary complexity, when really they just want to be able to start chatting with people who like them, that they also like.
My understanding is that MeetMe was hackable by 'liking' every single profile just to see who likes you back (although there is still a risk that people on the other side are also 'liking' every single profile which would make the match worthless); curious if this service handles this differently.
Your app is party without a headlining DJ or popular promoter.
Sell the benefits that would convince cool people to go to a party:
- Convince females that your app discourages loser males who will spam them for sex.
- Convince males that there are plenty of females who are not justing wasting men's time.
It seems like those are the benefits you are comfortable offering. There are other benefits to users of dating sites, but it seems like date.fm isn't on-board with the things people normally look for from on-line dating: pre-qualified partners and easy sex.
I'd rather go to a party than meet girls on a phone app any day, but I'll def try out date.fm and give some more feedback, if it gets any traction.
Focus on how to fix the real problems in dating, i.e. the things that happen between deciding to go on a date and agreeing you're in a relationship. No, I don't know how to solve this in a scalable way. Yes, you will create a lot of value if you can do this.
...are those which 99% of people don't want to outsource to technology. That's the fun part of dating: the fluttery-chested, "why can't I breathe right oh god does she notice I'm not breathing" excitement. Let's not make An App For That™.
Whichever service eventually "solves" online dating wont call itself a dating service. People don't use online dating because it is just that - online dating. The social stigma isn't going away.
Facebook can disrupt online dating by introducing you to Facebook users near you with common interests. Unfortunately, I am not convinced a startup can do the same, or I would be doing it.
We totally agree about the online dating stigma, but we've got to be identifiable in some way.
That sort of stuff would be initiated in a conversation with a singleton.
Would love to hear your thoughts.
It's to guarantee a certain quality in the user base. Uses GPS to get general location and new iOS 5 face detection to guarantee 1 clear face in the profile pic. So we shouldn't get people just showing their eyeball or a group photo were you don't know who you're liking.
We're also native iOS developers. We're a two man band and have done everything in-house, iOS, Rails and Node development. We've done the promo video and composing of music in-house too. (Wife did the voiceover :)) All to minimise costs.
The revenue from our other iOS apps will be subsidising server costs.
If and when we launch on other platforms, we'll be native and use the APIs to guarantee a certain level of quality both in the App and in the user base.
Generally speaking, depending on how much income we generate will determine expansion on other platforms. We'll have to react to demand.