Friday, May 28, 2004

CRACKING THE CODE

(Reprinted with permission of the author--me--from My Urban Kvetch.) Read any number of JDate profiles, and you’ll notice that there seem to be random words missing from the essays. At first, I was blaming the men for their carelessness and laziness, that couldn’t spare the time to proof essays, or they would have found these errors and curtailed my annoyance in advance of my spending time reading them. (“Blame the men” is often my default setting, which is its own problem…) I thought it was random, a glitch in the system, that sporadically caused words to be deleted. After reading hundreds of profiles, I figured out that it's deliberate: JDate deletes words from profiles. I had begun by looking for patterns, feeling not unlike Russell Crowe’s character in A BEAUTIFUL MIND (although I didn’t get good at math as a side effect, and my brilliance seems to be limited to this particular discovery, so that’s where the similarity ends. But I did invent a handsome male companion who looks like Paul Bettany to accompany me through this endeavor. His name is Fabrizio. You’ll meet him soon, unless I start taking my anti-psychotic meds again…) Here’s what I discovered—there are two reasons a word may be deleted: * If JDate censors determine that the word in question is part of an email address. * If JDate censors determine that the word in question may be perceived as a curse word. For the uninitiated, it is free to post a profile on JDate, but if you want to contact anyone, you have to pay the piper/prue/paige/phoebe (CHARMED fans will get that), to the tune of about $30 a month. Lots of people try to get around this fee by embedding their email address within their profile. Periodically (I believe it’s any time you change your profile), JDate must run the essays through some Boolean filter or something. And any time the word ‘hotmail,’ ‘yahoo’ or ‘America’ appears (or the word ‘com’ following the word ‘dot’), it is deleted, because it is perceived as an attempt to circumvent JDate’s system. I embedded my email address a few times, first unsuccessfully and then successfully, but you have to disguise that it’s an email address so much that if you're successful, the result is that your profile makes you sound deranged. It is all fine and well that JDate’s trying to protect their services and keep them for paying members only. But this filter-and-remove system also confuses readers, as it routinely eliminates words that are necessary to understanding what the member is trying to convey: I figured this out when I included the following sentence in my profile: “I believe that basic cable (Comedy Central and the possibility of seeing THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION forty times each day) is the right of every American.” The day after I made this change, I looked at my profile and discovered that the word America had been deleted, leaving a lonely, widowed n on its own, looking very much like…(creepy drumroll)…a typo. This would not do. A typo in my profile? No way—I’ve got a rep to protect. Now I have to remember to censor myself, to steer clear of the word America in my JDate essays. That’s literally the most un-American thing I’ve ever experienced. Then there’s the issue with obscenities. This is mind-boggling, because references to porn go untouched, but any juxtaposition of the letters a, s, and s are targeted for extermination. How’d I figure this out? Here was the clue for me: “I like activities such urfing.” Clearly, the writer of this profile did not intend to convey that he was an urfing fanatic (although urfing does sound fun). Then I looked at the missing letters, and EUREKA! The missing letters spelled ass!! Even with a space between the letters, JDate’s search engine must have picked up on this: “Ooh, you rascally clients, you—trying to sneak a naughty word like ass into your profile…” In reality, none of these clients were trying to do this. It was an unlucky placement of letters that led to words being deleted and creating the impression that the profile’s writer is illiterate or careless. The slippery slope here is clear. It’s only a matter of time before we’ll have sentences like this to look forward to: “ensible an ensible can be, I’ll ess your profile before contacting you. If thi s all the right note cept musical ones, LOL, contact me.” (Not a code-cracker yet? Try this version: “As sensible an American as sensible can be, I’ll assess your profile before contacting you. If this hits all the right notes except musical ones, LOL, contact me.”)

2 comments:

Walter Rego said...

One of the main reasons why I never did sign up for JDate was utter exasperation after the 15th re-write of my profile was rejected. They just never would pass any of the semi literate, semi intelligible spellings I was able to could come up with for Eishet Chayil (as in I'm looking for a _______ Eishet Chayil). Not that I have anything in particular against dating former service women, but I just could not bring myself to use "Woman of Valor".

ArtF said...

If I may add an idea that may be worthy of consideration. I too have had considerable issues with all of the current iterations of dating sites, so I built my own.

I recently launched a new Jewish Singles site, j2jsingles.com. The site is build to be so much more than a "search, e-mail and pray" site, because we've added a ton of content.

Would you consider being a part of this new site, making recommendations and suggestions directly with the owners, and helping craft a new generation of Jewish Singles site? If so, please contact me at info@j2jsingles.com.

THis is really not meant as a marketing thing, I would just love to have feedback from real users to help build the best Jewish dating site I can.