Replacement for
September 25, 2005 12:40 AM   Subscribe

OnlineDatingFilter: personals was once great. Now it sucks. Any suggestions for replacing a once-great source of intelligent singles with a dating site that actually has a client base that has a nominal number of people worthwhile courting? personals was once a source of people that wrote "self actualised prose" (i.e. had a brain and wern't afraid to show it) and were generally funky and interesting.,, and craigslist all have flaws in their membership, drawing far too heavily from people who don't write interesting things about themselves.

[note this doesn't mean the members of these sites aren't interesting people, but how is one meant to filter the vast number of people out there down to a few that are worth courting? Answer - what they write]

Basically used to let you search for free, and spend $1 to send an email. This meant that unless you were rich and stupid, you put some effort into the message for the person you were trying to woo.

Now, they have removed the credit system, replacing it with a subscription system at $25 p/m for unlimited emails.

This does 2 things:
1) Makes people send hundereds of emails to get their $$ worth, increasing the likelihood that your well crafted missive will be ignored

2) They have removed basic features from people who don't use the subscriber model. Most sites let you search based on distance from your geographical area. At the new Fast Cupid (the people who spring street networks have sold their soul to), you have to be a subscriber to make that basic search. They've cripled the site for people who aren't on the monthly subscription service.

Bah! Suggestions?

I've tried writing to the 'help desk', as have hundreds of other dissatisfied customers, but no joy.
posted by lalochezia to Human Relations (44 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That sucks, my wife and I met on springstreet (nerve) personals in 2003. At the time it was by far the best of the dating services out there (we had both tried quite a few others). I think that the credit system, and the relative lack of spam that it brought was a big part of that.

Hopefully, they'll realize their mistake soon, but it will probably be too late as by then they will have blended in with the rest of the crappy services out there.

I don't have experience with either of these, and it's likely that they experience the same problems as et. al. but have you looked at or yahoo personals?
posted by freshgroundpepper at 1:28 AM on September 25, 2005

It's possible that MySpace or a similar service will fill the gap. Seems to be the wave of the future --'s crappy replacement is even imitating it.
posted by johngoren at 1:38 AM on September 25, 2005


lalo's got a point, one I'd have probably been very interested in had I known: All-you-can-eat models encourage scattershot messaging, while per-missive costs encourage limited but in-depth communication. Interestingly, what we want out of our net connections (access to everyone, without limits) is precisely what we don't want from potential partners (access to that special someone, OK, still without limits, but just that one person).

Hmm. Yeah, I'm sad Nerve trashed that model too.

posted by effugas at 2:12 AM on September 25, 2005

Lavalife permits credit based contact.

Each service has their plusses and minuses, lavalife is no different along those lines.
posted by filmgeek at 9:02 AM on September 25, 2005

I don't have firsthand experience with online dating, but it seems that consumating wants to fill that niche. I don't know if they have the membership to actually do it, though.
posted by Eamon at 9:05 AM on September 25, 2005

it seems that consumating wants to fill that niche

Be aware that for some bizarre reason you must provide your First Name and Last Name in order to sign up for consumating. Why on earth that is necessary is beyond me. I guess you could put in a fake one.
posted by spicynuts at 9:40 AM on September 25, 2005

my understanding is that the company behind the nerve personals (spring street, which provided the same service/database to salon, the onion, sfgate, etc) ran out of funding and was acquired by the company now providing the functionality. alas.
posted by judith at 9:41 AM on September 25, 2005

Listen, the new world of online dating begins and ends with OkCupid. Not only is it smart and possessed of a sense of humor, but it's completely free. And I'll vouch that their matching system is a winner, as I'm currently quite happy with someone I met there.
posted by keatsandyeats at 9:48 AM on September 25, 2005

Ack. Maybe it's a Toronto thing, but I've found OkCupid totally useless - *nobody* ever replies to messages.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 10:14 AM on September 25, 2005

It's funny to see how the Nerve crowd has flocked over to Lavalife in droves (at least, the Torontonians), raising the average IQ by a few points, I'll bet. MeFi personals, anyone?
posted by greatgefilte at 10:25 AM on September 25, 2005

My guy and I met via just about a year ago. When the site first launched it was free, but now (if I'm not mistaken) it's a pay site but not too expensive.

I don't know how good of a site it is at all, but it hasn't been mentioned yet in this thread so I thought I'd put it out there.
posted by elisabeth r at 10:37 AM on September 25, 2005

"provided the same service/database to salon, the onion, sfgate, etc)"

Also, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Dallas Observer, New Times Los Angeles, Cleveland Scene, New Times Miami, New Times Boward-Palm Beach,, Lions Gate Films, New York Metro, and New York Observer. As well as,,,,,, and others. A deal with Sony Music/Columbia Records was in the works.

A far cry from the 'select' market one may associate with the 'salon, onion, sfgate' crew. I discovered this during a first date with a woman I met through the Salon Personals and who had never heard of either Salon or the Onion.
posted by mischief at 10:47 AM on September 25, 2005

I agree that the revamp has completely sucked the life out of it, and I've given up on it.

I've had luck with lavalife, mainly because of what greatgefilte and slipperywhenwet allude to: lava's got Toronto locked down. They're based here, and spend a lot of money on advertising. Almost every single person I know has (or has had) a profile there.

Which is part of the reason that OkCupid - which provides all of the important functionality of lava, and arguably more - doesn't have much of a grip here. People in Toronto think online dating, they think lava. And never mind that OkCupid is free, and has the groovy matching algorithm and a more laid-back atmosphere - people go to lava.

Which may be the answer. Not "go to lavalife", but see if you can figure out where most of the people in your geographical area are congregating online. It doesn't solve your base problem of finding people that can express themselves, but it gives you the biggest pool to try to find those interesting people.

And try OkCupid if you haven't - it's a lot of fun even if you don't meet anyone.
posted by flipper at 12:45 PM on September 25, 2005

Blanket recommendation: Avoid eHarmony!!!
posted by mischief at 1:09 PM on September 25, 2005

If I were nerve (or salon, etc) I would be even more annoyed than I am as a (former) member.

What options do they have now? Their name is associated with a service that's even crappier than Can they opt out, or do they have to lend their name to this travesty forever?
posted by stefanie at 1:40 PM on September 25, 2005

mischief: add to that - my substantially chaste friend was horrified to find that her Nerve profile could be viewed from such a site.
posted by forallmankind at 2:05 PM on September 25, 2005

I took the stupid E-harmony quiz and they said I couldn't be matched with anyone. That put a downer on an already sucky lonely saturday night.
Anyone else turned away from the velvet rope of eharmony's entry /match up quiz?
Please don't tell me I'm the only one.
posted by stavx at 3:29 PM on September 25, 2005

I agree with what flipper said about Lavalife. I've tried a number of other websites, and Lava is the best one for me so far. Lots of Torontonians and good search capabilities. Though how good is it when I am still single;-)

I've tried,,,, and I've given up on them completely - usually either becuase it had a shitty interface where it was impossible to search effectively or it cost too much - $30 a month or something.

The other one I've tried is, and surprisingly it's not too bad. Or perhaps it's just so cheap to use ($5USD or $7 Cdn./month for unlimited messaging) that I have lowered expectations. On there, people can only message you if you've agreed that you want to meet them, so it keeps the spam down. The search functions are really simplistic, and there's not much room in the profile to present yourself. Still. other than Lava, it's the only one I keep coming back to.
posted by orange swan at 4:13 PM on September 25, 2005

I completely agree that the old Nerve was better. The format attracted the kind of guy I was interested in; the new one, not so much.

Listen, the new world of online dating begins and ends with OkCupid.

OKCupid isn't all it wants to be, yet. It really is fun, and good in concept, but I've found very few interesting prospects there. It's probably much better for a younger audience (25 and under), who seem to make up the bulk of the users. Those of us in our 30s looking for matches that are geographically close don't have a lot of options.

I'd really like to find the new Nerve, as well. I'll check out lavalife, too. But I really hope someone fills the Nerve void.
posted by Miko at 4:20 PM on September 25, 2005

A couple weeks ago, I discovered that my son is on OKCupid. He loves making up new tests. He is 12 years old. I'm not shitting you.
posted by mischief at 4:29 PM on September 25, 2005

Well, mischief, that's certainly 25 and under.
posted by Miko at 4:46 PM on September 25, 2005

stavx - you are not alone! eHarmony totally dissed me and now I get laughs at parties by saying things like "I'm such a loser, even online dating rejected me." Yeah, it sucked, but then I found out eHarmony is Christian-centric AND they don't let gay folks join, so fuck 'em anyway. I'm having OK results with right now, but think I'm going to let my subscription lapse and go with OKCupid. Thanks for the references above, all.
posted by tristeza at 4:50 PM on September 25, 2005

He is part of a network of kids who use yahoo messenger to make up fake accounts on OKCupid. The work up complete bios, get pictures off other date sites, and then post them.

I remember in the late 90s when all the hookers on yahoo personals was such a pain in the butt, and now this.
posted by mischief at 4:51 PM on September 25, 2005

mischief, thats pretty indicitive of a large number of the tests/questions on okcupid, (pre)pubescent.

Miko, I agree it does not seem to attract a population that is slightly older.

It seems like most of the pay dating sites have switched to expensive subscription based business models. It is quite irritating as many seem to be underhanded. For example, only as a paid jdate member can you send messages to other members. Only other paid members can read and respond to your messages. However when you search the system doesn't tell you which are paid and non-paid members, so you can easily waste your time writing mesages to people who can never read them, without even knowing it.

I am sure there are alternative business models which can be proftiable. Afterall it is pretty trivial software running these sites. I am waiting for google to take a whack at this..
posted by blueyellow at 5:01 PM on September 25, 2005

BTW, the previous nerve-guy model (as was explained to me) was to send out many free winks to random people and if someone winked you back you would write them a message. So the massive emailing you are seeing now has a precursor.
posted by blueyellow at 5:05 PM on September 25, 2005

It think Consumating may have spotted us.

From their homepage:
Did your usual dating site just start sucking?

I'm pretty sure it wasn't on their homepage when I followed Eamon's link earlier today.
posted by 4easypayments at 5:43 PM on September 25, 2005

It think Consumating may have spotted us.

From their homepage:
Did your usual dating site just start sucking?

It was there at 11:30 this morning when I checked it out. They are clearly alluding to the death of Nerve.
posted by spicynuts at 6:17 PM on September 25, 2005

The Consumating site seems like a strange popularity contest, giving each member a popularity ranking based on the number of people that liked and disliked them. Its hard to think of something much more repulsive on a dating site.
posted by blueyellow at 7:00 PM on September 25, 2005

Yeah, and somehow the idea of being able to comment on other people (e.g. on OKCupid) is a bit odd.... Do they screen those?
posted by greatgefilte at 9:03 PM on September 25, 2005

stavx, I got dissed by eharmony too and yeah, it's depressing, but in a very funny way - as tristeza notes, it's great fodder for conversations. Anyway I like being too messed up for eharmony although I am glad to find I'm not alone.

As far as answering the online dating question, I liked my local "alternative" paper best, but it still pretty much sucked. I really gave up on all of them, but then where I live may be too small for online dating.
posted by mygothlaundry at 9:06 PM on September 25, 2005

By the way, what's with all the interested-in-dating Torontonians in this thread? We should have a massive MeFiTo speed-date thingy, or something.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:06 PM on September 25, 2005

I can't believe how shit Nerve is now. I used and liked the service since the late 90s. It is now one of the most useless and ugly web sites I know of.

I sent a letter of complaint and got back a "sorry you think it sucks but whatever" type of email.

In addition to the shitass monthly payments they also pre-approve content now and the site is so busy (in appearance) it's hard to look at. Dreadful dreadful dreadful.

I wish there was a half decent service that does what Nerve used to do but if there is, I don't know it.

I'm also in Toronto.
posted by dobbs at 9:19 PM on September 25, 2005

Seriously. I bet we're all in the annex, too.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 9:30 PM on September 25, 2005

lol. I'm just north of the Annex.
posted by dobbs at 9:35 PM on September 25, 2005

Brunswick and Harbord here.
posted by greatgefilte at 9:36 PM on September 25, 2005

This thread is soo going to be closed in a minute...
posted by greatgefilte at 9:50 PM on September 25, 2005

Dont close it. Pleeeese! I want to hear about annexes.

Another word for annex could be "back room" - nudge nudge, wink wink.
posted by lalochezia at 9:53 PM on September 25, 2005

We should totally do it. TOMefi Meetup/Hookup.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 12:27 AM on September 26, 2005

We should totally do it.

Slippery, you don't state your gender but right now it looks like it would be a bunch of guys and Orange Swan (assuming we're all straight).
posted by dobbs at 9:13 AM on September 26, 2005

Yeah, total sausage market. We need some more X chromosomes.
posted by greatgefilte at 12:48 PM on September 26, 2005

It's a bit far for me, but if it weren't I'd be there. There's probably a much higher likelihood of good matchmaking via MeFi than via any of these other sites.

Oh, and I spent some time on OKCupid today to see if it might change my mind. No. If I could say one thing to most of the mid-30smen on that site, it would be this: Think about changing up the look a bit: you know, cut your hair, smile. Most of us ladies are not really looking for a wishful half-dwarf mage at this point in life.
posted by Miko at 8:25 PM on September 26, 2005

Heya Metafilter folks. Not sure who's still checking out this thread but we here at Nerve wanted to take a second to respond to the community and their concerns over the changes made to Nerve Personals in the past month.

My name is John Constantine and I'm actually with the magazine half of Nerve and not Nerve Personals but we were pretty upset about the changes made to the service ourselves and have been busting our asses for the past three weeks to make all the changes that needed to be made to the new Personals. Here's what we've done so far:

- All members can now view 200 profiles a day, including photos, absolutely free

- Photos in profiles can all be viewed full-sized – no more tiny thumbnails

- Profiles have been redesigned with 75% more user information, 100% less annoying checkboxes
- Questions have been revised & updated by original questionnaire creators Em & Lo

- Language restrictions in blogs & profiles have been removed

- “Play” has been restored as a ‘what I’m looking for’ category

- Basic system bugs have been repaired

And here's what we're working on next:

- Faster browsing

- A flash-based instant message system

- An improved search engine with new features

- Better compatibility ratings

So that about does it. If you want to get in touch with us and leave us comments and suggestions about what else we can do to make the site what it should be, you can check out our staff blog at
posted by nerve911 at 3:04 PM on October 6, 2005


Thanks for the update. At least credit users can now search by zip, which is a huge improvement.

Beter site too. Not as good as before, but c'est la vie.
posted by lalochezia at 11:26 PM on October 6, 2005

6 months too late, I know, but I'll still humbly suggest this self-link: The Impersonals.
posted by the jam at 5:23 PM on June 3, 2006

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