Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes on YouTube or Tinder quickly understands that thought-impaired people spewing invectives using terrible grammar make up the majority of commenters and right-swipers. Thankfully we now we have apps like Tinderliker to do the swiping for us.
Nudging uses technology to push people gently towards a specific outcome. When you pay your taxes or buy a domain on Godaddy, alert boxes pop up, asking you to donate to health or political causes. Those are nudges.
The Atlantic has two good articles, Nudge, Nudge: Can Software Prod Us Into Being More Civil? and Why It’s OK to Let Apps Make You a Better Person. There are lots of apps out there to count your steps, measure your fitness levels, measure your posture and scores of other Quantified Self apps. See Internet of Things, Fitbit, etc. These apps measure something that you are doing, and if you are doing it too much (surfing Reddit) or not enough (walking 25 feet a day), there are a plethora of apps out there to tell you to shape up.
While billions of dollars are being poured into technology-assisted behavior analysis and modification (Hello Apple HealthKit), why is it that the dating industry refuses to analyze member communication and nudge people towards better behavior? I’ve been pushing this for many years, and it appears that only a handful of sites offer any type of suggestion functionality during the message creation process.
Today’s question, is the dating industry smarter than a 13-year old girl?
13-year-old Mighty Girl Trisha Prabhu wants to put an end to cyberbullying so she decided to investigate an important question: would teens still post hurtful content online if they had to think about how it would affect others first? To answer this question, the young Chicagoan — who has now made it to the finalist round of the 2014 Google Science Fair — designed a software system that measures the number of mean or hurtful messages that adolescents were willing to post after being encouraged to “rethink” the impact of their messages. Trisha’s study found that such re-thinking resulted in a tremendous 93% reduction in the number of hurtful messages posted.
You see where I’m going with this. The dating industry needs to take some advice from a teenager about how to ensure safer, more positive interactions between members. I know a lot of sites will balk at this, claiming that this would put undue stress on an important part of the online dating process, The First Email. The more messages that flow, the more money they make. So why the ongoing reticence of the dating industry towards making dating a more enjoyable experience for singles?
“Yo baby let me hit that”, is not something that should ever be spoken to another person on a dating site. I don’t care where you live, the color of your skin or your socioeconomic standing.
Dating sites shouldn’t allow that kind of messaging on their services. That’s never going to happen, so let’s entertain the middle ground.
ToneCheck allows you to do a quick once over check of your message to prevent you from accidentally saying something that you might regret. currently works with Outlook, Gmail and Lotus Notes. Embedding this in a dating site would be pure gold.
But there are two sides to the story here. One one hand, forcing people, (let’s face it, men), to alter their communication style, is a difficult task. Most men would bail on a site that forces this on them. To those cretins I say, good day sir, and goodbye. The chief revenue officer of a top dating site is going to shoot this down immediately. Too much friction, lower signups, higher churn rate.
OTOH, we have message filtering. What dating sites give women the opportunity to block messages containing lame bro-speak? None, zero, bupkis. Women must resort to embedding rules in their profile. Must have photo, must mention my favorite color, etc. Why can’t dating sites pick either option, or a nuanced blend of both? Someone has got to test this so we have some real-world metrics to evaluate.
In the end it comes down to what’s going to work better, helping men become better communicators or giving women the ability to block the jerks? Or the industry can do nothing at all and continue to suffer due to their unwillingness to try new things?
As a counterpoint, Do apps that promote ethical behavior diminish our ability to make just decisions?