With one-on-one, private conversations, often between strangers, online dating can be awkward. In part, that’s because the unspoken rules and key to success on services like OKCupid and Tinder can be unclear.
To figure it out, users are taking the conversation elsewhere, say researchers.
Reddit, a popular crowdsourced content platform, has two thriving subreddit groups, one for each dating service, which collectively have more than 95,000 members and 1,400 new posts a day at any given point.
Researchers conducted interviews with forum members and observed public discussions.
“We found that participants used these forums to share experiences and to offer advice, and the forums played a major role in shaping how participants used the dating sites,” says researcher and Professor Keith Edwards of Georgia Tech’s School of Interactive Computing.
Many subreddit discussions centered on what not to do, with users providing cautionary examples of harassing or unwanted messages.
Discussions also focused on strategies to take advantage of how the dating sites are set up. Researchers say some of the techniques might actually enable anti-social behavior, a common problem on dating sites in general.
On OKCupid, for example, some male users indiscriminately gave all profiles four or five stars to get noticed by each potential partner they rated. Tinder saw similar behavior with some men swiping “like” on all profiles so that the app would pair them with the highest number of matches.
A more benign problem on the dating services: boring or generic profiles.
As one user put it, “everyone is always fun-loving, loves to laugh, loves to travel, um, loves to hang out with friends . . .” The forums tackled this challenge by sharing tips on how to shape profiles for maximum appea
Edwards and coauthor Christina Masden suggest design changes that could bring dating sites more in line with modern user expectations of socializing online. One possibility is developing online dating sites to be more community-centric, as shown by the value of outsourced communities on Reddit.
The findings will be presented at CHI 2015 conference in April.
Source: Georgia Tech