Last month, Will_Newsome started a thread about OKCupid, one of the major players among online dating sites--especially for the young-and-nerdy set, given their mathematical approach to matching. He opened it up for individual profile evaluation, which occurred, but so did a lot of fruitful meta-discussion about attraction in general and online dating mechanisms in particular. This post is a summary of the parts of that thread which specifically address the practical aspect of good profile editing and critique. (It also incorporates some ideas I had previously but hadn't collected yet.) A little of it is specific to OKCupid, but most of it can be applied to any dating site, and some to dating in general. I've cited points which came from single comments (i.e. not suggested by several people); if I missed one of yours, please comment with a link and I'll add the reference.
"Wait a minute," I hear experienced OKCers cry. "Why reinvent the wheel of profile analysis? OKCupid already has a blog for just that, and it's called OKTrends."
OKTrends has its merits, but it also has one major flaw. Wei_Dai summed it up well by observing that OKTrends does not make "any effort to distinguish between correlation and causation," citing this post as an example. The reason for that is obvious: the first purpose of OKTrends is to bring traffic to OKCupid. It does this with entertaining content about racy subjects, and rigorous analysis comes (optimistically) second. Of course, datadataeverywhere added, that's exactly the Mythbusters formula. They're both junk food science, but it's also the only look at their data we're going to get, so I'll link a few relevant OKTrends posts in the appropriate sections.
How to Write a Good Profile
Okay, you've created your account and answered a few questions. Now it's time to summarize your whole personality, your appeal, and your worldview in ten little text boxes. Where to begin?
The obvious answer is to reply to the ten profile prompts with your answers to them. Don't fall for it! What you write in your profile, along with your picture, will be the whole sense of yourself you convey to other people. Do your favorite media selections and the fact that you need oxygen, water, food, shelter, and two other obvious things to live constitute 20% of your identity?
Concrete Advice #1: Don't just follow the prompts. Think about what you want to say in your profile, and then fit that into the answers.
Or don't even find a way to fit it into the answers. I've seen excellent profiles which literally ignored the questions and just said what they had to say. But fear not, I won't leave you entirely promptless. There are two goals in writing a good profile:
- Honesty (so as to find people who will actually like you)
- Attractiveness (so that they will realize, upon reading your profile, that they might like you)
We'll address these one at a time, beginning with honesty.
There's a distinction in anthropology between "ancestral traits," whose genes go back so far that they are common among a huge variety of species, and "derived traits," which evolved recently enough to be an informative descriptor of a group. Pentadactyly is an ancestral trait, and is not specific enough to tell a human from a newt; opposable thumbs are a derived trait, and indicate that you're probably (although not necessarily) looking at a primate. You can speak similarly of traits which are memetic rather than genetic; ancestral traits are shared by almost everyone in the culture, and derived traits by smaller subgroups.
Ancestral: "I like listening to music and hanging out with my friends."
Derived: "I like taking photographs and playing board games."
Concrete Advice #2: Write about your derived traits, not your ancestral ones.
Notice that it's not about specificity. The second set of interests isn't very much more specific than the first one. They're just less common interests. Therefore, they do a better job of identifying where you fit in personspace, and in fewer words. For the convenience of newcomers to online dating, here's a quick laundry list of cliches which are so common as to tell the reader nothing about you:
Concrete Advice #3: Omit all of these: "it's hard to summarize myself" "what should I say here" "I'm contradictory" "I'm nice" "I'm shy until you get to know me" "the first thing people notice is my eyes" "I need [obvious literal things] to live" "if it were private I wouldn't write it here" "you can ask me anything" and explicit suggestions that the reader should date you, even tongue-in-cheek
That said, it is hard to summarize yourself. It's hard to recognize the parts of yourself which matter, and even harder to remember them later when you're staring at a form on a webpage. Furthermore, self-identity is susceptible to environmental pressure, and it's easy to just write up the stereotype of the group you feel you belong to. If you'll pardon me quoting myself:
The first few versions of my profile were geared to show off how geeky and smart I was. This connected me to people who spent a lot of time playing tabletop roleplaying games, reading fantasy novels, and making pop culture references to approved geeky television shows, none of which are things which interest me particularly.
Eventually I realized that I am not actually just popped out of the stereotypical modern geek mold, and it was lazy, inaccurate, and ineffective to act like I was. Since then I've started doing the much harder thing of trying to pin down my specific traits and tastes, instead of taking the party line or applying a genre label that lets people assume the details. In that way, OKC has actually been a big force in driving me to understand who I am, what I want, and what really matters to me.
Concrete Advice #4: Learn what you actually care about. Get into the habit of noticing things in your day-to-day life which excite you, please you, infuriate you, or make you think. That's what belongs in an honest description of you.
That's tough, but it's easier than it sounds. Remember that the reason you're being honest is that you want to attract someone who will actually like you, not just the person you claim to be. Don't worry at this stage about appearing "interesting" enough, or whether the generic average airhead represented by OKTrends would like you. Interpolate put it perfectly:
No one you want to meet would find you boring.
Keep that in mind when you're wondering how to balance the honesty and attractiveness goals. Yvain wondered why some users openly express non-mainstream views about transhumanism in a dating profile; this may be honest, but to a lot of people it won't be attractive. Apprentice was surprised by the number of LWers who talked about outdoorsy interests, which can intimidate geeky homebody types. In both cases, whether the interest warrants a mention depends on how significant that interest is to your personality and lifestyle.
Concrete Advice #5: The more you mention something, the more important it will seem to be to you.
rhollerith_dot_com came at the same point from a different angle, with the specific advice not to go into too much detail about work. What field you're in is interesting; what project has been taking up your work hours lately probably isn't. Unless your job is particularly cool or a big part of your identity, it doesn't deserve more than a sentence or two. The same goes for academic fields and most hobbies. If it would only generate conversation with someone who shares your job, major, or hobby, leave it out (unless those are the only people you're looking for). More generally, keep track of how much you mention a given topic in your profile. Count instances, if you have to. When you sort the list by quantity, what matters most to you should be on top. Right below that on the frequency list ...
Concrete Advice #6: Write about the traits or interests that you want a potential partner to share.
Describing what you want in a partner is about as hard as describing yourself, and for the same reasons, but you can approach it the same way (by paying attention and thinking about it in real-life contexts, not just when working on your profile). There are two reasons to make a point of including those things: It will appeal to people who share those traits with you, which is by definition your target audience; and OKCupid connects people in part based on shared interests listed in their profiles, even the ones that the user didn't choose to highlight. More to the point, the adorable but nonsentient cartoon matching robot does that. Which means:
Concrete Advice #7: Do not mention your dislikes in your profile unless they are otherwise important.
As far as I can tell, once OKC has decided you like something, there's no way to explicitly tell it you don't. Even removing it from your profile doesn't kick in immediately. If someone searches for, say, "scientology," and you put in your profile that "scientology is crap," you will come up on the search. This is not what either of you is trying to accomplish. Besides, that doesn't describe you. If you're an active organizer of major scientology protests and are looking for someone to do that with you, okay, put it in. Short of that, don't give yourself keywords you don't want.
One last thing about searchability before we move on.
Concrete Advice #8: Fill out any applicable sidebar information.
Alicorn's example was religion: If you like the idea of being found by an atheist looking for another atheist, make sure OKCupid knows that you are one. I would go a step further and recommend filling in as much as you can. Single completed fields, or single omitted fields, will look more significant than they probably are--but do leave out any where all possible responses would be misleading. (I've left the "children" field blank, for example, because I don't want them now but might some day, so neither "wants" nor "doesn't want" is correct.) If you want to expound on any of your answers, of course, you can do it in the profile body, as long as it maintains an acceptable importance/frequency ratio and doesn't make your profile unreadably long.
Concrete Advice #9: Write between 50 and 350 words in most of the fields.
I got these numbers by measuring answers which make my eyes glaze over (on the long end) or which made me think "that's it?" (on the short end). This isn't a hard-and-fast rule. The self-summary is justified in being a little bit longer; the six things are justified in being shorter. Your favorites section should be one of your shorter answers, unless media and food happen to be really important to you (in which case, write about why, don't just list them).
Last but not least, here is the most-discussed and hopefully most obvious thing you can do to improve your profile.
Concrete Advice #10: Upload at least one clear, flattering, decent resolution photo of yourself. No excuses.
I'm just going to hand it over to mattnewport for a sec, responding to comments about not being "photogenic."
... the word 'photogenic' should be like a red flag to a rationalist bull ... people who are 'not photogenic' are not made of some different type of material that reacts differently to light than photogenic people.
He goes on to point out that OKTrends did not one but two posts on what makes a good (read: message-attracting) profile picture. The first one is about content (poses, props, situations), and the second one is mostly about camera choice and timing. If you can read those and then turn around and take a good photo of yourself, great. If not, and especially if you're frustrated by the task, enlist the help of an actual photographer. You may know one. One of your friends may know one. A local skilled amateur may be willing to trade prints for practice. Whoever they are, find them. If you claim to be trying to prepare a good profile, and you don't have a picture on it that you're proud of, you're fooling yourself. (Hypocrisy alert: I haven't yet done this. But I just talked myself into it, so I will.)
Yvain defends, quite fairly, that all of his photos are of him out doing interesting things which don't lend themselves to clean sparkling images: backpacking, scuba diving, and so forth. He's right to want to keep those to show off his activities; however, four different people commented that his pictures could be improved. I think it's clear that he would be well-served by adding one more, whose sole purpose is to flatter him physically.
How to Make It a Better Profile
Congratulations! You've written a competent profile. But the only person who's seen it yet is the least objective person in the world with regard to your attractiveness. Time to get a second opinion. The purpose of the profile critique is to verify that you've met your two goals in profile writing: honesty (have you actually depicted your personality?) and attractiveness (does the profile encourage messages?).
The best people to judge your profile's honesty are those who know you well. They're the only ones who can tell whether the words you chose give an impression of you which matches the impression you give in reality. Unfortunately, this means they also have preconceptions about you. Better would be a critique from someone who formed their in-person impression only after reading your profile, but if your profile is working that well it's probably fine. In any case, ask your honesty evaluators if there's anything in your profile which surprises them, or anything they're surprised you omitted.
There are two schools of thought on whom you should ask to judge your profile's attractiveness. One is to ask the sort of person you're trying to attract: members of your preferred gender, and probably of your own culture. They can tell you whether your profile is attractive to them and whether they'd message you based on it ... or at least, whether they think they would. The other school of thought is that the right people to ask are those who share your gender/culture preference, and have been successful attracting such partners. They can tell you what has empirically worked for them and compare notes. Both have potential biases, but anything both types of critic agree on is probably correct. (I didn't see any gay users pipe up in this part of the conversation, but I'd love to know how the overlap between the two sets affects their feedback.)
Of course, a once-over by a relative stranger (e.g. another LWer) can be useful as well. They can tell you what assumptions they make about you, knowing little more than what you've chosen to write. Have your critic read the profile line by line and write down their impressions as they have them; when they finish, they can add the overall gist they got from reading. The idea is to give you a fuller picture of the reader's immediate responses--ideas which could stick in the subconscious even if they're forgotten consciously by the end. These are the details that they're filling in between the lines, and that's what you want to be sure is accurate. In particular, this is good for ensuring that your frequency of mentions actually matches your degree of interest; whpearson noticed such a discrepancy in mine, which I corrected.
It should go without saying that any profile editor should also be encouraged to report problems with the language or flow. Get rid of typos, clean up the grammar. Check for subtler things as well, like unusual words repeated close together, or using the same sentence structure over and over. If a joke isn't funny or a reference doesn't make sense, replace or omit it. All of these errors are distractions from what you're trying to communicate, and produce fleeting impressions of confusion or irritation which are then associated with your profile. Other than that, write in a style which is natural to you. That style is a fair part of your self-description.
Finally, review your profile from time to time. Every few months is a good minimum, give or take any life-altering events. The purpose of this is to ensure that your profile changes as you change, to stay up-to-date on the honesty goal. For the same reason, cycle in a new picture periodically, especially when your appearance has changed. If you really want to be thorough, re-answer old match questions from time to time as well. They're the biggest part of how OKCupid connects you to other people, and updating them keeps it current on your tastes and values. That this requires continuing to think about and adjust your tastes and values as time passes is just a perk.
I have no problem with Relsqui presenting this sort of advice, but I think (a) such advice requires more acknowledgment of how limited it is in scope, and (b) some of it is wrong. I think attempting to synthesize LW thoughts on online dating is an interesting subject, but drawing prescriptions from this synthesis, along with certain other assumptions, runs into the problems that pwno and Vladimi_M observe.
Since Relsqui is being such a good sport about receiving criticism, and Vladimir_M is being shy on certain subjects, I'm going to break it down myself.
What reasons do we have to believe that the aggregated LW on online dating is any use? Unless we have reasons to believe that it is useful, this aggregation is more interesting as a descriptive anthropological project ("Ooh, lookie at what the cute LWers think about online dating!") than as a normative one. This post presents the aggregated advice as prescriptive without adequate caveat emptors.
Concrete Advice #1 is good except for this part:... (read more)
Very little. In general dating advice serves a purpose other than providing information on how best to go about dating.(along the lines of Hanson's homo hypocritus). This does not seem to be a bias that lesswrong is particularly good at overcoming.
On the positive side if anyone recommends anything particularly self destructive we can rely on HughRistik to correct it.
A lot of the comments here (particularly among those that do not include the word 'should') are good. Unfortunately it is difficult to know which advice is good and which is bad unless you already know what you are doing. There are other environments that are set up specifically for this kind of subject where there are mechanisms in place to ensure the 'sanity waterline' is high.
Cute. I love it.
One of the best examples is, of course, PUA communities.
On the main forum I used to post on, here are some of the norms:
In the Techniques forum, you aren't supposed to post any technique until you've tried it a couple times yourself. Furthermore, you aren't even supposed to ask if something might work, instead you are told "go out and try it, then come tell us if it worked." Even talking about an idea that hasn't been tried can privilege the hypothesis too much. Of course, the fact that you've tried something doesn't prove that it works (maybe something else you were doing caused the result instead), or that it generalizes to other people and situations, but it makes the hypothesis worth talking about.
Users are discouraged from posting on subjects they aren't experienced about; doing so is called "Keyboard Jockeying" (aka "KJing"). There is some tolerance for speculation as long as you are clear that you are speculating (some guys will preface ideas with "I'm gonna KJ a little here.
Concrete advice #2 and #3 seem uncontroversial to me, but I'm not sure how much they actually matter.
I've thought of the personspace concept myself, and it's a great line of thought.
4 sounds like good advice, but we quickly get into trouble again and raise some of my same objections (I'm going to be repeating myself a bit from my last post, but that's to figure out good ways to articulate things):
First, I want to acknowledge the accurate part about this advice: your goal is not to attract the average person in your target demographic on an online dating website. It's better to have a small group of people crazy about you, rather than having everyone lukewarm about you... as long as that small group contains enough people you want. Sometimes, it's best to pick out a niche. An important topic is how to narrow ... (read more)
For some people, the main barrier to relationships is trouble getting dates, or trouble doing well on dates. The more dates these people go on, the better they will get at dating, at which point they'll be able to move on to actually attempting relationships.
As you say, being able to signal competently is a big part of social skills.
In my experience in real life, people who try to signal more social skills than they actually have tend to get seen through or make people feel uncomfortable almost immediately, or get believed on a permanent basis. While I think it's possible to hit somewhere in between, where people initially think you're cool and then later decide that you're a loser, doing so is hard, because signaling substantially more social skills than you actually have is hard.
I suspect that most of the time, the amount of social skills that someone can "fake" is about the level of social skills they could attain if they would practice a bit, get som... (read more)
A thousand times yes.
If only the guys who had the fundamentals right (actual brains, competence, kindness, etc.) were better at operating the female hindbrain! Adding social skills to the male population is good for women.
To add my 0.02: from my perspective, a profile that describes technical/scientific interests is not a bad thing. In fact I definitely prefer it. I don't even put that in the "bad social skills" category.
What does seem to make me less likely to communicate with someone: defining yourself by what you're a fan of instead of by what you do, not having a career, too many indications of "softness" in personality, excessive self-deprecation. Even someone who'd be compatible with me on the fundamentals can come across badly.
So, is it your experience that men with the fundamentals right are often lacking at interacting with the female hindbrain? That is consistent with my observations, and I'd be interested to hear you expand on that perception.
Vladimir_M and I ended up concurring in the past that there is excessive polarization between men who appeal to women's hindbrains, and men who have good qualities in other areas (e.g. relating to long-term mate potential). We suggested that the relationship between masculinity/excitement and female attraction is a step function: there's a certain baseline level of those traits required, but adding more of those traits isn't always better.
In your case, your threshold sounds like:
Those guys are below your threshold for some dimension (which may be related to masculinity). I would hazard a guess that for you, once it's obvious that a guy isn't too soft, being less soft isn'... (read more)
I think you've basically got it right.
I do have the impression that men who have the fundamentals right aren't good with the female hindbrain, for the most part (there are exceptions, and there are compromises.)
My own perspective: I've had experience with guys who don't have the fundamentals, and that's horrible. Someone without human decency is the worst, but someone who isn't too bright also doesn't make for a great relationship. So that sort of thing is primary. Mandatory. I don't appreciate people who argue that women are somehow not serious when they say that they care about intellectual or moral values. I'm entirely serious.
But, on a totally different metric and with a totally different mechanism, masculinity also matters a lot. (I think this is true of most women, but I might be an outlier in just how much it's true for me.) Masculinity will make a bad match look tempting; the lack of it will make a good match look unappealing. I don't think it's necessarily bad that my hindbrain works like this -- on the off chance that I have "chemistry" with a guy who's also a good match, I'll enjoy the relationship much more than if I were Ms. Spock. It adds another di... (read more)
What do you think causes the common perception that women are not serious about caring about intellectual or moral values? Are you saying that it's extremely rare for women to say this unseriously, or that you just don't like being judged as non-serious on such a claim merely because a non-trivial percentage of women may make it incorrectly? What level of variation do you think occurs in the female population in this area.
Us guys, we see women saying that they want guys with intellectual and moral values, but then we often seeing women going for men who seem unlikely to exhibit those traits, and we get... confused. Since this kind of subject isn't politically correct to talk about, when a guy sees something like this happening, it will dominate his thinking and lead to hasty generalizations about what all women want (like your example of "women just want sex with assholes").
What do you think about women who are into Rhett Butler, and other "dark heroes" from romance novels? If that example is... (read more)
I think this hypothesis makes a lot of sense: masculinity is the main cause of attraction, and bad values just tag on along for the ride. This hypothesis is entirely plausible to me, but I have to wonder whether it's the whole story. For some the nastier forms, I'm not sure that masculinity and bad values are always separable; they are intertwined.
There could be several different paths by which different types of women are attracted to assholes; you've certainly named one of them.
Not necessarily, but it could be the case.
It's one specific scene that I'm thinking of: the quasi-rape scene.... (read more)
Your perspective is that of an adult, of course; but the Harry Potter books are children's literature, and thus (I presume) take a child's point of view on the world. Children often perceive adult authority figures as "mean" even when they are well within the bounds of what (adult) society considers to be acceptable behavior. Such "meanness", while unpleasant, is not something children are necessarily shocked by; they expect it in more or less the same way that adults expect "outrageous" actions from the government .
Not a one-to-one relationship, to be sure, but stories like this strongly suggest some positive statistical relation: "No shortage of women who dream of snaring a husband on Death Row: experts ponder why deadliest criminals get so many proposals." The article references an academic book that dedicates a chapter to the phenomenon.
Jeffrey Dahmer might have been a bit too creepy even for the serial killer groupie population, but I wouldn't be surprised if he got an occasional love letter too.
Dead elephant gets a ratio of 0.59.
In other cases, it could be that the most common things women in your culture say they want, and the guys who are getting the most attention, don't seem to match. Of course, there's no necessary contradiction, like you say.
In other cases, it's the same women saying one thing, and (seemingly) doing another.
There is a social desirability bias that will encourage women to signal preferences for positive traits like intelligence and values. In contrast, if you're a woman who likes meatheads, you've less likely to talk about it. Furthermore, when people misstate their preferences, it's more likely to be in the direction of positive traits than of negative traits.
For many white middle-class men, it's drummed into their heads from an early age that women universally prefer intelligent men with values such as "respectfulness." So when a guy sees evidence to the contrary, it makes him question... (read more)
I'd compare this with employment. Every now and then, you see a media story about some company with a highly unusual internal culture that uses all sorts of unconventional practices in hiring, organization, and management. Yet unless you luckily stumble onto some such employer and happen to be an exceptionally good candidate by their standards, you would be well-advised to stick to the standard conventional advice on how to look and behave in job interviews and, subsequently, in the workplace. In fact, doing anything else would mean sabotaging your employment and career prospects, and expecting that your unconventional behavior will surely be rewarded with a dream job with an unconventional employer is a delusional pipe-dream.
The main flaw of this analogy, of course, is that the conventional wisdom on seeking and maintaining employment is largely correct, whereas the conventional wisdom on dating has fatal points of disconnect from reality. Also, while conforming to optimal workplace behavior is truly painful for many people, fixing the problems in one's approach to dating and relationships typically doesn't require any such painful and loathsome adjustment. (Even though people often rationalize their unwillingness to do it by convincing themselves in the opposite.)
How old are they? Most people get married eventually. Furthermore, the older people get, the more they switch over to long-term mating strategies.
If you're an average guy, eventually you're going to "get lucky" and run into a woman who is into you. As people get older, more and more women get tired of bad boys and switch over to their long-term mating strategies (and in some cases, are looking for men to support them).
So our average guy will find a mate. The question is, how many years go by while he is only dating sporadically, while women (on average) are off having fun with the more masculine and exciting guys? When he finally does find someone, how much choice does he actually have? What is her level of attractiveness (in various areas) compared to his? Is she the "one" who is "right" for him, or is she simply the one woman who has shown interest in him in the past few years?
It seems that during ... (read more)
That's a mighty strong assertion to make about an entire continent that contains countries as different as, say, Sweden and Albania, or Moldova and Switzerland. Also, I'm certain that the sample of Europeans you've seen is unrepresentative in all sorts of relevant ways even of their own countries, let alone the entire continent.
Of course, if by this you mean the specific patterns of behavior characteristic of certain sorts of American men, then the claim is trivially true.
It is not normal for humans to occasionally go to musea or watch education TV shows, so it is indeed non-trivially informative to learn this about a human. It also clusters with other dispositional characteristics and therefore is useful for low-cost classifiers.
Because humans don't know much about the natural sciences, and certainly not in terms of predictive models, I have difficulty communicating with most of them about paperclip engineering topics. For example, when I start talking about endurance limits, I lose over 99% of the audience. It would be understandable if they could grasp the concept but weren't familiar with that particular term (it just means the stress -- load per unit area -- that a mechanical component could endure in tension for an arbitrary long period when applied cyclically i.e. on/off).
But that's not the situtation here. Their only knowledge of metallurgy and materials science is brief regurgitation of text that doesn't even map to a prediction as far as they're aware. So stuff is made out of atoms? Great, what predictions can you make with that? (That's on the better end of the human clippiness spectrum!!!)
I've heard about people who find talking extremely anxiety-provoking, while communicating by writing is easy and comfortable for them. I expect someone like that would have the sort of social skills mismatch you're describing. They aren't faking the skills on-line, they have a disability making it hard to use them in person.
I have a (fading, but still present) hang-up about phone conversations. They're harder for me than either in-person communication or text. You don't have the time to think things through that you do on IM, but you also don't get facial cues to help you. So my phone conversations are almost always short, and of the form "Hi, I'm at the train station."
That's a good point. By contrast arguments (or at least rational reasoning - rhetoric fits a different category) come seemingly pre-formed from my intuition for free. Social political reasoning takes actual effort. That isn't to say I can't do it in real time, just that I like to make sure ahead of time that I am in a good state for socialising in order to get the most from it. In the ideal case that means I have spent an hour in the gym earlier in the day, are reasonably well rested and possibly consumed some aniracetam, modafinil or at least caffeine. I find those all raise the level of social ability that comes free from my intuition without (potentially time-delaying) effort.
One way I like to look at differences in abilities in general is not so much the absolute level of competencies but in which order they decay under negative influence such as sleep deprivation, stress or chemical interference. In my case it seems to be:
"Everything else" -> consciousness -> rational argument -> life itself.
Although I haven't tested the last one. I apologize ahead of time if after I die zombie-wedrifid reanimates and starts explaining why it is rational to "let him eat your brains".
To be fair, you did talk about a balance between attractiveness and honesty. But when you put so much more of an emphasis on honesty over impression management, I couldn't tell how you thought that people should find that balance, and I felt motivated to add some caveats.
Ah... but who are you?
A lot of conventional advice on dating references notions of identity and selfhood, such as the famous "just be yourself." The problem with such advice is that identity is itself a hard problem. As a result, for many people figuring out their identities (and who isn't?), identity isn't a very useful concept for figuring out how to behave socially. Actually, that notion may be backwards: learning social behavior is far more useful for figuring out one's identity.
These conventiona... (read more)
Frankly, I think that all this advice is simply irrelevant for all practical purposes. The goal of a dating site profile is to elicit interest and attraction from people who would in turn be attractive to you. However, what this post presents are just instructions for satisfying the author's entirely abstract vision for what a nice profile should look like. They are not guaranteed, or even likely, to improve your chances for eliciting attraction even from the author, let alone anyone else. Ultimately, the listed advice ends up being pure noise at best. The fact that a post like this one is getting a significant number of upvotes should serve as a strong warning signal to lots of people here that they greatly overestimate the level of "rationality" that they supposedly apply to all issues.
One basic problem is that the author starts with an impossible goal, namely providing fully general advice that will apply to people of all sexes and sexual preferences with unchanged wording. While such an approach resonates well with the modern popular forms of idealism, it is far too detached from reality to allow for any sensible results.
Another part that struck me as completely det... (read more)
Hey, I'd like some advice.
When I hang out in nightclubs, I seem to have two discrete states with a very abrupt transition between them: an "off" state where I'm almost invisible to girls, and an "on" state where they suddenly hang on me in twos and threes. But the "on" state happens rarely (once or twice a month for several hours, max) and I'm still not sure how to trigger it, even though I've spent months on experimenting. I've established that it doesn't depend on clothing, haircut, posture or the other obvious controllable factors - it must be some aspect of "inner game" that I sometimes achieve spontaneously but can't put a finger on. I also know that it's easier to reach the "on" state after a random girl smiles at me: it becomes a little easier to make the next random girl smile at me, and (with luck) it escalates like runaway AI. Does this match your experience? What is this thing, and do you know any tricks for "switching"?
In PUA lingo, this state is referred to as simply "state", since it's of course the state that PUAs want to be in. ;-)
PUA theorists vary as to what this "state" consists of, but they do say a few things in common about it and about how to produce it. Many have commented on this aspect you describe:
Some thinking goes along the lines that the key elements are "nonreactivity" (ie., not being concerned about what other people think of you) and "self-amusement" (i.e. doing things for your own enjoyment and amusement, rather than to achieve some particular outcome).
At the same time, the comments of many gurus suggest that they themselves do not have total or absolute control over this sta... (read more)
When I worked on a "search and metrics" team, one of the things we discovered by trying a recommendations engine implementation on a slice of the site's traffic for a bit was that what seemed to matter most for the purposes of the recommendation engine was simply that a user had any reaction at all to a video. It seemed that the vast majority of content space just bores any given person, but "passions predict passions" even when the passions have different valence (hate/love).
Maybe my experiences don't apply here, but it doesn't seem entirely unreasonable to imagine that OKCupid's "stupid algorithm" operating on naive behavior could out perform algorithmically aware meta-strategy that "made sense" but hadn't been validated with some sort of field experimentation :-)
What Vladimir_M and pwno said. Does your advice work? How would you know?
More advice: Only date grown-ups. While it's addressed to polyamorists, it seems generally applicable. If you wanted to identify grown-ups (as defined in the link) on OKCupid and/or to present yourself as a grown-up, how would you do it?
Why didn't you mention any advice on status signaling?
User:Relsqui probably didn't mention it because it's such an easy issue to handle. Just add this to your profile:... (read more)
Continued from here
As my previous analysis suggests, there are also gender differences in the types of honesty that can be displayed. It's well known that women place relatively more importance on personality traits than men do.
Botwin and Buss (1997) found that:
When lesbian journalist Norah Vincent dressed up as a man for a book (I harvest some revealing quotes from her here, she had a negative experience with women judging her personality traits when out dating:
Since women are more selective about behavior and personality than men, women have somewhat more behavioral latitude than men, similar to how men have more latitude in their appearance (and no, this doesn't mean that women have infinit... (read more)
This post, like my emotional nihilism post, was about a non-technical topic. Like mine, it involved general life advice, described without statistical evidence, because such evidence isn't obviously available. Like my post, it was a compilation of the results of a discussion -- so it isn't one person's opinions, but an aggregation of many people's personal experiences. Both our posts were attempts to summarize and build a LessWrong consensus on an issue in personal life.
If this type of a post is unrepresentative -- if it doesn't reflect a real LessWrong consensus -- then the problem is that the people who disagree with the compilation didn't participate in the earlier discussion.
I don't think this is a bad style of post. I think advice-giving on personal life issues is normal. I'd like us to do more of it here. I'm starting to be very puzzled by the scruples LW people have about ordinary actions.
I disagree with 'fill out the sidebar information.' For instance, one of the pieces of information in the sidebar is star sign. Now, you can say in your answer whether it matters to you, doesn't matter. But it's a straight up warning sign even having answered the question to me. Even if you say it doesn't matter to you, it matters enough that you'd deign to fill it in. I can't take someone who can even semi-believe in star signs seriously.
Similarly, as well as religion, you can fill out your seriousness about it. All the answers look lose/lose to me. I can... (read more)
Your logic is understandable, but it's the same logic people (particularly women) might use to leave off profile pictures - "gosh, if my scintillating personality won't cut it for Guy X, then I guess I don't want Guy X."
Salary (and looks) can be factors without being dealbreakers. Will I refuse to consider a guy because he's too much taller than me, or isn't currently making any money, or if he declares wooly spiritual beliefs, even if he's otherwise hot/responsible/sane? No. Does failing to disclose these items annoy me? Yes.
The words "primarily" and "just" here seem to me unwarranted. Things can be important without being the only important thing.
I also think you're displaying little imagination about the usefulness of salary as information. For example, OKC has many questions about (and another sidebar slot for) persons' interests in/preexisting status regarding children. There are questions about marriage, etc. - lifestyle stuff. Salary is a factor in what kinds of lifestyles are available! Somebody who is trying the radical experiment of life off the grid by attempting to live off barter and urban farming without the use of filthy money isn't for me, any more than someone who abhors the institution of marriage and never wants children would be for me. Those lifestyles are not compatible with what I want.
Or to be yet more specific: Currently, I live with roommates who don't expect me to pay rent because I cook tasty food and do some cleaning. This is sort of like being a house spouse without the "spouse" part, and you know what? I like it as much as I thought I ... (read more)
Understood. You've convinced me to put my salary back on my OKC profile.
Let me see if I can rephrase usefully. (I suspect you just aren't using the word "dealbreaker" conventionally.)
Imagine that people who look at your profile are scoring you, with some traits worth points of various amounts (positive or negative). If you've mentioned enough things that earn you points and left out enough things that cost you points, you may get scored high enough that you get a message. Leaving your income off might lose you points, but you could probably make it up in other areas. For instance, I'd estimate that the "point" cost I assign guys on OKC for leaving income blank can be approximately compensated for if they announce that they want to have children someday. The guy who leaves out income but wants kids does about as well with me as the guy who says he makes some modest amount of money and doesn't mention children anywhere.
A dealbreaker is a different thing. It's negative infinity points. It doesn't matter what else you put on there if you also advertise a dealbreaker (there is no corresponding "plus infinity points" here) - it doesn't offset or compensate for positive traits, it renders them irrelevant. For instance, I ... (read more)
You mean self-deprecating. Self-depreciating would mean devaluing yourself, whereas self-deprecating means ... uh ... devaluing yourself.
... I see why a lot of people get that one wrong.
That advice deserves a prominent sidebar on the OkCupid profile editing page. Most profiles have at least one of those.
This is quite good. You inspired me to rewrite a couple parts of my profile. Your remark about scientology is dead on and to me it is a bug in their system. In my profile I say "I love the outdoors but I do not like camping", which I consider very informative for the reader. About once a month I get a message in my box along the lines of "You and User X both like camping!"
It was very kind of you to offer edits on my Spanish. That paragraph was edited by a native Spanish speaker (from Colombia). Spanish is not one language! I will definitely insert the accents and tildes one of these days.
I think this might be a mistake. I usually specify "Doesn't have children" when I do a match search and I'd guess this is fairly common. If you leave this question blank I believe you won't show up for people who are filtering on that search criteria.
Would you care to take a crack at what I'm thinking of as "manner vs. matter", with manner being how you talk about your subject matter.
Manner would include vocabulary, grammatical complexity, humor, and probably a bunch of factors I haven't thought of.
Does anybody have ideas on how we could test what kind of profiles are effective, without spending unreasonable amounts of effort in methodical trials?
Here's a data point to contribute to this effort: Myself, I try to "show, don't tell" the attributes I value and wish to signal, such as creativity and intelligence. You are welcome to evaluate if I succeed at this: http://www.okcupid.com/profile/jasticE I do get messaged occasionally with references to my profile, and usually also get good responses to my messages.
As to my target group's profiles,... (read more)
I tried "Your best face": the rating service that tells me just how bad my profile pictures really are. The results were amusing, to say the least.
I definitely need to take and post some better pictures.