The Dating Scene

05/25/2012 § Leave a comment

One day while I was young, I believe just after I entered puberty and had those emerging thoughts of sexuality and relationships, I had an interesting notion; I remember it quite clearly. I was, for whatever bizarre reason, peicing together my future. And, again, for whatever reason, I landed the difficulty between putting together a career, and a life partner to go with it. And, for some bizarre reason, I came to the conclusion that it will be more difficult to find a good job, but that getting married would be a peice of cake and I would be able to share my life with some one until the end of my days. Then I probably ran out to play D&D with my friends or do whatever the hell I did then. It wasn’t until I actually got into the game that I found how increadilby difficult and challenging meeting appropriate potential spouses would be. Maybe that’s me, perhaps I’m ill-eqipped.

My wife died last year, and at the risk of sounding a bit numb I have to say I’m ready to move on. I also turned 49 this year, which leads to a number of interesting problems. Love is deffinately a young person’s game. Our rediculous consumer culture is based on youth. All marketing is directed at the younger market. One of the worst things this culture has done to itself is turn Christmas into a marketing campagin, I think the same could be said of romance. So there are a plethora of websites devoted to connecting singles with each other, plus others specializing in sexual hook-ups, enabling spouses to cheat, and I dunno, I imagine a bunch more I’m not even aware of.

Of special note are the large number of sites specializing in geek matching; ie, those whos specialize in matching people based on interests in technology, gaming, and other nerdly pursuits; They are all universally bad. The user interfaces and layout are bad, I don’t see any thought put to the collation of the information entered by its members, and I see no real effort put into the matching algorithms.

Craiglist, the popular and totally free adlisting board has a number of sections divided by metropolitain area, and I like the way its organized, but it comes in dead last on this list. Regardless of the success stories I’ve heard I have a hard time believing them, the only responses I’ve ever gotten from ads placed there are from professionals, and I’m not in the market for that, so I found the responses highly innapropriate and utterly useless.

Being a topic of particular interest to me right now, I thought I’d list and review the ones I’ve tried, with an eye as a software engineer and a single american-irish male.

  1. OK Cupid.com – Easily the best “free” (as in “free beer”) dating site around. Allows all sexual persuasions but its not adult oriented, as least as far as I could tell. The UI on this is very nice, the site is easy to navigate, and its controls are simple and intuitive enough while still allowing you to search for potential mates using a quite large number of criteria. The matching algorithm involves an index of the answers to a huge number of questions, you can answer as many or as few as you want, but the more you answer obviously the more accurate the matching algorithm will be. I havent met anyone using it yet but I think I will continue to use it, I might even register as a paying user I like it so much.
  2. Match.com – A very good site, but pay. I used this service years ago, interesting to note that its still around. I seem to recall tv ads for it back then. I also recall actually meeting 2 or 3 women through it. It was a good service then, although its gone through some changes. I haven’t been able to use it yet fully, but I went through its new registration process and it looks good. More as I use it.
  3. Plenty Of Fish – ALMOST as good as OK Cupid, and certainly doesn’t have the number of options that the previous does, but it does work in free mode. I don’t believe it will allow all sexual persuasions. I actually met one nice gal on it so far, but no solid relationship material, unfortunately. Perhaps time will tell on that.
  4. OMG POP– interesting site where, supposedly, you can play games for the right to connect up with the member hosting the game, or something. Members can host games in subgroups of up to around 5 players, picking from a fairly large list of games. One of the games is a pretty cool implementation of Draw Something. Honestly, most of my time has been spent playing the games rather than connecting, I don’t know if I’m just not doing something right or if the site is simply useless for the stated goal. I do however enjoy playing the games so I’m rating it fairly high on the list. Interesting concept, I just think they need to make it a little clearer how one actually connects up with the hoster.
  5. eHarmony.com – I remember the charming ads on the TV for this one, but I checked it out and you can do nothing useful without a membership. Grew tired of it quickly.
  6. Video Gamer Perconals,Geek Dating Service,Geek to Geek, many others. These, as another blogger put it, are made of epic fail. All are universally bad, they reek of site mill construction, quickly thrown togther with very little thought put behind them, and are simply worthless. Interestingly I think a geek dating site could be the most lucrative type of site to have. As a geek myself when I landed on the idea of seeking geek dating sites I really figured there would be a plethora of sites to choose from. There are, but they just suck. Some are cute, a site catering to trekkies is some what charming, but still rather terrible in implementation. Others are just weird, there is one I saw that mentioned furries a lot. ~shudder~. Another one uses the google geolocation api, interesting if your fetish is to roll to your date as Dr. Strangelove.
  7. Cupid.com – Last place mention is this one, complete waste of time, all they do is spam you with “letters” from “girls” (bots) who are competly out of your age range.

I’ve also tried a number android apps, none of them appeal to me. They appear to try to pack the functionality of their parent sites into the phone app. Wouldn’t it make more sense to make the phone app a communication extenstion of the parent site? Maybe search and chat funtionality only, a little geo location gimmick as well.

Geek specialty sites are a great idea. If I were to do a site I’d knock off the cute aspects and concentrate on the technology. Twitter feeds, geo location (but not creepy), phone apps specifically tailored to the site, fan convention information, activities, etc. Some of the geek sites do some of these things, but I didn’t see one with any twitter feeds, amazingly enough. Perhaps I’ll code a site. Hmmmm….

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