Saturday, November 28, 2015

Cleaning up

I have had a profile on the dating site OKCupid for a few years now and they have finally recognized my greatness!  By which I mean they have asked me to do a bunch of work for no pay and no recognition.  Which isn't really the same thing, now that I think about it.

What specifically happened is OKC sent me a message telling me that they think I am a good contributor to the community and they want me to help moderate the site by flagging photos and profiles that are against the rules.  While I generally am not big on the whole 'do work for a company for free' thing, I really could not stop myself at least checking it out to see what exactly they would have me doing.  I thought it would be fascinating to see exactly what sorts of problems they have to deal with.

I was not disappointed.

The main thing that moderators have to deal with is endless spam from sex workers and scammers.  There are endless profiles using pictures of attractive young women that have been grabbed from the internet and slapped onto OKC.  I assume some of them are escorts / prostitutes, some are cam sites, some are other dating sites, and the balance are just a bunch of con artists looking to get me to pay money because Real Russian Women Want To Date You.  Most of these sorts of profiles get flagged and the moderators all agree that the pictures are easily found in Google Image Search so they are clearly fake.

The second most common thing is profiles flagged as overtly sexual.  Some of these are just people posing with very little on, or even nude but positioned such that their genitals / nipples are covered.  Certainly some users object to this but it isn't against the rules.  However, I have had a small collection of dick pics pop up on my screen and those definitely are against the rules so they get squelched without any thought required.

So since we have covered greed and lust, what is the great third sin that occupies the time of OKC's volunteer moderators?  Think on it for a minute...

Incompetence, of course!

I got a lot of profiles that contained perfectly normal pictures of men with perfectly small, boring descriptions but which were listed as female and looking for single men.  Initially I was puzzled as to why this might exist, but then I discovered that OKC defaults to female and straight.  This is just a case of these men being useless and lacking attention to detail.  They spent enough time to upload boring photos of them standing in their living rooms but not enough to check that their basic stats were correct.  Now as you would expect these men didn't take the time to make decent profiles otherwise either, they are just a couple of vague 'looking for someone fun, no drama' statements combined with bland, useless platitudes.

The last thing I got sent to deal with was profile pictures that didn't actually contain a picture of the person.  Some of them were actually really nice photos of mountains or sunsets or cars or whatever that weren't in the least objectionable, but the rule is that a profile photo is actually supposed to contain the user so these photos get flagged for removal.  One was a roughly eight year old girl with her picture having a French flag filter on it... which is so not right as a profile picture and out it went.  Doesn't matter if that eight year old is the user many years ago, pictures of kids as profile pictures is not at all allowed and that is a policy I can get behind.  This section isn't really a great sin so much as people not quite grasping that others actually want to see what they look like and a beautiful autumn nature scene isn't quite doing that.

Not sure I am going to keep doing this any more but it was certainly interesting to have a quick look to find out what sorts of things exist in the quagmire of online dating moderation.  I do like the idea of cleaning up the internet though...

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