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In an effort to provide useful tips and advice to members, Match.com is now asking it’s members to help each other. I am all for crowdsourcing and leveraging the wisdom of the crowds. But is the Insider’s Guide the blind leading the blind?

The world’s largest dating site has announced the launch of the “Insiders’ Guide” — a new source for singles to get insider secrets and reliable advice from current Match members, as well as former members who have already found love on Match.

“At Match.com we understand the impact of word of mouth advice. It’s this trusted perspective and expertise of actual members that people take to heart and ultimately act on,” said Craig Wax, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Match.com. “The Insiders’ Guide brings this concept to life through seven tips, shared by ten successful members in an interactive web-chat format.”

Some history for new readers. I tried to partner Match with my ProfileDoctor profile enhancement services several years ago. I came to them with a scalable, personalized service that increases the value of profiles, and thereby the value of the entire site. Because a dating site is no better than the people on it and how they are represented.

If I had my way, by this time the Match account creation process would be augmented by a series of context-sensitive services based on where you are in the signup process, and more importantly, who you are.

Instead, Match too the easy route and launched Happen Magazine and licensed the Dr. Phil brand. Arguably a good idea but when is the last time anyone read Happen, or Dr. Phil did anything for Match? Is he even still associated with the site? More importantly, does anyone even care about Dr. Phil on Match? I’ve never seen his name or photo on the site for ages. MindFindBind, anyone?

I will give Match this, it’s a lot easier to throw together a few web page templates and hire editors on the cheap to produce content that it is to build out a complex system that leverages technology to make online dating more pleasurable and efficient for members. But this was a time when Match was doing a hatchet job across the board. Features like video clips and MatchLive were given the axe. So was personality testing. I believe Match is still in court about that now.

Side note – I was in New York for an engagement party last month and found myself in a cab driving past the new IAC building, which is absolutely gorgeous. I really like the people I know at Match. At least the people who are there this year. Craig Wax will be gone soon enough and someone else trying to climb the IAC ladder will replace him. Just look at Jim Safka. He left Match and Barry Diller gave him a venture capital fund. Nice work if you can get it.

I would love to work with Match for a year, attempt to fix what’s broken and then fade off into the sunset. Except I would probably fire lots of people, bring in new blood not beholden to sacred cows and completely change the direction of the organization. Suffice to say they would, nor could they at this point, ever go for that. Too many people involved, project plans stretching out several years and a certain level of inflexibility that comes with an organization as large as Match.

They have nice margins, make decent bank and the only people they upset are their customers, who continue to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars every year for the infinitesimal chance they might actually meet someone for the long term relationship on the site. Speaking of success rates, eHarmony claims its responsible for 118 marriages a day. I wonder what Match has to say about that.

matchinsidersguide.jpgThe Insider’s Guide links to a page with talking heads across the top and a signup form to join Match. I’m a member and I’m logged in, why am I seeing this and where is the information? Lazy programming if you ask me.

The splash screen for the service is nice looking and the video of a relationship guru named Jason is well produced.

matchinsidersguide2.jpgGreat to see Match leveraging people’s webcams to produce content for them. That’s the Web 2.0 way, leverage the knowledge of the crowd. Match has provided a link to a PDF version of the guide which is great. But the content is incredibly basic, where’s the intermediate and expert level information?

I’d take verified profile photos over essay help any day of the week. The problem is people lie like rugs in their profiles. Nudging them on with incremental improvements is a good first step but Match needs to assert a level of control over the membership database in order to truly improve people’s experience on the site.

My initial thought about the guide is that if you are successful, you are not on Match anymore, you’re in a relationship. I guess some of the people profiled in the grainy webcam videos are successful matches, at least we’ll have to take their word for it.

All singles make the same mistakes with their profile. I’ll even list a few of the most common issues here to save you some time.

The first few weeks are the most important. You’re the new kid on the block and EVERYONE is watching you.

Launch your profile when it’s perfect. Show it to friends, ask for feedback, get them to leave testimonials. Only then should you let your profile loose.

NEVER lead your profile off with “I can’t believe I’m doing this.” Match would do well to educate people that when your profile is viewed, it’s part of a series. Browsers have looked at a dozen profiles before yours, and a dozen afterwards. What are you doing to stand out?

“I am a handsome/ beautiful man/woman.” Thanks for that, I have eyes. Most of the time you’re not that hot anyway.

Let’s not beat around the bush. online dating is a competition of the most brutal kind. You’re at war with millions of other people. The guy in the search results next to you is the enemy.

I know all about you after the first week. I’ve seen your profile multiple times. Just because you change your headline or add something to your profile text is not going to get me to email you.

And so on, you get the drill.

Technology has advanced to the point where a simple text reader could highlight the problem areas and suggest that you don’t use the phrase “I am as comfortable in a little black dress as I am jeans and a t-shirt.”

Deeply embedding profile assistance during the creation process is the way to go. Send them out of the gate with the best profile possible.

Insider’s guide is a nice first step, but I expect more from Match. This is a band-aid on a major problem. It is a slick piece though, very well produced, and who doesn’t like watching webcam videos of cute people?

Full press release.