Let’s Try To Fix Online Dating
One of the biggest problems with online dating is the vast number of messages that attractive women receive from men. This makes the online dating experience too frustrating for both sexes. Too few women get bombarded with too many messages. Those women are forced to weed through the terrible mediocrity of those messages. Ordinary men get fed up because their response rate is so low. This is a lose-lose proposition for everyone including the online dating company.
Another huge problem is that too many people don’t take online dating seriously enough. They don’t log in particularly frequently or respond enough to incoming messages. They also don’t even open messages before deleting them. This is not online dating, it’s “catalog” dating, a serious limitation with online dating where the assumption is that there is always another profile, another member of the opposite sex available for a date.
A solution to this is to limit the number of incoming messages a woman can receive in a certain interval of time. Even if she deletes the message(s), no more messages can be received until the next interval of incoming messages commences. Mix it up it further by introducing a random element of time, 30 days, then 17 days, then 23 days, etc. That interval is never revealed to any user.
When a woman receives the the maximum number of incoming messages for that given time period, her profile is not available for display, it is completely hidden. There is no incoming message queue or waiting list. As well, the more incoming messages and pace of those messages, the fewer number of future messages she could receive for the next incoming message time interval.
Here’s another bit of functionality that would very much stir up this new hypothetical online dating website. Once a certain threshold of incoming messages is reached and she hasn’t responded to any of them, a woman cannot send out any type of message to a man, not even a “flirt” or “wink”. She can still view profiles but even if she views them, the men are not notified that the woman has looked at their profiles. The ability to send outgoing messages is determined by the response to existing incoming messages.
As for that responses to incoming messages, there can be two options, “Start a correspondence”, and “No, thanks”. This is a simple check box. If the person receiving the incoming message is sent a message with the “Start a correspondence” option selected, the two may continue messaging each other regardless if the original receiver’s incoming message queue is full or not. If a “No, thanks” response message is sent. The recipient is made invisible to both users, permanently removing both from seeing each online again.
To ensure that the two people escalate into a phone call or text, the number of back and forth messages is limited also. One of the messages must include a phone number that might be validated through a text through the system. The purpose of all this involvement with technology in the communication is to help push along the corresponders into an actual date.
Other solutions would be to only allow message deletion to occur after it has been opened and the sender’s profile displayed. Deleting an unread message without reviewing a profile completely defeats the whole online dating process. Having users read messages and the associated profile before acting encourages using the online dating website seriously.
Of course, the profiles are validated so that scammers, catfishers, and other users with things to hide are not permitted to sign up. That automated technology now exists and is in use by at least one online dating website. This functionality will likely become the trend for the future given how scammers have saturated existing online dating websites.
By acknowledging that men and women behave differently with their online dating efforts, such functionality essentially acknowledges and supports those common online dating behaviors. There’s no attempt to inflict social expectations on the process. Yes, this new online dating would be for heterosexuals only.
This new functionality would be required for creating better online dating profiles. This would naturally include photos (for both sexes) and more involved text descriptions. There would be one section requiring that both male and female users describes what he/she offers a potential paramour. The minimum number of characters required for this section would be greater for women than men. Women still haven’t figured out they have to describe specifically what they have to offer in the context of attraction and dating.
This flips the online gender power dynamic. Attractive women (and a few men) must pay more to get more messages. Regular women pay the regular rates because they are not bombarded with messages. For those people, the free trial period that includes all functionality can be extended. Of course, if a woman wants to pay more to have her desirability validated more, she’s welcome to it. This also forces women to take online dating more seriously. With fewer incoming messages, she must evaluate the profiles more carefully and act on them by sending a response in a timely manner.
While this new functionality applies mostly to women, it can also be applied to men who get lots of incoming messages. They, too, would have incoming message limits applied just like the popular women. In effect, the sex of the person doesn’t impact the core functionality of limiting messages and other features. There are, however, some features and functions that are sex-specific. Men and women are different, especially in the context of attraction and dating.
These system features both slows down online dating yet speeds up parts of it. Women (all popular singles online, in actuality) must be slow to review profiles displayed through incoming messages yet quick to respond. The haste is enforced with the vanishing message and profile after a certain period of time. If the woman doesn’t respond, the man’s message and profile is completely hidden from that woman. Her rejection through inaction effectively turns into blocking a profile.
There would also be functionality to encourage users to be more serious.
Popular message recipients would be encouraged (the carrot) to log in more often – and therefore taking the process more seriously – by increasing the numbers of allowable incoming messages by a modest amount until an eventual limit is reached. That amount would need some additional research and would be based on algorithms that would dynamically change that amount.
The opposite of the login frequency carrot is the stick where the profile is completely removed from searchability if the login frequency drops below a certain threshold. Of course, warnings would be sent out. Additionally, if the woman doesn’t respond to messages within a certain time interval, her profile visibility on the website decreases to the point of complete invisibility, even if a user name search is done.
The text descriptions in profiles would have a minimum number of characters and photographs. The backend system would, of course, require the primary photo to be a face shot and any improper photo could be flagged for speedy removal. As profiles are validated, that face shot would match the user. Also, profiles could be flagged for not including a full body photo. Hell, the profile wouldn’t even get approved without such a photo.
For an interesting thought experiment, the system could screen for a list of prohibited profile terms like “princess”, “diva”, “queen”, or any phrase that speaks of excess entitlement. That list would be dynamically modified through a review process by the website moderators so that new profiles would be rejected with an appropriate error message so the user could modify the profile .
There would not be an Android or iOS version of the website. Squeezing in a bit of online dating while on the go is not healthy for dating in general. Because fewer messages are available to read, the person reading them shouldn’t be staring into some wee phone screen hoping to find a match while sitting at a stoplight. A personal computer or tablet displaying the full website is required. Here’s another thought experiment – the website can only be accessed when the user is completely alone. Camera and software technology in the PC or tablet could do that.
Also, there would be no algorithms to match people automatically. The user knows what he or she wants, not simply a person selected by a bit of software, regardless of how sophisticated it might be. I certainly believe in the power of technology but I also believe there are some human actions that cannot be replaced by computer programs.
With the weaknesses of conventional online dating causing increasing frustration despite it’s still growing popularity, there simply must be new solutions to address that frustration. Of course, the suggestions I presented comes under the “it’s so crazy, it just might work!” category.
[If you liked this blog post, click the Donate button on the top of this page or support me through my Patreon efforts. Thanks!]