Thursday, October 25, 2012

Your New Crush

In today's modern age, online dating doesn't carry quite the stigma it used to. It's more and more common for people to find their significant other via the Internets - it no longer means that they're desperate or that they can't find someone the "old fashioned way"... it usually means that they've given up on the dating scene, they're not having much luck, or they're looking for someone very specific, which is hard to find out in the wild.

There are a ton of dating sites out there. I've tried a few of them and I'm sure most of you have too. For all its conveniences and the ability to browse for a date while wearing your pajamas and eating directly from a pint of ice cream, there's the downside of these people being total strangers. Some of them could be extremely awkward, some could be jerks, and, well, some could be future serial killers. You have no way of really knowing. (Though I'm going to propose a metaphor that the likelihood of your online date being a serial killer is probably akin to the likelihood of being in a plane crash - it seems common because it's publicized, but it's actually quite rare. Meanwhile, the odds of ending up with an awkward date are on par with getting in a fender bender. Much more common and much less tragic.)

It would be great if we all had friends that could hook us up with their single friends... though if you're anything like me, your single friends are dwindling in number, and their single friends-of-friends are probably fewer and farther between, also. But at least with a setup, someone can vouch for your date and their personality and general suitability for you... (and you have someone to blame other than yourself if the whole thing goes awry).

Now, what would happen if you were to combine the relative anonymity and breadth of choices of online dating with the less risky proposition of having your friends set you up?


Thanks to an entrepreneurial dude named Chris Biggs, such a thing now exists. It's called CrushHub.

You may recall back to this summer (you know, when I sucked less at blogging) in my Bloggers in Sin City recaps, when I told you about our CrushHub-sponsored brunch where we got to play a live-action demo to fix Amber up with the single friend of a fellow BiSCuit. (It was also a test of our collective artistic skills, because we had to rely on drawing the portrait of the potential dates, rather than obtaining a profile picture.) It was meant to simulate the actual CrushHub experience, wherein your friends dig through their network of friends and acquaintances to play matchmaker for you.

After we returned from Las Vegas, we were able to test it out in private beta amongst ourselves to see how the features worked and where the kinks were and offer our feedback. I took this assignment to heart, because I am a perfectionist and like it when things work to my standards, and I fed back the beans out of it. Not once but twice was my feedback chosen as being the most helpful, thus snagging me some cash prizes. When all the tweaks had been made and the service was ready to launch, all of my questions and concerns had been answered and fixed. Which means I can officially give it the Kelly Stamp of Approval and vouch for the fact that I personally had a hand in smoothing out the rough edges to make it ready for the public.

The only reason I mention this is to not to pat myself on the back, but to make it clear that I am comfortable in endorsing it, because I have tried it out (even though I apparently have no single friends in any of the cities of my fellow BiSCuits with which to make matches for them) and I've had email conversations with Chris himself and I know they were listening and very receptive to feedback. If I was single, I would totally make my friends play matchmaker for me using this service. I wish I had more single friends that I could foist this service upon... because it's fun to matchmake!

I would just also like to state for the record that this is not a sponsored post. It's going to read like it's a sponsored post, but it's not. It's not even part of a contest, because I missed the deadline for the actual contest* due to my perpetual existential crisising and general lack of blogging.

*A while back, Chris was kind enough to adopt all the BiSCuits as an impromptu street team to spread the word when CrushHub went out of private beta mode and launched into the world. For those who weren't off the grid at the time, tweets, facebook posts, blog posts, and any other social media promotion counted for points and then there was a drawing and someone (or a couple someones, I don't remember) won $500. YES THERE WAS A $500 PRIZE AND I WAS TOO BUSY WITH LIFE TO COMPETE FOR IT. Of course I would have felt kind of bad if I'd won, because I won both of the feedback contests earlier this summer. But not that bad, because: $500.

So even though there's no $500 prize at stake here, I'm going to tell you about it ANYWAY, because I think it's neat. And also because Chris is an honorary BiSCuit, and therefore, one of my people, and I want to help him out. Also, I want to get this off my "to-blog" list because it's spiraling out of control.

Without further ado, here's what you need to know about CrushHub and how it works, including the things I was most concerned about (and most of which you'll get in an email when you sign up.)

1. CrushHub runs through facebook. You don't need to make a new account anywhere. It technically runs as an app, but not the obnoxious kind. But before you panic...

2. CrushHub games/match sessions are PRIVATE. Nobody can see that you're using it (either as a matchmaker or the person being matched) unless they are part of your match game. Granted, your friends can invite in other matchmakers (casting a wider net, and whatnot), but nothing will be posted anywhere. Most importantly, the matches that people suggest for you cannot see that they've been offered up as a match. Nobody outside the game will have an inkling of what's going on.

3. No wall posts. The people at CrushHub hate them as much as we all do. They also want to respect your privacy (cause, y'know, dating is a rather personal thing) and will not send any messages to your friends unless you authorize them or send them yourself.

4. How it works: you can start a game for a single friend OR you can start a game for yourself, if you're single. You invite in some of your friends to play matchmaker and they offer up suggestions from their friend network. The person being matched then gets to review all the options and pick which one they like best - from there, I believe it's up to you to ask that friend for an introduction to your future soulmate. There is a search function where you can sort your friends (or potential matches) by status and geographical location, but it's not 100% perfect because of facebook's privacy settings - but it's a start. (This may have been worked out since it was in beta - I haven't had time to peek in and try it recently.) There was also some buzz about being able to select a picture of the suggested match beyond their profile picture - because, you know, we're all a little shallow and if someone's picture is of their dog or something, you have no way of knowing what they look like. Again, not sure how that all worked out, it's been a while since I've tried it out.

So, there you have it. If you're still unsure and have any questions that you don't want to leave in the comments, shoot me an email and if I don't know the answer, I'll check with Chris. It's pretty straightforward and it's a lot of fun - and remember, there's no risk of someone seeing it that shouldn't, therefore eliminating the potential for Supreme Awkwardness.

Go forth, and date-ify.

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