Online dating is often a chaotic mess. Some people are spammers, some people are super gross, and some people just aren't a good match. Asher Snyder, CEO of Mesh -- which recently expanded from invite-only to letting everyone join, and will launch a mobile app at the end of the month -- estimates that the average woman on a dating site receives “150+ unwanted messages a week.”
Snyder told us how Mesh is trying to change that (starting with New York City) and hopefully change online dating from being such a frustrating numbers game.
MTV News: Mesh is built around your “smart filters.” What exactly do they filter?
Asher Snyder: All the obvious bad things, like spam and fake gibberish messages, but it can also detect vulgarity and "text speak" -- it can detect the grammar and the spelling level of a message, as compared to your grammar and spelling level. It knows if a message has simply been copied and pasted multiple times.
It’s like a spam filter, but applied to people and personality and what your preferences are.
MTV: So copying and pasting “u up?” to a bunch of girls will go into their mismatch folder?
Snyder Right... If the majority of your message is a unique message, then you won’t be penalized.
MTV: Is there an ideal message length?
Snyder: It depends on what the medium is. Because we started out with the website, the average message was maybe three sentences. When the mobile app comes out, we expect [the average] will be one to two sentences. You won’t be penalized if you’re coming from mobile.
MTV: And is all vulgarity considered a mismatch?
Synder: For the most part, by default, you can use a curse word in the context of a large message. But if someone has explicitly said that they don’t like that language, or they’ve shown through their actions that they don’t reply to messages that contain swear words, then the messages will go to their mismatch folder.
Mesh actually knows the contents of the messages. It can tell...what your normal practices are and what you’re open to.
MTV: In addition to the smart filters, there are also “dealbreaker” questions. Couldn't someone just try to guess the right answer?
Snyder: In the same way that OkCupid has questions, so do we. ... You can’t change your answers for about 24 hours, so it could be disadvantageous to guess, because locking in an answer that isn’t true to you might not match you up with someone else who has a different answer to that question. So it’s better to just answer them honestly.
We have seen that 95% of messages that [aren't filtered to the mismatch folder] will be replied to. ... What’s great is that all the crap messages get filtered out. That’s a net positive for all the guys that are sending normal messages. Even though we did build the site for women primarily, we want to make [online dating] better for everyone.
MTV: Aside from the message content, can you specify what you would like in a person?
Snyder: If you prefer a particular ethnicity or religion or height, you can make that private to the public. But the algorithm will know you want to date those people. If you are looking just for hook-ups, you can mark that as private so only Mesh knows.
Same is true for stuff like soft drugs, hard drugs or smoking. Let’s say you smoke, and you would like to be with someone that is open to that, but you don’t want it on your profile. You can do that.
MTV: Can people who live outside of NYC make a profile?
Snyder: We are currently focused on New York. Anyone in the U.S. can sign up. If there aren’t enough users in your area that are a match for what you’re interested in, the site is in "tour mode." As soon as there are enough users, you will be notified and it will go to "live mode." But we have users in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and L.A.