Suggestions that may improve my OKCupid profile or conversation initiations?
August 5, 2012 4:37 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions that may improve my OKCupid profile or conversation initiations?

I still haven't been having much luck with my OKCupid profile. Any thoughts regarding my profile? Or regarding pictures (do I need better pictures or take pictures differently; should I swap my default pic; etc)?

By the way, for a while, I had my default picture the one where I'm laughing at my goofball cousin. I recently changed it to my current one where I'm wearing my fraternity jacket at the zoo. No significant difference in my profile views or OKCupid success.

The way that I normally initiate a conversation is by finding something interesting on a woman's profile, and then asking her about it. Here are some example initiation attempts I've made:

"How's it going? It's awesome that you love adventure and travel. It's always interesting to explore, or see different lifestyles. I definitely have wanderlust. Where are some places you've been?"

"How's it going? You mention that you're going to school for your bachelor's in nursing... I'm curious, what draws you to that major?"

"How's it going? You mention that you like hiking. I just picked up on that hobby a couple months ago. Where are some placed you've been? "

More than half the time, they don't even check out my page. And the ones that do still don't respond to my message.

I've been on this website for 7 months. To date, I've had a real conversations with only two women. Really starting to feel like I'm wasting my time.

Any suggestions that may improve my OKCupid success?
posted by Willpower to Human Relations (49 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Two things come to mind:

1) I would leave out the Meyers-Briggs/Jung personality type. I don't think they're are nonsense, just very overused in dating profiles. If you feel the description really fits you, feel free to base a paragraph about your personality on the description, just leave out the letters.

2) In the "Message Me If" section, keep it short and leave out the information about yourself, at least in the form of "I statements". It should look more like:

"... like to travel, enjoy trying new things, can appreciate a sense of quirkiness. Love to learn, excited to share experiences. If this sounds like you, feel free to contact me."

(Only written better; I pulled that from my old how-to-date-online notes.)

I think your messages are really good, actually. I think most men send out far, far, far more messages than they receive replies to. I hate that online dating is such a numbers game, but it really is.
posted by peacrow at 4:45 PM on August 5, 2012

If you do nothing else, switch to the photo with the blue shirt. You're smiling and engaged with the photographer, the background is not distracting, and that blue is a really nice color on you that goes well with OKC's background.

We're 83% match and 92% friends, if that affects your weighting of my opinion on this topic. ;)
posted by teremala at 4:49 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

I like your profile and photos, though as a woman engaged to a woman I am not your target demographic. Two thoughts:

1 - Be careful not to ask questions that require too much work to answer; I definitely wouldn't respond to someone asking me about my major; I don't want to write a long & thoughtful first response on a dating site.

2 - It's shitty, but race matters on okcupid. The article is worth reading, if only to adjust your expectations as to how frequently women may write back.
posted by insectosaurus at 4:50 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I can't tell if 'shoes' is on purpose here:
I'm active and go out often. I do salsa dance classes, outdoor excursions/adventures, downhill mountain-bike riding, hiking to waterfalls, improv and comedy shoes, etc
But for this light-years-from-your-target-demographic viewer typos are a big turn-off.

What I’m doing with my life
I work at a winery while I'm getting ready to apply for grad school.

Allow me to suggest that 'working at a winery' is not what you are doing with your life. This is where you get to lay out your big plan. "I'm working towards a masters in ___________. I'd like to take that degree and go out into the world to do ________________."
posted by carsonb at 4:58 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

You are cute and interesting! Agreed that the blue shirt is the best picture. And also agreed that questions thy require a lot of work are going to get less responses.
posted by two lights above the sea at 5:02 PM on August 5, 2012

Response by poster: RE: peacrow.

I leave in the meyers-briggs thing because some people have (and may) send me a message based off of it, or mention it in conversation. I'm looking to retain as many "hooks" in my profile as possible. I kind of feel that my profile is already a bit on the long side, so instead of writing a whole paragraph, I've put up those four letters; if someone wishes to discuss it more, they can message me. Thanks for the suggestion though.

You're right about editing my "Message Me If..." section. I removed:
"I can be playful at times. Often enough, though, I also like to be sweet and somewhat romantic ...So don't message me if you find that kind of thing to be hokey or overly sentimental."
I used "you" more and have now edited it toward more positive statements regarding what they'd be getting. It essentially communicates the same thing, but by using more positive words (rather than negative words such as "don't"), the section ultimately gives off a better vibe. Thanks!
posted by Willpower at 5:07 PM on August 5, 2012

What's up with the random bold face? Maybe I've been writing too many grant proposals, but it makes it look like you're writing a grant proposal.

Also, yeah. Race and OKCupid. It sucks, but there it is.

You're adorable.
posted by baby beluga at 5:09 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

My only comment on your pictures (other than that you are so, so cute) is that, for me, the picture of you texting would give me pause (but not so much that I wouldn't reply to you, because, seriously, you are adorable) simply because I dislike hanging out with people that texting or doing other things on their phone constantly.

But I'm also much older than you and probably grouchier about phones and have never used a dating site, so take that with a grain of salt.
posted by amarynth at 5:18 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm your age and I just have to say that your questions are well thought out, but emotionally draining to answer online. I think these getting to know you questions are usually better left for the first couple of dates.

If you say that you can be playful at times, then why not try to use a joke when first messaging someone? I've noticed some people's profiles say that they will respond to a joke that catches their attention. I think it's worth a try!

You also need better photographs. You look good in your photographs, but the quality of the photographs and size should all be the same. Also, more engaging photos rather than the one of you looking at your phone or looking elsewhere!

You also have far too much information in your profile. I don't think that many people have the interest or attention span to read such a lengthy profile (even if it's interesting and well thought out).

Keep your profile short, sweet, and add a few jokes in a few sections of the profile. Write with a voice that allows you to showcase your personality more. Good luck!
posted by livinglearning at 5:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: RE: carsonb
The "shoes"-"shows" typo was actually just created today as I was editing that section of my profile. I fixed it. Thanks for the heads up.
Second--regarding my "What I'm doing with my life" section. I used to have more information in that section, but I decided to truncate it in order to leave a hook. I did this at the advice of my sister. I want people to be able to message me, "What are you thinking about studying in grad school?" I already explained on my profile that I'm interested in researching phytotherapy (herbalism) as a hobby... which is a second hook regarding people being able to ask me about my future life goals... discussing it in actual conversation. If enough people here on Metafilter feel i should remove the hook and add elaboration, though, I will.

RE: crabintheocean
I know that I asked for help on my profile before. I took the advice that I received and yet there is still no significant change in my OKCupid success. So the problem is still unresolved. If I had started to date women, or even occasionally have conversations with OKCupid women, then I would have no need to ask this question again. That's not the case. Despite all the changes I've made to my profile, I'm still just as unsuccessful as before. So I still need help.
posted by Willpower at 5:19 PM on August 5, 2012

I'd be thrilled if I'd have gotten messages from someone who looked like you when I was single.

That said, I think you might want to avoid the probing questions when reaching out. Try something lighter, maybe just a comment, not a question, nothing interrogative.
posted by fingersandtoes at 5:21 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

Use the blue shirt photo! You look cutest in it. You also need better pics, two of the ones you have are sort of blurry. And let me join the chorus that you're adorable!

To me your major issue is you come off a little stiff. The random bold face is weirdly formal and emphatic, the pictures are not dynamic. Example: you're at the zoo and texting? No pictures of you next to animals? Wacky faces with the monkeys? Pretending to be scared of the lions? The messages you sent are in the same vein: "Hello, how are you? I see you do [X]. I am also interested in [X]. What do you like about [X]?" They're generic at best, insincere at worst. It is tough for guys on OKC, you have to send out so damn many messages that you don't want to put your heart into a creative writing masterwork only to get nothing back. But if you add a little bit of detail or humor to the intro it can really pump up the interest.

For example, chick likes to travel, say she went to Brazil. Your question could be "Brazil? I always wanted to go there! But ever since my friend lost their leg in the tragic Samba Stampede of '97 I've been terrified of Carnivale. Did you have a local plan you an escape route for emergencies or did you stay away from Rio?" Or maybe that type of humor isn't your thing, but just adding a little specificity and humor to the question can make your intros not sound so robotic.
posted by Anonymous at 5:23 PM on August 5, 2012

Alternatively, if you use pictures like texting at the zoo, include a humorous caption like "Don't be fooled, I may look bored but I was teaching an otter how to use an iPhone. They're surprisingly intelligent."
posted by Anonymous at 5:25 PM on August 5, 2012

Oh, if you're not talking about weed when you say, "Finding some herb that will help you with whatever health problem you may have or get," you should change that, because I thought you were talking about weed.
posted by amarynth at 5:26 PM on August 5, 2012 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: I see some comments saying that some my conversations initiation questions might be a little too draining. I still want to show that I actually read the girl's profile and found something interesting. I want my message to be unique; not one of those ones that can appear like a generic copy/paste. Does anyone have any examples of a question that would do those, without being draining?

Maybe post a message that you've received from a guy that you appreciated and/or lead to a conversation with that guy.
Thanks for all your input.
posted by Willpower at 5:28 PM on August 5, 2012

Response by poster: RE: schroedinger
Thank you! I will definitely try to add some spice to it. I do that occasionally already, but I agree that I could use that more often. Half of the problem though is.... women's profiles are often very dry or generic too. The will say they like travel but not list any specific places, etc... Or they will have information on their personality, yet have very few actual "hooks" that we can talk about. But yeah I'll try to be more creative.

RE: amarynth
I explain in my "My Details" box that I don't smoke and that I "never" do drugs. I also explain later in my profile that I spend a lot of my free time looking into clinical studies pertaining to phytotherapy (herbalism). Nevertheless, I understand that this might be confused. So I now clarified with parenthesis that I'm not talking about marijuana when I say "some herb" in that section.
posted by Willpower at 5:39 PM on August 5, 2012

Successful OKC messages to me have fallen into roughly three categories:

1) Person was so hot it didn't matter what they said provided they weren't into punching kittens (alas, few of us meet this criteria)

2) Person wrote a message that indicated they shared serious interest in a relatively unique hobby of mine. Only works if you actually share that person's hobby. For example if I'm really into birdwatching, the person was like "I'm involved in trying to increase the population of ivory-billed woodpeckers" or "I saw a blahblah bird on my last nature walk", not "Birds are cool, I like birds too, what's your favorite bird?"

3) Person wrote a humorous message that included a detail or two. Detail and length didn't really matter provided the message was entertaining and the person was cute and their profile wasn't insane.
posted by Anonymous at 5:40 PM on August 5, 2012

Sorry to keep spamming this thread, but a lot of people have dry, generic profiles because they're terrified of coming out of their shells. When you add humor to a message, it encourages the people who find you funny and interesting to try to be funny and interesting in reply (and as a bonus discourages those who wouldn't get your jokes anyway).
posted by Anonymous at 5:42 PM on August 5, 2012

Response by poster: I don't mind your "spamming" scroedinger lol. I removed the random boldfacing too, thanks.
I changed my picture to the blue shirt one. I didn't know whether that one would make me appear to uptight/formal. But I guess it's fine.

I kind of feel like the overall changes that I've just today made to my profile are majorly minor, however.... I don't see these changes as being "make it or break it" in terms of my OKCupid success.
I really like the suggestion for humor and such. However, regarding:
"Where are some placed you've hiked?" for the hiking person, or
"Where are some places you've been?" for the person who mentions they love travel...
...I wouldn't really see these as icebreakers that should be deterring responses.

I will definitely add humor to my icebreakers if possible. But other than that, I don't really yet see my profile as having changed so much as to suddenly gain a significant degree of more success.
posted by Willpower at 6:02 PM on August 5, 2012

I know someone already said it upthread but the Myer's-Briggs thing is a turn-off for me for sure. Otherwise I think the profile is fine.

Your questions would put me off. They are a little textbook and ask too much for a first question. You're essentially asking someone to invest in writing you what might be a relatively involved reply and you've given her a one-liner. You didn't do any work in the message or use it to self-disclose at all. Explaining "textbook": I would look at your message and interpret it as: "Hi [blank], I read your profile and I found it really interesting that you like [blank]. I have always been interested in [blank] too. What have you [blank]ed lately?" I would think that you send some variation of that message to ten girls a day.

Humor is good, as is self-disclosure - using the info from her profile and building on it a little more. Give a little, say how you felt reading her profile. Ask about the things she didn't talk about. Tell her something you imagine about her having read her profile - you might be right or wrong but I bet it will provoke a response.
posted by yogalemon at 6:15 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'd totally respond to your questions, even if they were complicated! However, the best questions are the sorts of questions that show you've read her profile and found something in common. "Oh - your major is nursing? I've been working with some nurses on this herbology thing. Have you gotten to do any sort of clinical experience?" "Wow - your picture from South Africa is crazy. I've never been there, but I'm planning a trip to Ecuador. Any travel advice?" Something that shows that not only have you read her profile, but you've thought about ways you might be able to connect.
posted by ChuraChura at 6:25 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think your biggest problem is your opening messages. They're too hard to respond to and offer nothing of yourself.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:39 PM on August 5, 2012 [3 favorites]

I think your biggest problem is your location. I don't see a single thing wrong with your profile. If I was in your area and dated guys, I'd be thrilled to get a message from you.
posted by randomname25 at 6:42 PM on August 5, 2012

Typo in the first line; I didn't read further. (It's is one of the...)
posted by heyho at 7:45 PM on August 5, 2012

Response by poster: I'll definitely try making opening messages that are more involved (self-disclosing, etc). Doing so can only help.

However, I'd also like some insight: for the girls who look at my profile, what's keeping them from messaging me? Particularly those girls whose profiles I haven't even visited yet; say, they came across my profile through matchmaker or Quiver or something. Sure, I may remove the ENFP thing... but I don't think that that alone would hold a girl back from messaging me. What's the deal?

Or do most girls simply have a policy against messaging guys first?
(--They check out you profile before you ever see theirs, yet still expect you to be the first one to send a message to them, even if they are already somewhat interested in you?)
posted by Willpower at 7:47 PM on August 5, 2012

Mod note: OP, maybe a little less threadsitting? This is an ask/answer thing, not so much an open discussion. Let us know if you have questions.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:59 PM on August 5, 2012

I wonder if it's the religious thing? Most people I've encountered on OkC are atheist or at least agnostic. If you're a person whose faith is important to them, you might be better off on something like eHarmony. Of course my impression could be skewed as an atheist that matches with other atheists.
posted by Raichle at 8:26 PM on August 5, 2012 [2 favorites]

I am just one female, but even though you are attractive, I may have skipped over you because my biggest thing is sense of humor. A profile always had to be funny in order for me to become interested.
As for your messages- same thing. BTW, Your photos are great.
posted by KogeLiz at 8:35 PM on August 5, 2012

I'm in your demographic and I do see things that would turn me from "if we visit each other's profiles several times each then I might message him" to "eh." They are incredibly nit-picky but if you're looking for one person's opinion, let me know and I can send you a pm. (I also should show up on your view list as the profile ending in "mas," so feel free to hit me up.)

The blue photo is the best--the texting one looks like you're inattentive, and if you can't look away from the phone in a photo meant for me, will you act the same way irl? The ambience and your look are great, however. The grinning one is fine! Maybe a pensive/grumpy-closer in-looking away photo would be good. Posing with friends is also great because then I know you're a member of a social group.

I have examples of good and bad opening messages which I can also send you (and anyone else who would like them).

I want to have to check in on something that I'm noticing and--I'm sorry if this is just me reading into it--but it could be something that prospective messagers pick up on. You said: the section ultimately gives off a better vibe... I wouldn't really see these as icebreakers that should be deterring responses. It sounds like you are deciding what people should like. However, there isn't any reason you would get to decide that. The people who read your profile are the ones who decide, and they vote with their "Send" button. Making crazy, non-effective changes might do something. If nothing else, it will be a substantial change to your profile and I'm pretty sure that sends people your way.

(--They check out you profile before you ever see theirs, yet still expect you to be the first one to send a message to them, even if they are already somewhat interested in you?) Yes, sometimes. If that's something you don't want to do then I would add it in your profile. I'm not deterred when someone writes that they are probably interested in communicating but appreciate a girl making the first move.
posted by ramenopres at 9:11 PM on August 5, 2012

for the girls who look at my profile, what's keeping them from messaging me? Particularly those girls whose profiles I haven't even visited yet; say, they came across my profile through matchmaker or Quiver or something.

Part of it is that I think a LOT of women wait for the dude to message them. When I was doing OKC I would often look at a guy's profile, give them stars, and then see if they would message me. I would OCCASIONALLY message dudes, but they rarely wrote back, whereas I had a lot of success starring people and then waiting. So that is probably part of it. A lot of women will not message you first.

The other thing is, seriously, I am not going to take the time to write someone an essay about why I went into nursing. I'm just not -- you are going to have a lot better luck messaging someone an amusing question but not one that requires a hella long answer. And ditto to making it clear that when you're talking about herbs, you don't mean weed. Plenty of people don't even look over at the "drugs" section, but that read like code to me.

All this being said, you are totally cute!
posted by Countess Sandwich at 9:15 PM on August 5, 2012

Regarding the questions, there is too much writing for me.

"How's it going? It's awesome that you love adventure and travel. It's always interesting to explore, or see different lifestyles. I definitely have wanderlust. Where are some places you've been?" --> "How's it going? It's awesome that you love adventure and travel. Where are some places you've been?"
posted by ramenopres at 9:19 PM on August 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I get the sense from your profile that you're cute, intelligent, and a decent human being. And you're on target when it comes to mentioning something SPECIFIC in a woman's profile. I can't tell you how many copy + paste jobs land in my inbox on an almost daily basis!

But yes, men are generally expected to send the first message. It's not fair, and not all women abide by that expectation, but you will have the best odds if you commit to contacting each and every lady who catches your eye. Said odds will improve even more if you experiment with different sites.

Oh, and you know about OKC's anonymous browsing feature, right? Just because a woman doesn't show up on your profile's visitor list doesn't mean she didn't check you out.

Good luck! Dating is hard.
posted by jessca84 at 9:25 PM on August 5, 2012

I just got a message the other day that I thought was just right. Here it is:

"I am pretty amazed about the amount of things that we have in common and would love to get to know you better. I am a big reader too but also a closet Fast and Furious fan. I live in the OB/Point Loma area of town, how about you?"

Complimentary, but does not mention looks. Says things we have in common, volunteers slightly personal info, asks a question that's easy to answer, and done. Perfect tone--casual but interested. Not too long! And not weird or creepy.

I'm not looking for someone to make me fall in love with them with their first message. I just want some reason to look at their profile.

Here are some I did not answer:

"I saw your profile and really like your positive vibe. You are very beautiful. You have amazing eyes and great smile. I would like to chat sometime in the very near future. Hope you have a great weekend :)"

"Hello... just thought I would say hi. I liked your profile. Would you like to chat sometime?"

Are you interested in playing with a French cock?"

posted by exceptinsects at 10:07 PM on August 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

However, I'd also like some insight: for the girls who look at my profile, what's keeping them from messaging me?

OP, not every girl is going to be into you! Not every girl will share your interests or your sense of humor, and not every girl is going to think you're cute. I don't mean this to be rude, just to gently remind you that just because someone clicks the little tiny icon that takes them to your page, doesn't mean they're going to like what they see.

I mean, you don't message every profile you visit, right? Same deal.

Plus, sometimes it's just fun to look.
posted by too bad you're not me at 12:12 AM on August 6, 2012

Maybe this is a cultural difference, but the Myers-Briggs thing is a bit of a turnoff for me because it suggests someone who believes in 'emotional intelligence' rather than just feelings. It's kind of corporate woo. I'm not completely clear on what it means, but it gives the impression of someone who will say 'Well, I am an OMGBBQ and you are an LMFAO, so while I fancy the pants off of you I'm afraid, practically speaking, that we can never be lovers'. It suggests a little bit of taking oneself too seriously. As I said, this might be a cultural thing because I'm not from the US and that stuff isn't common here.

If discussing it is important to you, however, and it isn't just there to start conversations, then keep it in. You're just filtering out people who aren't interested in discussing that stuff, which is fine. Keep things in because you#'re interested in them, not because you think others will be.
posted by mippy at 8:09 AM on August 6, 2012

Maybe I'm just being harsh because an earlier thread reminded me of a guy who had a motivational poster up in his flat. But for me personally - and I stress the personally, because I might not even be the kind of person you'd want to date were I single - the Myers-Briggs thing seems a bit stiff and formal and I'd extrapolate that you are quite a formal, corporate type person.
posted by mippy at 8:15 AM on August 6, 2012

I think a lot of it is that you're not going to be for everybody, just like you won't like everyone you look at at. Personally, I'd stop right at the Catholic mention and you even mention faith in your "thinking about" section. That will be great for some people, but is a turn off for me. I agree with the poster who said OKC is less religious-leaning, although I've had guys complain to me that it's hard to find girls who aren't religious on the site. Have you tried focusing your searches on people who list Catholic as their religion? I'm not even sure if that's something you're looking for but it's something to try (you don't need to mention it when you message them).

Things I would think about changing:

I hate when people put "hah" or "nice try" or something along those lines in the "most private thing" section. Just leave it blank if you're not going to answer it.

I would say "I'm applying for grad school" instead of "getting ready to..." because it sounds like you're more serious about it and have your act together.

Spell out the word "and" instead of using an ampersand (&). These are obviously very nit-picky, so don't take it too seriously.

Sure, I message guys, but the return rate is pretty low and, despite what they say, a lot of guys have bad reactions to women making the first move. I only do it when I've looked at their profile and they haven't made the first move and I really think they're awesome and worth it.
posted by Bunglegirl at 9:57 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Work on your messages. You've gotten some advice about how to modify that part of your OKC experience, but I'll add my own way of saying it.

Everything is very shallow and textbook and automated. It looks like you scanned a profile for one interesting thing and plopped it into a script.

"How's it going?" would bug me. A lot. It's something you say in passing to strangers without actually expecting a reply, so it comes off as insincere.

You're picking out very broad, generic parts of these profiles that can be answered in very broad, generic ways. Instead, you should try to tease out how the woman is different, and how you are different from everyone else. Pick up on unexpected details, and focus on those, instead of overarching themes.

Or if you do have to stick with broad topics, ask more specific questions. Take something you already know about the topic at hand, and get her to play off that. Or mention your own thought or opinion related to something she talks about.

When you write a copy-paste question, she can give a copy-paste answer.

Be more engaged and creative, write icebreaker messages that no other guy could write.

But it doesn't have to be over the top. exceptinsects's example of a good message is, indeed, very very good.
posted by itesser at 10:58 AM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I removed the ENFP thing. It's not a big deal for me.

Some people mention that my opening messages should be more involved.... so does that mean I'm able to write 6-liners? Or should I still keep them to 2-3 sentences. It's harder the shorter.
posted by Willpower at 1:26 PM on August 6, 2012

I commented regarding your messages in your previous askme post. Although the examples of messages you are providing in this askme post are better than last time they still need improvement.

"How's it going? It's awesome that you love adventure and travel. It's always interesting to explore, or see different lifestyles. I definitely have wanderlust. Where are some places you've been?"

The problem with this message is that the question you pose is too generic and bland. You state that you love to travel, well what are some places that you have been? You can frame your question as such:

"I traveled to [Country A] last last year and noticed that you have been to [Country B]. What did you think of traveling to [Country B?] What were some of the highlights of traveling to [Country B]? I have always thought about traveling to [Country B], but wasn't sure if there was really that much to do there."

Do you see how much more engaging greater my question is?

"How's it going? You mention that you're going to school for your bachelor's in nursing... I'm curious, what draws you to that major?"

This question demonstrates that you're lazy and lack personality. Furthermore, this question tells the reader nothing about who you are. You need to include more about yourself and work harder to engage the reader. Rather than question their career choice, it may be wiser to compliment them. Example:

"I see that you are earning your bachelors in nursing. That's really impressive, I hear that nursing is actually pretty tough. How are you able to get out of the house? Aren't nursing students glued to their biology books? "

Okay so this may not be my best revision. It would really help me out if I knew what you were majoring in and what your interests were. Your homework for tonight is to go back and revise your questions to make them (1) more specific/engaging; and (2) give the reader an idea of who you are.

"How's it going? You mention that you like hiking. I just picked up on that hobby a couple months ago. Where are some placed you've been? "

Okay so you picked up hiking. PROVE IT. Where did you hike? What did you think of the hike? Where do you want to hike? You better provide more details or the girls you are messaging will tell you to take a hike!

I'm tired of giving free advice at this point. Next time you're going to have to pay me big $$$.
posted by Jurbano at 6:30 PM on August 6, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: RE: Jurbano

Regarding being more specific, that's extremely hard when almost all the girls are only general. When people put on their OKCupid that they like travel or adventures, they almost never actually mention a country that they've been to. Which is why I ask them where they've been to. Something simple that can lead to a more specific conversation.

When people are only general, I am forced to only respond by creating somewhat general opening messages. The same applies for someone who says they like "hiking"--I'd ask where they've hiked. Or someone who likes dancing--I'd ask what styles they know (salsa, etc. ---and yes with "salsa, etc." in parenthesis in that opening message). The fact almost all people are general in their profile, dramatically handicaps my ability to make the kinds of messages that you all have been idealistically suggesting.

I agree with giving people more of an idea of who I am. The biggest problem I have when it comes to this regard, is that some people will say that I'm writing too much. As in, if it's more than 3 lines, then it's too much for a first message. It's supposed to be "sweet and simple," is the majority chorus. Or is this not true? Is it better for me to have opening messages that are highly-invested with even two paragraphs or more of length?

I agree with putting in more personal details. Such as saying a bit about where specifically I hiked. The advice on giving more personal info is not something that was discussed the last time that I posted about this. The last time I posted about my OKCupid, people were focusing more on my profile. When they talked about messages, they pretty much said that I needed to be more engaging--specific example someone gave me: "Oh, you like movies? Horror movies? Which ones?" --- as the kind of thing I should be saying in a first message. But yeah I'll disclose more about myself. I was just concerned about writing to much in the first message, because as far as I know, the majority of people say that the first message should not be longer than 3-4 sentences. I might as well try something new and do as you say by making them long.

I can try and make a joke or assertion about their major if they provide that, and I agree that may be more engaging. And I can disclose more personal info if that won't make the message as coming off "too long" as some other people have already asserted it would. But still, as I said, I can't make the ideal specific opening message regarding hobbies when almost all OKCupid profiles are only general when it comes to addressing people's hobbies (travel, hiking, outdoorsy stuff, etc.).
posted by Willpower at 11:05 PM on August 6, 2012

Excuses! Give me an example of a girl's profile that you're interested in which only provides general information. I will help you draft your message. You can send this to me in a personal mefi message. Because I am in a generous mood, there will be no charge this time.

--You assert that "something simple that can lead to a more specific conversation," but you are asking how to improve your response rate not whether a response is possible. Although it's possible for "something simple" to lead to a more specific conversation, this is NOT the most effective strategy for getting responses in the first place. From my understanding, you want to increase responses.

--"Sweet and simple" is being overstated. Yes, you do not want to overwhelm the reader with a million different things. However, you do need to show that you are interesting. Your messages are no doubt simple, but they are not interesting enough to warrant a high response rate. Frankly, sweet and simple only works for people with great pictures (and it's the pictures, not how something is said that's generating the response).

--The 3-4 sentences (basically a paragraph) requirement is a rule of thumb. I've written massive initial messages and nevertheless received responses because I engaged the reader. Your messages can be shorter or longer than 3-4 sentences. The real focus should be on engaging the reader.

--The examples I provided you that you describe as "long" only have four sentences each. This is actually within the paragraph requirement. I am not talking about sentence length, but requesting that you provide greater specificity. Your messages are flat and they lack personality. In other words, they do not engage the reader.

--Just because the majority of people tell you to do something does not mean it's right. You need to think more critically about the reasoning behind things.
posted by Jurbano at 2:03 PM on August 7, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dude, I want to put this as gently as possible, but your messages suck. They're generic and bland. If she doesn't give you anything to engage with, either use your own creative energy or find someone who does and stop wasting your time on personality-deprived girls. You should be able to do this concisely, and if you aren't there, try harder.

I don't know how much of the problem here is who you're messaging and how frequently, or where you live, but zero personality is shining through your messages and that's undoubtedly a problem (especially considering that your profile is also conservative and bland).
posted by J. Wilson at 5:07 PM on August 7, 2012

The biggest problem I have when it comes to this regard, is that some people will say that I'm writing too much. As in, if it's more than 3 lines, then it's too much for a first message. It's supposed to be "sweet and simple," is the majority chorus. Or is this not true? Is it better for me to have opening messages that are highly-invested with even two paragraphs or more of length?

Do what comes best to you! Don't think so much in formulas. Neither relationships nor people fit into strict formulae.
posted by ramenopres at 6:10 PM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thought I would chime in with my two cents worth here.
I joined OK Cupid last week & I can't tell you how many terrible messages I have received in this short time. IMO your messages aren't bad at all, they aren't the best I have seen but nowhere near the worst.
As I am Australian I have had "G'DAY" as a message about 4 times from different guys, no questions, no effort on their part, then I have had total copy & paste jobs like "Nice profile. You have many interests. To break the ice if there was a movie about your life what genre would it be?" (PUKE)
If I received a message like your example ones, I'd appreciate that you had shown some genuine interest in what I had to say in my profile, Maybe as people have mentioned above make the questions you ask "less open" & easier to answer (for that first initial message anyway, you can get into more details later down the track).

My initial reaction to your profile was "Oh wow he's good looking!" I don't understand why you wouldn't get any responses??! I think maybe... you've written too much on your profile? (I'm sure this has been mentioned above) I think it will help if you make all the sections short & sweet (& leave a little mystery for the lucky ladies to discover down the track)
It is definitely a numbers game ... Goodluck !
posted by MsOz at 7:36 PM on August 7, 2012

Just wanted to second Jurbano on this: it's not the length of the message that is the problem, it is the content. If you are saying something interesting, women aren't going to care whether it's 4 sentences or 6.

if you think the girl is not providing enough specific information to go after in their profile, you can just be more specific about your own interests and activities. "I notice you said you like to dance. I love salsa dancing. Have you ever been to the Rancho Cucamonga Salsa Night Dance Party?' (I made that up). I find that people are often most specific in their profile about naming TV shows, bands, and books that they like, so those might be better targets than hobbies or background?

Best of luck, I think it's only a matter of time. Glad you removed the Myers-Briggs thing. It's an improvement. By the way, you might want to just move the part about your interest in phytotherapy up to the part about finding herbs for what ails you. I also had the reaction "oh, weed! Wait a minute, he says he's not talking about weed. Is he into quack science or homeopathy or something?" If you mentioned "researching clinical trials about herbs for medical use" I would have had more respect for it. (I was skimming the profile, probably like most girls do, and I missed your later reference to what you meant with your herb hobby).
posted by treehorn+bunny at 8:38 PM on August 7, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks a lot.

And teehorn, I'll definitely move up my explanation of my interest in phytotherapy. I'll also take your advice regarding content and specifics (briefly discussing my own interest/activities specifically, if not hers, in the opening message).
posted by Willpower at 1:04 AM on August 8, 2012

treehorn+bunny has the same revision of your opening message that I wanted to give. When writing introductory messages, you want to:

1) Show that you've read her profile, and not just stared lustily at her breasts.

2) Give her enough of a taste of your personality to make her want to click over and read your profile.

3) Make it easy for her to continue the conversation.

I'd stay away from asking big, open-ended questions. I know that they feel natural - in conversation with a person, you'd want to give them space to talk - but OKCupid is different. If she has to delay responding to your message (because writing about her interest in nursing takes time) you increase the chances that she will forget to respond, or wait a week and feel too guilty about the delay to respond.

"Have you ever been to the Rancho Cucamonga Salsa Night Dance Party?" is great, because it makes it easy for her to give you information (loves salsa, hates salsa, is a classically trained ballet dancer, has never tried salsa but might be willing to give it a go) and continue the conversation without spending all night typing a response. Plus, these kinds of specifics make it easy to translate online conversation into real-life meetings. If she's willing to give the Rancho Cucamonga Salsa Night Dance Party a try, boom, there's your first date. If she's a hiker but doesn't like the Great Rocky Trail you mentioned, she can offer to show you er favorite Lesser-Known Tree-Lined Trail once you two get to know each other a little better.

Bear in mind that you don't have to phrase something as a question to start a conversation, either. Try this: "Hi! It's awesome that you love adventure and travel. I definitely have wanderlust, and just got back from visiting the Great Wall of Oklahoma. I would love to compare notes some time. I bet that you've seen some cool things."
posted by catalytics at 8:21 AM on August 8, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Well put catalytics. And thanks for the insight! You're right--I need not be fixated on ending my opening messages with question marks.
posted by Willpower at 12:24 PM on August 8, 2012

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