And yes, he’s correct that a positive correlation between algorithms and compatibility has yet to be firmly established. In a recent scientific report on online dating published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, online dating was found to be a great thing for society but algorithms “are no better than finding a relationship by strolling into any bar,” according to lead psychologist, Professor Eli Finkel. Fields, however, rebutted and said, “The reality is that they had nothing to back up that [algorithms] don’t work because they didn’t have access to IPs or intelligence to make the claims.” Touché, eHarmony, touché.
What This Means For You: Different sites function in different ways, and as more users log-on, new sites launch, adding diversity to what singles experience online. Innovation is rampant, so there are multiple sites, apps and networks. Get excited, early adopters! But pay less attention to how you’re being matched and more to the site’s value as a whole. Fields stressed that eHarmony “is responsible for 542 marriages a day — and that’s just the people who get married, not engagements or long-term monogamous relationships that lead to something more, whatever that may be,” she said. “That accounts for 5 percent of all U.S. marriages, so the proof is in the pudding.” Algorithm or not, make sure you’re comfortable with the experience on the site.
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Giving You Quality Matches is a Priority
What They Say: Both sites agree that ensuring compatibility means acquiring quality users. Schechter said, “Building a dating site is a lot like an ecosystem.” If singles don’t see other users they like, they leave without engaging, affecting business and compatibility potential.
This means that dating sites focus on geography and gender/sexual orientation distribution. Schechter and Fields both recognize that even though their companies are on the Internet, ultimately, dating is a local business. This is less an issue for eHarmony who Fields said has “close to 95 percent brand awareness.” But there’s a more delicate balance for HowAboutWe, a startup founded in 2009. As Schechter simply put it, “too many [straight] dudes leads to a problem.” So as HowAboutWe grows, they market more to women than men in cities where they have robust communities already, or wish to build them.
What This Means For You: When you log on to a site, you should see matches you like in your city or state. If you don’t, you’ll never meet who you’re looking for! As an online dating coach, I always recommend that singles join a site and sneak a peek prior to paying for a membership when possible. This is particularly true when joining a niche or startup site since critical mass might not yet be achieved in your age group and city. But even if quantity isn’t there, keep a profile up to receive notifications of digital movement in your area.
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