Friday, September 4

Single and Muslim? Well There's A Website Just For You Click for more info

Look, I know I'm tight. And yes I have big ideological issues about paying a third party to meet a prospective partner. I just wanted to get all that out of the way so that I could possibly make a decent point below.

While checking out the profile of a friend, I must admit that I was pretty impressed my singlemuslim.com. Yes it had a lot of the regular features (including umpteen profiles claiming how they "weren't very good at this kind of thing") but had a lot of relevant features too - things like check boxes indicating how much you prayed or whether you had a beard or hijab (but not both, unfortunately). And if I'm being honest, well, there were some quite attractive profiles, both in image and word, across the site as I took a quick looksie. You know, while I was there.

So I registered and it was all very find and very dandy. I was even more impressed once I had - you can see who's been checking out your profile and the site even let me change my username after I decided it wasn't relevant any more (it was "spammy").

But then the cracks started to appear. You know, stuff that, on the whole most people would ignore but couldn't get past my anal retentiveness (you all love it really). I'm talking about things like dodgy pagerank links or the use of blatant models in their advertising (I'm sure I've seen a few of them on telly). These aren't big deals in themselves, but once added up hardly inspire confidence in the people who are running the site. But the biggest issue I have is with the membership structure singlemuslims.com uses.

Unlike other matrimonial sites, the biggest difference here is how singlemuslim.com make full membership free for girls while making guys pay for what they describe as the "gold" level. Now the official line (I read this a while back but can't find it now) is that this is a way of respecting a Muslim woman's right to search, right to decline and underlining the great importance of girlie prerogative, while also (I suppose) prompting men to be men (which means making them reach into their wallets).

Being the cynic I am though, I just don't buy this. You see, although men can't send messages until they're gold, they can't read any that have been received either. It's the ultimate marketing gimmick actually; having three or four girls (hey, I just signed up today, okay?) in your inbox without being able to know what exactly they've written.

Stemming this curiosity while bolstering your ego costs the princely sum of 28 quid a month. That's a rate of over 300 pounds a year, something which I find incredible (although that could just be because I've yet to find a profile worth that kinda money). If you're thinking "well that's just there to encourage you to subscribe for longer", well then you'll be right. Subscribe for a year and it's a much more manageable 120 quid. There's even an unlimited option for £160.

I'll give you a few minutes to think about what's wrong with this set up.

See, unlike mobile phone plans or television subscriptions, matrimonial sites by definition require you to quit and stop paying once they do their job. In that sense they're shooting themselves in the foot, and most of them feel that the best way to do this is to take as much money as possible, based on your own assessment of how well you think you'll do. You're literally betting on your own failure here - what kind of guy would go for the unlimited option? Does he really expect it to take that long (and if so then no website is gonna help him)? And what kind of girl would go for that kind of guy? And of course once a guy pays for a long term membership, he's going to want to use it, regardless of whether he meets a goodun' or not; he may as well keep looking until his membership lapses. In short, paying members are either desperate (enough to pay tons of money for a short term) or losers (who really don't think much of themselves).

There are genuine solutions to this. The main thing is to normalise memberships across genders and to make girls pay - if they want to. To facilitate this, it should be free for all read messages. Regarding the shrewd payment options, a much more honest way would be to stick to the monthly price of 28 pounds, but to cap or reduce it if it happens to take some poor sod a bit longer (so the second month costs 25, the third 20, etc). They could even introduce some kind of pay-per-message option if they wanted us to be really discerning before hitting that "Hello Gorgeous! You look really nice on your picture! Masha'Allah! I'd love to talk to you further, let me know if you'd like to chat some time!" canned message. No really, it's there.

This would all ensure that it's the initiator (be it the guy or the girl) who puts their money where their mouths are when initiating, rather than burdening those getting hit on with the hit (did you see what I did there?). Under the current system girls already do make the first move so there's no decrease of respect here (even though in my humble opinion they always should).

But yes, as it stands it seems to me that certain choice have been made to maximise profit rather than to help people get it on (hooray for Islamploitation!). That's fair enough but I think it's an attitude which may find its way into the beginnings of any relationship borne out of such a site too (although judging by the literature they do seem quite successful).

Honestly, it's enough to get me to start my own matrimonial site, one that is free or perhaps donation based. Of course I'd have a conflict of interest that would make such a thing impossible right now, so for now perhaps I should just start a SM directory, mapping usernames to email addresses?

In the meantime I just hope the girls on the site are enterprising enough to use Google properly. Wink wink and all that.

16 comments:

  1. Hey just stumbled across ur blog... I have issues in general with getting a third party involved in meeting a prospective partner (which may be part of the reason why I am still single)

    Having to pay that much just to be able to access your messages sounds nuts. Simple economics would be to go for 120 quid a year option. I think realistically you are not going to find the girl of your dreams and know you want to spend forever with her in the span of six months so you may as well save yourself some money. Going for the unlimited option would just inidicate that you have very low self esteem.

    Good luck :)

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  2. closetblogger,

    Thanks for the response, and for reading. You're right that it may take six months (although what is it with girls and wanting to wait? But that's another blog), but presumably much of that would not be on SM. Assuming you're being discerning and not hooking up with someone off that repeatedly, you shouldn't need full access more than once or twice a month, hopefully much less. In that sense "unlimited" pricing schemes are a scam.

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  3. Anonymous13:24

    Hey, I've found a site where you only pay after a successful meeting. There have some nice girls on there too (well, from the pictures anyway). This could be the way to go:
    http://tinyurl.com/ml3oan

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm not sure if you're serious or not but since the link is hilarious I'll let it stand.

    For those of you who don't know, tinyurl's preview facility helps in these situations:

    http://preview.tinyurl.com/ml3oan

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  5. ok so i just clicked on the link and i randomly clicked on a picture just to discover that its a friend!! Who I obviously didn't know was looking online...I feel kinda awkward...

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  6. I signed up to SM almost 2 years ago, and just assumed it was free for everyone, until a guy who contacted me off the site told me that he had paid his fee, and that if we got married I should reimburse him for his costs!

    I think I recall reading, somewhere...maybe it was in one of the SM testimonials, that the idea behind guys paying was that many chicks felt that guys were messing about, and so by adding in a monetary factor, this would prove they were sincere in their actions.
    I personally think that's BS, as guys and girls both mess around, paying customers or not.
    I know one guy (whom I exchanged messages with, he was too fat, and I was too short) who has the lifetime subscription, he said it worked out cheaper in the long run!
    We have remained 'friends' he logs on every day just to look, and he is still looking as far as I'm aware.

    I didn't know that was actually a template message, I always thouhgt it was guys being really stupid, and cheesy.
    Oops.

    Starting up your own site sounds good, if you ever do I have a ton of friends who have been on both SM, and shaadi.com and came off because of all the games.
    Perhaps where you can only be signed up via a friend who recommends you and can write you a testimonial.
    the dateshak.com? God that was lame. I apologise, it's late I must go eat again.

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  7. Oh yeah, I think muslimmatch.com is free.

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  8. Single muslim appear quite a bit on the internet. thanks for the analytical breakdown. priceless.

    Coming off Mash's recent post about ethics, and the principle of only considering one fellow human being at a time...

    I am wondering how a website could be designed with one-at-a-time in mind, even though we know the world is a lot more complicated to line up. how would you arrange it?

    These shopping plazas feel like the neoliberalisation of muslim reproduction.

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  9. ok so now I know where the poem came from.

    read this wrote this

    http://thatmashguy.blogspot.com/2009/09/hod-review-of-what-i-remember.html

    I've flicked through the odd profile on SM in the past. Had no idea it's so damn expensive.

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  10. honestwaffle,

    With all due respect to the people on the site, I had four messages sent to me before my profile text was even visible. So yes I agree with you - I wouldn't say that it was messing around, but it's hardly discerning. And besides from that, the stories I've heard about most guys on it (all of whom do pay) aren't particularly complimentary. I don't think the membership strategy has anything to do with protecting women at all.

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  11. I'm sure I read someplace that a guy had random computer generated messages sent to him, and he felt it was quite unethical as he thought he had genuine candididates and upgraded on this basis.

    The stories are awful, but to be fair I've heard negative things about the females too, I don't want to just bash the guys.

    I'm currently signed up on both SM and shaggy.com, and I find that every so often when I log back on (my Mum forced me to resubscribe when I said I wasn't going to pay, she even offered me the money)
    I find it's the same group of people trawling the site, and what irks me is that I wasn't good enough the first time round, but now all of a sudden they want to chat?

    Anyway, I digress...I should blog about this really.

    So, are you intending to pay up? or just browsing, or are you one of the clever ones who has put his email/phone number in one of the description boxes?

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  12. I have no intention of paying up, even though I've actually found the profile of one who seems to be my soul mate. It's a principle thing, y'know?

    I don't think I'd have gotten away with my email address, but I've left a hefty breadcrumb for someone to find me via Google. Presuming they want to, of course.

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  13. the e-breadcrumbs of destiny!

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  14. was just perusing the site, the women in the ADs are gorgeous.

    wondering how I get their details

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  15. If you find any real profiles that you like let me know and we'll go halves on membership. We can create a new profile called mashak, and possibly even sub-let it after we're done.

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  16. some random bloke03:07

    "In short, paying members are either desperate (enough to pay tons of money for a short term) or losers (who really don't think much of themselves)."

    self-esteem is bunk. i honestly think so, as is avoiding 'appearing desperate' or 'cheap' or whatever meaning we attach to ourselves, in packs, so that we feel special, with no weakness and PROUD. a good project would be to dissect every possible thing we do for others and then bin it, if for the wrong reasons. imagine the possibilities.

    there is no glory for us, at least in puppet shows. because intrinsically we are contingent in every possible way, otherwise we are meanignless. atheism is dark.

    those rules and the whole website are sooooo bad, but for other reasons.

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