To be honest, I haven’t really be spending as much time on the online dating sites as I planned. This isn’t exactly a bad thing, as the main reason is due to things like taking care of things around the house, playing outside, and otherwise spending a little more time away from the computer. That, and there are days when I just don’t feel like dealing with the amount of time and effort that it takes to write up proper emails. Oh sure, I could just use the good ol’ copy-and-paste method, but trust me, it’s like being enthused about making a girl’s parents: she can tell when you’re faking.
Still, my time back on the sites thus far has reminded me of a couple of issues I’ve had with them in the past; in this case, one each, that is unique to the particular site.
On OKCupid, the problem lies in the defaults they use when you search for matches. Even if you set the presets during a previous visit, the defaults snap back into place. Three of these are very noteworthy:
- Distance: Set to “Within 100 miles.”
- Last online: Set to “Within the last decade” (mind you, OKCupid has not been around for a decade yet, so this is really “Anyone who ever made an account that has not been erased.”
- Age: Set to 24 to 56 (this, I assume, is based on your own age)
What bugs me about this is that it’s a pretty blatant attempt to pad their results as much as possible. It’s not going to be as noticeable for someone like me, who’s living in a major metro area. But, if I was been back in Dayton, then OKC would have had to pull this trick, as it’s far fewer pickings back there. You have to basically cast a very wide net in terms of miles if you hope to actually find someone that you’re interested in dating.
But even then, the Last Online setting is completely whacked. Why would I want to see a profile of someone who hasn’t been on in over a month? Let alone a year or more? The whole point of a dating site is to meet someone “today.” Writing to an abandoned profile is about as useful as a carpool lane for Segways.
Match does not have this problem; their search page remembers the last settings you entered; and to be frank, they do have many more users than OKCupid does, so padding isn’t that big as of a need (although I’m sure that they don’t mind when it happens). Also, when they display results, they always show the most recent users first, unless you’ve entered some strict criteria that severely limits the number of results.
The problem that Match does have, however, is in their profile review service. Best I can tell, what happens is that it is sent to a computer program that scans through it for a variety of naughty words, email addresses, or other types of personal information. While this is faster than having to wait for some underpaid, overworked intern to read through a slog of submissions, this process is deeply annoying for two reasons:
First off, it limits your “voice” a bit, because a number of things can set off the filter triggers, some of which are so obscure that you might not even have thought about them as a “bad word.” This can include just a mention that you like a particular website, like hulu.com, because the filters seem to treat any use of the “.com” as some sort of attempt to get around the need to use the in-site mail system.
But it’s the second reason that is really, really grating, and I found this out the hard way:
I made a minor change in my profile a while back, noting that I was working as a Game Designer. One line was changed, and even then it was just a change from “have been working as” to “am now working as.” I sent it in for review, and was quite puzzled when it returned stating that it had been rejected because some “questionable content” was contained within. Questionable? Really? I changed, like, 4 words, all of which were prepositions. They gave a list of possible causes as part of this form letter, but did not say what the exact thing was in the profile that set off their rejection stamp. And that’s what snowballed things in an epic fail of customer service.
Since the only change I had made was one line about working as a Game Designer, I could not figure out for the life of me what was the problem. I surmised that they must have updated something in their filters that snagged on a part of my profile that had originally been deemed worthy. I tried a number of different takes on the profile (all minor, as I have gotten a number of compliments on it, even from those with no interest in dating me), but each time it got pushed back. I tried writing letters to their customer service email, explaining the problem: I couldn’t “fix” my profile because I had no idea what the problem was — the lack of any feedback meant that I was just firing my shotgun randomly in the dark, hoping to get a headshot on an approaching zombie. When their “official” customer service reply arrived, it was just another @%$# soulless form letter, with basically a direct copy and paste of the exact same rejection notice I had already been getting. It was starting to look like Kafka was the Director of Customer Service.
Finally, after some careful dissection on my own, I figured out what the issue was: in my profile, I make a reference that I felt all keyboards should come equipped with a “WTF key.” I re-spelled it as “W T F,” and sure enough, the profile was then approved. So, apparently, Match had updated their filters and determined that WTF was a bad, bad word. Or, acronym, anyway. Now I’m tempted to try and work in FUBAR and see if they catch that one or not.
Whatever the case, I never should have had to figure that on my own. Instead, what should have happened was that I should have gotten a rejection notice, explaining exactly which word or phrase was the one the tripped up the alarm. After all, if you can detect it, can’t you just make a note of what it is from the list and include that on the email?
Ironically, it could be worse — I remember back in Dayton I had a profile rejected because there actually was someone reading it, and did not get the concept of sarcasm, which I had peppered throughout the writing. I think I eventually convinced the person to let it through anyway, but still: this isn’t an English paper with only one proper form and structure. If I want to do it in iambic pentameter, well, then, I should be allowed. I’m paying for the site, after all.
For the record, OKCupid doesn’t even bother trying to police the profiles. Rather, they follow the web 2.0 approach and the the customers do it for them. Same with photos. Now, I do think that OKCupid has some filters of their own in place, but maybe not. What they do have is a button on every page and for every photo that allows the users to “flag” something that they find objectionable. When a user flags something, then OKC checks it out and determines if a deletion/removal is warranted.