Set Up Your Own Dating Site

If you’ve ever wondered whether some of these dating/match-making/friend-finding websites are seat-of-the-pant fly-by-nights, here’s a clue: For $150 you can get the software to start your own, with a starter “database of Russian, Ukrainian, Europe and American ladies’ profiles!” thrown in, possibly, for free.

Pilot Group’s blurb for its Ready Dating Site Solution says: “Here is your opportunity to benefit from a portion of those chemicals [sic] charged exchanges flying around cyberspace. We gladly introduce to your attention [sic] a universal building site solution that will help you in making all necessary steps and quickly start gaining benefit. The topic of online dating is extremely popular today: did you know that in accordance with Search Engines statistics dating -related web sites are sought for 5 times more frequently if compared to web design and development. These figures must tell something!” (Yes, they tell us it’s too good an opportunity to pass up for the quick-buck brigade…)

Your $150 (down from the usual price of $500) will get you all the software to start up your website and a user installation manual. It’s not quite clear from the text whether the “database of Russian, Ukrainian, Europe and American ladies’ profiles!” comes for free or not. If it is I’m going for it. What better way of tilting the odds of online dating in your favour than to actually own the site?

Valentine’s Day – A Humbug Approach

It’s that time of year, and the marketing folk are back with lame Valentine’s promotions.

My first is from, where I must have registered at some point, because I got an email with the subject field ‘Someone has sent you a Valentine!’ along with the following message: ‘Get a special Valentine’s day wish (and a little gift) from Audible.’

The link turns out to be a pretty dull flash presentation, some annoying music that doesn’t stop when the flash animation does, and the ‘gift’ turns out to be a 20% discount at Thanks, guys. No, really.

What is perhaps reassuring is a survey from Avantgo, which reports that the majority of folk prefer social introductions to finding true love. Actually I think they’re missed the point; although the survey focuses on preference for traditional dating methods –  only 4% ranked online dating as the best way to meet their Valentine — the fact that 14% of correspondents ‘claimed to be dating, married or engaged to someone they met through an online dating service or social networking site’ is an extraordinary statistic.

Think about it. Most folk don’t like to admit they use dating services, let alone online ones. So the fact that so many people have ‘fessed up is a surprising shift in attitudes. Second, assume the figure is much higher, because of the lingering stigma attached. So it could be as high as 20%. Now, of course, these surveys tend to revolve around early adopters (it was a PDA-based survey, whatever that is) so it’s skewed, but it’s still a significant proportion. The survey tells us that online dating has become normal.

It also, sadly, tells us that folk are using Valentine’s Day as an excuse to exchange presents:  ‘While men plan to give their loved ones traditional gifts such as flowers, dinner out and chocolates, they are secretly hoping to receive an electronic gadget or CD/DVD. A third of respondents plan to spend more than $100 on their Valentine this year.’ Jeez! Do we really need another commercially exploited occasion to prod us guiltily into buying presents? Heaven help us all.

If you do insist on buying stuff, here are some Valentine Panties with built in Internet error codes: “Our HTTPanties Valentine’s Gift Box comes with one pair of white “403 Forbidden” panties and one pair of black “200 OK” panties, packaged in our lovely “Hearts and Stars” heart shaped box. Makes a great gift!” OhmyGod.

I am beginning to see what folk like Joi Ito are talking about when they talk about corrupting holidays. Talking of Japan, the whole Valentine’s thing has gotten way out of hand, primarily because of the confectionary industry. Joi wrote a few weeks back: ‘in Japan only men receive chocolates on Valentine’s Day and that women receive their chocolates on “White Day” one month later. (This notion was introduced by the confectionary industry in Japan.) People are encouraged to give chocolates widely and these chocolates are called giri choko (obligatory indebtedness chocolates) in Japanese.’ Now it’s the handphone industry getting in on the act: Nokia are promoting their handphones in Japan by selling them in a Valentine’s box, along with some chocolates (Thanks Gizmodo and Boing Boing):

I’m never going to celebrate Valentine’s Day again. Ever. After I’ve bought the panties and phone chocs.

Link: Friendster

  A new website, Friendster, run by a guy working out of his living room in Silicon Valley is getting plenty of coverage. Friendster works a lot like the dating services I’ve reviewed in the past, although it also talks like a networking service.
Tyler Hamilton, writing in The Toronto Star wrote this week, “Jonathan Abrams only opened to the public in March, and in less than four months, the online community claims more than 750,000 members consisting of his friends, their friends and their friends’ friends.”
The basic idea, and where it may wind up better off than dating sites, is that people connect through their friends. As someone once said of dating services, they’re obsolete to the user once he or she gets what they came for, namely a soul mate. Friendster goes further than that, in theory, by folding in both friendship and love.
Maybe that’s why it’s caught on quickly. An impressive example of word of mouth — even I heard of it, although I have to confess the kind of folk in my particular friendship niche don’t seem to be quite as interested in the things that I am.
I also noticed some teething problems, which prevented me from logging in to see how popular I was. Understandable, in a product that’s not yet out of beta. The site is free for now, but will probably charge those who want to contact people they don’t already know.

Column: Love Online

 Loose Wire: Looking for Love on the Net
By Jeremy Wagstaff
from the 31 October 2002 edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review, (c) 2003, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
I’ve been suspicious about the benefits of linking computers and romance since the late 1970s, when as a gangly teen I joined an acting tour of New England schools. The stated purpose of the exercise was to bring refined English culture to the colonial heathen (although it wasn’t expressed so explicitly), but we young fellas were really only interested in using our posh English accents to melt tender American hearts. When, prior to departure, we were asked to fill out a computer punch-card form for a ball halfway through the tour where we were promised a bevy of girls matching our vital statistics, we felt sure the trip was going to be a runaway success.
Of course it wasn’t. Our first night on U.S. soil saw us thrown out of an ice cream parlour by a waitress unimpressed by our accents and empty wallets. And when it came to picking up my badge and list of matches at the ball, I quickly realized that I had been a little too honest in the questionnaire. As I wended my way through the room glancing at badge numbers, I couldn’t help noticing that all six of my matches looked like they were part-time shot-putters for the East German Olympic team. Torn between leaving and spending the evening in the toilet, I dumped my badge and tried to convince a couple of cheerleaders they were my matches. Needless to say they poured punch in my lap and I ended up in the campus shrubbery with a slightly moustachioed hammer-throwing exchange student from Leipzig.
Twenty years later, not much had changed. Single and newly returned to Hong Kong in the mid-1990s, I signed up for a dating service. For a fee, you got to submit your profile for others to peruse. You, in turn, could check out their profiles. In tiny cubicles in a dingy office subscribers flipped through brochures, trying to stifle gasps of horror at the gallery on offer. I cancelled my subscription when the only woman I could find who didn’t seem to have some significant drawback — a contagious disease, six previous husbands or Joan Collins hair — rebuffed my mediated approaches.
Now, on-line dating has taken off in a big way. I counted half a dozen new sites launched in the past two months alone. Most let you browse what’s on offer for free, but charge you, either via subscription or a credit system, if you want to contact anyone you like the look of.
Setting up your profile has got a lot more sophisticated than punching a card. At uDate ( you can fill in detailed forms right down to whether you eat Chinese food or read the Helsingborgs Dagblad. The British-based site boasts 11 million members and made $2 million profit last quarter. One new site, DateCam (, lets you use Web cams — cameras hooked to your PC — to flirt on-line. That should make those awkward early exits easier: Instead of feigning food-poisoning to escape your undesirable date, you could just blame your modem.
Of course, there are downsides. In some circles there’s a stigma attached to folk who apparently have to resort to matchmaking services. Another problem is that you can’t be sure who you’re dealing with on-line, leaving you vulnerable to liars, stalkers, philanderers and criminals: Japan reported almost 800 crimes related to on-line dating sites in the first half of 2002, almost double last year’s figures.
Still the more people who sign up, the less stigma there’s going to be, and the more choice folks will have in selecting a partner. Indeed, sites such as Lavalife ( offer a huge array of choices, even in a place like Indonesia: I was particularly taken by a lady who’s opening line was “Come to mama, big boy!!!” Another lady cheerily confessed she has more shoes than she can count, and her picture seems to catch her in a moment of happy abandonment at the end of a lively evening.
So does all this work? Lavalife reckons so. A survey the company commissioned said that last month more than half of Americans believe they stand a better chance of meeting someone they like on-line than in a singles bar.
If you’re romantically sidelined, I’d recommend dipping a toe. UDate has the most options, but it’s untidy, and member profiles aren’t particularly illuminating. Lavalife is the best laid out, in my view, and they make it very easy to add photos, personalized text, and a more private Web page that only folk you invite in can view. I only ran into trouble when I tried to remove a photo of myself by the pool which, on reflection, was a bit too racy for the public section. As far as I can work out it’s still there, which probably explains why I haven’t had any responses yet. Even from Leipzig shot-putters.