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The Digital Dating Test Drive

We've test driven five dating sites and apps. We've braved sleazy sexpats with their cheap lines and dick pics. Here's all you need to know.
2014-02-14 11:14:18



You don't have to go it alone tonight. There is a host of dreamboats and potential sociopaths that would love to go on a Valentine's Day date with you. We have test driven five dating sites and smartphone apps. Here's everything you need to know.


Craigslist




Cost: Free

Sign-up time: 5 minutes

Messages received: 0

Messages received from guys who weren’t complete jerk-offs: 0

The Positives: You can be as anonymous and autonomous as you want to be. I didn’t have to follow any guidelines for attaching photos or answer some hollow question about whether I think blue or green is the smarter color.

The Negatives: I’ve joined a lineup of Internet riffraff and it makes me feel a little bad about myself. Competing for the attention of my potential suitors, for instance, is “The Ladyboy Punisher”, who promises “anal torture and other pleasures” to the highest bidder.

The worst blow to my ego, though, was that I didn’t receive a single message in 48 hours. I initially posted an ad in the “Women Seeking Men” section of the dating and romance category, and when that went entirely ignored, I hastily put another one up in the “Casual Encounters” section. This one was only a desperate two-liner about how I needed male company for Valentine’s Day, but not a single man or tranny dom-for-hire came a-knockin’.

First offer for sex: Never came.

Highlights: Reading other CL posts in this category was the sole delight.

Deleting your account: Easy. Three mouse clicks and it’s done.

– Cindy Kuan




Momo




Cost: Free

Sign-up time: 10 minutes (5 minutes to search for and download the app, another 5 for profile setup)

Messages received: 32, plus 7 comments on my status. This message count reflects different users and doesn’t take into account repeat messages from the same user.
One guy, for example, messaged me six times over 24 hours before I ever replied, saying things like “we r so close”, “im longing for ur voice” and later, simply “please”. His pictures included extreme close-ups of dolls with wide-eyed, cherubic faces set above bulging stripper boobs.

Messages received from guys who weren’t complete jerk-offs: 6
This doesn’t mean that the rest were all jerks. Sometimes the conversation simply didn’t progress past the initial “hello” and “wat u doin” phase. I’ll admit I was a bit harsh in this count. One guy almost got included, but then he punctuated our conversation with: “it says you are just 1km away from me?” Same with another fellow, who sent: “You seem like a cool person to talk with" and "I promise not to take a picture of my penis against a ruler”, then two minutes later “unless you ask me to that is [string of smiley emoticons]”.

The Positives: Many active users. I'm not sure what it's like for guys using Momo, but as a girl, it's pretty easy to put in minimal effort and receive lots in return. I didn't have to pore through profiles or initiate conversation because a ton of dudes just messaged me based on one photo (of a cute friend).

Depending on your outlook, Momo's location-based feature can be a good or bad thing. I personally find it to be creepy, but it does help people connect with others in their own neighborhoods. It only displays a range of distance, not your exact location, so I can see how that might be nice for foreigners in the city, who mostly live in Xuhui and Jing'an. You can always choose to go on "invisible mode" so people can't find your profile through the “nearby” search function.

Also, the app’s got a nice, user-friendly interface, and there's an English version of it, though only for iPhone users. Momo also has walkie-talkie feature similar to WeChat's, which I suppose could come in handy.

The Negatives: Dick pics. I guess this is an unavoidable part of entering the digital dating world, and maybe some people would cite this as a "Positive", but for me — just, no.
Momo just feels shadier than the other dating sites and apps. I'm sure there are some decent people on there, but I wouldn't be surprised if there are also plenty of catfish types, douchebags and brazen gold-diggers to sift through, so my only recommendation is that if you have to use it, then hunt with caution.

First offer for sex: Came within 2 minutes of completing my profile. Points for efficiency? Maybe.

Highlights: Telling one of the dick pic guys that he looks like Professor Snape from the Harry Potter movies. He never replied.

Deleting your account: Moderately easy. I poked around the app's menus and settings for a few minutes. I didn't find a "delete" option, so I just pressed "log out" and deleted Momo from my phone entirely.

– Cindy Kuan




OKCupid




Cost: Free

Sign up time: Entirely too long.

Messages received: 0

Messages received from guys who weren’t complete jerk-offs: See above

First offer of sex: Never happened. I never got round to answering all the profile questions. They were time consuming and made no sense. Total verbal diarrhea. Here are a few:

- Which is worse: starving children or abused animals?
- How important is it to you that your partner smell good?
- Do you think women have an obligation to keep their legs shaved?

The Positives: None

The Negatives: As I was working on the questionnaire, I learned that I had a 50% match with someone with ‘Blood_on_Snow’ in his username. Shudder.

Highlights: None

Deleting your account: I still haven’t finished creating it.

– Irene Ramsay




SmartShanghai:




Cost: Free for the basic service. 160rmb / 3 months for the premium service.

Sign-up time: 10 minutes

Messages received: 46 and counting

The Positives: All profiles need to be approved first. Also, people seem to have actually taken the time to read my profile. Overall the messages were genuinely quite sweet. The profile questions weren’t too personal (take note, OkCupid) but also had a particular knack in bringing out personality. A certain someone’s mystery in life is "it sounds silly but all those missing single socks have to be somewhere…right?"

The Negatives: The free service only allows you two messages per day.

The Highlights: This message: "You can brightness any room. Be friend who calls love is like giving bread to those who die of thirst 
don't say we are not know each onther..even adem and eva not know each onther when they are borned."

First offer for sex: None yet. The people I talked to were all polite and decent.

Deleting your account: Easy. Got out of there in less than a minute.

– Irene Ramsay




Blendr




Cost: Free

Sign-up Time: Five minutes

Messages Received: 68 and counting

The Positives: It's straightforward about what it is. There's a "like/dislike" feature that lets you accept or dismiss someone with a press of a button. It tells you exactly how many guys have "checked you out", who has "favorited" you and how highly your photo is rated.

The Negatives: Users can tell when you’ve read a message. And they'll often hound you if you read their messages and don't reply. Some guys just can't take a hint.

First offer for sex: The first offer came in two minutes, but, to his credit, he was honest, telling me, "I’m looking for friends with benefits." Not long after, another one went straight down to it with, "Hey babe. Nice body, up for having fun?"

Meanwhile another guy, aged 25 with interests in Prison Break and Rihanna, gave me one word: "Sexy." I then got a stream of photos; one involved a measuring tape. Then there was another guy claiming to be 25 — an optimistic 40 at best.

Highlights: None. This is the virtual equivalent of walking into a bar full of desperate men. It's exhausting.

Disabling your account: It's not intuitively obvious. I still haven't figured it out. Maybe just delete the app?

– Irene Ramsay

TELL EVERYONE