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Tacklebox Provides Crowd-Sourced Chat Assistance

The folks at Tacklebox understand how difficult it can be to communicate with potential dates and have come up with an app that crowd-sources responses to those tricky early-days chats.

The premise is simple: upon login, users are brought to a feed of “baits.” Each bait consists of a person’s last response and the context of the situation. Other users can then comment with feedback or potential responses. In order to post a bait, users must also earn points from commenting and earning upvotes, thus enabling monetization potential, gamification, as well as automatic curation (karmic credit economy). Baits are then archived by the author whenever she/he sees fit, and thus unavailable to public viewing except by those who commented, saved, or wrote the prompt. This core set of features allows for passive browsing, shareability, high engagement (push notification of comment), dismissal of the 1% rule, and rapid iteration/adoption.

This is brilliant. A company actually created a service to help people be better daters that goes beyond the usual dating site tips, all of which were written in 2002 and never updated. Color me impressed.

File under #onlinedatingtrainingwheels

More at the Tacklebox blog.

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Whitney Wolfe, Other Former Tinder Employees To Launch Direct Competitor Called Bumble


A bunch of ex-Tinder staff have left to start a competing service. They may or may not have raised several million dollars. This reminds me of the mass staff exodus from JDate who left to start a competing site. That site lasted a year then faded into oblivion.

Whitney Wolfe, an early employee at Tinder who sued the company for sexual harassment and workplace discrimination, has joined up with two other early Tinder employees, Chris Gulczynski and his parnter Sarah Mick (cofounders of YayNext), to launch a direct competitor to Tinder called Bumble, sources tell TechCrunch.

The company, which is officially called Moxco Limited, lists its place of business in London, according to the privacy policy. But you can see from the Instagram accounts of Gulczynski and Mick that the team has been traveling quite a bit. There was a trip to Greece on a private plane, where they stayed in a villa, and then to Paris. Not to mention multiple trips to and from London and Los Angeles.

Sexcapades, lawyers  and private jets, I’d love to meet the people who funded Bumble, they have stomaches made of iron to deal with all of the drama.

There is little chance of this turning out well. Generic app and too many strikes against them already.

I know this in part because they state, “We suggest you read this in conjunction with our brilliant Terms and Conditions of Use.” Who does that? Signs of too cool for school indeed.

Read more at TechCrunch: Whitney Wolfe, Other Former Tinder Employees To Launch Direct Competitor Called Bumble.

Sapiosexual Seeks Same: A New Lexicon Enters Online Dating Mainstream

OkCupid is adding a lot more options for gender and sexual orientation, including androgynous and genderqueer. And then there’s sapiosexual, meaning someone who’s attracted to smart people.


Dating App The Grade is Tinder With Report Cards

The Grade dating
SNAP Interactive, creators of Are You Interested, have launched a new dating app called The Grade, which bans “failing singles.”

The Grade, which uses an algorithm to assign letter grades to users ranging from “A+” to “F,” is to create a community of high-quality daters.  By expelling low-quality users who receive an “F” grade, The Grade enables users to have a high-quality experience by viewing potential matches without sifting through hundreds of undesirable, inappropriate, and unresponsive people.

Grades are based on entirely objective criteria and are determined by a sophisticated algorithm that analyzes user behavior based on three categories – popularity, responsiveness, and message quality.  Users must maintain one of the passing dating “grades,” ranging from “A+” to “D,” while users who are undesirable or behave poorly will receive a failing “F” grade, and will be expelled from using the app.  Users are given instructions on how to improve their grades and receive a warning if they fall below a “C” grade.

The popularity grade is based on the quality of a user’s profile and incorporates how often a person is liked on the app.  The response rate grade is based on how often a user responds to messages and gets a response back.  The message quality grade is based on the content of a person’s messages and checks for spelling mistakes, use of slang, and inappropriate words.   The three categories combine to make up a user’s overall grade, which is visible for other users to see.

Dating App The Grade


If you are expelled from The Grade, you can appeal the decision.

“Please explain why we should reconsider your membership for The Grade. The Grade is a place for high quality people looking to meet other high quality people.  If your appeal is successfully reviewed, please visit The Grade in  5-7 days and you will be let back in.”

I’d gather that expelled people are pushed to a person somewhere like the Phillipines who then reviews their appeal, and decides whether or not to let them back on the service.

I have to say, I was not impressed that the Appeal process was driven by a mailto: link. Kind of killed the excitement of being banned and trying to get back on.

The Grade is basically Tinder with a report card. I like the direction they went in, but I think there needs to be more transparency into their algorithm that analyzes user popularity, responsiveness, and message quality. Give it a shot and let us know what you think in the comments.

Does Facial Recognition Have A Role In Online Dating?’s matching algorithm is ridiculously complex, to the point where they are mashing up quiz answers with behavioral data, and now they are experimenting with facial recognition. Excellent to see them working on facial recognition. I brought that up when I visited the Match mothership a few years ago. Back then I was working with Sobayli, which offered basically any type of pattern matching in images. But they were too startup-y in that they wanted to immediately work with EMC and large data storage companies. I brought them to iDate and…crickets. Sobayli offered image and pattern recognition five years ago, we pitched it to Match, and here Match is finally going for it, good for them.

In addition to asking each member anywhere from 15 to 100 questions, the company weeds through the essays they fill out about what they want and gives points to each user based on each parameter in the system — from education and the vocabulary they use, to hair color and religion. People with a similar amount of points, which are weighted on certain areas, have a greater chance of being compatible.

“We also take historical data into account, as well as distance — people in Dallas are more inclined to date someone far away than someone in Manhattan, who might not want to date someone who lives in Queens,” Thombre said.

The site also looks at what people say they want in a partner and who they are actually pursuing on the site.

“People have a check list of what they want, but if you look at who they are talking to, they break their own rules. They might list ‘money’ as an important quality in a partner, but then we see them messaging all the artists and guitar players,” he said. also sends matches based on this behavior: “Similar to Netflix or Amazon, we know that if you liked one person, you might like another that is similar,” Thombre said. “But of course it is different here. Carlito’s Way may be your favorite movie, but in this case, he has to like you back for it to be a match.”

Moving forward, Thombre says wants to experiment with facial recognition technology via the site.

So Match now asks up to 1/2 as many questions as eHarmony. Having Match watch me react to initial views of dating profiles is both exhilarating and spooky. They really need to create a beta site so a subset of users can participate in the trials instead of limiting to San Diego or Phoenix or wherever they test their stuff.

HowAboutWe took a different track.

“We actually launched HowAboutWe with a robust algorithm, which we subsequently got rid of after realizing that we had put the cart far, far before the horse,” Schildkrout said. “It’s only after you achieve significant liquidity in a market that you can build a useful algorithm.”

Build the framework and make it easy to evolve. they had little idea about what they were doing so early on, but you can make lots of mistakes when you have $20 million in the bank.

Read  How Online Dating Sites Use Data to Find ‘The One’.

Here’s what some other companies are doing with facial recognition.

Marketing Firms Are Mining Your Selfies

Some companies, such as Ditto Labs Inc., use software to scan photos—the image of someone holding a Coca-Cola can, for example—to identify logos, whether the person in the image is smiling, and the scene’s context. The data allow marketers to send targeted ads or conduct market research. Read Smile marketing firms are mining your selfies.

fraunhofer shore app

Over a number of years, researchers at Germany’s Fraunhofer Institute have developed software to measure human emotion through face detection and analysis. Dubbed SHORE (Sophisticated High-speed Object Recognition), the technology has the potential to aid communication for those with disabilities. Now the team has repurposed the software as an app for Google Glass, with a view to bringing its emotion-detecting technology to the world.

This could be very cool for dating sites. Let the camera read your reaction to viewing profiles and tweak the algorithm accordingly. Read Fraunhofer’s Google Glass app detects human emotions in real time.

people are good at reading faces

Researchers at Ohio State University found that humans are capable of reliably recognizing more than 20 facial expressions and corresponding emotional states.

Perceiving whether someone is sad, happy, or angry by the way he turns up his nose or knits his brow comes naturally to humans. Most of us are good at reading faces. Really good, it turns out.

So what happens when computers catch up to us? Recent advances in facial recognition technology could give anyone sporting a future iteration of Google Glass the ability to detect inconsistencies between what someone says (in words) and what that person says (with a facial expression). Technology is surpassing our ability to discern such nuances.

Scientists long believed humans could distinguish six basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, surprise, and disgust. But earlier this year, researchers at Ohio State University found that humans are capable of reliably recognizing more than 20 facial expressions and corresponding emotional states—including a vast array of compound emotions like “happy surprise” or “angry fear.”

Read  Computers Are Getting Better Than Humans at Facial Recognition.

Tinder, the Fast-Growing Dating App, Taps an Age-Old Truth –

Here’s a bunch of stories about Tinder.

CEO leaves Tinder.

Tinder raises cash.

Would you pay for an Undo button on Tinder? What about a travel feature?

Tinder premium features.

Tinder is learning things that the dating industry has known for a decade. But they’re learning based on a billion swipes a day.



Merry Christmas Dating Scammers




Dating sites use Scamalytics to stop scammers in their tracks, saving them moderation time and the related costs that come with scam and fraud detection.

December and January is a boom time for the Dating Industry but also results in a huge influx of scammers.

Scamalytics’ unique technology looks at the user’s profile data, behavior and device to identify your trusted customers and your scammers in real-time.

To take a Complimentary 60 day trial of our service on your dating site click here.

eHarmony’s New EH+

In the last year, eHarmony has made over a million dollars selling high-touch matchmaking services at $5,000 a pop.

This is much more interesting than the revelation that 70% of its users say they are not satisfied with eHarmony.

Read more at Fast Company.


Happy 20th Anniversary Banner Ads

Twenty years ago I was working with Tangent Design and Modem Media to develop interactive content for AT&T and Zima. The guy who’s place I took at Tangent Design ended up founding Razorfish a few months later. Anyone remember The Blue Dot?

This Is The’s World’s First Banner Ad:

first ever banner ad

This is almost the exact size, almost the exact resolution, exact ad.

Of course, it’s not *technically* the first banner ad. There was no “one” first banner ad. Instead, there were around 12-14 banners, which all went live 20 years ago today, on October 27th, 1994. That was when the website first launched on the internet.

When Tangent launched the first paid banner ads on Hotwired, the WIRED Magazine digital network, we were all excited to see what would happen.

The AT&T ad enjoyed Seventy percent clickthrough rate and the number one banner ad on the Internet for over seven months. Today those numbers are unimaginable, but back then we were setting records because there was no competition.


Around the same time, we created the first episodic web site for Zima with Modem Media. All but forgotten today, it was ground-breaking when it launched.

I have both fond and frustrating memories of working on the Zima website, updating the content every week or so with new stories, images, sounds and other cool stuff. All I had was an FTP client and the HotDog HTML Editor. I’m always amazed at how low-fi web design tools have remained over the years. Dreamweaver was a nightmare and today people still hand-code almost most everything if they want to get it right the first time.

I went to WIRED’s office once, sat down with Brian Behlendorf, who did much of the work on the original Apache web server. He had a small SGI machine on his desk, covered with soda stains. I asked what that machine was, and he said, “That’s HotWired.” One machine for the html, images, database and ad server.

The Internet History Podcast has a great audio and text writeup of those early online advertising days. Just about everyone involved is represented, a great history lesson for anyone interested in online marketing.

Seventy percent clickthrough. I wonder how that compares with ads on POF?

Dating Profile Moderation In the Philippines

Most social sites, and some dating sites and apps, use humans in the Philippines to moderate profile content. Over 100,000 people there spend their days looking at the most disturbing things you could imagine, and then some.

Everybody hits the wall, generally between three and five months. You just think, ‘Holy shit, what am I spending my day doing? This is awful.’

“It’s like PTSD…. There is a memory trace in their mind.” Denise and her team set up extensive monitoring systems for their clients. Employees are given a battery of psychological tests to determine their mental baseline, then interviewed and counseled regularly to minimize the effect of disturbing images. But even with the best counseling, staring into the heart of human darkness exacts a toll. Workers quit because they feel desensitized by the hours of pornography they watch each day and no longer want to be intimate with their spouses. Others report a supercharged sex drive. “How would you feel watching pornography for eight hours a day, every day?” Denise says. “How long can you take that?”

I can’t imagine having to look at dating site profiles for eight hours a day, let alone stuff from Whisper and other anonymous apps. Kudos for these people’s efforts to keep our online experience a bit safer and trigger-free.

Read more at WIRED.