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Social Networks The Internet Science

Of Science and Choice In Online Dating 311

Posted by kdawson
from the not-the-only-starfish-in-the-sea dept.
Must be summertime, as online publications turn to the contemplation of Internet dating. The NY Times's piece (registration may be required) takes a not particularly deep look at the reality behind the "science" claims of chemistry.com, eHarmony.com, and others. "The question is how much it really matters to users if the methods have any scientific basis. A friend of mine... said she looked at several dating sites and chose the ones that looked like they had 'the least riffraff.'" Technology Review focuses on studies showing that the overwhelming number of choices presented by many dating sites can be counterproductive: "...more search options lead to less selective processing by reducing users' cognitive resources, distracting them with irrelevant information, and reducing their ability to screen out inferior options." The article concludes with a look at the startup Omnidate, which offers technology for 3D virtual dating. The site has had twice as many women (by percentage) sign up as the other dating sites typically see.
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Of Science and Choice In Online Dating

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:02PM (#28742993)

    ...are the women.

    Anyone who can solve that problem deserves a Nobel.

  • Only works until the first second of meeting that person in real life and all illusions are instantly shattered. Or maybe you can have virtual relationship, virtual marriage, virtual children...
    • by Zarlan (1596657) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:20PM (#28743123)
      Are you suggesting people should get a SECOND Life?
    • by LilGuy (150110)

      Meeting online and figuring out your common ground works much better for me. Then meeting in person goes so much smoother and the first meeting tends to end with more dates from my experience. The thing is you gotta get the real meeting in there before you become too attached to talking online.

      • by StarKruzr (74642) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:04PM (#28743405) Journal

        It's not "dating" so much as it is being efficient by running the population through a filter. If I filter out all women under the age of 22, all political conservatives, and all evangelical Christians, I'm probably not missing out on the love of my life an it let's me focus on people I might actually be compatible with.

        The reality is that the vast majority of people in the US seem to have gotten married because they figured "it was about time for that" or something similar. If you have anything resembling standards, dating is really, really fucking hard.

        Hope that marrying someone wonderful and having a family isn't part of what you need to be really happy, because it sure as hell isn't guaranteed.

        • by BiggerIsBetter (682164) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:18PM (#28743905)

          If you have anything resembling standards, dating is really, really fucking hard.

          Especially if she has standards too.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by blahplusplus (757119)

          "If you have anything resembling standards, dating is really, really fucking hard."

          Truth is having standards is a luxury, for most of history people didn't have the *luxury* of "standards", really, there are some minimum standards before dating a person (not crazy, etc, etc). But beyond a certain point you're attempting to live in an unreal fantasy land, people always have flaws, if the person in a relationship would suddenly bail on you in times of war or a down economy, they are certainly not worth your

      • Headline: "Of Science and Choice In Online Dating"

        Let's get one thing straight: If you're using online dating, you've got no choice.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:14PM (#28743077)

    In the salary cheque that is.

    No?

    The camera doesn't lie:
    http://collegeotr.s3.amazonaws.com/images/blogs/b422245a96af7340b70921c641e0b6db.jpg [amazonaws.com]

    Simple. Set up a dating site which costs a thousand+ a month for guys but is free for women.

     

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Yeah, guys with thousands to spend on online dating but no success picking up women otherwise will flock to the site.

      By guys, I of course mean those 5 guys like that, nationwide.

    • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:53PM (#28743333)
      I was approached by one of those dating services 6 years ago to 'just come in and talk'. So I used it as a chance to hone my negotiating skills and went in. I found some nice ladies that had me fill out some forms, then explain how great their service was. They told me how nice it was to have a 'nice guy' come in, by which I think they meant someone polite, considerate, and well employed. They told me that they only accept employed people without criminal backgrounds.

      Then they told me it costs $3,500. I almost laughed at them and suggested that that was a little high just to meet someone. They then went through the schpeal about how they do all these checks and everything. I still said it was too much. They came down in price. Still too much.

      Finally, they asked me how much I thought it was worth. I told them that I'd pay $500. At which time they concluded my interview.

      I left that day with the thought that if there truly were more women than men in this service, it's only because men won't spend $3,500 to meet women because they don't need to.

      Three years later I rediscovered an old high school friend and sent her a 'Hello!! How ya doing??' email with no intention of dating. We sent a few emails, started calling, flew 2,000 miles to visit several times, and got married 10 months later. And joked that we never had a real date because we already knew each other and had never dated in high school.

      2 1/2 years later later we are still very happy together, have sex regularly, and enjoy being with each other. Worked better than my first marriage by a long shot.

      Maybe people should just stop dating and learn how to experience life and just get out and do things. My friends that try the hardest to meet someone are the ones that are the least successful at it.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Vintermann (400722)

        Finally, they asked me how much I thought it was worth. I told them that I'd pay $500.

        Yikes! You are either desperate, a liar, or maybe just really rich ;-)

        • by Steffan (126616)

          Finally, they asked me how much I thought it was worth. I told them that I'd pay $500.

          Yikes! You are either desperate, a liar, or maybe just really rich ;-)

          I really don't understand your argument. You are asserting that:

          A) He's desperate to pay $500 to sign up with an agency that wanted $3500 originally? I'd say paying $3500 may be desperate. $500 is just good negotiating. Besides - he never went into detail regarding what the sevice provided. It could easily be worth $500 if they sponsor dinners / mee

      • by StarKruzr (74642) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:13PM (#28743481) Journal

        Maybe people should just stop dating and learn how to experience life and just get out and do things. My friends that try the hardest to meet someone are the ones that are the least successful at it.

        This is a very facile thing for someone in your position to say. For many of the rest of us "experiencing life" all by itself simply means interminable years of crushing loneliness.

        I have started to come to the following realization:

        Happiness is guaranteed to no one. The best one can expect out of life is that you can always find some way to respect yourself and say "I did something with my life that I can look myself in the mirror and approve of." That status of self-respect is prerequisite for happiness, but it is by no means a guarantor. There is every chance that you'll just get out there and do your thing and live your life and be alone and lonely right up until the day you die.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          There is every chance that you'll just get out there and do your thing and live your life and be alone and lonely right up until the day you die.

          Every relationship I've been in where I wasn't happy with myself has been a miserable failure. If I don't like me, how can anyone else like me? Meanwhile, if you're happy with yourself, it doesn't matter if you're in a committed relationship. But the simple truth is that being in a committed relationship with a good partner is not enough to bring happiness. I know, because I've been responsible (in retrospect, of course) for ruining good relationships. I've also been in relationships whose ends were not "my

        • by johnlcallaway (165670) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:43PM (#28743685)
          I lived in a loveless, sexless marriage for many years and was single for another 8. I didn't get married until I was 24, and only had one long-term relationship before then. I spent many a night alone when I was young and didn't know any better ... like you are apparently. I didn't realize how little I knew about life and living it. After I got divorced, I still spent nights alone, but didn't care because I had developed friendships over the years.

          What I have seen from those around me is that when someone spends their life having friends and going out in the REAL world and doing things, then they won't be lonely and will meet someone that, oddly enough, enjoys doing the same things they do. When I turned 40, I discovered what a great thing it was to have women friends .. women who trust that you are not going to try and screw them the first chance you have. I was going out all the time having a grand time with people I truly had a blast with, and with no pressure to be someone other than myself. And I don't mean going out and getting drunk, I mean shooting pool and going to concerts and having dinners and going to bars to listen to music and comedians instead of getting wasted. You know .. enjoying all that life has to offer. What a concept .. too bad more people don't learn it.

          So .. unless no one likes to be around you, you are the only reason you are alone. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and do something about it.

          BTW .. facile is a snooty word for easy. Maybe that's part of your problem.
          • BTW, facile is french for easy, and isn't snooty at all :P

            Other than that you're spot on.

            Reference to the G[GG?]GP: I met my wife in the same way, we'd been out of touch, then an IM leads to phone calls and voila :).

            • Facile is English for easy, derived from French. It is also French.

              I've only heard it used when I lived in Maine, which has a large Franco-Canadian population. And was almost always used by that population.

              Using words that hardly anyone else uses is snooty in my book.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 18, 2009 @08:13PM (#28744681)

            Spoken like a true extrovert.

            Some people reject the "real" world because it is too overwhelming to them. Concerts, comedy clubs, bars, etc., wear them out. They still do these things, but only once in a while. They just don't have the will do do them on a regular basis.

            When they meet someone at these places, they can't keep up. They get exhausted by the other person's constant demand for going out and being social. Once in a while is too little for one, and too much for the other.

            It is all well and good to say "well get over it, crybaby, and learn how to have fun" when you are in the 70% + of people who are born extroverts, and who have nervous systems that naturally incline them to that level of social activity.

            Introverts are not antisocial, they just need lower levels of stimulation. They want to stay in with a small group of familiar friends and role play or watch movies or play video games or whatever. This lifestyle, however, does not provide many opportunities to meet significant others who are also introverts and would make a perfect match...the groups of friends that introverts form don't often have occasion to mix with one another. And activities that make them mix are always an uphill battle for an introvert.

            Keep sitting in judgment if you want...but you are not an introvert and you just don't know what it is like to be one.

            Be that as it may....

            Internet dating sucks just as badly for introverts as any other form of dating. The websites are awash with extroverts seeking other extroverts...half the introverts won't even post pictures...the introvert women are driven away from the sites because they dislike being bombarded by "sleep with me right now" offers. It sucks worse for men because there are always a lot more men on the sites than women too, leaving the introverted men feeling like they are up against competition that is just too fierce.

            Whether on the internet, in the "real world" or wherever, human nature is always drawn to physical attraction first, and personality compatibility second. Hot people date only other hot people. Average people chase after hot people for a while, and then eventually settle for other average people. Some of them find happiness that way, others just find a new form of loneliness (she's right here, but we can't connect, etc.). Ugly people also sometimes settle for other ugly people, but many of them just face the reality of loneliness for their entire lives.

            Only silly sentimentality promises us that there is some perfect person out there for us. Some of us just have to accept the fact that we don't measure up, that the only mates we could have are ones that will not make us happy, and that we will be alone all our lives. It is not a popular idea so it will be rejected out-of-hand by anyone who has not lived this reality. But for those of us who find ourselves in this circumstance, it is as real as the real world could ever be.

            The acceptance of this state (when true) can motivate you to stop trying to make someone else responsible for your happiness, and to take responsibility for your happiness yourself. Study, meditation, and other forms of personal self-actualization can take one to interesting places when perused vigorously. It may just be a consolation prize, but it is better than wallowing is depression and self pity all your life.

        • by bnenning (58349)

          Happiness is guaranteed to no one. The best one can expect out of life is that you can always find some way to respect yourself and say "I did something with my life that I can look myself in the mirror and approve of." That status of self-respect is prerequisite for happiness, but it is by no means a guarantor. There is every chance that you'll just get out there and do your thing and live your life and be alone and lonely right up until the day you die.

          Ugh. I believe this is absolutely correct, and also t

        • by MrCrassic (994046)

          Maybe people should just stop dating and learn how to experience life and just get out and do things. My friends that try the hardest to meet someone are the ones that are the least successful at it.

          This is a very facile thing for someone in your position to say. For many of the rest of us "experiencing life" all by itself simply means interminable years of crushing loneliness.

          At first, I kind of understood what you were saying. There are some paths in life that, unfortunately, require a LOT of time and commitment, and leave little space for friends and/or relationships. I was in the road bike racing scene for a while, and while I never got anything near being professional at it, I saw that those who were either elite at it or seriously trying were dedicating buckets of hours on the road or in races. Most of those whom were married were either struggling in their relationships (u

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by fermion (181285)
        Honestly, I think this describes exactly what the problem is, and is related to the post: too many choices, too much time. Imagine the way we must have evolved our concept of love. There are a limited number of reasonable partners in the village at any given time, in modern sense, at school when one is between 15 and 20. Although estimate vary, the average life expectance was until the 15th to 19th century was not much more than 40, at least for the common person. This lead for just enough time to have a
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nukenerd (172703)
        Sounds like you are easily satisfied, sticking with school friends. Lucky old you. I went to an all-boys secondary school, and an all-male college, but judging by the fact that the girls in the primary school classified me in the shites group it would have made no difference if I had been in co-ed.

        I was approached by one of those dating services 6 years ago ... and went in. .... They told me how nice it was to have a 'nice guy' come in

        I expect they say that to all the guys.

        if there truly were more women than men in this service, it's only because ...

        If they told you women out-numbered men you should have asked for an age breakdown. Any surplus of women in that type of bureaux are in the 50+ age group. Been there.

        Maybe people should just stop dating and learn how to experience life and just get out and do things. My friends that try the hardest to meet someone are the ones that are the least successful at it.

        Bu

    • What would you call such a service? Golddiggers.com? For women who only want to date rich men?

      • Perhaps it'd come with the promotion: "The first pre-nup is free."
      • by radtea (464814)

        What would you call such a service? Golddiggers.com?

        It's already taken: http://www.golddiggers.com/ [golddiggers.com]

        I defy you to find a site name in this space that is so crass, so crude, so offensive to the belief that love and respect have something to do with happy relations between men and women that someone has not already registered it.

    • In the salary cheque that is.

      Many sites with a profile page include a salary range field. I tried one with and without seting my salary... Unsurprisingly, I got far more interest with that little piece of info there. Alternatively, include your house/benz/yacht/etc in the background of some of your photos. Hell, wear some decent clothes instead of jeans and t-shirt. Get some shoes and a nice watch. Get a haircut. Go to the gym. Most IT folks get paid a decent salary, so if you want that kind of girl, there's no excuse for not getting o

      • So act shallow to attract shallow people.

        Now I remember why I am taking Philosophy, to get chicks.

        • by timeOday (582209)
          I can't believe I'm about to say this, but I think maybe it's best for people to marry with somebody of roughly their own income. A woman who makes a decent living and wants to meet a man who makes a similar amount isn't necessary being greedy, she's probably just trying to avoid being taken advantage of, or at worst not wanting to give away everything she has earned to be with somebody who can't make an equal financial contribution to the couple's lifestyle.

          I say this as a guy with a stay-at-home wife a

        • So act shallow to attract shallow people

          A lot of attraction is based on first impressions - A good haircut, nice shoes and a pressed shirt 'get you in the door.' You won't get much further if you don't have something to sell (i.e. intelligence, sense of humour, etc.) but to make your pitch you've got to make a good first impression. Face, it girls notice shoes. Loose the Tevas with socks.

          • Face, it girls notice shoes. Loose the Tevas with socks.

            I wear my work boots all the time, but they have PVC glue on them and a good year worth of wear. Maybe I should wear socks and sandals so the correct message gets across.

    • by bnenning (58349)

      There's a correlation, but it's not that money leads to success with women; instead charisma and (perceived) social status leads to both money and success with women. Pick-up artists don't bother trying to appear rich; they've just figured out how to signal high status.

      • by mpe (36238)
        Pick-up artists don't bother trying to appear rich; they've just figured out how to signal high status.

        Just because they are able to do this does not imply they have conciously figured out how to do so. It's also hardly unknown for both men and women to attract the "wrong kind". If they had "figured out how to signal..." this wouldn't happen.
    • by radtea (464814) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:51PM (#28743747)

      In the salary cheque that is.

      If you ever want to get really depressed about the state of humanity, spend a little time coming up with the most egregiously sexist URL's you can imagine, and then type them into your browser.

      http://www.sugardaddies.com/ [sugardaddies.com]

      I tried this one day when a friend was bitching about men treating women like whores (there was some Craigslist ad he was pissed off about, offering free rent to a woman in exchange for sex) and I wanted to prove to him that women could be just as crass. It didn't convince him (he has a naively romantic view of women) but it sure as hell depressed me, even though I know full well that not all women--or even the majority--are quite as wretched as the ones who inhabit these sites (and in fairness, the site I've linked above has at least one link to a site for gay golddiggers... it's clear that a certain fraction of humans in every imaginable category are basically sleazy.)

  • There's also okcupid (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:20PM (#28743117)

    Run by a couple of maths grads. Last time I looked they were using a regression analysis to match people.

    The site's also free.

     

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by EnvyRAM (586140)
      Yea, they were a group of friends from Harvard that majored in math & CS. They actually post some technical details of how they calculate the matches here. [okcupid.com] They even have a technology section [okcupid.com] where they say which programming languages they use as well as their own open source webserver. I don't work for OKCupid or anything, I just thought it was cool that it's run by our kind and they're not afraid to include such nerdy information on their FAQ pages.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      That 'free' bit is a great selling point but is probably one of the site's biggest flaws. The comment in the summary about 'a site with the least riff-raff' isn't just a silly notion. When I used OKCupid regularly, I encountered a large number of women I would classify as crazy. That's not to say the other sites manage to filter out 100% of the crazies but personal experience has shown a connection between 'Cheap' and 'Crazy,' thus a free site is going to have a higher proportion of 'riff-raff.'
      • by AuMatar (183847) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:32PM (#28743973)

        I encountered a large number of women I would classify as crazy

        There's women who aren't crazy?

        Seriously, they have a decent attempt at it. I find the matching on sites like match.com don't work very well- it finds women I might find cute, but very few of them interest me beyond that. I can find that at any bar. The question and answer thing does a better job of getting people who match my personality. Nowhere near perfect, but it's a good start.

      • by mpe (36238)
        That's not to say the other sites manage to filter out 100% of the crazies but personal experience has shown a connection between 'Cheap' and 'Crazy,' thus a free site is going to have a higher proportion of 'riff-raff.'

        This might be especially an issue for any sites which have sexist charging policies...
      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday July 19, 2009 @12:03PM (#28748443)

        When I used OKCupid regularly, I encountered a large number of women I would classify as crazy.

        Because they use regression analysis to match people, that means you must correlate with the crazies.

         

    • by Buddy_DoQ (922706)
      I'm not a shill or anything like that, but I just so happened to meet the perfect woman on that site. And hey, it was free! The baby... not so much! :O
    • by bziman (223162) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @08:05PM (#28744643) Homepage Journal
      My long-time best friend and I both joined OKCupid, mostly for fun, about the same time, and over the several years or so I was using the site, she was always my highest match. And what do you know, we got married, and are living happily ever after. So I think the algorithm is accurate, anyway.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ArrangedMarriage.com. They skip the whole dating thing and set you up to marry the woman/man of your possible dreams. The only bad thing is that the woman's family sometimes has to provide a hefty dowry.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:36PM (#28743235)
      I know you're joking/trolling, but there is something to arranged marriages when done properly. One of the biggest problems in marriages is the tendency for people to form them while stupid. There's a lack of objectivity that people have when making those decisions, which are often times more apparent from a parent or friend. The ability to consider things other than just hormones.

      Of course it can work the other way as well, but the key is to actually care and to take the time to consider all the angles.
      • know you're joking/trolling, but there is something to arranged marriages when done properly. One of the biggest problems in marriages is the tendency for people to form them while stupid.

        By "stupid", I'd suggest that would include those viewing marriage as a romantic union, rather than a social union rooted in an an exchange of property rights (i.e., a business agreement).

        Cynical? Perhaps. But consider what happens during the dissolution of a union. The people involved typically want or need to hire law

      • by MrCrassic (994046) <deprecated&ema,il> on Saturday July 18, 2009 @05:36PM (#28743997) Journal
        I had a chat with someone I used to work with about arranged marriages. He was from India and was in one himself. According to him, making an arranged marriage work is, pretty much, the foundation of what makes any marriage work. Both partners have to give and take, and accept each other's faults as they are. The big difference is that while Western marriages have the option to divorce when that's no longer possible, arranged marriages are much more difficult to opt-out of. (Though one can still just knock up other women, though that makes the guy look pretty bad socially, so far as I know.)

        I think Westernized marriages could learn a thing or two from arranged couples (that do it right, of course). Of course, they could benefit from lots of other things (like doing away with the notion that marriages NEED to happen), but that's a start.
        • making an arranged marriage work is, pretty much, the foundation of what makes any marriage work. Both partners have to give and take, and accept each other's faults as they are...while Western marriages have the option to divorce when that's no longer possible, arranged marriages are much more difficult to opt-out of

          These things are in direct contradiction though. If the foundation of a marriage is acceptance of faults and give and take, then the option of divorce clearly undermines that, since its sole p

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheSpoom (715771) *
        I vehemently disagree. All of my life experience has shown me that if you don't have chemistry in a relationship, it's doomed to failure at worst, or ennui and boredom over the long term at best.

        You can't be objective about chemistry, or at least, I haven't yet seen a good solution to determining it without a face to face meeting.
  • by whoever57 (658626) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:25PM (#28743149) Journal

    The site has had twice as many women (by percentage) sign up as the other dating sites typically see.

    A new meaning was given to the term "slashdot effect" today, as hordes of /. readers register on the site, changing its demographics to be similar to other dating sites.

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:28PM (#28743183) Homepage Journal

    Sure they did. You go on believing that.

  • Science, lol? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Manip (656104) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @03:28PM (#28743185)

    Do people even know what they want from a partner?

    People talk and talk about wanting this trait and that trait but they often seem to date people that are nothing like they claim they want. I'm honestly convinced people in general have no idea what they want, so by extension I struggle to see how you could create a site that offers people those things...

    Random selection based on
      - Age
      - Geographic location
      - Large important decisions (e.g. Family, yes/no?)
      - A few shard interests

    Would likely have a very high success rate.

    • Random selection based on

      - Sex

      - Age

      - Geographic location

      - Large important decisions (e.g. Family, yes/no?)

      - A few shard interests

      You missed one.

    • Re:Science, lol? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by johnlcallaway (165670) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:03PM (#28743389)
      When I was young, I thought I knew. But it wasn't until I was in my early 40s and had been married once and gone through a few relationships that I learned how naive I was when I was young. Each time a relationship ended, I add things to my list of 'must haves'. After I got divorced after being married for 18 years, I started to go out after work with fellow employees, both men and women, and realized I didn't have a clue about what I wanted in a partner. I started to see women I was interested in outside of work, but in a non-dating way, and realized that they looked great but had personality traits that I couldn't live with. Luckily, two dear lady friends helped me to understand what I needed to know and I'm now very happily married.

      My opinion at my current age of 50 is that if a man is younger than 30 and has never lived with anyone for any length of time, he has no idea what he wants in a partner.

      Except for big boobs.
    • - Age
      - Geographic location
      - Large important decisions (e.g. Family, yes/no?)
      - A few shard interests

      Would likely have a very high success rate.

      Many dating website offer those choices. Searchers can chose what is important and what isn't. Age, is someone between 30 and 40 important? Do matches have to be within 20 miles, or is it alright if matches are 200 miles away? Do you want children or prefer none. Do you do or are you interested in outdoor activities?

      I last checked out dating sites years

    • Re:Science, lol? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by radtea (464814) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:43PM (#28743689)

      Do people even know what they want from a partner?

      Yeah, they do. 99.9% of women want "a good man who loves to laugh and is fun and just an ordinary guy."

      I'm a divorced man in a small (~100,000) town and have used online dating sites off-and-on for about five years--mostly Plenty Of Fish, but also LavaLife and OkCupid. I've met two absolutely wonderful women this way--both of whom were so wonderful that after a year or three with me their careers took them off to bigger, far-distant centres, although in both cases we're still friends.

      I've also met the biggest collection of flakes, losers, liars, bores and nutjobs you could possibly imagine, and I am currently ready to slap anyone whose entire self-description is, "I love to laugh, like long walks on the beach and am just looking for an ordinary guy."

      Seriously, have you ever met anyone anywhere who doesn't like to laugh? It's what we laugh at that's interesting, and hardly anyone ever says what that is.

      The trick for all these sites is to weed out the common things that everyone has, and to reduce people who have zero self-awareness to abject silence until they come up with sufficient self-knowledge to say something about themselves that isn't woefully banal. OkCupid's system of questions does that, although I can think of some simple improvements that would make it better.

      The key thing is to focus on the concrete. There should be very nearly zero abstraction in any of the information gathered from users, and the site should then generate the abstract categories the user is assigned to based on that information.

      For example, don't ask people what their "body type" is (abstract category) but what their height and weight are, how fast they can run or walk a mile, how many miles they run or walk each week, when was the last time they walked more than a mile, or biked more than a five miles, or swam more than 500 m, and so on. Then generate the abstract category for them: "couch potato", "morbidly obese", etc, rather than letting users define "athletic" or "slim" or "average" any way they want to (I've seen morbidly obese people, who have posted pictures of themselves, categorize themselves as "average".)

      Mostly, these sites are selling fantasies to liars (women) and idiots (men), so doing anything that would provide more accurate information about what differentiates one person from another is counter-productive relative to their business model. The few honest, intelligent people out there have to wade through a huge amount of dross to find each other. Fortunately, that is still possible, and despite their flaws these sites remain a sensible component of anyone's search for companionship. Just be prepared to do a lot of filtering by hand.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        Agreed. I'm a fat man- obese. I want to be honest, because I don't want to meet a woman and then have her find out she's disgusted by me. THat's a waste of both our time, and emotionally draining. Unfortunately obese and fat are not choices. Big and beautiful exists only for women. So am I "stocky" or "heavyset"? I have no idea which is bigger. So I picked one at random. It should be approximate height and weight (hell, they already have height). Although some of your questions wouldn't work eith

    • by MrCrassic (994046)
      Most people know what they want from a partner. Unfortunately, that happens to (mostly) be sex. Worse, this need is blanketed with palisades like "finding their special someone" and such.

      There's a reason why most online dating profiles are so incredibly generic.
    • by mpe (36238)
      Do people even know what they want from a partner?

      Especially since they have typically been bombarded with propaganda as to what they should want since they were old enough to understand language in many societies...
      Most likely even when people did know what they wanted they would be reluctant to say so if it went against some expected "norm".

      People talk and talk about wanting this trait and that trait but they often seem to date people that are nothing like they claim they want. I'm honestly convinced
    • Do people even know what they want from a partner?

      Short answer: no.

      Long answer: no, they don't even know themselves, and so sharing themselves, or knowing what they need shared in return, is pretty much impossible.

      My advice to all slashdotters: never marry a chick who can't self-analyse and who doesn't constantly try to improve herself.

  • I was on eharmony a while. I had over 400 matches in the same time that my matches got only 40. Ten times beats twice any day. I did get quite a few dates just by being the normal guy in a sea of weirdos.
  • I've considered using it because time-wise, it would be ideal. The problem is everyone more or less says the same cliche crap and, more so with the advent of MySpace, people clearly spend ages taking pictures that make them looking better than they really do which wouldn't matter if the profiles were honest but they're not.

    Meeting drunk women is the best way. Their guard is down so they're honest and as a bonus you may just get laid after the first meeting. The only catch is remembering if she's a keeper or not the next day.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by bertoelcon (1557907)

      Meeting drunk women is the best way. Their guard is down so they're honest and as a bonus you may just get laid after the first meeting. The only catch is remembering if she's a keeper or not the next day.

      The trick there is to not be to drunk enough to forget come morning, but you give the illusion that you are.

    • Their guard is down so they're honest and as a bonus you may just get laid after the first meeting. The only catch is remembering if she's a keeper or not the next day.

      It's not a problem if you have to chew your arm off in the morning.

      Falcon

  • My vote is still for OkCupid. I met a couple really great people on there that I am still friends with today, and I met my current partner of over two years through a volunteer organization one of the aforementioned people I met on OkCupid introduced me to. I would guess that, like me, most slashdot users would be more interested in the scientific approach that a site like OkCupid takes rather than profile/picture system most sites use.
  • by UttBuggly (871776) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:05PM (#28743415)

    I was divorced in 1998 after 18 years of marriage.

    After a series of "fixups" and other misguided attempts by friends and family, I tried Match.com. I did the questions accurately and honestly. My profile text made it clear I was (a) highly intelligent, (b) looking for a permanent relationship, and (c) pretty particular about who I dated.

    Within 72 hours of posting, I had over 400 "matches" in a 50 mile radius of me. WHAT? I don't live in NY or LA, so the statistics were mind-boggling. I imagined there must be a secret kingdom of single, middle-aged women in that 50 miles, just waiting for yours truly to show up on Match.com. The sad reality was that well over 99% of the so-called "matches" were train wrecks, literally and figuratively. I dated 10-12 women from Match and NONE were anything close to a "keeper".

    So, one night, I waded through the eHarmony process, set the radius for 150 miles, and waited. ...and waited. ....and waited. Finally, after 6-7 weeks, I got TWO matches. One was a "crossover" from Match that I actually kind of liked, but she declared we had no chemistry on the 2nd and final date. The other match and I spent some time in communicating via eHarmony and finally agreed to a real date in September of 2003.

    We got engaged on the following Valentine's Day...lured her into a jewelry store that I'd enlisted to help, and surprised her with a diamond ring. Everyone applauded...it was a nice moment.

    The wedding was a few months later in July, so we've just celebrated our 5th anniversary.

    A couple of years ago, eHarmony tried to get us to appear in one of their commercials, but we declined.

    I don't know about the "science", but we do get along really well, so I have no complaint.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jez9999 (618189)

      Are you a Christian? eHarmony, when I last looked at it, seemed to have a nastily religious bent.

  • by NoPantsJim (1149003) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:08PM (#28743429) Homepage

    the startup Omnidate, which offers technology for 3D virtual dating. The site has had twice as many women (by percentage) sign up as the other dating sites typically see.

    Not after Slashdot gets done with it.

  • It's a shame that neither of these sites reviewed OK Cupid.

    I've been on that site for some time now, and have met some truly amazing people from it. They have, by far, the most impressive search filters that I've ever seen. Their match percentage is scary accurate (and gets even more accurate as you answer more questions about yourself).

    And best of all, it's 100% supported by advertising which isn't obnoxious.

  • by syousef (465911) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:15PM (#28743485) Journal

    ...at least when it comes to attraction.

    Getting into a relationship you better use your head or your life will turn to crap. You've do NOT want to hook up with someone who's self centered and irrational.

    But determining if there'll be sparks....forget the science and go with your gut. Most of the people you "should" get along with based on statistical methods and science you will find boring. Many of the people you shouldn't be attracted to will turn you into a horny toad. The trick is to find someone who's good for you, and be good to them back. Oh and by the way those hormones that make the sex great will make any kind of reasoned rational logic go out the window at least for some of your relationship.

  • Plenty of Fish (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Acuram (845804)
    I met my current wife through pof.com, a free dating site. It took a couple of years of using pay and free online dating services. I also used a local dating service for $1200. I went out on an average of 1-2 new dates per week. 1 was the norm and 2 was maybe once a month. I ended up not liking most of the women and they didn't like me. After shelling out all that cash and spending all that time and effort, I ended up marrying a woman that made contact with me first through a free website! If I could go ba
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jjohnson (62583)

      I also used a local dating service for $1200.

      You didn't get married, but you sure got raped!

  • Decision tree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sir_Sri (199544)

    seems like a lot of it is a fairly straightforward decision tree.

    There are things someone requires (gender, age bracket, willingness to relocate either for the relationship or for work etc), and an individual may have their own quirks/fetishes. Then you have things which are preferred but not necessarily required, height, haircolour, food preferences and so on. And then you're matching based on answers to other questions with a personality profile (which is largely psychologist nonsense but not entirely.

  • by darpo (5213) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @04:42PM (#28743681) Homepage
    I'm in my late 20s, have done the online dating thing off and on since college, as well as asking out people in real life. If I go back and think about which were the best relationships/sex in terms of online vs offline meeting, offline meeting tended to be the best. There's just far too much useful information you get from seeing someone up close, listening them talk, watching their body language. We have lots of mental machinery dedicated to parsing that stuff, and almost none of it is activated during online dating (even pictures are no good, because they're so often old photos or outright deceptive).

    So, at this point in my life, I'm trying to reduce the amount of time I spend on IM, forums, computer games, etc. and spend more time around real people in the real world. I think it happens to a lot of nerds as we get older. We look back and realize we don't have much to show for all the thousands of hours spent on inane IRC conversations, first person shooters, and forum flame wars. All that stuff is so much emptiness when you get right down to it...

    ...with the exception of Slashdot, of course. ;-)
  • by Rick Bentley (988595) on Saturday July 18, 2009 @09:01PM (#28744909) Homepage
    and went straight to Omnidate's website to sign up?

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