Saturday, January 24, 2015

Culture Watch: "Women's Grammar Worse Than Men's in Online Dating, Survey Says"


Attention must be paid: Come on, let's get serious. This important new information about women and men comes from a dating app, so it must be significant. (Say, looks like this Sasha has work to do on her Response Rate and Message Quality.)

"The concept for The Grade came from complaints from men who said women seemed unresponsive to digital advances and appeared to use online dating sites for sport, [app developer Cliff Lerner] said. For women, the complaints were against men who sent them lewd comments and photos."
-- from Serena Solomon's DNAinfo New York report

"You don't have to be an A+ English student. But if you don't know simple grammar at this stage of your life, it's going to hurt you."
-- Cliff Lerner, developer of The Grade, quoted in the above

by Ken

This is a story I've been kicking around in my head for several days now. I can't help feeling that it's deeply significant, possibly even important. However, I haven't been able to work out in my head just what its significance or possible importance might be. I wasn't even sure whether to file a post like this as, say, "Grammar Watch" or perhaps (with a hat tip to the great James Thurber) "War Between Men and Women Watch."

I mean, this report even comes with professional analysis from a sexuality psychologist! With expertise like this, you know you can't go wrong. As a result, the deeper one digs into this report, the more disturbing it becomes.

In the end I've decided to just bite the bullet and lay the thing out for you to work out on your own.
Women's Grammar Worse Than Men's in Online Dating, Survey Says

By Serena Solomon on January 19, 2015

Women have worse grammar and use slang more often in online dating messages than men, according to a survey.

Dating app The Grade gives users a letter grade according to their responsiveness to other users, the quality of their profile, including how many photos they upload — and how often they make grammar mistakes in messages.

After surveying the behavior of the nearly 3,000 users in the five boroughs, the site found that in every borough except Brooklyn, women sent more inappropriate messages (containing incorrect grammar, slang or sexually explicit content) than men. Staten Island men proved to be the most PG when it came to their correspondence.

"I think women — especially in NYC — put on a tough exterior," wrote sexuality psychologist Amber Madison in an email to DNAinfo, on the survey's results. "I see slang and grammar issues as playing into the 'I don't give a s--t/too busy for you' exterior a lot of NYC women want to project."

The Grade’s study also took emojis into account.

Female users in Manhattan most often sent the “cried with laughter” emoji. Brooklyn men sent an emoji communicating “a relieved contentment.”  Male users from Queens and the Bronx both used the ‘OK’ hand sign more than any other emoji, according to The Grade’s data.

The Grade's analysis included 1,118 people from Manhattan, 720 from Brooklyn, 600 from Queens, 306 from the Bronx and 114 from Staten Island.

The app's algorithm flags hostile correspondence and also penalizes acronyms such as "smh," shorthand for "shaking my head."

But the poor showing for New York City's women is attributed more to high levels of slang and grammar mistakes rather than lewd content, according to Cliff Lerner, the app's developer.

"The vision is to truly have a community of high-quality daters with the intent to actually meet someone,”  Lerner said. His company, Snap Interactive, has been in the dating game for almost a decade after developing an early Facebook dating app called Are You Interested.

The concept for The Grade came from complaints from men who said women seemed unresponsive to digital advances and appeared to use online dating sites for sport, he said. For women, the complaints were against men who sent them lewd comments and photos.

When a user first signs on to the app they are given "grade pending" status. A grade is assigned once the site has enough data, which can happen within minutes or longer depending on the user's activity.

Basic grammar is a part of how The Grade evaluates users, penalizing slip-ups such as “there” versus “their.”

“You don’t have to be an A+ English student,” said Lerner. “But if you don’t know simple grammar at this stage of your life, it’s going to hurt you.”

Slang includes using acronyms such as "lmao" (laughing my ass off), which was the one most commonly used by Brooklyn males in The Grade's survey or "hbu" (how 'bout you), which was the favorite of female users in The Bronx.

The app's algorithm also picks through profiles, awarding points to users who describe themselves in a few paragraphs and punishing those who only use a few sentences. If users upload additional photos of themselves, their grade will increase in real time, according to Lerner.

The Grade's survey revealed that daters from the Bronx scored an F on average, Manhattan daters earned an A and Brooklyn's average came in at a C+.

Lily Nunez, 31, an audit consultant from Brooklyn, has been using The Grade for about a week and said the app has yet to filter out the same poorly behaved daters who exist on other platforms. The app graded Nunez with a B.

"You anticipate someone with an A grade being really good, but they still haven’t filled their profile out," she said. "Honestly, it is a bit misleading."

Nunez said a lot of profiles she came across on The Grade used random photos and quotes on their "about" section to plump up their profiles and skirt the app's algorithm.

The app has followed through on its promise to delete the profiles of users who continue to get bad grades, booting about 150 New Yorkers since it launched in November, according to Lerner. Holding an overall F grade for more than a week puts a user in danger of being deleted, he said.

The good news for floundering users is that the app instructs them on why they have dismal grades and how to improve, he said.

What the app doesn’t do is allow users to grade each other.

“If I go on a date with a girl and she doesn’t like me, that doesn’t impact my grade," Lerner said.

To see The Grade's interactive statistics, click here.
One final note: I think we all have to approve the system whereby daters don't get to grade each other, since we all know how bitchy daters can be. And it's good to know that not only are grade-deficient app users given the heave-ho, but they're offered counseling first.

I'm not sure it would have occurred to me that the grammatical sensitivity of grammatically persnickety daters extends not just to slang but to sexual suggestiveness. What's more, since The Grade is an iPhone-only app, it would appear that non-iPhone-equipped daters, if they even exist, are automatic F's.



At 9:30 AM, Anonymous mediabob said...

Ken, you knew this was coming when we accepted, meekly, one space after a period. And now, Mr. Lerner is striking back for those bad composition scores in grade school.


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