According to "Sally" (name has been changed), a senior consulting programmer who's assisted in the creating of compatibility algorithms at a number of online dating sites, it costs the average dating site approximately $120 to generate a new customer. (In the subscription-based services world, this is called the Cost of User Acquisition, and includes the fees associated with advertising, promotion, sales bonuses, transaction fees, and more). But if the monthly fee is only $20 a month, the dating site needs to keep you using their services (read: unmatched) for at least six months just to break even. To show a profit, they need to keep you unmatched even longer. According to Sally, this is how it's done:
"When a subscriber completes their online questionnaire and profile, the site's technology matches them up with compatible potentials, and the subscriber is shown a selection of matched profiles. However, although the algorithm is capable of matching based on compatibility, only one of the profiles shown is actually a match based on their algorithm; the others are either random profiles of other users, or fake profiles entirely. If the subscriber doesn't happen to click on the profile generated from the algorithm and instead selects one of the other randomly generated profiles, the algorithm shuts off for the next 4-5 months in an effort to recoup the cost spend of acquiring that subscriber. It's been done like this for years, and is the way the business works."
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My opinion? Any time you put people on one side, and the potential of love on the other, you will find someone in the middle with their greedy little paws out.