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Match Group And Spark Networks: A Valentine's Day Case Study

Match Group And Spark Networks: A Valentine's Day Case Study

If you haven’t yet found your Valentine, don’t worry. There’s And OKCupid. And JDate, JSwipe, CrossPaths, Christian Mingle, Believe, PlentyOfFish, Tinder, Twoo, OurTime, BlackPeopleMeet, FarmersOnly, Coffee Meets Bagel, Zoosk and Chemistry.

Between Match Group Inc (NASDAQ: MTCH), Spark Networks Inc (NYSE: LOV) and a few private companies, there are a wealth of online matchmaking sites to facilitate introductions.

Sarey Ruden has tried a good variety of them. Ruden, who chronicles her dating experiences through Sareytales, has left all but, OKCupid, PlentyOfFish and Zoosk, but she sees value in the other options.

“I think they all serve their purpose,” she said.

How To Pick A Platform

Ruden primarily distinguishes the platforms by their traditional search and browse option or swiping mechanism, but she said most are moving toward “Tinder-esque” swipe interfaces.

“I don’t care for PlentyOfFish, and I don’t care for Zoosk as far as usability,” Ruden said. “I think it’s confusing, and I just feel overwhelmed when I’m on there, but I feel like JDate is pretty good, and all the swiping ones are pretty good. Those are pretty easy — JSwipe, Bumble, Hinge. But as for those that have the traditional search and the swipe, I think OKCupid is probably my favorite.”

Sites also vary by demographic. Populations differ based on whether or not there’s a paywall, which deters less serious daters from creating accounts.

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“The more serious ones are and JDate because you’re paying for them," Ruden said. "I feel like you’re going to get creepy people [anywhere], but if someone’s paying for it, they’re more likely to be seriously looking for something whereas on the swiping apps, [that isn’t the case].”

The pool of eligible dates also varies by geographic location. Larger cities generally yield larger populations and greater variety than do small towns.

Some sites narrow their cohorts further by appealing to specific demographics, such as Farmers Only or JDate. The filtering process significantly limits volume and, subsequently, dateable options. In the end, these limitations prompted Ruden to shift away from particular platforms.

“There weren’t enough people that fit my criteria,” she said. “I wasn’t coming across the people I like.”

The Reviews Are In

Having tested a number of the various sites, Ruden has her preferences.

  • JDate: “If you’re truly looking for something serious, I think JDate’s great. I think the problem is there’s not as much volume, there’s less people, it’s a much smaller [pool].”
  • “I do think it’s a good site. There are a lot of people, and it’s a paying site, so I do think you’re going to weed out a bunch of the creeps that just go on there because they’re bored on Friday nights.”
  • OKCupid: “I don’t mind OKCupid. I think the interface is pretty good on that. Actually, that’s the nicest one as far as interface goes, like usability.”
  • Bumble: “Bumble’s pretty good. I like Bumble a lot — the quality of people is good.”
  • Tinder: “Tinder is just truly a nightmare. People you don’t even think exist or shouldn’t exist are on there.”
  • PlentyOfFish: “PlentyOfFish is just hell on earth—.If you have a fragile emotional state, do not go on PlentyOfFish. It’s not a good place in my opinion. You can pretty much do what you want. It’s a free for all.”

Bring In The Trolls

Throughout her years in online dating, Ruden has fielded comments attacking her appearance, religion, age and femininity. Some are sexually aggressive. All are unsolicited, she said.

The negativity and verbal violence are not exclusive to PlentyOfFish.

“It’s across the board,” she said. “It didn’t matter [what site]. Most of the stuff is coming from PlentyOfFish, because I just feel like there are less serious people on there and a different demographic, but even on JDate where it’s a paying site and you think there are nice, Jewish boys or whatever, there’s still some pretty mean things people were saying. [too] — a lot of mean things.”

Ruden attributes the trolling to the circumstance of anonymity.

“I think guys just get off on being anonymous, and I think it’s empowering, maybe because they couldn’t say that to somebody in real life but they can get away with it behind a computer screen,” she said.

Some sites have begun to regulate site activity to prevent what Ruden calls “cyberbullying.” OKCupid, for example, sends users a message if they suspect correspondence contains inappropriate content. The site managers urge users to flag and report trolling activity.

Zoosk also requires a photo verification process to prevent catfishing, or the use of fictitious profiles to deceive potential matches.

Does It Get The Endorsement?

Despite the trolls and limited options, Ruden said she thinks online dating sites are still worth trying out.

“I think they’re beneficial if you use them as a supplemental way to meet people,” she said. “I look at online dating as I want to meet someone I could’ve met in real life but just never crossed paths with. I don’t want to meet someone one that organically I wouldn’t meet. I want to meet the guy that’s sitting at the bar next to me and we have similar circles of friends but just never met and online dating just made our circles overlap.”


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