Contributed by: Editor Sunday, February 03 2008 @ 09:54 am
The New York Times has had several interesting articles this past month related to online dating. This past week they published an article regarding the more popular match systems called Hitting It Off, Thanks to Algorithms of Love[*1] . The three main systems out there are from the dating sites eHarmony, Perfectmatch.com and Chemistry. The article goes on and talks about some of the published statistics behind the matching systems, their companies advertising battles and the problems with these systems not being peer reviewed.
The matching systems of the big 3 all work to varying degrees for singles. The question is which one has the most success with members. If you read some of the user reviews on any of these dating sites, they all have complaints about there matching systems. For the most part, I think the fault here lies not so much with the matching system as with the users proximity to their best match. This is especially true for members in rural areas. Most members (rightly so) don't want to travel great lengths to meet their match. On average this is probably limited to about 1 hour driving distance. I believe most of these match systems to accommodate this condition will reduce the systems match quality in order to list some potential matches. This is where dating services maybe should rethink their strategy. Members are paying good money for matches. If the system cannot produce a quality match maybe they shouldn't be charged. Maybe a new payment system needs to be worked out where they could charge members, per quality match, and a reduced charge for matches that my not be quite as compatible for a number of different reasons. Those reasons should be listed so the member can then determine who they want to contact (if any). As example, if the only reason member B wasn't a quality match was because he or she lived 2 hours away from member A . Member A may then reconsider this member over say another member that was a good match except for the fact they where a smoker.
What I am waiting for is for one of these dating sites to release how their matching system works for peer review. They will open themselves to scrutiny but it will also give them some legitimacy. When these details are first released, I see a snowball effect with other competing dating services eventually releasing details as well. The main reason they would do this is to point out how their matching system produces better results. These dating services would have to prove this by example, or who would believe them?
According to the article, it looks like Chemistry may be the first among the three to be releasing details. Dr. Fisher (the person behind Chemistry's match system) plans to show evidence on how their system works based on the successes of there members. The key here is details from their match system algorithm will also be released.