Mar 17, 2010

[Social Networking] Is There A Market For A Local Geek Dating Site?

LARP: Sternenfeuer group from GermanyImage via Wikipedia

I have to admit that I consider myself a pretty lucky geek since I found another geek to share my life with. It's hard enough to find someone to share your life with period, what more a fellow geek, right?

Given that fact, a lot of my geeky friends of the queer persuasion tend to look to me for help in terms of finding a geek of their own. I have no idea why this is so - it's not like I am continually in locations when other gay geeks introduce themselves to me and thus since I'm no longer available, I'm free to pass them along to friends. But I'm as socially inept as I used to be and I know that finding a geek who loves movies as much as I do, knows how to play NetRunner, appreciates shallow comedies and runs role-playing games is pretty rare indeed.

So how do I help my friends now? I don't claim to be a very good matchmaker (not that I've tried for that matter) and I'm a bit scared to try given these are my actual geek friends that I want to be able to continually chat with to talk about the latest Transformers toy that I've acquired or why Pi Day is a great geek holiday. No, I don't want to ruin that but I do want to be a good friend.

What to do, right?

So I started thinking about the possibility how a geek dating website would work. A gay one targeting the local community might be a nice enough niche to work with to start but I could get more ambitious and aim to unite geeks of all walks of live. After all, we live in a universe of near infinite diversity, so we should consider that, right? Besides, I feel geek relationships have a higher chance of success since you don't have to feel guilty about indulging in your geeky passions at the expense of your partner's self of respect or social standing (as if that matters, right?)

So this is the reason why social network contacts of mine have been bombarded by my status updates / questions about what they thought would work for a geek dating site. I don't claim to be in a position to immediately start work on such a site, but I'm more than willing to work with like-minded geeks who might want to "steal this pitch" as io9 loves to say.

I did a cursory Google search for "geek dating site" and immediately found a few sites that already cater to the geek community, namely Geek 2 Geek, Sweet on Geeks, Soul Geek and Nerd Passions. Quite frankly, they're pretty lackluster sites and lack real draw, which is disappointing when you assume that actual geeks supposedly put these sites together.

First up, they're all US-based, so that still opens the door for local competition. A Philippines-centric geek dating site might still be a meritable idea and one that might afford decent profit for those heavily into making money of online ads. Plus when I tried a search for "gay geek dating site," I ended up with more articles about gay geeks being such a rarity, so maybe that helps establish that the "gay geek" subculture is a significant enough niche market for a targeted social networking angle. Sure, there are many gay geeks who don't want to date fellow geeks but then there are bound to be others still who tried the non-geek route and realized things don't quite work out as well.

Then there's the question of how to prove geekiness. All the aforementioned sites don't seem to do much to help classify geeks by interest or fandom. Just by calling a person a geek, it does not guarantee he likes all fantasy franchise, both Star Wars and Star Trek, comic books, toys and board games all at one. To be a geek is to be passionate about particular subjects and thus you'd want to find geeks of similar interests or at least compatible ones. So I'd like to think that would be important.

I was toying around with the notion that there could be a quick "entrance exam" of sorts based on your self-identified areas of geek expertise. This would help prove your geekery or something. If you fail the test, it probably just means you're only a fan of the show or movie franchise in question but aren't necessarily a hardcore geek about it. Then you could take multiple quizzes to "certify" for various geekdoms / fandoms. It's a novel approach right? Plus it give users something to do - they could help add questions to the database, we could have site rankings based on their running scores or something like that. It makes the experience a bit more fun that just filling out a form and saying what your interests are - at least I think so.

I have no idea how ranking algorithms work in dating sites, but I think it might be good that when we find potential matches, we'll first try to hook people up online via chat. The two can agree to a scheduled chat session on the site and then they get to know one another in an online environment since you'd think that geeks would want to know more about the gray matter of the other geek and not necessarily the physical side right away. If you want to go the physical route, that's still possible and you'll still have the option of browsing profiles, leaving messages or wall posts and maybe even rating photos.

Then there would be the personal ads, which is an area that promises to be pretty funny and entertaining depending on the creativity of the poster. Instead of the standard age / stats / preferences kind of personal, you could draft stuff like "Diehard Trekkie Book Worm seeks fellow Lostie to become his Constant. Someone already free of Narnia a plus but not a requirement". That's probably not the best example, but then it can you see how this might work?

The ideas go on and on.

I want to think about this some more but at the same time I just wanted to get the ball rolling by putting this idea out there. So, does anyone want to help me with this idea? We could start with a local-focused website or if you're of the homosexual persuasion, we can work on the gay geeky idea instead. Right?

Leave comments you stalking lurker queers! Let me know what you think!

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1 comment:

Tobie said...

Don't forget that there will be need to have identifiers ranging from Otaku to Furry, Trekker and Trekkie, etc...

After all, some geeks would never be caught dead with a Heroes fan. :-P

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