Popularizing Online Discussion
An analogy between online commenting & online dating
The Impact Of Tinder On Online Dating
One way to understand what we’re trying to do with Conversful is to compare it to a different industry. In today’s update, I will focus on comparing online commenting to online dating. As you probably know, online dating has evolved tremendously over the last ten years and grown in popularity in tandem. Let’s start before all of this evolution, in 2010, when online dating looked like this.
In 2010, Match.com was the most popular online dating site. Like any other dating site, you got started on Match.com by creating a profile. However, after creating a profile, it was a free-for-all. You could receive messages from anyone on the platform, often from people you were not interested in (often women). On the reverse side, people were spending time writing these messages, never to hear back from recipients (often men). Online dating at this time was exemplified by the experience provided by Match.com. This experience was popular, but still a fringe part of society at-large. Below, you can see the growth in online dating as the way heterosexual couples meet from 0% pre-internet to ~20% in 2010.
If you look closely, you’ll actually see it hits 20% by 2005 and stays that way through 2010. Online dating, pioneered by sites like Match.com, existed, but if you were to say you met someone online at that time it would be abnormal. People might judge you even, feeling that you could not meet someone in person and had resorted to online dating in desperation. People had a friend who might be using it, but not two or three.
This stagnation was a direct result of the rules of online dating at that time. Only 20% of people felt comfortable, creating a profile and opening themselves up to floods of unwanted messages. Only 20% of people felt comfortable sending messages to potential dates that they might never hear back from. With these rules fixed, online dating as it was had reached its plateau. All of this was until Tinder entered the online dating realm in 2012.
Tinder is known for inventing swiping (right and left). But within this fun gesture, is a recreation of the rules of online dating. When you first create a profile on Tinder, you can’t send or receive any messages. Instead, you see profiles that you can swipe on to indicate interest. Only when you and another person swipe right on each other are you then able to exchange messages. This rule, referred to as double opt-in, was the real genius of Tinder; the swiping just made things fun.
With the double opt-in, Tinder ensured messages exchanged are always welcome. It made people on both sides of the equation feel more comfortable with this new experience. With these new rules for online dating, pioneered by Tinder and mimicked later on by apps like Hinge & Bumble, the growth of online dating restarted.
What had leveled off at ~20% in 2010, has now grown to surpass 40% in 2020 and shows no sign of slowing down. Online dating is no longer fringe, but is normal. Everyone knows someone who has met their significant other through online dating and tens of millions more participate in casual dating It solved problems that existed not only on Martch.com circa 2010, but with dating in real life too.
What does this have to do with Conversful?
From publicly available data, it is estimated that .1% of people comment on websites. It is our belief, that this is because the rules of online commenting today, much like the rules of online dating in 2010, don’t make people feel comfortable doing so.
Today, commenting is public & permanent. If you say something, you say it to everyone & it lives online forever. In many ways it is similar to public speaking except you have no clear idea of who you are speaking to.
For these reasons, very few people comment. How many people do you know that comment actively? A few fringe people from high school maybe? Do you or your friends do so? Probably not. Almost no one I know does.
We believe it’s these rules that keep people from participating. We think there is a huge upside for making people feel comfortable sharing their opinion online. Maybe it never grows to 40% of adults, but even if it grew to 1% or 10% that’d be 10x or 100x more people than what exists today. Again, tens of millions of more people using the internet to fulfill the limitations with their physical communities.
This is what we are trying to do with Conversful. Yes, it is quite audacious & it certainly will take time, but we are dedicated to solving this problem. As I’ve been laying out in previous updates with all of our learnings from V1 to V3 we’re getting closer and closer. We will continue to put out new ideas until we crack the code like Tinder did with online dating.
As always, sites who try out Conversful in its current state will get direct access to our team to help us build out this vision and can keep our product on their site for free, forever. If you have a passionate community that you think could grow multiples with a new approach that made people feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for getting to the way bottom here - in two weeks I’ll be back with a more traditional update on the progress of the company.