Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like to laugh

From Slashdot Science Story | Of Science and Choice In Online Dating

Re:Science, lol? (Score:4, Interesting)

by radtea (464814) on Saturday July 18, @05:43PM (#28743689)

Do people even know what they want from a partner?

Yeah, they do. 99.9% of women want “a good man who loves to laugh and is fun and just an ordinary guy.”

I’m a divorced man in a small (~100,000) town and have used online dating sites off-and-on for about five years–mostly Plenty Of Fish, but also LavaLife and OkCupid. I’ve met two absolutely wonderful women this way–both of whom were so wonderful that after a year or three with me their careers took them off to bigger, far-distant centres, although in both cases we’re still friends.

I’ve also met the biggest collection of flakes, losers, liars, bores and nutjobs you could possibly imagine, and I am currently ready to slap anyone whose entire self-description is, “I love to laugh, like long walks on the beach and am just looking for an ordinary guy.”

Seriously, have you ever met anyone anywhere who doesn’t like to laugh? It’s what we laugh at that’s interesting, and hardly anyone ever says what that is.

The trick for all these sites is to weed out the common things that everyone has, and to reduce people who have zero self-awareness to abject silence until they come up with sufficient self-knowledge to say something about themselves that isn’t woefully banal. OkCupid’s system of questions does that, although I can think of some simple improvements that would make it better.

The key thing is to focus on the concrete. There should be very nearly zero abstraction in any of the information gathered from users, and the site should then generate the abstract categories the user is assigned to based on that information.

For example, don’t ask people what their “body type” is (abstract category) but what their height and weight are, how fast they can run or walk a mile, how many miles they run or walk each week, when was the last time they walked more than a mile, or biked more than a five miles, or swam more than 500 m, and so on. Then generate the abstract category for them: “couch potato”, “morbidly obese”, etc, rather than letting users define “athletic” or “slim” or “average” any way they want to (I’ve seen morbidly obese people, who have posted pictures of themselves, categorize themselves as “average”.)

Mostly, these sites are selling fantasies to liars (women) and idiots (men), so doing anything that would provide more accurate information about what differentiates one person from another is counter-productive relative to their business model. The few honest, intelligent people out there have to wade through a huge amount of dross to find each other. Fortunately, that is still possible, and despite their flaws these sites remain a sensible component of anyone’s search for companionship. Just be prepared to do a lot of filtering by hand.

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