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I’m confused: if the dating apps keep getting worse, how come nobody has come up with a good one, or at least a clone of OkCupid? Like, as far as I can understand not even “a good matching system is somehow less profitable than making people swipe all the time (surely it’d still be profitable on the absolute scale)” or “it requires a decently big initial investment” can explain a complete lack of good products in a very demanded area. Has anyone digged into it / tried to start a good dating app as a summer project?

I discovered the Netherlands actually has a good dating app that doesn't exist outside of it... I'm rather baffled. I have no idea how they started. I've messaged them asking if they will localize and expand and they thanked me for the compliment so... Dunno?

It's called Paiq and has a ton of features I've never seen before, like speed dating, picture hiding by default, quizzes you make for people that they can try to pass to get a match with you, photography contacts that involve taking pictures of stuff around and getting matched on that, and a few other things... It's just this grab bag of every way to match people that is not your picture or a blurb. It's really good!

The quizzes sounds is something Okcupid also used to have. Also everything that reduces the need for first impressions. I hope they keep it. 

These are quizzes you make yourself. Did OKC ever have those? It's not for a matching percentage.

A quiz in paiq is 6 questions, 3 multiple choice and 3 open. If someone gets the right answer on the multiple choice, then you get to see their open question answers as a match request, and you can accept or reject the match based in that. I think it's really great.

You can also browse other people's tests and see if you want to take any. The tests seem more descriptive of someone than most written profiles I've read cause it's much harder to misrepresent personal traits in a quiz then in a self-declared profile

Hm. You could make quizzes yourself, but that was some effort. It seems the paiq quizzes are standardized and easy to make. Nice. Many Okcupid tests were more like MBTI tests. Here is where people are discussing one of the bigger ones. 

Creating a new dating app is hard because of network effects: for a dating app to easily attract users, it needs to already have many users. Convincing users to pay for the app is even harder. And, if you expect your app to be only marginally profitable even if it succeeds, you will have a hard time attracting investors.


Has anyone ever tried outlining a straight up first come first served system? Vet and pay a first batch of VIP users, then offer incentives to later joiners (eg vouchers for other products), then just free users, and finally introduce fees after reaching a certain user base, all committed to and outlined transparently from the beginning of course.

People start dating portals all the time. If you start with a targetted group that takes high value from it, you could plausibly do it in terms of network effect. Otherwise, you couldn't start any network app or the biggest one would automatically win. So I think your argument proves too much.

 Right, I completely missed the network effects, 5 minutes of thinking through wasn’t enough. May be there even are good apps there, which didn’t make it through the development and marketing part. Thanks, Vanessa!

People try new dating platforms all the time. It's what Y Combinator calls a tarpit. The problem sounds solvable, but the solution is elusive.

As I have said elsewhere: Dating apps are broken because the incentives of the usual core approach don't work.

On the supplier side: Misaligned incentives (keep users on the platform) and opaque algorithms lead to bad matches. 

On the demand side: Misaligned incentives (first impressions, low cost to exit) and no plausible deniability lead to predators being favored.

On this topic you might be interested in skimming Zvi's three dating roundup posts. Here's the third, which covers dating apps in the first two headings, but all three posts mention them a lot (Ctrl + F "dating app").

You need to have bunches of people use it for it to be any good, no matter how good the algorithm.