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A 4-month Online Dating Experiment Using 10 Fictional Singletons
June 30, 2012 2:28 AM   Subscribe

"Is online dating a different experience for men than it is for women? To find out, I conducted a 4-month experiment in the US and UK using 10 dummy dating profiles. Here's what happened..."
posted by surenoproblem (165 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
The results indeed mimic my experiences.

Maybe I'll just get a cat...
posted by ~Bert at 2:42 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't really think "The perfect message" is as clever the author thinks it is. My attention span would be gone the moment I saw the length of the message.
posted by ymgve at 3:14 AM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


So it weeds out people who are put off by more text than might appear on a page 'Dick and Jane'? Sounds perfect to me.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:21 AM on June 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


So the sample size is 1 straight, white person per gender per entire city, each with varying levels of attractiveness as judged by three people of two genders, with attractiveness pairs randomly assigned to 5 locations across the big 'ole US?

I also wonder which cities in the US and then the UK got the 2(?) 'hot' people. And the 2(?) 'not-hot' ones. Not to mention that what single, straight white people find attractive in Liverpool, Miami, Phoenix, London and onward varies, oh, just a little bit.

And you're American and trying (or not trying) to pass as British on an American dating site in the UK, but don't really mention what's up with all that in your profile. Weird.
posted by iamkimiam at 3:22 AM on June 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Online dating worked great for me - it really streamlined the entire procedure from awkward initial approach to final rejection.
posted by Dr Dracator at 3:41 AM on June 30, 2012 [86 favorites]


I don't like the assumption that women getting approached more than men equates to them "having it easier." It's trite, and more than just a little bit sexist.
posted by tkfu at 3:42 AM on June 30, 2012 [28 favorites]


My experience with OKCupid is that most men (7 out of 10) completely skip past my profile and attempt to contact me my complimenting me on my appearance.

They ignore match percentages and friend percentages. They ignore or are unaware of my purposes for being on the site (whether that be casual sex or pen pals or just friends or what). The ones who seem to be the most desperate for a relationship especially don't take the 5 to 10 seconds to consider whether their mention of "I'm not a nature person" matches up with my "I love being outside", or if their "I just don't read" jives with my "Here's a few of my favorite books!"

I get complimented on my eyes, my smile, my body, my hair, and occasionally on my ass and my tits by men who seem to care as little as possible about their own brains, much less mine. I often also receive messages from men who definitely don't fit my body type preference (which is there with 20 seconds more searching). All the while my profile fairly screams, "Geekiness, intelligence, AND your -fit- body turns me on."

My response has always been to politely, if a bit sharply, reply why I will not, in fact, be giving them my phone number or meeting them for coffee by pointing out the glaringly obvious faux pas they made. I don't care if most of them don't care. I've had maybe one or two reply with a "oh I'm sorry, my bad", which is worth it enough to make up the difference.

Guys....scroll to the bottom of her profile. If it says "casual sex", you can be semi-blunt. Otherwise, it does kinda require a bit of finesse.

I mean, out of the 536+ messages received by Attractive Female (Black Tank Top) in the article, I'm going to say maybe 70 to 80 of those were worth replying back to out of genuine "I could be attracted to this person" interest. Most of the rest were pseudo pickup lines, crude douche-baggery, crazy-pants longer responses mentioning children/marriage/love, or just sounded uninteresting/bland.

Or weak. Pretty sure I can smell a man-child out on OKCupid now within 2 messages.
"Eleven-hundred men go in the water. 78 men come out of the water. And the bitch...the bitch, she eat the rest."
posted by DisreputableDog at 3:49 AM on June 30, 2012 [38 favorites]


This article annoys me because it's yet another person misusing a social site and making the experience fractionally worse for everyone else. Maybe I'm just jaded after reading too many exposes about twitterbots and corporate social media astroturfing tools.

From the article:

Morals aside (where would space travel be without the unpleasant demise of Laika the Soviet space dog?), I set about creating ten dummy dating profiles on the world’s fastest growing online dating site: OKCupid.

Morally, this guy deserves to spend his next year on the internet without the benefit of spam blockers, etc.
posted by Several Unnamed Sources at 3:56 AM on June 30, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'm also a little tired of the "things happen differently for groups that are, on average, different" == "automatically sexist"
posted by DU at 3:56 AM on June 30, 2012 [22 favorites]


Is the real result here that nobody reads anything on dating sites and all contacts are based on pictures ?
posted by duffers5000 at 4:07 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


This might be the first time this sentence has been written, but OKTrends has a better set of data. His final point stands that as a man on a dating site, you shouldn't expect to receive a load of (or any) messages, and that you should probably focus on the messages you send. On the other hand, the profiles he created are too generic.

So yeah, it's not all doom and gloom. I am short for UK standards (or Brits are tall for my standards, ha!), I won't be winning any modelling awards soon and I have five dates in the next week. This is coincidental, but it made me chuckle when I read TFA. Initially, I couldn't get a date to save my life on OKC. I'd see a profile and even if there were pronounced differences, I might have sent a message – because anyone who has ever dated knows that you grow to like things on a partner that seem incompatible at first. Turns out that these messages lacked conviction.

Nowadays I look for profiles where we share at least a common passion and I send a message about it. Length varies, usually according to how much text is on the recipient's profile. Some of the things I like are wordy, so sometimes I get a reply that is multiple-paragraphs long; after exchanging one of those you often know you can go on a date and have something to talk about. And you know what, not getting a tonne of messages saying, "Hey cutie", is not an issue: the couple of people who have contacted me first were interesting (a neuroscientist! a playwright!) and I never went on a date with awkward silences because the people I meet and I have something in common. There are still intriguing people who won't reply to you, but this also happens offline in all kinds of relationships. So take heart, OKMefites!

P.S. Receiving a tonne of unwanted messages as a woman on OKC by people who don't care about the way you represent yourself is not better either.
posted by ersatz at 4:07 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


So, all those people who spent hours sifting through profiles, found someone they were interested in, then carefully crafted messages to them... they were just fodder for a pseudo-science experiment?
posted by greenhornet at 4:08 AM on June 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


@DU: Not sure if that was in response to me, but just to clarify: I'm not saying that it's sexist to point out that women receive more unsolicited sexual attention than men.

My problem is with the assumption that more attention = better. It's the same as the old "Why are these snooty girls complaining about getting catcalled; I'd love it if women were constantly telling me my ass looked good" canary.
posted by tkfu at 4:10 AM on June 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


Amongst my peers, at least:
Problem for women is being immediately and unrelentingly showered in drivel, crazypants, cock pictures etc.
Problem for men is the varying odds of your message being picked out or even seen amongst the drivel.
I'd say the guys have had a far more pleasant experience, despite (i suppose really because) receiving far fewer initial messages. They get to pick and mail without having to wade through the incredibly dispiriting deluge of daft / obscene / threatening shite that the women are forced to deal with.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:15 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


How many dick pictures did the women receive? There's your true test of realism.
posted by desjardins at 4:19 AM on June 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


Yup. Kept waiting for him to describe his shock at the abundance of penii in his female profiles' inboxes. Disappoint.
posted by likeso at 4:29 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


A friend emailed this link to me the other day — this was my response:

One huge flaw with the experiment is that he put the best looking man and woman in one city, etc., without telling us who was in which city. Different cities have very different ratios of single men to single women, e.g. NYC is advantageous for (straight) single men because we're far outnumbered by single women. If he put the most attractive pair in Phoenix, and if the ratio in Phoenix is favorable to single women (I don't know if that's true, but it's true of most cities in the West), then that would exaggerate how successful the most attractive woman was, while understating how successful the most attractive man was. I'm sure he'd say, "I admitted it was unscientific" — but he could have just as easily stuck to one city with an even balance of single men/women. However, he did mitigate this somewhat by repeating the experiment in England.

Another problem: he overestimated how interesting the profile text was. It isn't an interesting profile with lots of conversation-starting "hooks." It's very bland and vague, other than a couple weird details that aren't that likely to spark conversations either. He might think this isn't a big deal since it was the same for all 10. But that could actually account for a lot of the messages sent to the attractive women. A profile that just says "I'm fun, loyal, and spontaneous" (my paraphrase of most of his profile) isn't going to cut it for a man or an unattractive woman. The attractive woman will also be selling herself short with that kind of profile — but she'll still attract men who (a) are very shallow and overwhelmingly care about looks, or (b) take a shotgun approach of sending a form message to any reasonably attractive woman. Both those types of men are likely to send boring messages.

So, I'm not convinced by his conclusion that even attractive women have a surprisingly rough time with online dating. He thinks he's seen what these women really experience: a mountain of mostly boring messages. But it's predictable that a boring profile is going to attract boring messages. (Plus, we're just taking his word for it that the messages were lame.) Everyone on a dating site is going to get some boring messages, but an attractive woman with a more distinctive profile will tend to get more interesting messages than anyone else. So she'll have a lot more viable options than men do.
posted by John Cohen at 4:47 AM on June 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh, DisreputableDog, you absolutely nailed it.

Apparently every man who saw my profile on dating websites just yearned for a redhead and just had to have me as soon as they my photo. They didn't care about what I read or what music I listen to or what I do in my spare time. They glommed onto the photo, OMG SHE'S A REDHEAD, SHE'S RIPE FOR THE PICKIN', and that entitled them to send messages which ranged from, "I've always wanted to date a redhead" to "do you wax?" or "do the curtains match the carpet?".

Sadly, I've found that's also true in real life.

I often find myself repeating my favourite joke: at my age, men are like carparks - all the good ones are taken, and what's left is handicapped.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 4:53 AM on June 30, 2012 [18 favorites]


I 'met' a surrealist poet on OKC who was making poetry out of profile information and the responses he received from various dummy profiles. The poetry was pretty good, actually. I forwarded to him some of the more bizarre messages I'd received (something about being a redhead perhaps, I also got a lot of OMG REDHEAD messages). Many of the messages he forwarded to me were really sad, though and I think he gave up the project eventually because it was depressing.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 5:21 AM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


The descriptions of online dating in articles like this sound terrifying and/or depressing. But the guys I know (who, trust me, are not male models or independently wealthy) have had online dating work out incredibly well, with lots of options and a not at all demeaning experience.

Yes, they receive very few unsolicited emails -- but that's the way it is if you go to a bar, too, so I don't see that this says anything unique about online dating. Instead, they send a few emails to women who live nearby, are close in age, and have an ok photo and no huge red flags in the profile text, go on some dates, and see who they click with in person. No drama, no fuss, and no great mystery. And from talking to female friends who are using online dating, they feel like there is a shortage of non-player, non-weirdo guys to choose from, so a regular guy actually kind of stands out.

If online dating is unfair to anyone, it's to women who don't fit the often very narrow age ranges and ideas about conventional beauty. In person, I'm going to be captured by personality, intelligence, and chemistry. Online, I can draw my search parameters as tight as I want, no matter how realistic those really are.
posted by Forktine at 5:59 AM on June 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


This is actually really interesting data though.

The OKCupid blog didn't seem to have this basic, simple information about how messaging goes.

It's kind of like online job applications.

It's enormously problematic. It is screwed.

But it's vastly, vastly better than what existed before.

Getting data like this might help someone to make it even better.

Hopefully someone pays attention.
posted by sien at 6:15 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's the same as the old "Why are these snooty girls complaining about getting catcalled; I'd love it if women were constantly telling me my ass looked good" canary.

As much as I love canaries, I think the word you are looking for is "canard".
posted by parrot_person at 6:19 AM on June 30, 2012 [23 favorites]


I often find myself repeating my favourite joke: at my age, men are like carparks - all the good ones are taken, and what's left is handicapped.

Sexism and mockery of the disabled! HILARIOUS!
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:23 AM on June 30, 2012 [37 favorites]


I'd say the guys have had a far more pleasant experience, despite (i suppose really because) receiving far fewer initial messages. They get to pick and mail without having to wade through the incredibly dispiriting deluge of daft / obscene / threatening shite that the women are forced to deal with.

What's worse, negative feedback for not doing anything, or no feedback for doing something?
posted by 3FLryan at 6:27 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I didn't see it on his site, but is there an address for people to write to, who unwittingly participated in his experiment and would like to be reimbursed for their time? Isn't it pretty much an ethical requirement to pay people for using them in an experiment this way?
posted by allnamesaretaken at 6:28 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Suppose that each message sent to a sham account represents, on average, one minute of time spent reading a profile and writing an introductory message. All together he's wasted roughly maybe 12 hours of other people's time. If you're going to waste that much time, it helps to have a better hypothesis than "attractive women get approached more frequently."

Was this project born of genuine curiosity? Why would someone do this?
posted by compartment at 6:43 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I've had fair success going on OKC-initiated dates. I always ask the women what their experience on OKC is like; basically what's already been mentioned before: dick photos and ignorant messages from egocentric emotionally oblivious dudes.

Even on the occasions that a date hasn't occurred, I've been told that they responded to me simply because I was the only dude to write to them as if they were a human. They often seem surprised when I mention that I'll go weeks without getting a profile view from someone, much less a message.
posted by sciurus at 6:45 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of how kids in the US applying to college started applying to more and more colleges per kid a while ago, where the average number of applications went from like 4 per child to 10 or something silly. The idea was that college admissions was getting so competitive that one had to hedge bets. Since it would always end up at most one school per child in the end, admissions departments were freaking out for a while because they were getting way more applications and realizing that many of them were from students who weren't really interested, just hedging bets, but who was who?

So now we have a situation where colleges throw out half the applications in the stack before reading (rumors) and makes admissions seem even more selective...

It's the same with men and women, I guess. If a few men start sending messages to every profile they glance at, they automatically create more selectivity on the part of the women they message, because the women are getting overwhelmed with messages but have to figure out who's really interested and who's just hedging bets. So that means other dudes have to make choices about whether to invest a lot of time in a message that might be judged as not sincere or even just rejected on it's own merits in a situation of somewhat artificial selectivity? I am sure if I was a guy facing that scenario I would start sending out more messages of lower quality because it would be hard to even mildly invest in someone and get rejected over and over and maybe not realize it was related to the very problem of everyone spreading themselves out too much.

This effect has got to have a name. I'm sure people have studied it. The question is, have they studied how to counteract the effect?

I didn't like the article but it made me feel more empathy towards men on online dating sites. And I wonder if there is a kind of stigma now towards women who send messages (what is so wrong with you that you don't have hundreds to choose from?) or if they just don't have time because of their inbox.
posted by newg at 6:50 AM on June 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


As much as I love canaries...
posted by parrot_person

Isn't this kind of thing exactly what those against same sex marriage were warning us about?
posted by hippybear at 6:57 AM on June 30, 2012 [15 favorites]


I think the experiences of both genders here kind of sucks. If you're a woman, you get flooded with crappy messages. If you're a man, you get...tumbleweeds? I guess?

I've always kind of thought that online dating probably works if you live in a very large, generally "liberal" major city, but I'm less sure of that now. Some of the relationships I've started online were infinitely richer and more meaningful than anything that could've started in RL, but they were all instances of meeting people in fairly natural ways. Like, being introduced by a mutual friend, or just seeing someone in the same online space over time and eventually allowing our conversations to become more personal.

I now kind of think that trying to make a self summary and tacking it on a big public bulletin board is just sort of an awkward, unnatural way to meet people. It's possible that someone who really connects with you will see it and contact you, and something great will happen, but... There have to be better ways.
posted by byanyothername at 6:57 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Is sending pictures of dicks on okcupid a thing? 5 months and maybe 150 messages and no one ever sent me a picture of their dick. I feel.... oddly insulted.

I had a good experience with okcupid actually. I got enough messages but not an overwhelming number, and I got plenty of kind of pointless messages ("hi your pretty my number is xxxxxxxxxx"), but I got a good number of interesting, well thought out ones as well. I think being a female who is fairly average in the looks department and having an interesting profile (I was told, obviously I wrote it so no objective judgement from me) hit the internet dating sweet spot.

I'm not sure how I feel about this experiement-- sending them all to different cities is a huuugge variable. NYC vs. Pheonix? Really? Also, the profiles he wrote were pretty dull and generic which I think is probably affecting his results somewhat-- a very attractive woman will probably still get messages even if her profile isn't interesting but a less attractive woman won't have anything in her favor.
posted by geegollygosh at 6:59 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is why the free online dating sites don't work, they're 95% "experiments" to see what profile will attract people, before they commit to using that material in their real profile.
posted by charlie don't surf at 7:31 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


iamkimiam : So the sample size is 1 straight, white person per gender per entire city, each with varying levels of attractiveness as judged by three people of two genders, with attractiveness pairs randomly assigned to 5 locations across the big 'ole US?

While I agree that a good experimental design would have far more profiles, I have to disagree with your point in general. TFA's results don't just show a little bias in favor of attractive females, the attractive females obliterated everyone else, and even the less attractive females obliterated all but one of the males.

Yes, I'd love to see confirmation of that for other races and in particular how it plays out for homosexual profiles, but within the demographic chosen... Well, Intro to Experimental Design stresses, day one, that college psych experiments really only have validity within the domain of well-educated females ages 18-24. Findings may not generalize well to ignorant elderly males, but if you want to know about a smart 20YO woman (on average), look no further!


tkfu : I don't like the assumption that women getting approached more than men equates to them "having it easier." It's trite, and more than just a little bit sexist.

Regardless of the quality of person approaching them, I find it hard to call it anything but "having it easier" when you merely need to sit back and sift the wheat from the chaff, rather than actively needing to take the time to memorize someone else's profile and then somehow predict their tastes well enough to compose a message that will get their attention without creeping them out.

So "sexist"? Yes, of course - But only insofar as a scathing confirmation of the inherent sexism of our species in general.
posted by pla at 7:37 AM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


The women’s messages outnumbered the men’s 17 to 1 (mostly thanks to the two best looking women).
This seems pretty misleading to me. I mean, sure, it's true if you consider "what happens if we ignore the two best looking* women", in which case it dramatically falls from "17.8 to 1" to "1.3 to 1", but that doesn't really seem to be a sound way of looking at it.

If you ignore the two best looking women and the two best looking men, it rises, not falls. In fact, it rises to infinity. The best looking women are doing worse (compared to the men they should in fairness be compared to) than the remaining women are.

"Best looking" according to the author.
posted by Flunkie at 7:44 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Regardless of the quality of person approaching them, I find it hard to call it anything but "having it easier" when you merely need to sit back and sift the wheat from the chaff, rather than actively needing to take the time to memorize someone else's profile and then somehow predict their tastes well enough to compose a message that will get their attention without creeping them out.

How on earth can it be "regardless of the quality of person approaching them"? That makes no sense at all.

And as has been said already, you can argue that this works great if you are tank-top woman and your mailbox gets filled to capacity in two months. For the other women, it's not working out quite so hot, is it?
posted by Forktine at 7:44 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


Regardless of the quality of person approaching them, I find it hard to call it anything but "having it easier" when you merely need to sit back and sift the wheat from the chaff, rather than actively needing to take the time to memorize someone else's profile and then somehow predict their tastes well enough to compose a message that will get their attention without creeping them out.

When "sifting the wheat from the chaff" means "looking at the dude's answers to questions meant to tell whether he thinks date rape is acceptable because he's a dude", and reading crap like "ur too tall/ur too fat/ur sound really independent are u a feminazi", it can get more into "depressed by the stifling amount of chaff" territory.

Especially when, after using it off and on for 8 years, you're still single because what you thought was wheat actually turned out to be genetically-modified dipweeds. (Which is why I don't use it any more. Cynical outlooks like that aren't good when hoping to find a mate.)
posted by fraula at 7:50 AM on June 30, 2012 [12 favorites]


My first reaction was to wonder where he get those pictures. Do those 'least attractive' people know that they're so labelled in a widely-linked article?

My second reaction is bogglement that he doesn't even refer to an obvious difference between the women's photos. It's the second-most attractive woman (by his and his friend's agreed reckoning) who gets by far the most messages, and her photo is showing a lot more skin than the others. The most attractive (by their reckoning) is showing a bit more skin than the remaining three. I think it's possible that a 'more skin showing=more available' equation in the minds of some more superficial responders is accounting for a lot of the difference between the women.
posted by Azara at 7:51 AM on June 30, 2012 [11 favorites]


My problem is with the assumption that more attention = better. It's the same as the old "Why are these snooty girls complaining about getting catcalled; I'd love it if women were constantly telling me my ass looked good" canary.

It's the setting that matters. If you are minding your own business, unsolicited attention might be annoying. When you are specifically looking to meet someone, having people giving you their attention is a good thing. You can weed out the undesirables with less work, and when you come across someone that it attractive, you know you already have some level of interest from them.
posted by gjc at 7:53 AM on June 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


her photo is showing a lot more skin than the others.

I think it's not so much the skin as showing more (and fit) body shape.

You can replace the word 'attractive' in the article (and this thread) with 'not-fat' and not change the meaning. In fact it would actually sharpen the meaning.
posted by fleacircus at 8:15 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


The conclusion I draw is: looking good is to dating as looking like science is to plausibility.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:18 AM on June 30, 2012


Forktine : How on earth can it be "regardless of the quality of person approaching them"? That makes no sense at all.

Because you don't need to respond to all your suitors? You can ignore 99.9% of them, the same way you would with spam-vs-Mom via normal email correspondence. The luxury of ignoring them, however, soundly beats not having any to ignore.


For the other women, it's not working out quite so hot, is it?

The least popular woman got as many responses as the second most popular man. So yeah, I'd say it still works out pretty damned well in favor of the women.


fleacircus : You can replace the word 'attractive' in the article (and this thread) with 'not-fat' and not change the meaning. In fact it would actually sharpen the meaning.

Only two of the photos (one male, one female) appear "fat". So while I don't disagree with you, I don't think you can extend that to include the 4th and 3rd most popular profiles of each gender. In these cases, even just "plain" looking meant a drastic reduction in contacts.


Obscure Reference : The conclusion I draw is: looking good is to dating as looking like science is to plausibility.

So convince your IRB/ERB to approve a much larger study with hundreds of randomized matched pairs of varying ages, races, and orientations, scattered across the globe. It may well come out different. I'd bet my left nut it doesn't, though (and I take the general sense of disgust expressed in this thread as a sign that most of you wouldn't bet against me).

posted by pla at 8:26 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


'Sup, ladies I'm a straight male and I have a lot of things to say about how you should feel about gender-based social dynamics, well, first of all,
posted by Greg Nog at 8:33 AM on June 30, 2012 [29 favorites]


My first reaction was to wonder where he get those pictures. Do those 'least attractive' people know that they're so labelled in a widely-linked article?

in addition, having your photo used in a dating profile without your consent, regardless of the attractiveness, seems pretty icky.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 8:57 AM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


Depressing. I didn't bother to read the 'perfect message' part. Who cares. I am old and not hot enough. So depressing to have it confirmed. Even though I am great company in person! (hopefully.)
posted by bquarters at 9:06 AM on June 30, 2012


It's not merely a matter of how the study was done, but the interpretation of the results as well. Just as an example, as someone observed above, the increased count of messages is fallaciously and superficially translated as "women have it easier."
posted by Obscure Reference at 9:14 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the women who receive too much stupidity and cocks: Can't you do the same thing as the serious guys; reading profiles and initiating conversation, and just ignoring the messages you didn't invite? I'm asking seriously and out of curiosity, because to me that appears to be an obvious winning strategy.
posted by springload at 9:27 AM on June 30, 2012 [6 favorites]


I wonder if the experiment is missing some of the more nuanced stuff that OKcupid builds into its system. For example, as a guy I don't get many first messages at all. However, there's a "who's viewed your profile" section and I tend to get something like half a dozen women viewing my profile a week, many of whom I have something in common with. One or two might really catch my attention. Now, even though they're viewing my profile but not messaging me, it doesn't mean they're not interested; I just assume that women don't first message as a baseline. If I go ahead and message them with a nice, brief personalized message, the likelihood of them responding is decently high in my experience (over 50%). I have no idea if this is a common experience for dudes, but it's at least getting me talking to women I'm interested in and them talking back and whatnot.

There's also the "Quickmatch" system which is pretty awesome and avoids the need for guys to send tons of messages (and as a guy, getting a "Someone chose you" email is at least a slight ego boost in what may otherwise be a sea of rejection?)

I'm curious if the guys spamming 100 generic messages a week are getting a few replies (or why would they bother doing it?) It reminds me of the player types at bars/clubs who will hit on anything that breathes with the philosophy that at least one girl will respond positively out of the dozens he's crassly approaching.
posted by naju at 9:28 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Even on the occasions that a date hasn't occurred, I've been told that they responded to me simply because I was the only dude to write to them as if they were a human. They often seem surprised when I mention that I'll go weeks without getting a profile view from someone, much less a message.

My husband and I met on a dating site (not OKC) and he messaged me with something like "hi, I saw your profile and I liked X and Y, I'm a [profession] and I like to [hobby] in my spare time, I'd like to get to know you." He didn't have any photos posted and his profile was pretty sparse, but I wrote back to him mainly because it was so different than the "u r hot wanna fuk" messages I was used to getting. In his next message, he sent photos, his real name, and phone number to assure me that he was not a creep.

I never even saw one photo of his dick! I mean, how was I supposed to know whether I wanted to meet him?

So, I think getting past that "not a creep" filter is the toughest for most men. It's like if you really were a Nigerian prince and the recipient really did have an inheritance of millions of dollars, but no one would respond to your emails about transferring money.
posted by desjardins at 9:32 AM on June 30, 2012 [14 favorites]



If I were young and single and wanting to try one of these dating sites; the one certain thing I would do would be prominently mention metafilter.
posted by notreally at 9:53 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the women who receive too much stupidity and cocks: Can't you do the same thing as the serious guys; reading profiles and initiating conversation, and just ignoring the messages you didn't invite? I'm asking seriously and out of curiosity, because to me that appears to be an obvious winning strategy.

Sometimes it is hard to just ignore the fact that most men you encounter don't give two fucks about your hobbies, interests or personality, but would happily make an attempt to hook up with you nonetheless.

And for the author of the piece:

Aside from that, all we chicks ever do at out computers is sit and file our nails and post pics to Twitter, so we have plenty of time to read dozens of messages from muffinheads in order to find the one guy that actually seems like a friendly human, regardless of how sifting through dick pics makes anyone feel. Funnily enough, the amount of worthless, didn't-even-bother-to-read-the-profile messages doesn't change the number of worthy messages, it's just more crap to deal with without any mathematical increase in the number of reasonable responses.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:08 AM on June 30, 2012 [8 favorites]


It's the second-most attractive woman (by his and his friend's agreed reckoning) who gets by far the most messages, and her photo is showing a lot more skin than the others.

IMO he and his friends badly misranked the photos, and the results, which were not a bit surprising to me, only bear this out. It's not just the women, either. The only dude to get any messages was clearly the hottest; I'm not really sure what they were thinking.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:18 AM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


My experience with online dating (which is old) went something like this.

I am a reasonably physically attractive woman, average or perhaps slightly above average. This slight advantage was given a bigger bump when I was 25, due to my age, and the fact that I was in better shape then.

I took my time with my profile, even though it was a pain in the ass. I can't really say that I have a type, looks-wise. The first thing I notice, honest to God, is personality, and my physical attraction has almost always grown from there. Because of this, I put a good amount of effort into my profile because I was looking for chemistry first and foremost. I wasn't looking for someone who was my clone, but I was looking for someone who was a good emotional and intellectual fit, and I thought that a detailed and honest profile would help.

It did not.

I got, in less than 6 months, thousands (thousands!) of responses. I had two pictures up- one of me standing, and one from the shoulders up. I was wearing an ankle length skirt in one photo and a turtleneck in the other. Every last message I received was about my looks. Many of them included info spat back at me from my long, thorough profile, but it was like answering an essay question on a test- they were proving that they'd read it, rather than engaging about any of the eighty zillion things I'd put up.

It got to the point that I started responding to messages that read, "You're lovely. I'd like to meet you for coffee sometime." Messages like this were probably two percent of what I received- most of them were oddly specific, even when not overtly sexual. Things like, "I love your hair," or "You have a killer smile."

My standards were reset by this, to the Incredibly Low level. Correct spelling and punctuation? A cock shot? A body part specific compliment? If Yes, No, No, they got a response.

Of the ten or so men that I communicated with based on these Incredibly Low standards, all of them had messaged me because of my looks. All of them. I'm not saying that I want them to find me ugly but smart and message me anyway- I'm saying that the world is full of hot chicks and I was hoping for someone who wanted a good fit and would be delighted if he also found his good fit to be sexy and appealing. That inversion of priorities made online dating impossible for me. I get that looks matter, but the fact of them mattering to the exclusion of everything else is problematic.

I would have found zero messages to be much easier than the buckets of chum I ended up with. That, at least, is not a time suck.

I can't even imagine the amount of bullshit a really beautiful woman gets.
posted by Athene at 10:30 AM on June 30, 2012 [21 favorites]


I don't like the assumption that women getting approached more than men equates to them "having it easier." It's trite, and more than just a little bit sexist.

I actually don't understand what this is addressing, since the author concludes:
The fact that the first stage of online dating is so heavily stacked in women’s favour doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s any easier for them, compared to men, to reach the end goal of pure love or perfect sex. They may have the pick of the bunch to begin with, especially if they happen to be really attractive, but they can still only date one man at a time—they must still filter the largely undifferentiated onslaught of male attention into yes and no piles. Then the yes pile has to be sorted through in much the same way as anyone else does it—by talking, bonding, finding common interests, realising there’s been a big mistake, or a wonderful discovery.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:32 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


Someone asked why women don't message men. I can't speak as to OKC, which I think requires a picture of your face, but the site that I was on did not, so 90% of the male profiles either had no picture or a picture of their junk (or someone else's junk). We can eliminate the dick-pic-profiles right off the bat. Most of the no-photo ones also had no real information about the person. Although I guess "No fat chicks" does, in fact, tell me something about you.

I would say less than 10% of the male profiles had any thought put into them at all, and from there I'd need to filter by age, interests, location, etc. It's basically a huge timesuck either way for a woman: either you're sifting through lousy profiles or you're sifting through lousy emails. I set my expectations extremely low and went out and lived my life.
posted by desjardins at 10:48 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a woman who's done online dating, works in online dating, and has helped at least 10 people one-on-one with online dating - some gay, some straight, some male, some female, aging from 20s-60s in age and in different states and of course on different sites - I can say that everyone faces a different set of challenges, but they're not insurmountable.

I always did better initiating emails to men I was interested in; I never went on a single date from men who messaged me first who didn't turn out to be absolute assholes at some point or another (sorry, just my personal experience). So women, get your shit together and START WRITING FIRST.

The biggest problem I see with men's messages is: "Hey ur cute I like (book title) too, wanna meet up?" and then if you say "no thanks," it turns into an onslaught of: "That's fine you stuck up bitch, you'll never find anyone anyway you probably have (std) or are a gold digger" (and then 3-4 replies insisting same if I reply negatively to that... until they're blocked).

So, part of what fills up women's inboxes is "hey a/s/l sex?" then "why don't you respond you stuck up bitch, you're not even hot" and then "that's cool, my friends all say you're fat" type follow-ups.

It would be nice if people don't insist on wasting everyone's time eviscerating each person who rejects you, but it's mostly men that do this.

And I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm sure - but as the person who chooses the featured profiles for one particular site and has done so for 9 years as of my upcoming anniversary, I've read MORE than a million profiles. And dude, 90 percent of the people who can't find someone have text that says "I'm not good at writing about myself; I'm an open book, though, just ask!" Plus they've posted 2-3 photos of themselves that aren't very clear, at least one of which is in a group at something resembling a wedding, and one that's clearly 5-10 years old.

Seriously people, that's not enough reason for someone to think you'll share a connection; write something that goes above "I'm not good at describing who I am or what I want" and avoid the "My ex was a psycho and I'm heartbroken, here's 17 things I hate about men/women" talk (and the "well, I was gonna get married this month, but my fiance cheated on me so here I am/my friends insisted on my joining this thing, so here I am/Here's the 700 books, bands, movies, vacations and animals I like, are you my next spouse?/Here's a list of all the song lyrics and random uncomfortable statements about how much I hate writing about myself; bonus: my last date off here was ridicule-worthy in the following ways::::" profiles.

PLEASE look at what everyone else who is technically your "competitor" online wrote before posting; will you be the 90th person in Tampa who's read Eat, Pray, Love, whose headline reads: "it's not the number of breaths in life, but the times in life your breath is taken away," starts out with "dogs are my life, I love travel, these are my SISTER'S KIDS not mine, I work out 7 days a week but won't date a woman 1 year older than me because ewwwwww plus I want a kid but I don't want a woman desperate for a kid because divorced people are broken and I'm not paying for another man's mistake" profile I scan this week? I'm already tired just thinking about it.

ugh, sorry.

My best friend found her husband online. She's blonde, and at the time was 28, employed in a high-profile job, no kids, degreed, fun, not crazy, smoker. The first week her profile was up she had 256 emails. By the end of the first month, she'd had more than 3000 profile views. Yes, beautiful women have it hard on sites because it's damn near impossible to get through the messages, even to say "no thanks."

She's currently blissfully married and pregnant with baby #2, and she never would have found him except online. After 6 years of being single and trying every other option, online dating worked for her - even when hiring a professional matchmaking service that worked with her one-on-one failed.

YMMV.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:48 AM on June 30, 2012 [27 favorites]


Yeah, I forgot about all the YOU'RE A BITCH responses.
posted by desjardins at 10:59 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's just as bad even if you're not looking for a relationship - over on FetLife the very first line of my profile states that I am married and that I am not looking for anyone to have sex with. (If you don't know, FetLife is kind of like Facebook for kinky people and isn't a dating site per se. Most of my friends are people I know IRL or mefites.). Here's a message I got recently that's extremely typical:
my name [redacted] I love having sex . I love fucking and eating pussy as well as eating asshole .

[400 words about other very specific sexual fantasies]

I will try just about anything once . please feel free to ask me any question . I am very honest and open . if you want my cell number please just ask me and for now I will not have any face pic up [his main picture features his junk] but when I become conferrable with you I’ll send you face pics and any other pics that you want . xoxo bye loves

MY measurements
Height: 5’11 ft weight :155 LBS Cock size: 8 in waist : 33in
I'm so glad I'm not actually looking anymore. If anything happens to my husband I'm going off to live alone in a forest.
posted by desjardins at 11:11 AM on June 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


My sole experience with "online dating", I guess you could call it, was finding a message on Facebook in my "Other" folder, from a woman who looked familiar but I didn't know, asking if we could meet for a drink some time. I agreed, we had a coffee, and a nice conversation, but there wasn't really a spark there. We stayed in touch, sorta, messaging through Facebook. I figured, well, at least I've made a new friend, even if we have little in common and I'm not attracted to her. But then when I started dating someone, she sent me a long and very angry message about having duped her, and that I was summarily blocked. I messaged back apologizing if I'd unintentionally led her on, and to be honest, to this day I'm unsure if she over-reacted or if I'm really just totally thoughtless and selfish.

I'm really not sure if this is something unique to online dating - certain text protocols, ways to convey tone and subtext in typed format, and I was inadvertently sending signals of strong interest. All I know is the whole experience left me feeling like either way, I'm not cut out for online dating, as I'm probably just hopelessly clumsy with reading signals in written format.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:15 AM on June 30, 2012


The biggest problem I see with men's messages is: "Hey ur cute I like (book title) too, wanna meet up?" and then if you say "no thanks," it turns into an onslaught of: "That's fine you stuck up bitch, you'll never find anyone anyway you probably have (std) or are a gold digger" (and then 3-4 replies insisting same if I reply negatively to that... until they're blocked).

So, part of what fills up women's inboxes is "hey a/s/l sex?" then "why don't you respond you stuck up bitch, you're not even hot" and then "that's cool, my friends all say you're fat" type follow-ups.


So, so true.
posted by triggerfinger at 11:16 AM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm so glad I'm not actually looking anymore. If anything happens to my husband I'm going off to live alone in a forest.

I love FetLife, but I think the guys who send out the mass mailings are going solely by compatible predilections first, actual relationship status second. Because this isn't the first time I'm hearing this about that site. I've been lucky in the contacts I've made there so far, though.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:20 AM on June 30, 2012


Perhaps men would do better if they stated at the bottom of their profiles "Dick pictures available upon request." Maybe leading with them is a touch strong.
posted by BigSky at 11:21 AM on June 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've tried online dating a couple times. I would like to strongly agree that different cities are incredibly different experiences.

My first foray was in Montreal through Craigslist. Gross right? Not there. I went on probably a dozen dates, both by messaging people who had posted and also getting responses to my posts. Some were great, some were less so, I did end up dating one girl for a few months. I'm still in touch with another, although really more as friends.

The starkest contrast is with OKCupid in Atlanta. I set up my profile, send out some messages, get nothing back. I was a bit surprised as my method has usually worked in the past. I try to write an honest, informative profile, plenty of "hooks" and so on. My messages are all definitely personalized, I usually just try to start a conversation about something of supposed mutual interest. Worried that maybe there was a specific problem, I started over. I rewrote my profile, uploaded new pictures, sent out more messages. I eventually chatted with a few people, no one really caught my attention and I eventually just dropped it.

Point being, I suppose, that different communities are different.
posted by the collander at 11:34 AM on June 30, 2012


Desjardins, my husband and I have recently had the "If you die, I'm off to the forest and forswearing dating forever" conversation, too - good to know we're not alone!
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:38 AM on June 30, 2012


This has been said a million times but I have to say it too. Well over 99% of the replies that women get are SPAM. They are from bottom of the barrel creeps writing you things like "got n-e more pix??" and "im 58 but look n act yungr ican go all nite think u can keep up??"

It doesn't mean anything that an attractive woman get "more" messages because almost all of them are like that. It would be like saying someone gets way more email than you just because they have 23847923 viagra ads in their spam folder.

I would like to see some analysis on the number of *quality* messages men receive vs. the number of women receive.

Also, about the ego boost thing. The only way those messages are an ego boost is if it makes you feel good about yourself that gross illiterate creeps would like to bone you. I don't think most women get an ego boost from that. If you are a man who thinks that way you have to remember that what would give you an ego boost is not always what would give one to a woman. It's a cliche, but I think for a lot of men what gives an ego boost is "feeling worthy of sex" and for a lot of women it's "feeling worthy of love and being cared for." This is obviously not true for all women, but it's true for a lot. There is absolutely nothing in these messages that would make someone feel worthy of loved and being cared for, actually it feels very very much the opposite.

It's also interesting to me that so many men write about how hard it is to not receive messages and have to be the one doing the writing. It's interesting because the last time I did online dating, I deliberately arranged things so that I would have a "male" kind of experience because the female one sucked so much. In other words, I took down my pictures. You're not going to get very many unsolicited messages if you're a woman without pictures up, I'll tell you that!

Then I just wrote out to guys I liked and included a link to my photos elsewhere on the net. That was an INFINITELY better experience for me than the firehose of crass messages from creeps. Sometimes I'd get a reply, sometimes I'd get silence. Sometimes I'd get a date, sometimes conversations fizzled out before a date. It was a MILLION times better. So, I don't buy into how hard and impossible and time consuming it is to look for people you like and write them decently interesting messages. I did it and it's not hard at all and doesn't take much time. And I would never do it any other way if I ever do online dating again.
posted by cairdeas at 11:39 AM on June 30, 2012 [37 favorites]


I hated online dating so much, it made me go out more often and practice my social skills in the hopes of meeting a woman offline. And after years of learning, adventure, and yes, sometimes rejection, it worked! My girlfriend and I celebrating our 1-year anniversary tomorrow!

Screw online dating. It didn't work for me. If it worked for someone else, mazel tov. But even though it's become the default in certain strata, single people should keep in mind that there are other ways. I simply decided that I'd rather be judged on my actual appearance and personna than my profile and my emails. That's what worked for me.
posted by Afroblanco at 11:39 AM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh man, congrats, Afroblanco! That's awesome :)
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 11:53 AM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also, about this:

For the women who receive too much stupidity and cocks: Can't you do the same thing as the serious guys; reading profiles and initiating conversation, and just ignoring the messages you didn't invite? I'm asking seriously and out of curiosity, because to me that appears to be an obvious winning strategy.

I totally agree that it is a winning strategy, but I was surprised by how badly some guys reacted to it. I had one guy, around my age (20's), liberal, non-religious, etc., reply that he was "a little taken aback by your forwardness." I was a little taken aback when he said that! That a non-religious guy my age would be thinking it was "forward" for me to write him a message, like that was only something a '50's schoolgirl with a bad reputation would do.

It's kind of hard to separate out the guys who were put off by my initiating things from the guys who just weren't interested. But it did seem like several guys were just kind of confused, hesitant, even a bit suspicious or weirded out, like I must be not who I said I was or have weird ulterior motives.

So, that's one problem with it.
posted by cairdeas at 12:00 PM on June 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm on OKCupid and it's a great way to meet interesting people you might wind up being friends with, or to get plugged in to the local gay scene through which you might eventually find someone who is compatible. But I think gay online dating works very differently from straight online dating...
posted by subdee at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2012


So, that's one problem with it.

I wonder, cairdeas, if this is really a problem. Any guy who think it's "forward" for a woman to message first is not one I'd want to date. Well, I'm a staight guy, so of course he's not. But I wouldn't want my sister to date him either.

I guess what I'm saying is that when guys are put off by your initation of contact- that's a good thing. They've weeded themselves out. You're the kind of lady who thinks its perfectly appropriate for a woman to initiate contact, and you think he might subscribe to certain '50's concept of gender relations. Not a good fit.

For those guys who share your view of gender relations, however, messaging first is likely to have the opposite effect. I say you keep trying this, it sounds like a win-win.
posted by the thing about it at 12:24 PM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


Marketing? He weeded out 9/10ths of the sensible people right there, looks or no.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:41 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's the same with men and women, I guess. If a few men start sending messages to every profile they glance at, they automatically create more selectivity on the part of the women they message, because the women are getting overwhelmed with messages but have to figure out who's really interested and who's just hedging bets. So that means other dudes have to make choices about whether to invest a lot of time in a message that might be judged as not sincere or even just rejected on it's own merits in a situation of somewhat artificial selectivity? I am sure if I was a guy facing that scenario I would start sending out more messages of lower quality because it would be hard to even mildly invest in someone and get rejected over and over and maybe not realize it was related to the very problem of everyone spreading themselves out too much.

This effect has got to have a name. I'm sure people have studied it. The question is, have they studied how to counteract the effect?


Sounds like "broken windows theory."

And on that note, time for me to get back to OKcupid and start mailing out those dick pictures...
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:18 PM on June 30, 2012


and start mailing out those dick pictures

Surely you have better things to do than send unsolicited images of Nixon to those poor people?
posted by Talkie Toaster at 1:29 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


My main takeaway from this is that there is a market need for a creep-guard service. Generally the main problem with emails from assholes, is that we are the recipient. If someone else is the recipient, it's funny, it's disgusting, it leads to a sense of world-weariness, but it isn't personally threatening in the same way. We can deal with it more easily. So:

"Are you an attractive single woman who would like to try online dating, but are tired of receiving disgusting spam from subhuman males? I am your personal creep-guard! I will read the messages you receive, and filter them according to the criteria you set (for example, evident over-80 IQ and over 5th-grade literacy, no misogyny, no pictures of his dick, his profile meets your stated criteria, etc). I will check his pictures to see if they match others on the internet, eg celebrities, porn stars, etc.

If the messaging male is not a creep, I will forward his message to your preferred email address. I will also send you a weekly report which at your option may contain highlights and excerpts of the funniest, most cack-handed, and just plain stupid emails for the entertainment of yourself and your friends. I will diligently report emails that breach site TOS including those that threaten you or are intended to frighten or anger you, and you will not see these messages.

Your personal creep-bouncer - bouncing creeps so you don't have to. Only $9.95 a week, and you can cancel as soon as you like.

For dating safety tips, click here." (Public place, friend prompted to call halfway through, can of mace disguised as lipstick, etc.)

It's easily scalable and outsourcable and women will make the best creep-guards for each other anyway, so perhaps I could act as a matchmaker between women willing to act as each others' creep-guards or part of a network of them. How to price it is an interesting question.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 1:51 PM on June 30, 2012 [13 favorites]


Heh. Back in the late 80's early 90's when I first arrived in the U.S., I made ends meet by doing a lot of commercial photography, product etc., but also being on a photographer for dating organizations, like Great Expectations, and dating magazines. My conclusion was that 90% of the people who paid for dating service memberships were simply crazy. Yet, every once in a while you'd see some amazing and awesome person, and wonder why is s/he using this service? Anyhow, being a successful photographer in that situation involves much more psychological skills than photography skills. You have to take the photo which will show them to best advantage, and diplomatically steer them away from their absolute conviction about "my best angle", cope with the 300lb guy/gal who demands you make them look "thin, because the camera can do anything", the bald guys who want a full head of hair "because, you know hairbrushing, or airbrushing or something", etc., etc. - and when someone hits on you, be able to turn them down without offending. I eventually managed to get out, but I always wondered if the people I encountered were just a random cross section of humanity (depressing!), or a highly self-selected odd group who would end up using the services of the commercial dating industry and when online dating rolled around, I wondered if somehow the demographics are completely different from the pre-internet days. Anyhow, just letting you guys know - it was always pretty crazy with a high sleaze factor, and the occasional inexplicable diamond thrown in. Maybe that's just how humans are?
posted by VikingSword at 1:53 PM on June 30, 2012


VikingSword Yet, every once in a while you'd see some amazing and awesome person, and wonder why is s/he using this service?

Because of bipolar or borderline personality disorder. You're meeting them during an "up" phase, hence they are awesome.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:04 PM on June 30, 2012 [3 favorites]


One reason men don't reply to emails from women is that many of those messages are scams. Porn sites, sex workers, foreign marriage services, other men pretending to be women, etc. Dating sites are rife with them, and the default thinking seems to be "if she looks attractive and she's interested in me, it's probably another man."
posted by desjardins at 2:31 PM on June 30, 2012 [7 favorites]


I think that outside of members in like their 20s, online dating is becoming a social network for dealbreakers: people who look for them and people who embody them. Maybe this is same as it ever was? I've always suspected, but maybe that only makes me part of the problem. Certainly I had longer relationships before I started using it.
posted by rhizome at 3:54 PM on June 30, 2012


Dating sites are rife with them, and the default thinking seems to be "if she looks attractive and she's interested in me, it's probably another man."

It's not just dating sites. A while back someone here linked to reddit gonewild (link NSFW in a big way); part of what makes that site so interesting is the obvious mix of actual self-postings with other people (men and women both, I am sure) posting photos they found online. There are a lot of people in a lot of settings pretending to be someone or something they are not.
posted by Forktine at 4:12 PM on June 30, 2012


Weird. It's worked quite well for me, and I don't even have photos up.
posted by ead at 4:28 PM on June 30, 2012


Damn. I had just been thinking about getting back into online dating after taking some time away to heal after a particularly painful breakup. But evidently, a woman of my age would be viewed as:

*damaged goods
*a fixer upper
*a dealbreaker in human form
*sad
*crazy
*pathetic
*probably not even a real woman
*a bitch for not fucking you
*bipolar or borderline, at best

So thanks. At least now I have proof, when my well-meaning friends try to convince me to just keep trying because someone out there will see that I'm awesome and love me for who I am, that they're dead wrong.
posted by palomar at 5:54 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


(yeah, maybe it's not as dire as all that. but damn if some of y'all aren't making me want to give up.)
posted by palomar at 5:56 PM on June 30, 2012


I got me a writer on a dating site. Been together almost 7 years. All I had to do was spell "piqued" correctly.
posted by klanawa at 6:16 PM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's frustrating that he confounded attractiveness with city.
posted by Jpfed at 6:45 PM on June 30, 2012


Dating sites are also about the only place to find certain healthy successful people with active busy lives who have their shit together, enjoy life, and prefer not to date coworkers. (Some kinds of happy healthy busy lives just don't involve much chance for romantic opportunity otherwise.)

There's so much complaining here, I thought the advantages of online dating could do with another advocate :)
posted by -harlequin- at 7:01 PM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


One reason men don't reply to emails from women is that many of those messages are scams.

This is very true - and it's a reason I keep coming back to OKCupid. I don't know how they manage it, but I just don't get this crap on OKcupid, whereas most other dating sites I've tried (which is a lot), more messages than not seem to be scams. OKC doesn't merely cut that crap down, it's just... utterly absent.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:06 PM on June 30, 2012


It's the gmail of dating sites.
posted by desjardins at 7:31 PM on June 30, 2012


Greg Nog: 'Sup, ladies I'm a straight male and I have a lot of things to say about how you should feel about gender-based social dynamics, well, first of all,
Was that directed at pla's comment above yours? Because don't men, woman, and others have equal right to comment about their own opinions and experiences when it comes to dating?

Also:
malibustacey9999: I often find myself repeating my favourite joke: at my age, men are like carparks - all the good ones are taken, and what's left is handicapped.
Unicorn on the cob: So women, get your shit together and START WRITING FIRST.
cairdeas: Then I just wrote out to guys I liked and included a link to my photos elsewhere on the net. That was an INFINITELY better experience for me than the firehose of crass messages from creeps.
springload: For the women who receive too much stupidity and cocks: Can't you do the same thing as the serious guys; reading profiles and initiating conversation, and just ignoring the messages you didn't invite? I'm asking seriously and out of curiosity, because to me that appears to be an obvious winning strategy.
To clarify for those not "getting it": I led with malibustacey's rather crass comment that's insulting to differently abled people... and then with some alternate approaches mentioned in this thread by both men and women.

When people say easier, it's because they mean literally easier: that even if 99% of the message are junk- that is, spam from the same set of weird dudes sending lame come-ons to scores of women a day- getting hundreds of messages means there are a few gems in there. And that is pretty awesome: it means for the cost of a few minutes a day, in the privacy of your own home and at your leisure, you filter out the crap and are left with some intriguing possibilities who have already approached you.

And if you see a profile you like, the odds are much higher you'll get some kind of a response if you send out the first message. That seems to be the really pertinent advice from cairdeas and Unicorn: it's the 21st century, you're a modern, enlightened women: be aggressive, and messages guys first! Don't just sit around waiting for the ideal man who isn't- god forbid- bald, or too old, or not wealthy, or whatever, to come to you- or if you do, don't act surprised that the most aggressive guys are also the least desirable dating material. The Dunning-Kruger effect applies to dating as well!

So sure, you get some dumb messages- delete those and move on. Better those than literally nothing to choose from. It's like saying "Man, 1,000 channels on cable, and it's all crap! Well, okay, there's things like HBO and AMC putting out award winning shows- but I have to actually click past the shitty channels to get to the good ones! What a hassle..."


I guess it shows people do tend to be blind to their own privilege, and will reject any suggestion that they even have privilege.
posted by hincandenza at 8:07 PM on June 30, 2012 [9 favorites]


Don't just sit around waiting for the ideal man who isn't- god forbid- bald, or too old, or not wealthy, or whatever, to come to you-

Well, there's a huge assumption.
posted by sweetkid at 8:57 PM on June 30, 2012 [10 favorites]


As an alternative to cairdeas' approach, is it feasible on OKCupid to preemptively block anyone you're not interested in hearing from? For instance, automatically block any profile below a certain match percentage, then automatically block profiles with dealbreaking answers to certain questions, and then cull the rest individually, with periodic updates since new profiles are always being posted?
posted by Mila at 9:02 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


god forbid- bald

I'm balder than I used to be (though not yet chrome dome), and if anything I get flirted with more now than when I was young and had a full crop of hair. Friends who are totally chrome dome don't seem to struggle any more or less than friends with more hair, too.

When people say easier, it's because they mean literally easier: that even if 99% of the message are junk- that is, spam from the same set of weird dudes sending lame come-ons to scores of women a day- getting hundreds of messages means there are a few gems in there.

Obviously, I'll never be in that position, so I'll never really know. But that doesn't sound easier to me, any more than it would be easier to spend an evening in a bar with dudes coming up and hitting on me than it is to be able to sit back, in control of the situation, and decide who I will and won't talk to and on what terms. A million times over, I prefer my position of needing to grow a pair and be the one who says hi, but doesn't get the creepers. As with anything sexual or relational, your mileage is guaranteed to vary, but I'd listen to the people saying "nope, not great" before you set it up as the easy alternative.
posted by Forktine at 9:12 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


the fact that women receive many more messages than men is actually an incentive for men to send many short "bad" messages. because given that any particular message has a low probability of success, regardless of what the content is, the best strategy is to send out as many messages as possible, however to make this a feasible task they have to make the message short and generic.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:29 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd say the guys have had a far more pleasant experience, despite (i suppose really because) receiving far fewer initial messages. They get to pick and mail without having to wade through the incredibly dispiriting deluge of daft / obscene / threatening shite that the women are forced to deal with.

i don't buy your argument because (in general) women could do exactly the same thing, they "get to pick and mail" just as much as men do. in addition to that they also get many people contacting them who express interest. that's why it's easier, in general, for women.
posted by cupcake1337 at 9:35 PM on June 30, 2012


Women also get lots of men contacting them with insults. Look at Annals of Online Dating for a sampler.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:51 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whether either gender's stereotypical strategy is "easier" is fundamentally irrelevant and it's something of a silly discussion. There's nothing you can do about it. You have to play the hand you're dealt. Even if you are gay and/or transgender, you were still dealt a hand, even if some of the cards in it are from different suits, and that is the hand you must play. There are no redeals in this game, and you can't swap seats.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:02 PM on June 30, 2012 [2 favorites]


I should clarify, there are multiple strategies available to any given individual and those will meet with greater and lesser degrees of success and happiness. However, your starting position was randomly assigned to you and cannot be changed. It is largely irrelevant whether someone else got an easier or harder position to play. Women mostly have to deal with the jungle of dick pictures, men mostly have to deal with the desert of unreplies. How you, with your particular (mix of) gender, deal with your particular problem, influences your success in mating and pair-bonding.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:10 PM on June 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


Mila: As an alternative to cairdeas' approach, is it feasible on OKCupid to preemptively block anyone you're not interested in hearing from? For instance, automatically block any profile below a certain match percentage, then automatically block profiles with dealbreaking answers to certain questions, and then cull the rest individually, with periodic updates since new profiles are always being posted?
Yeah, I don't know if it was like this prior to Match.com's acquisition, but it seems like even more refined searches- and filters/autoreplies would be helpful. I mean, I'm in my mid-to-late-30's, and I use a slightly narrower than "(n/2)+7" range. Yet it'd be great if I could filter out people who are in my age range- but I'm not in theirs. Or filter out the "Christian... and serious about it" types who have dealbreaker answers about their religious conservative views. Or as you say, set minimum match or friend percentages, etc.

We're not each other's types, so why should we show up in each other's searches? I prefer to sort by match %, but I get the same people each time- I'd prefer to see a random sampling of people at say 92-93% match with at least 200 questions.
posted by hincandenza at 11:28 PM on June 30, 2012


Re: how "easy" it is for women, many people seem to be going with the assumption that "woman" equals "really hot woman" and are speaking to the experience of receiving hundreds of emails/month. I suppose, based on the results of this "study," that I'm somewhere around average attractiveness (I knew it!) because in the 3-4 months I spent a lot of time on OKCupid, I averaged around 12-15 messages/month. I was also (gasp!) over 30 when I got on the site.

And this is the thing that's frustrating about getting a dozen messages/month - you're probably only going to be interested in 2-3 of those guys, if that. You still get the "u have a nice smile" and the "want to have sex tonite?" messages, and the guys who are just totally incompatible, and the guys who start out seeming cool but then ruin everything by saying something INSANE 3 messages in.

This is frustrating because sending messages to guys is just not as straightforward as it would seem. It just kind of ... doesn't seem to work. When I got on OK Cupid, it didn't even occur to me that I wouldn't message guys, so I messaged quite a few at first. But of the 20 or so OKCupid dates I've been on, not one has been with a guy that I messaged first. Not one! And many of my friends have had the same experience. Honestly, I think a lot of guys assume that there must be something wrong with a woman if she "has" to initiate.

it was always pretty crazy with a high sleaze factor

Oh dear lord. One of the interesting things that came out of my online dating phase was a new understanding of the number of truly bizarre, fucked up people there are out there. Truly astonishing.

Don't just sit around waiting for the ideal man who isn't- god forbid- bald, or too old, or not wealthy, or whatever, to come to you

Oh, right. The "women, stop being such shallow bitches!" argument. To be clear, I have no preferences on hair, I like older men, and I'd rather not date a wealthy man. But I do have specific things I'm looking for in a partner, and for the 3-4 months I spent on the site seriously, I decided to just toss those out the window. I resolved that I would go out with any guy with whom I could have a half-decent email conversation with.

And that's how I had a lot of really bad first dates!

So for now, I've just shelved the whole thing and just figure the universe will have to find someone for me some other way.
posted by the essence of class and fanciness at 11:29 PM on June 30, 2012 [5 favorites]


getting hundreds of messages means there are a few gems in there.

No it doesn't. Don't assume that everyone has it rosier than you. Getting hundreds of messages does not automatically mean that there's a handful of awesome people in there that are being overlooked. Getting hundreds of messages often means just getting a shitload of spam, or messages that amount to "ur hot wanna fuk". I'm not sure why you think that's an enviable position. I really, really don't.
posted by palomar at 11:30 PM on June 30, 2012 [4 favorites]


As an alternative to cairdeas' approach, is it feasible on OKCupid to preemptively block anyone you're not interested in hearing from? For instance, automatically block any profile below a certain match percentage, then automatically block profiles with dealbreaking answers to certain questions, and then cull the rest individually, with periodic updates since new profiles are always being posted?

Feasible as in allowable by the site settings? Yes, in that you can at least limit who can send you messages by requiring at least a certain match percentage. If I remember correctly, that's in your individual account settings. And while I don't believe you can automatically block people who don't respond a certain way to questions that you think are important, you can set your requirements for answers to each question. If you don't want to date people who are interested in open relationships, for instance, when you answer that question yourself you can mark the acceptable range of answers from potential matches and set the importance level (I am forgetting their term for it) to mandatory. People who view your profile can look at the questions you've answered by category, and "important to me" is where those questions land, I believe. So if I were to look at your profile, I could go to that section and see all the questions you think are important, and I can see how our answers compare. If there's not an alignment in our thinking, it should be pretty clear from looking there.

Now, whether or not people actually look at that, synthesize the info, and use it to inform their decision making depends entirely on them... but, yes, if people are actually paying attention to your profile (which is problematic if you are female, from the anecdata in-thread), they should be able to tell what at least some of your dealbreakers are.
posted by palomar at 11:39 PM on June 30, 2012


Because don't men, woman, and others have equal right to comment about their own opinions and experiences when it comes to dating?

Of course everyone has equal rights to have their own opinion and make comments about their experiences. But it's kind of obvious that the complaint was not "stop telling me your opinion because I feel it is invalid", but "stop telling me how you think I should feel".

Come on now. Let's not be daft.
posted by palomar at 11:52 PM on June 30, 2012


GLBT dating is so incredibly different from this.
posted by Estraven at 11:53 PM on June 30, 2012


At first glance there were all these infographics, and charts, and I thought "wow this looks like an interesting experiment". Then he goes into how women get more unsolicited messages than men. I'm thinking "everyone knows that, and...", reading on to get into the meat, and he goes even more into how women get more unsolicited messages than men. Cut to me almost at the end of the article and all he has said fourteen different times is "no, really, women get more unsolicted messages than men!"

And then out of almost nowhere, a final paragraph about how he wrote a really long thoughtful (fake) message to a woman and got a response. The end.

OK?
posted by Bokononist at 12:30 AM on July 1, 2012 [5 favorites]


Regarding the "should women take the initiative to write the first email in online dating" discussion:

This is obviously total anecdata (with the further disclaimer that I've been married for almost a decade to someone I met offline, so I have no idea how online dating culture has changed in that time period), so I don't know if this is useful information or just a chance to yap gratuitously about my own online dating adventures, but 100% of what I consider to be my successful online dating experiences ("successful" defined here as any relationship that lasted a least a few months) were all the result of the woman contacting me with the initial email, while the vast majority of my proactive efforts led to either incredibly awkward and disappointing first dates or, at best, relationships that fizzled after going out two or three times.

My own theory on this is that I wasn't nearly as choosy about who I would send out emails to when I was the pursuer as I was about who I would respond to when I was the one being pursued. I cast my net pretty wide in the former category, figuring only a small percentage of the email introductions I sent out would get responded to, so might as well play the numbers to increase my odds. I was generally so excited on those rare occasions when this effort would result in a reply that I would ignore glaring and obvious red flags. Kind of the same theory as to how I ended up on more than one job interview that was really a multi-level marketing presentation when I was first entering the job market.

Whereas when I would receive an email, I would only reply back if there was a good deal of physical attraction of my end and her profile and email indicated a reasonable level of intellectual and personality compatibility.

I suppose I could never actual recommend "Just wait around for someone great to email you" as a strategy for online dating since if everyone followed this advice nobody would ever date anyone, but it is honestly what worked for me.
posted by The Gooch at 12:32 AM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is frustrating because sending messages to guys is just not as straightforward as it would seem. It just kind of ... doesn't seem to work. When I got on OK Cupid, it didn't even occur to me that I wouldn't message guys, so I messaged quite a few at first.

I wonder about this, because I do, occasionally, get messages from women and it makes me sympathetic to the women here who say that getting messages doesn't make anything easier. The messages are generally of the "oi hi ur so serioez @ wrk" variety, or from someone who I can't believe has read my profile at all.

Personally, I got very few responses from my first 100 or so messages I sent out, but I learned how to send out messages that would get some response and now I'd say I get some (generally a thanks, but no thanks) response between 20-30% of the time. I rather suspect that it "seeing(ing) not to work" is a function of not having spend the time learning what gives you a decent chance of getting a response.

Of course, if you're a woman who has three kids, and you send a message to a guy like myself, who has been clear that he doesn't want children since he was around ten years old and who's profile is clear on the subject, you're probably not going to get a response no matter what you write. As I said, some of the people who wrote me kinda boggled me.
posted by bswinburn at 12:32 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


VikingSword Yet, every once in a while you'd see some amazing and awesome person, and wonder why is s/he using this service?

Because of bipolar or borderline personality disorder. You're meeting them during an "up" phase, hence they are awesome.


So people who use online dating you are either crazy or they're crazy. Right, got it.
posted by Summer at 3:31 AM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I was playing World of Warcraft, I wanted to try a paladin, but I was one faction (the Horde) and at the time only blood blood elves could be paladins. The male blood elves look like idiots, but the female ones didn't look too bad, so that's the way I went. I also decided I would do an experiment: as the only "pretty" Horde race, I figured I would be getting a lot of creep-type questions, and would roll with them if I did. I wouldn't lie, but if I was asked if I was a girl I would say stuff like "I'd rather not say".

And oh my dog, did I pick up the creepers. Just random out of the blue stuff all the time, whether I was out adventuring by myself or standing in town. One guy after a raid (large group dungeon) begged me to cyber with him, and I only interacted with him by text a couple times, besides me making my lame jokes the whole time, as is my wont. It was incredible how much shit I got just for not outright saying I was a guy; I knew it happened, but the extent was ridiculous. I can't imagine being a woman and being 'out' on MMOs.
posted by Evilspork at 6:34 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So sure, you get some dumb messages- delete those and move on. Better those than literally nothing to choose from. It's like saying "Man, 1,000 channels on cable, and it's all crap! Well, okay, there's things like HBO and AMC putting out award winning shows- but I have to actually click past the shitty channels to get to the good ones! What a hassle..."

I guess it shows people do tend to be blind to their own privilege, and will reject any suggestion that they even have privilege.


You disregard the costs of sifting through the drivel in your inbox. You know you can always watch high-quality content on HBO, channel 299 or whatever on your tv, but dating doesn't work like that. Calling privilege seems like dismissing the concerns of people who don't face the same situation you do.

the fact that women receive many more messages than men is actually an incentive for men to send many short "bad" messages. because given that any particular message has a low probability of success, regardless of what the content is, the best strategy is to send out as many messages as possible, however to make this a feasible task they have to make the message short and generic.

There are some pretty big assumptions there about the way the quality of a message affects the chances of a reply. Would you like to go out on a date with someone who replied to one of your "bad" messages, anyway?
posted by ersatz at 6:44 AM on July 1, 2012


Thank you, hincandenza and palomar. Yeah, I meant "block" as in "limit who can send you messages" and also "limit who your profile is visible to in the first place." I'm thinking it would be possible for a woman (or anyone who is concerned about it) to largely prevent the onslaught of crass come-ons, insults, and generic messages from bad matches who didn't read her profile, just by preemptively blocking anyone who might send these messages. I mean, she might still get a few nasty surprises from people with normal-seeming profiles, and if she's overly zealous, she might end up blocking a few gems, but can't she mostly predict who she would rather not hear from, and just block them?
posted by Mila at 7:04 AM on July 1, 2012


Jesus, I'm only four paragraphs into this article, but it's so poorly written that I'm not sure if I'm willing to finish it. My kingdom for a good proofreader/editor!
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:17 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


limit who your profile is visible to in the first place

If it was possible to do this, there would probably be a reaction in the form of many fake accounts being created to allow those users access to the restricted profiles. Another possibility might be for men to make their profiles as bland and vague as possible to prevent their being restricted.
posted by BigSky at 7:28 AM on July 1, 2012


You're probably right. It's too bad, and it's discouraging me from setting up a profile. I just don't understand the "numbers game" mentality or why so many guys would want to hear from women whose personalities are not good matches for theirs. As a woman, I would want the option to block any guy who posted the "profile" in this article, no matter how good-looking he was, because it's such a bland, generic profile with such unfunny jokes, and I wouldn't want to deal with messages from the person who posted it. A lot of guys apparently do not feel similarly about women's profiles.
posted by Mila at 8:28 AM on July 1, 2012


And that is pretty awesome: it means for the cost of a few minutes a day, in the privacy of your own home and at your leisure, you filter out the crap and are left with some intriguing possibilities who have already approached you.

Well, or sometimes you spend several hours a day getting dejected by the parade of cock shots and really gross propositions, with zero intriguing possibilities. You have to make sure there isn't too much revealing in your profile, just in case one of the guys who lives within a mile or two and offered to do really quite brash things to you figures out where you live.

I mean, OKC worked out fantastically for me, and I even sent out messages, though those didn't usually go over very well, but I left it to continue things offline because I was beginning to feel like I needed a shower in bleach every time I checked my inbox. Perhaps OKC should have mods and little "healthy, respectful discussion" reminders as well, though I doubt it would stop the more persistent folks of any gender.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:05 AM on July 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


I have never heard the word "singletons" used for "singles" before. The things you learn on the Internet.
posted by moonbiter at 9:26 AM on July 1, 2012


I refuse to do Internet dating. And the only way I'd be remotely convinced to do it is if I had the (imaginary, sigh) filter service suggested above.

You know the purpose of a slush pile at a publishing company, right? How publishers don't want to wade through fifty billion manuscripts of bad writing just to look for the one shining jewel hidden in the pile of manure? Same principle here. Because it gets you DOWN to think that 99% of male humanity wants to send you dick pics and can't write and all they want to do is shove their cock into any female they can. And that they seem to genuinely think that this is going to get them laid. It makes you despise everyone with a penis. And it makes you not want to read any more of the horrible things men send you in hopes of finding a non-turd. I seriously don't know how any woman stomachs reading this crap. I don't WANT those things directed at me, burned into my brain like a nightmare, thanks.

I am flabbergasted that this dude didn't comment at all on the nastiness that his hot chicks were receiving, or on how they may have received a billion messages, but almost all of them were disgusting.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:42 AM on July 1, 2012 [6 favorites]


Also, I simply don't understand why you would bother to mention looks when responding to a person's profile. After all, by responding to the profile are you not stating by default that you find the person you are messaging attractive?

But then, I don't understand the motivation behind sending cawk-photos, either ...
posted by moonbiter at 10:13 AM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


jenfullmoon: Because it gets you DOWN to think that 99% of male humanity wants to send you dick pics and can't write and all they want to do is shove their cock into any female they can. And that they seem to genuinely think that this is going to get them laid. It makes you despise everyone with a penis. [...]

I am flabbergasted that this dude didn't comment at all on the nastiness that his hot chicks were receiving, or on how they may have received a billion messages, but almost all of them were disgusting.
Maybe his fake profiles didn't actually get those kinds of messages. Because 99% is a pretty high number. You seem flabbergasted the writer of the article didn't mention it- because surely those fake profiles were inundated with dick pics, amirite? You tellingly state that his hot chicks were receiving these messages, as if you can't imagine that maybe they weren't. But.... maybe they just weren't?


The fatal flaw to me of these gender discussions whenever they arise on Metafilter is the willingness to engage in unchecked hyperbole and gender prejudice. When I was jumped on the street by four homeless drunks one night, a half block from my house, I believe all four were Native Americans. I still have a sizeable scar on my inner lip that I can feel with my tongue. Yet oddly, I don't walk around saying "It disgusts me how 99% of Native Americans are belligerent drunks looking for a fight". Because that would be horribly prejudiced. And if this were a thread on issues of race and crime in America, and some posters were commenting that "It gets me DOWN that 99% of black people are just inherently law-breaking criminals?" you'd understand that such comments would be flagged six ways till Sunday, right?

So why is it okay to continue to use hyperbole about men, or men who date, or men who use online dating? Why is it okay to say such extreme things that are frankly insulting to men?


I honestly don't believe the vast majority of messages are cock-shots and poorly spelled come-ons. I think that's such an extraordinary claim, someone making it is obliged to offer some proof that 99% of your messages are completely unacceptable junk, consisting of dick pics and crass sexual come-ons. And I've read the Metafilter script many times- so this is where someone decries ol' hincandenza, "making it all about him", and coming around to decry women's own stories about their lives. But in this case, it is an extraordinary claim, and requires more justification especially when it is used to extrapolate that 99% of men are bad people.

Because I know perfectly well some men are awful, but it's probably the same online phenomenon as the small percentage of people who are angry, and walk around looking to start fights. That doesn't mean all men are like that- maybe a small percentage are, but by definition these are the ones that will blindly send out 100 messages to random women "playing the numbers", while 99% of men take time to craft a sincere and polite message.
posted by hincandenza at 11:00 AM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I honestly don't believe the vast majority of messages are cock-shots and poorly spelled come-ons.

But you won't believe the dozens of posters who have in every one of these discussions who says that they received cock-shots and poorly spelled come-ons? I have, unfortunately, deleted my old profile. I no longer have the Masturbate-Me-With-Swiss-Cheese pictures, or the "ur pretty wanna date" or whatever. And look, I deliberately made my profile minimal and quirky. I got far fewer than some of my friends. I didn't want a record of all of that-- who would? Moreover, why would we make it up?

Furthermore: "especially when it is used to extrapolate that 99% of men are bad people"

Seriously, where has anyone said that? No one has said that. Generally, those of us talking about weird messages on OKCupid from are fans of men, insofar as we're on the internet, looking for men.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:24 AM on July 1, 2012 [7 favorites]


There's a guy in askme right now who is generally agreed to be a funny, attractive, successful, man with a good profile who sends frequent thoughtful messages. Still, he finds little but rejection. I don't know how anyone can maintain a sense of self-esteem in this system, but, frighteningly, it must be a better option than others that are available since people keep trying.
posted by Winnemac at 11:51 AM on July 1, 2012


I honestly don't believe the vast majority of messages are cock-shots and poorly spelled come-ons. I think that's such an extraordinary claim, someone making it is obliged to offer some proof that 99% of your messages are completely unacceptable junk, consisting of dick pics and crass sexual come-ons.

Most of the messages I got weren't sexual in nature, but the pointless ones were just a few words long, or just said "check out my profile," or told me I was beautiful or something. 75% of messages were like that. If my okcupid was still active, I would let you log in and look at my inbox for "proof" that we're not all making this up but I'm not sure what to offer you otherwise. Make a dummy profile and sit back if you really don't believe it.

Okcupid wasn't nearly so bad as plenty of fish, though-- I once made an account there and got 200-300 messages in the first week. It is easy for me to remember the number of messages that said more than "hi", "whats up", "your hot", "whats ur number"-- one message. Exactly one message was more substantial than that, and it was from someone fifteen years older than me.
posted by geegollygosh at 12:19 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Furthermore: "especially when it is used to extrapolate that 99% of men are bad people"

Seriously, where has anyone said that? No one has said that.

It was said right here:

Because it gets you DOWN to think that 99% of male humanity wants to send you dick pics and can't write and all they want to do is shove their cock into any female they can.
posted by allnamesaretaken at 12:38 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


Huh. Okay, I guess if you want to take something obviously hyperbolic, intended to express the level of dismay that one can reach, and use it to make your case that the women here are being hateful to men, you can do that. But it reflects pretty poorly on you to do so.
posted by palomar at 12:55 PM on July 1, 2012 [4 favorites]


Man, that profile is boring as hell and screams of forced mystique. Seeing that would make me think that person isn't actually all that interesting, so they have to try to make themselves sound intriguing by simply not saying much about themselves. No wonder why the less attractive people got so few messages; there is nothing to latch onto.
posted by wondermouse at 2:21 PM on July 1, 2012


I was curious to see what kind of response a gal with a nice profile gets on okcupid (basically to confirm the sort of things said here), so i copied a profile wholesale from a girl from a far away city, set it to the Bay Area, and left it there for a couple of days (not the most ethical thing in the world, i know).

I took the profile down fairly quickly because it was getting too many normal messages from normal guys, i felt pretty bad (both for using that girl's profile and for the guys messaging).

I made another one, empty, with a random google images picture of a girl jokingly putting her whole fist in her mouth. I think i set it somewhere in Canada first (Ottawa maybe, don't remember), used to get plenty of messages (but nowhere near the hundreds). Messages were mostly content-less "what up", "your hilarious" ones like mentioned above. Barely any racy ones, though (perhaps to the exception of the obvious ones like "what else can you fit in there?"). And no dick pictures that i remember. Moved it to the Bay Area and it barely gets any messages now, last i checked.

All anecdata, of course, no real conclusion can be drawn from this, except perhaps that i may have been on the internetz too long and expected much, much worse.

I imagine this is highly variable on geography anyway.
posted by palbo at 2:22 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


I see enough references to people setting up "experiments" on okcupid and dating sites, doing "joke profiles," or "just dating for a blog post/article" that sometimes I feel I am one of the few people who use these services unironically.
posted by bswinburn at 2:58 PM on July 1, 2012 [2 favorites]


For those of you who, like myself, are on the fence:

OK Cupid Enemies Tumblr
posted by BigSky at 3:44 PM on July 1, 2012 [3 favorites]


OK Cupid Enemies Tumblr

For those of you on the fence about whether humanity should just cede the planet to its rightful heirs, the ants. Comet, smash.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:52 PM on July 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


So last night I set up a sincere (read: not fake) OK Cupid profile. I filled out the different fields thoughtfully and by avoiding cliches, answered 101 questions, and was surprised that the highest match I was getting was around 70%. I was scratching my head wondering if I'm so drastically different from the rest of the human race until I remembered that I'm using an English-language online dating site in a country where English is not the first language. Most online dating here takes place on a whole other site.

Ah well. Location choices were either "near me" or "anywhere", so I guess I'll go with the latter. Who knows? Maybe my soulmate lives in South Korea or Namibia or something.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:12 AM on July 2, 2012


In a related topic, can you guys imagine if we had online dating 20+ years ago and your mother picked your father apart like this? Would your parents have ever met/gotten married/stayed together? This is excessively meticulous and it just doesn't happen offline/in person; nowhere near that level of pickiness anyway. If our mothers picked apart our fathers like that and moved on to the next guy, most of us would certainly not have been born.

So if online-dating doesn't work for you, then I think a good alternative is to join and attend a bunch of groups on sites like meetup.com. Not only would you not get picked apart in person like you would online, but you would actually increase your chances of meeting women and also have opportunities to learn a bunch of new activities (especially if you join sports groups you've never done before).

(I do not work for Meetup.com)
 
posted by querty at 3:28 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Poor men, we don't have the chance to receive this kind of first message and form a meaningful connection. Courtesy of a friend's inbox:
Thanks, I know this is gonna sound stupid but here goes... I'm thinking of getting circumcised but I'm kinda wondering how its different from a woman's perspective. I just asked an ex but I got the feeling that it was a placating answer so I kinda thought that asking someone who has no reason to hold back might be a better idea. Like I said, kinda weird to ask but I figure semi anonymous advice would be more honest here.
I can't even comment on that and it's one message out of many.
posted by ersatz at 4:57 AM on July 2, 2012


"Does this look more like a pimple or a boil to you? (see attached)"
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:50 AM on July 2, 2012


Oh, god, I cannot stop reading the OK Cupid Enemies Tumblr.
posted by taz at 6:46 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not all men are bad, but what I wanted to point out was that the dating sites sure do seem to attract the worst of men, and it does make you start thinking badly of them when suddenly it seems like everyone acts godawful. It seems to be the same sort of logic as trolls on the Internet--"I can act however the hell I want without social consequences, so I'll be nasty." Which is another reason why I'd rather stick to IRL because most people don't act that badly away from the computer, comparatively speaking. Speaking as a creep magnet IRL, I still only have to deal with one creep at a time, not tons of them.

I am really tired of hearing men say, "I don't believe you" when women who have used these sites pass on the horrible things said to them. Wasn't there a post recently on some woman who deliberately posted insane things and STILL was getting nothing but (super dubious) attention online?

Huh. Okay, I guess if you want to take something obviously hyperbolic, intended to express the level of dismay that one can reach, and use it to make your case that the women here are being hateful to men, you can do that. But it reflects pretty poorly on you to do so.

Yup.
posted by jenfullmoon at 6:55 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, god, I cannot stop reading the OK Cupid Enemies Tumblr.

MetaFilter: A girls crouch and there butts
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:02 AM on July 2, 2012


Oh, god, I cannot stop reading the OK Cupid Enemies Tumblr.

I read all of it. All of it.

There comes a point when you just have to resign yourself to the fact that it is not fiction. And then you have to resign yourself to the fact that a not-inconsiderable number of these profiles will probably be successful. And then you must go and watch kitteh videos.
posted by likeso at 7:23 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, god, I cannot stop reading the OK Cupid Enemies Tumblr.

Including links to some particularly outstanding specimens just seemed irrelevant. I mean really, what's the point? Each candidate for our attention has competitors who are every bit as worthy. Many, many men have really raised their game to such a level where it's near impossible to imagine how they might be bested. And I don't mean men as a stand in for 'humans' or 'people'. MetaFilter is big on gender equity, but this is a strong example of women not performing to the standards set by the men. Almost all the ladies there look like tokens to me, included to satisfy the blog owner's political beliefs. All of them except for Ms. Whoops, that is. She belongs.
posted by BigSky at 7:27 AM on July 2, 2012


It's the second-most attractive woman (by his and his friend's agreed reckoning) who gets by far the most messages, and her photo is showing a lot more skin than the others.

Yes, but to be fair, they also misranked both the #1 and #2 men and women. ;) You knew it, I knew it, the OK Cupid sample knew it.

That said, the whole experiment is pretty disgusting for several reasons mentioned.

Oh, god, I cannot stop reading the OK Cupid Enemies Tumblr.

Yeah, this has been a very guilty pleasure for a while ...

The real Jason Stackhouse.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:32 AM on July 2, 2012


Wow. I hadn't realized how generic most women's profiles are. Inspired by Ok Cupid Enemies I decided to see what the profiles of my 99% enemies are.

Well, for the most part they are pretty much the same as my 80%+ matches. I really don't know what to make of this.

But I guess ladies:
a) do love to laugh,
b) can't live without their friends, families, and cell phoness,
c) love to travel,
d) are looking for a guy whose passionate about their job and hobbies, who is fun and they can connect with,
e) and are often "shy when I first get to know you, but I do open up."

But really, what should I expect. I imagine greyhounds think they're very unique individuals compared to all the other greyhounds too. My profile is likely just as trite.
posted by bswinburn at 10:48 AM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Or at least as badly spelled. -whose +who's.

But I'll live the sibilant phonesssss.
posted by bswinburn at 10:49 AM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


I really don't know what to make of this.

Aren't the match percentages based on the Questions you answer, as opposed to the stuff you write in your profile? I'm also totally new to this, so I really have no idea. I just noticed that the actual percentages didn't start appearing until I started answering Questions.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 11:14 AM on July 2, 2012


Huh. Okay, I guess if you want to take something obviously hyperbolic, intended to express the level of dismay that one can reach, and use it to make your case that the women here are being hateful to men, you can do that. But it reflects pretty poorly on you to do so.

posted by palomar


You know what ... that's a rude, bullying comment you made to me, palomar. When you consider that someone asked "where has anyone said that?" and I simply pointed out where that exact thing was said, it's really out of line for you to talk about what "reflects poorly" on me. The exchange I was engaged in had nothing to do with what the tone of the comment was, it was simply a question of "where was this said."

A discussion has reached a really low place when people are attacked for pointing out where something was said, in response to someone specifically asking where it was said.
posted by allnamesaretaken at 1:11 PM on July 2, 2012 [3 favorites]


Devils Rancher: "For those of you on the fence about whether humanity should just cede the planet to its rightful heirs, the ants. Comet, smash."

Oh, they're going to take over, all right.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:36 PM on July 2, 2012


You know what ... that's a rude, bullying comment you made to me, palomar.

I think you might be taking this the wrong way. You were not "merely conveying information"; you were essentially agreeing with hincandenza's interpretation of what purpose that hyperbole was meant to serve (literal as opposed to figurative). So maybe dial it back a bit?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:36 PM on July 2, 2012


It's very strange that the same charitable interpretation that is applied to the person who described "think[ing] that 99% of male humanity wants to send you dick pics," etc., is not extended to what hincandenza wrote.

It would be fair for you to say, "Well, yeah, okay, I did see that she said that, but I don't think she meant it literally." But to say that it reflects POORLY on me to point out where something was said, even though I was just responding to the person who said that it was never said -- when it fact it was said, right there plain as day -- is bad faith. We don't have to agree on the spirit in which it was said, but you can't deny that it was said.

So yeah, as I said, it is bullying to attack me for pointing it out ... it's an attempt to bully people into not mentioning stuff that is right there in front of our faces.
posted by allnamesaretaken at 3:32 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


How is it bullying though? I don't think it takes a lot of charity to see that jenfullmoon did not literally mean that 99% of men are terrible people. So when it was asked, "Who said this?", to point it out is, yeah, agreeing with this uncharitable interpretation. I don't doubt your motivations at all or anything. I just think it was a bad reading of what that comment meant.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 3:48 PM on July 2, 2012


Exactly- pointing out when someone is prejudiced is apparently not welcome when it's uncomfortable to admit we have prejudice. To then hide behind "well, it's just hyperbole obviously" is the kind of thing I'd expect of Rush "I'm just an entertainer" Limbaugh. And now Marisa has chimed in that someone pointing these things out ought to "maybe dial it back a bit"?

This. This was my point.
posted by hincandenza at 3:50 PM on July 2, 2012


Marisa: How is it bullying though? I don't think it takes a lot of charity to see that jenfullmoon did not literally mean that 99% of men are terrible people.
jenfullmoon's comment wasn't really open to much interpretation. My original point was "Well, okay, even if you get a hundred shitty messages, if even 5 are quality, isn't that better than no replies at all to your own messages? You spend 5 minutes deleting 95 messages, and have 5 potential suitors to choose from". The general refutation of that by multiple was to say "No, actually, there are zero good messages" or jenfullmoon's "99% of male humanity wants to send you dick pics and can't write and all they want to do is shove their cock into any female they can".

It's not really fair to make such bold statements, and when they are challenged to then attack other people by suggesting they are being dismissive of (admittedly hyperbolic) statements, or to claim that it was obvious hyperbole that everyone should have known. I was criticized above for disbelieving women's experiences- experiences now readily admitted as "hyperbolic" in their frequency.


Maybe 99% of men are really awful, lecherous cretins. But like any prejudice, it better be well defended and supported, considering that it is a poisonous attitude. And if the percentage of awful guys is much lower than 99% because that's "obvious hyperbole", then my original point is strengthened: getting hundreds of messages where some number considerably greater than 1% are genuine, sincere, thoughtful messages seems like actually a pretty sweet deal. You might not feel any attraction/connection to any of the guys who wrote- and there's a certain elitism in judging a message simply because the writer doesn't possess Oscar Wilde's wit- but it sounds like you're getting humane, reasonable attempts.

Which again makes saying 99% pretty disingenuous if the writer knew it wasn't remotely true, and somehow everyone else was supposed to know this despite it being said. Either jenfullmoon actually believes 99% of men are awful and irredeemable- which is pretty caustic and the kind of thing Metafilter should be uncomfortable with- or she's engaging in prejudiced statements because she knows full well 99% of men aren't awful. She already said later "Well, no, I don't really believe that", so saying that statement is very similar to the same way I could- in my example earlier- have responded to being attacked on the sidewalk by saying "99% of Native Americans are belligerent drunks roaming the streets and attacking people"... and defending that statement later as "Oh, well that was obviously hyperbole, I don't really think Native Americans are all violent drunks". Yeah, but the statement is still there, and it was said.


Some men using OKCupid, PlentyOfFish, match.com, are basically assholes. Sure- no one will argue that. But making such bold statements about men in general, even as hyperbole, is something we should not be too blase about here, any more than if I or someone else were to make such extreme statements about women, or minorities, or religious groups, etc.
posted by hincandenza at 4:09 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


*sits silently, not making eye contact ...*
posted by mrgrimm at 4:32 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


Here's a good one:

Three strikes, and online dating is out
posted by VikingSword at 4:39 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]


the kind of thing I'd expect of Rush "I'm just an entertainer" Limbaugh.

Ha, alright. Looks like we're done here.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:50 PM on July 2, 2012


What?! But I was only making that comparison as a hyperbole- obviously.
posted by hincandenza at 4:52 PM on July 2, 2012



Three strikes, and online dating is out


Except for the third that actually seemed like a pretty good experience to me. People are, after all, going to lie if they're going to lie. I doubt the first fellow would have told the truth about the divorce if they met at a bar.

Regarding the "dancer", well more than a few men, and women, have pretended to be interested in subjects they weren't naturally attracted to because of their love interest.

Only the third seems to have smelled particularly of an online meeting.

I would sorta love to give up on online dating, but with my schedule I'm honestly not sure what else to do. Sure, volunteering, taking classes, and so on can increase the number of people I meet. But I only have so many hours in the day and I bet a lot of people are volunteering and taking classes because they want to volunteer at whatever, or want to take a class in whatever, not to be picked up on by 40 year old men.

Anyway, I bet the writer of the article gets back to online dating. More likely she never gave up on it in the first place, but just had an article to write. It might not rock, but I don't see a better game in town.
posted by bswinburn at 5:07 PM on July 2, 2012


[Folks, you know where MetaTalk is. We will expect you to go there before making this personal.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:55 PM on July 2, 2012


re:

"99% of male humanity wants to send you dick pics and can't write and all they want to do is shove their cock into any female they can".

i'd argue that it's relatively few men who send the really bad messages, but probably a good chunk who send short and unoriginal messages.
posted by cupcake1337 at 6:23 PM on July 2, 2012


Well, on the lighter side... just saw this at imgur, it made me laugh and think of this thread.
posted by hincandenza at 6:37 PM on July 2, 2012


Not 99%, but IME, 90% of the unsoliticited messages would be something along the lines of "What U up to, LOL? Ur hot!" So yeah, women get a lot more unsolicited messages, but if you were to compare substancial messages, the numbers are probably even.
posted by Kurichina at 9:46 AM on July 3, 2012


Some of this might be OKCupid -- there are a lot of rookies, researchers and standup comedians trolling, etc. precisely because it's free. So everyone goes there. Mefites are not everyone, this is a smart, well-written and socially liberal crowd.

The guys sending dumb pick up lines and dick picks are the online versions of guys downtown saying "Hey baby you so hot" and catcalling. The only difference online is that you're imaging them as part of your dating pool. IRL you wouldn't, and online you shouldn't either.

My advice is, pay $15 a month to some site with an intelligent readership. That's how I met my wife, who is amazing.
posted by msalt at 1:22 PM on July 3, 2012


My advice is, pay $15 a month to some site with an intelligent readership.

That is great advice. What site do you mean, by the by?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:54 PM on July 3, 2012


What sites? Well, my experience was 5 to 7 years ago, but I had two great relationships (one being my marriage). One was on Match.com, the other was the Onion's personals, which turned out be be a back-end company called FastCupid (my wife had signed up for the personals on a Seattle alt-weekly, which also used FastCupid.) I figured, how bad could somebody be who was an Onion reader?

On both of them, of course, there are lots of people I had no interest in dating. But I've actually found that to be true in real life, also.

PS I found E-harmony to be creepy and manipulative and bailed before paying any money.
posted by msalt at 5:28 PM on July 3, 2012


PPS in both cases the women emailed me first.
posted by msalt at 5:29 PM on July 3, 2012


the other was the Onion's personals, which turned out be be a back-end company called FastCupid (my wife had signed up for the personals on a Seattle alt-weekly, which also used FastCupid.) I figured, how bad could somebody be who was an Onion reader?

This is genius.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:32 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whoa, 60% of homosexual couples met online by 2010? Dang, you guys ARE having a different experience!

It's crazy to think that only 30% of heterosexual couples now meet through friends. I honestly thought that number would be a bit higher.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:34 PM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not if it's self-reported. It's amazing how much stigma there still is about online dating.
posted by msalt at 1:05 PM on July 4, 2012


Hm. S'too bad there's not a Meta version of a hookup site.

MetaLove? Eh, too romantic.
MetaMeld? Somewhat creepy.
MetaMix? Would this be confused with music?
MetaMerge? MetaMingle?

MetaTryst? *Wiggles eyebrows*
posted by DisreputableDog at 9:00 AM on July 5, 2012


Obviously, two URLs that point to the same site:

MetABoy
MetAGirl
posted by msalt at 10:00 AM on July 5, 2012 [6 favorites]


Which also has the advantage of sounding like a pair of brother-sister superheroes.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:30 PM on July 5, 2012


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