Online Dating Profile Word Clouds

I noticed an interesting experiment on another blog the other day which utilized word clouds to examine online dating profiles. For those that don't know, a word cloud is a graphical representation of the frequency amount of each word used in a given text. For example, a word that is used 10 times in a body of text will appear much larger than a word that is only used once or twice. Many of you will have probably seen similar displays as a "tag cloud" on various other blogs and websites.

Using this concept, I decided to conduct my own little experiment using the profiles on the Plenty of Fish dating site, specifically the "Interests" section of the profile.

I went on to PlentyofFish .com and copy and pasted the Interests sections of 50 female profiles and converted them into word clouds using the Wordle web-site. I repeated the same process again using 50 male profiles and converted those into their own word cloud.

Female Online Dating Profile Word Cloud

Male Online Dating Profile Word Cloud

As you can see there are both similarities as well as some big differences. Lets see if we can analyze this a bit, shall we?

First, lets take a look at the biggest/most used words in the female profiles, which are:

music, movies, friends, dancing, beach, reading, family, concerts, traveling, shopping, laughing, fun and tattoos

Now lets take a look at the biggest/most used words in the male profiles, which are:

sports, music, movies, fishing, camping, cooking, outdoors, golf, football, beach and travel

Obviously, everyone likes music and movies, so it's no big surprise that those are two of the biggest interests for both profiles. Also, no big surprise that 'sports' is the biggest word in the men's' online dating profile.

What I find interesting though is that the female dating profiles tend to be more about emotions and bonding, with words like: friends, family, laughing and fun. While the men's' interests are mostly activity based and typically some sort of outdoors activity or sport.

A few more interesting observations:

  • The word 'cooking' is used more as a male interest than a female interest
  • Tattoos and piercings is a fairly common interest for the ladies. Does this mean that they enjoy getting tattoos or do they like guys with tattoos?
  • The word 'bars' is used more on female profiles than on males
  • Though cooking is a big interest in males, the females tend to list specific types of food like: sushi, Mexican, chocolate, and cookies

It really is interesting and I've been studying these for over an hour now.

So, how does this help you with your own Plenty of Fish profile? I'm not exactly sure, but I could say that you get a pretty good idea of some of the generic interests that most people list. And if you are trying to generate a profile that is unique and really sticks out, then it might be a good idea to avoid the generic 'movies', 'music', etc.

A good strategy might be to list specific types of music or specific genres of movies. Even listing a bunch quirky fun things that barely anyone else would add to their online profile would help to spark curiosity and attention.

I saw a good example of someone mixing up their interests section so that it was interesting, funny, and unique:

It has some general interests as well as some that you wouldn't normally expect. It definitely helps to make the online dating profile more fun.


Criticisim of Plenty of Fish Premium Dating

A reader has emailed me with a critical look at Plenty of Fish's new premium "Serious Member" upgrade, among other general faults on the workings of the online dating system. The email raises some good points and deserves a post of it's own, so here it is:


Mr. Savage:

I've reviewed nearly all the content on your PlentyofFish weblog with interest, being myself a veteran of that date site pond and many others. I disagree with some of your advice, particularly when it fails to account for the multiple kinds of goals and postures people bring to these sites. I also don't think your statistical musings rise much above speculation. But you do raise valid concerns and are spot-on regarding the "garbage-in-garbage-out" cycle which results from what I see as widespread misuse of this resource Mr. Markus Frind has nurtured.

This new enhanced profile status idea disturbs me, and it would even if charging a fee was not an issue. I'm not crazy about creating a perceived caste system on a site which has been so much better than others at providing a fair platform of self expression. I'm opposed to the notion that money equals seriousness of intent. That idea works if you're an independent contractor facing a tire-kicking client. It does not make sense for a member of a social community in which everyone is offering something very personal and slightly different. This can only excite those who judge the thickness of a wallet or purse before deigning to make a friend, which will make for ugly encounters indeed.

What I've seen time and again on both subscription and sponsor model sites is that the members themselves dictate their own "serious" behavior, and most clearly are not willing or able to put in the effort dreams often require. Among PlentyofFish's many attractions is how it sidesteps the fraud built in to the paid sites, and utterly eliminates the "closing bell panic" which may set in as yet another billing cycle ends without yielding anything to warm one's bed. I have scowled and barked for years that a majority of users have the dating site concept confused with a vending machine. Stripping the monthly fee grants the gift of time for relationships to develop on their own, just as they might in real airspace between people if online dating did not exist.

My other objection to this dubious new feature is more alarming and functional. Here is today's result of following the site's "call to action" link, a browser warning:

"- The certificate for "VeriSign Trust Network" expired Jan 7 23:59:59 2004 GMT. The webmaster should update the certificate(s). "

FIVE YEARS out of date? I'll pay to "seriously" subscribe when _they_ are serious about online security.

All said, I am not opposed to Frind charging for some premium benefit. No one outside the Billionaire's Clubhouse is immune to our current thorny financial problems, and I'm not certain how long click-through revenue was going to be sustainable in an era of phishing scams and spam gangs hogging four of every five emails. But gold stars and background colors? How infantile. This is worse by far than those gawd-awfully tasteless "virtual gift" JPEGs you "purchase" with the equivalent of arcade prize tickets. Some forum posters have suggested more constructive benefits, such as profile counseling, or identity verification.

I'm not sure yet what I would want for a monthly fee, but pictures of huggy-bears and rigged search results do not address the site's essential lack of personality, which is traced directly back to the lack of personality contained in many profiles. There may be women finding their bliss on a coin-toss percentage, but I can attest to many others who soon give up trying when they have their fill of the running theme of despair and empty gestures found throughout the membership. Perhaps the site is like an amusement park with a half mile midway and one ride. It just needs more junk to do and get people mingling, like on the nearest rival OK Cupid.


Good stuff. Thanks to the reader who sent this in and thanks for providing your 8 cents :)


PlentyofFish Gets Serious with Paid Memberships

Owner and founder of, Markus Frind, announced today on his blog that the online dating site will be offering a new paid premium feature. Of course, the main site will remain absolutely free with all it's current features, the only difference between the free membership and the paid premium membership is that it will have a "serious" button. Yes, that's right, you pay to have your profile stick out in the vast ocean of members and signal that you are SERIOUS about dating.

Take a look at the screen shot below to see what the changes will look like:

It is still unknown how much the paid "serious" upgrade will be, however, Markus has indicated that the length will likely be for periods of 3, 6, or 12 months at a time. Though, given Markus' competitive nature in the online dating industry, I wouldn't be surprised if this premium membership feature is quite cheap and significantly undercuts paid memberships for other online dating sites.

This is no big surprise considering that in the last several months, Markus has indicated on his blog that he was either looking to buy a paid membership dating site and/or integrate premium features into PlentyofFish. It will certainly be interesting to see how many current members take up the new paid option.

So what does this mean for the dating scene at Plentyoffish and how will it change?

My first thoughts is that this will certainly help people to identify which profiles are definitely legit. One of the big problems that the site has had in the past is a lot of fake spam profiles. Essentially, profiles of beautiful women set-up for the sole purpose of soliciting either your email address or trying to get you to sign-up for another adult dating site. This is a typical problem of free online dating sites and Plenty of Fish has been no exception, despite their efforts to prevent this type of phishing. Hopefully, the Serious badge will help people who are... ummm, serious.

My second thought is that this could be a great tool for those men who are having problems getting their profile noticed. As we know, the quantity of men on Plentyoffish far outnumber the women and it tends to be difficult, even for attractive men, to get noticed and attract potential dates. This "serious" badge will hopefully help those men willing to pay to stick out but will also indicate that they aren't cheap either, which could be a decent attraction quality.

On the flip side, I'm also wondering that in a large dating site filled with free memberships, that a paid member could possibly be seen as desperate. I'm not sure, what do you guys think?

Perhaps after a month or two of the premium membership being instigated, I'll conduct some research similar to the picture experiment except trying to quantify the attraction levels of "Serious" POF members.


I just found a thread on the forums in which this topic is being highly debated and also reveals the pricing structure of the new premium feature.

The payment options will be as follows...

  • 1 year @ $5.99/month ($71.88)
  • 6 months @ $7.99/month ($47.94)
  • 3 months @ $9.99/month ($29.97)

If you ask me, this is a little steep considering the only thing that gets added to your profile is a "badge" and it'll stick out more in the dating searches. Is that really worth $6-$10 dollars a month?

According to the poll he's running in the first post of the thread, most people would not. However, it does show that a small percentage, perhaps 5-10% would be willing to pay. Now that may not seem like much, but consider the size of PlentyofFish's membership base of approximately 2.8 million members according to a recent article in Inc. If just 5% of current members paid $6 per month, Markus would be raking in an extra $800 grand per month for an additional $10 million per year, on top of his reportedly $10 million in yearly Adsense revenue.

It's definitely a smart business move in my opinion, but the real question is, will actually help the members of the site? Only time will tell.