I often talk about people's habits and strategies in online dating. I find the examination of those trends and anecdotes to be fascinating because it gives a marvellous perspective on how people behave in an environment where measurement is far easier than in normal interaction. After doing the whole online dating thing for years and having a fair bit of success I feel like I should have good advice to offer and that I should be able to tell people what to do. Or at least I should be able to tell straight men what to do - other people's experiences are markedly different.
But so much of the advice I want to give is totally guesswork, and the rest probably only works for geeky polyamorous straight men on OKCupid in Toronto, which isn't a big audience.
For example, when I first started out I saw endless complaints, conversations, and threads about how straight men send trash messages. According to the standard narrative women want to engage in long, flowery conversations for extended periods before they are interested in meeting up. I ate up that advice and wrote lots of detailed three paragraph essays as my opening lines, only asking for a meetup after an obviously fruitful exchange of messages occurred.
Since then I have been told that my messages are long enough to be intimidating and that most people, even if they are interested in me generally, aren't going to want to put the effort into crafting a proper response. They feel inadequate sending a one liner back and they only have five minutes so they respond to the simple, easy messages instead. Also when messages often take a day to get back and forth a reasonable exchange is just going to take too long. Somebody else will wander in in the meantime and just say "Hey, want to get coffee and chat?" On the other hand, maybe that quick invite gets you a lot more dates but you end up on dates with people who are of no interest to you, and that seems like a waste.
Complicating this is the issue that internally I am very split on what sort of response I want. My personalities are not in agreement on this issue at all. Director really wants to have lots of involved chat, and loves the idea of exchanging massive blocks of text. Passion, unsurprisingly, finds that to be a silly pursuit and just wants to meet up right away so we can find out if there is magic, because if there isn't magic then why bother? Director's style fits with what women most often say they want on their profiles, but I am pretty sure Passion's tactics get way more action. People aren't good at knowing what they want, that is for sure.
While I think you can do a lot better than "u r cute, wanna chat?" as an opener, I actually haven't any idea what the best approach is. Clearly women aren't monolithic and homogeneous, but since you just don't know what the person on the other end is like (or how they are feeling on any given day) you have to guess at what approach the sort of person you want to connect with is going to respond to and just run it and hope.
Lately I have been a lot less formulaic in my sorties and have been just writing whatever suits me at the time. Sometimes that ends up being big walls of text, sometimes just a single sentence. I have a quality baseline, in that I make sure my message is written for the exact person I am sending it to and that this effort is obvious, but other than that I just wing it.
Which is not like me. Because it isn't scientific or consistent and it won't give me useful feedback. But at this point I have kind of accepted that nobody is going to do the science for my particular subgroup, and I can't possibly generate enough of a data set to be able to conclude anything with any degree of certainty. In this case science will not serve me so I have been able to accept that my approach is less than scientific.
Be procative, that is good. Say things that matter, of this I am sure. Make sure you actually like someone for more than their pictures before you message, this seems like solid advice. But what to actually say, what message to send when you first make contact? I wish I knew.