Just about a year ago I mentioned that, in hopes of finding people with whom to play board games and gossip publishing, I’d joined OkCupid.  I figure now’s as good a time as any to share how that’s been working.

First of all, the “Reply to all messages, but honestly,” policy was a really, really good idea.  The only time I didn’t follow it was in the case of somebody who’s profile indicated that my honest reply might provoke to suicide, so I opted to ignore them instead.  My favorite interaction from the whole year goes something like this.

Message From SomeGuyInIllinois: Hey, you look interesting.  Tell me something profound that won’t strike me as cheesy…at least until later.

Reply from Me: Why?  Did I check the dancing monkey box in my profile?

Reply from SomeGuyInIllinois: Touché.

The first couple months I wound up eating a lot of ice cream with strangers. Then I got bored of eating ice cream with strangers and stopped engaging people I didn’t actually have any interest in meeting.

Successes include meeting somebody who’s not a particularly good match, but sent me a message effectively saying, “I think your career path looks a lot like mine, except you’re a year ahead of me.  Crib notes, please?”  He’s an awesome business contact, as it turns out, and has a social circle eerily parallel to the one I already had.  So that magically doubled my pool of people to play board games with.  Win!

Lessons people should take away from my experience:

1) Do not message somebody multiple times before they respond, especially not if they’re marked as a frequent responder.  It makes you look creepy and obsessed.

2) Do not message somebody with a giant form message where you answer a bunch of questions they didn’t ask, then ask a bunch of questions they may well have answered in their profile.  If you must do this, the appropriate response when the person replies, “Er, a form, really?  Doesn’t the note about how just saying we have x in common, let’s hang out will probably work lower the bar enough?” is not, “I DIDN’T REALIZE I HAD TO CONFORM TO YOUR SPECIAL STRIDENT STANDARDS!!”

3) Seriously, people.  You have the big profile and answer all the questions for a reason.  “X is the reason I think interacting is worth your while.  Let’s itneract,” is nearly always sufficient.

4) Don’t ask people personal questions when you haven’t filled out your profile at all.  Don’t reply when they point out that you haven’t filled out your profile at all saying that you’re uncomfortable sharing personal information with strangers on the internet.  It’s rude and hypocritical and apparently provokes me to unkindness.

This biggest thing I’ve learned, though, is that my social life did not collapse when half my friends went back to jobs requiring them to travel for work during the week.  Having four jobs up until June helped – I’m still doing a bit of adjusting to actually having enough time since things have gotten whittled down to sanity.  I’ve effectively been ignoring OkCupid since February, unless somebody sends me a message.  The creepy-worthwhile ratio is started to get pretty whacked out on that, so I’m lifting my “must respond” policy.  I mean, I could keep taunting strangers, but meh.  They’re getting repetitive.

In summary, a totally worthwhile experiment, and “Joined a dating site to look for friends,” gets to go in the wacky-ideas-that-panned-out column.  Also, done now.

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