7 Good Reasons
Why launch a research project looking into online dating? There are at least seven good reasons!
Online dating is numbers, data, and marketing driven. The sites are optimized to get you to "convert" to being members and to paying for special features. It is the least romantic, the least loving, the least sexy thing out there, yet it seems like its the only way to meet people. What if we could make the experience more human? What if we could keep the good things and make it way less cold?
The sites all tend to do the same thing, the experience is converging. That may be because one entity, Match.com owns 43 brands in 38 countries, including most of the big players like Tinder, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, etc. This means there is room to innovate!
The January 13, 1914 issue of the Seattle Star had this ad in the personals column: Wish to make acquaintance of neat, industrious woman: no triflers. Object, matrimony (from Wikipedia). When you think about it, the model hasn't really changed. We still write some stuff, offer a way to contact and hope for the best. At The Digital Love Project we feel like we can do better.
The online dating sites tend to want to represent possible matches in terms of compatibility, but when you think about it, the numbers based rating system is absurd. That one human is 93% compatible and another is say, 89% or even 27% has very little to do with how compatible they actually are, but more how many questions they answered, which ones they answered and how that compares to what you answered. All questions in this case are weighted equally. So, while compatibility is a thing, we are unconvinced the way its done now on dating sites is in any way a predictor of whether two people will get along. Also, I think we are misled thinking that Mr. or Ms. 93% is somehow a better match than Mr. or Ms. 89%, or 85%.
We know that demographics and gender ratios make a huge difference in your dating experience, yet while the current sites collect these data, they make no allowance for it.
The vast majority of single people in all age groups, orientation, gender, region, etc are switching to using online dating as a way to meet people and start relationships. There is a lot of dating advice and services to help you develop a better profile. But there is no one saying that they love online dating. It has become a necessary evil.
The data we have now tends to be limited in the view of the actual experience, telling us what people do but not why. This project will help us understand the whys so that we can design a better experience.