Welcome to another entry in the Fun With Theory series! Today we’ll venture into the realm of the theoretical and hypothetical.
Recently I was talking to a few people about how the ideal online dating site would work. This really got me thinking. What if I had two or three million dollars laying around that I didn’t need, and wanted to start my own online dating site that I actually knew would get national attention and market share because of a huge marketing budget? (No, I am not planning on ever doing this. This is Fun With Theory, remember?)
If this were the case, the dating site would be targeted specifically to people who actually wanted to get into a car or bus, go somewhere, and meet up with someone. It would gently and surreptitiously screen out attention whores who were just there to get people to drool on them (which is slowly what sites/apps like Tinder are becoming). The dating site would be a site for dating, not for chatting online, attention whoring, or window shopping.
With that goal in mind, here’s how I would structure the Blackdragon Dating Site (BDS).
1. I would make it a paid dating site, but with a slight twist. The cost would only be one dollar a month.
Why? Because while it’s only a dollar, but you’d still have to enter in all of your credit card info, a billing address, etc. This requirement alone would weed out the majority of people who had no intention of actually meeting someone in real life. It wouldn’t weed out all of them, but it would probably eliminate at least 80%.
At the same time, the small cost wouldn’t scare anyone away. Paid sites like Match.com and Zoosk really do lose a lot of potential business because of their higher prices.
The revenue model of the site be would selling an upgraded, more feature-rich version that would cost $20 per month instead of $1 per month, as well as some advertising (that would go away for upgraded members).
2. I hate to say this, but the look and feel of the site would have to be a little girly, similar to OKCupid. Men are horndogs and will show up no matter what, but we need women on the site too. If it has a cold, efficient feel to it, not many women would join. To cater to women the site would have some touchy-feely crap like stupid quizzes, personality matching, and tie-ins to social media sites like Instagram. However! All of these things would be optional. Absolutely nothing would be mandatory.
3. Unlike god damn POF, there would be absolutely no restrictions whatsoever on who you could message. By default, anyone on the site could message anyone else of the opposite gender regardless of age or anything else. At the same time, there would be very easy-to-use filters and blockers so anyone could block any incoming messages based on age, location, or other criteria.
4. There would be no filtering whatsoever on the content of your profile. If you want to put up a profile that talks about nothing but sex, that would be allowed. If you wanted to put up a profile doing nothing but saying you’re looking for a husband or wife to spend the rest of your life with, that would also be allowed. If you say on your profile that you’re only interested in Asian women or whatever, that too would be allowed. BDS would be a true free speech / free market of ideas and desires. I’m sure we’d have to filter some things for legal or liability reasons, but other than that, you could say anything you wanted in your profile.
5. This free speech concept would also apply to the messaging. As long as you didn’t threaten violence or other crimes, you would be allowed to say literally anything you wanted to people you messaged, and those people could very easily block you if they desired. Any “reporting” to the BDS staff would only result in disciplinary action if a crime was threatened. If a woman “reports” a guy for talking about sex or whatever, that would be ignored. (“Well ma’am, if you don’t like him, click the BLOCK button on his message, and you’ll never hear from him again and he won’t show up on any future searches. Problem solved, ma’am.”)
Given this, people could easily set up blockers to block any incoming messages with certain keywords, attached photos, or whatever. For example, a woman could block all incoming messages containing the words “sex,” “fuck,” or “cock.” Again, we would let the customers police and manage themselves.
6. Most importantly, the entire “push” of the site would be to get people to actually go out on real-life dates. Any time you actually had a real-life first date with a person you met on the site, you could indicate that on the site, and the other person would have to confirm it, just like when you “tag” someone to be “in a relationship” with you on Facebook, only this first date thing would be completely hidden to all others viewing your profile.
There would be some kind of algorithm and reward/punishment system for people who engaged in lots of back-and-forth messaging conversation but never actually went out on a real first date. Perhaps something like if they had lots of conversations but zero real-life first date confirmations they would get a warning at 30 days and perhaps their account gets suspended at 60 days. That’s just an idea; I’d let my management team come up with something that made sense.
Note that I’m only talking about people who are clearly engaging in real conversation on the site. If you paid your one dollar and just sat back and read incoming messages but never sent any replies, then you would not be “required” to go out on any first dates, because you won’t be wasting anyone’s time. See how this works?
7. There would be an extensive “looking for” part of your profile that would be hidden. That way, much younger women looking for sugar daddies, or older guys looking for much younger women, or younger guys looking for cougar milfs, or white guys only looking for Latina women could all target, and be matched with, exactly the type of person they wanted. Best of all, no one could ever know what these settings are by looking at your profile, so people could focus on what they wanted without anyone seeing what they were looking for and judging them according to some bullshit Societal Programming.
This would automatically match your searches (if you so desired). So for example, younger guys looking for cougar milfs would be auto-matched with older women looking for young studs. And again, in both cases, this “looking for” data would be completely hidden on the profile, so no one would ever know that these people would be looking for each other.
Match.com has a primitive version of this feature already; a “reverse search” where you can search for women who are looking for men with your exact profile stats. On the BDS, this feature would be greatly expanded.
8. Any and all types of relationships would be allowed on the site with no judgement or pushing towards any one particular type. People looking for Disney monogamous marriages or boyfriends/girlfriends would be just as welcome as horny people looking for one night stands, married people looking for a discreet affair, younger women looking for sugar daddies to pay them, bisexual or lesbian women looking for the same, kinky folks looking for some S&M/BDSM stuff, or anything else you can think of. Every type of relationship under the sun would be an option on your “looking for” section of your profile.
Over time, BDS would become several different dating sites in one. There would be several different “communities” of people who wouldn’t even see the other communities when they did their searches. It would be a hookup site (like Tinder or AdultFriendFinder), a find-your-soul-mate site (like Match or EHarmony), an affair site (like AshleyMadison), a sugar daddy site (like WhatsYourPrice or Seeking Arrangement), a religion-specific site (like Christian Mingle or JDate), and a normal dating site (like OKC or POF) all rolled into one. BDS would be the only site in the universe that would welcome all and judge none. Again, the thrust and the niche of the site would be meeting people in real life for real life dates, rather than be focused on any particular type of relationship or dating.
We could even have forums focused on each community. Hm…
8. Within whatever server limits we would have, there would be no limits on the number of openers you could send unless you were spamming garbage. Copy-and-pasted openers would be allowed. And again, individuals could block/filter copy-and-paste openers if they wanted to.
9. Several features would be in place for all customers, including those just paying their $1 per month, such as:
- Seeing if people read your message.
- Seeing the last time people were online (though people could mark this “hidden” if they wanted).
- Automatically tracking who you’ve already messaged. Anyone you’ve already messaged would show up with a different color border on their picture icon and profile. These people could even be excluded from searches.
- Statistical tracking. The site would automatically track things for you like your response rate, click through message rate, abandon rate (people who looked at your profile but didn’t message or reply to you), and other such numbers. It is absolutely stupid that in the year 2014 we have to use Excel to track this stuff. The dating site should do this for you. By the way, women would like some of these features too. (“Like, OMG, 27 guys looked at my profile today and didn’t send me a message?!? I better put a new photo up!”)
- Smartphone app with location-sensitive features.
- Tinder-like swiping features (though this would not be default; it would be a different site “view”).
- Chat feature, both on the site and in the smartphone app.
- Photos could be sent through either messaging or chat with no limits. (And people could easily select “block all incoming photos” if they didn’t want to get any surprise dick pics.)
- Public and private photos on the profile, with the private photos able to be “unlocked” for certain people, similar to sites like Ashley Madison and SugarDaddyForMe.
- Accounts/profiles could be easily hidden, disabled, or deleted at any time, and you would not have to make a new email address to come back to a disabled or deleted account.
- Multiple accounts/profiles would be allowed. It would be $1 per month per account. You could even use the same email address for multiple accounts and profiles. That way, if you wanted one profile for 24-28 year-olds to look at, and a different profile for 35-39 year-olds to look at, this would be allowed (as long as the pics on both profiles really were you).
10. The layout of the site would be very light, clean, and fast, like Plenty of Fish, rather than being a big, fat, slow resource hog that would crash your browser like OKCupid. It would look cute and girly for the women, but operate very fast and efficiently for the men.
11. There would be no rating system for physical attractiveness. There would be no way to rate people this way, and there would be no filtering on searches for this. When you did a search, you would see literally everyone within your search parameters, with no hidden filtering or hiding (damn OKCupid!).
True, without this feature you wouldn’t be able to search based on “star rating” or whatever, but the fact that everyone would be on a level playing field would more than make up for this.
12. Once people went out on a real-life date, they could be “reported” if there was a problem. For example, if the person who showed up on the first date was not the person in the photo, this could be “reported”. There would have to be some kind of verification system, and the person “accused” could have some recourse in case of false reporting. Any “reports” that said things like “he was stupid!” or “he just wanted to have sex with me!” or “he wouldn’t buy me dinner!” would be ignored; it would only be for people who were blatantly lying on their profiles about who they were. And men could report women just as easily as the reverse.
This is really fun to think about. Let me know in the comments if you would change anything or if you have any better ideas (which I’m sure some of you do).