Many dating sites rely on matchmaking algorithms the same way that Netflix uses them to recommend movies.
So if you live in the Denver area, you’re a single heterosexual man in his 50s who loves to travel, and you don’t believe in astrology, your matches may reflect women who have similar interests.
You can do almost anything online these days: Check a bank balance, buy shoes, choose a mattress, order a cab.
So when Roberta Caploe was ready to start dating again after a divorce, she didn’t ask her friends to fix her up or feel the need to frequent bars or health clubs.
“Our real-life and online identities are more and more interwoven.” Because of this cultural shift, online dating sites now have unprecedented reach into our lives. Reams have been written about online dating, but as far as we know, no one has put the sites to the test.
They are gatekeepers to a massive population of potential partners; they control who we meet and how. So Consumer Reports decided to survey almost 115,000 subscribers about online dating and their experiences with it.
If you find your life partner on your first date, the site doesn’t make much money off you.
Our survey found that among respondents who stopped online dating, 20 percent of men and 40 percent of women said they did so because they didn’t like the quality of their matches.
In other words, there’s no incentive for them to make the experience speedy.But the responses from the more active group suggest they’re highly frustrated.They gave online dating sites the lowest satisfaction scores Consumer Reports has ever seen for services rendered—lower even than for tech-support providers, notoriously poor performers in our ratings. Well, finding a mate can be arduous and exhausting.Our survey included many people who at some point had used a dating website or an app, as well as a subset of 9,600 respondents who used them in the past two years.The more recently active group rated specific sites. On the one hand, the numbers indicate that these sites are helping people find mates.“Those are among the most popular dating sites in the world, and when you’re fishing, it just makes sense to drop your line in the most crowded ponds.” That’s generally true unless you have a particular guiding factor, such as religion, race, or politics, in which case you can go to a niche site like JDate or Black People Meet.Kate, the government analyst, has started using Tastebuds, a site based on music preferences.And we found that the free sites generally did marginally better than the paid ones, presumably because they offer a better value.“You’re generally going to be best off starting your search on the ‘Big 3’: Match.com, Ok Cupid, and Plenty of Fish,” says Scott Valdez, founder of Virtual Dating Assistants, which helps people write their profiles and then manages their accounts.Online dating is different from shopping for, say, a sweater, he explains: “Once you decide on the sweater you want, you can get it.But with dating, the sweater has to agree, too.”Another reason for the low satisfaction scores may be that “most dating sites have some misalignment between profit model and user experience because they are financed through subscription fees or advertising,” says Scott Kominers, Ph.