OkCupid – well, I’ve only just joined so I don’t know if it really rocks – but first impressions are good. First off – you don’t pay – they’ve got a slightly less cynical business model in mind. Second – you develop an online profile based on user-submitted questions – so nothing is predetermined. It looks like everyone is a real user too, rather than the pretty stooges that can be found in other sites.
So, you sign-up and start to answer questions, and 10 minutes later you can do a search. It seems to understand that London is 50 miles from Brighton (and it’s a US site, so that’s not bad) and the matches it comes up with are ok – so far a mix of people with roughly the right interests as me and between here and London. The questions are real easy – just multiple choice, and you can submit your own. The matches are calculated by collating the intersecting set of your and their answers from the pool of random questions you answer. The more questions you answer, the better your profile.
The creators are pretty open – they list a lot of details in the FAQ including thoughts on their business model, advertising (which is how they make their money), privacy, even the programming languages they use behind the site. The give a real simple overview of the profiling/matching techniques they use which covers some sensible-looking math.
Rather nice to see a dating site that doesn’t depend on paying up-front, though I have to wonder if their advertising-only model really brings in enough money. Since they must serve up a lot of photos, that’s a lot of bandwidth…
Now what happens if you could mix something like the Australian GetALife social/activity site, with a dating site like OkCupid – mostly for free, perhaps with company-sponsorship or maybe you’d donate to the site when you did fun activities or had good dates. It is clear that most dating sites are rubbish, heck even Paul Graham has written about improving the online dating experience.
And oddly, these guys aren’t marketing themselves, it all seems to be word-of-mouth (and growing nicely by the look of things). I came across it whilst reading Jacqueline Passey’s blog.
And continuing the theme – here’s Captain Capitalism, an economics bloke (what’s with the dating-friendly online economists?) who’s very open about his dating too. Perhaps a bit too open in his latest post, but heck, good luck chum. Ah, reading the comments a bit more,
“Date with Knock Out Russian Babe went well”