Yours is a brilliantly conceived and well executed product. That said, there is a dynamic on OKCupid that makes it unlikely that serious, eligible people will engage each other successfully, whether for the purposes of a romantic relationship or something more casual…
Some high percentage of messages sent through your site are discourteous, offensive or generally low quality and minimal effort. This is especially and emphatically true of messages from men to women.
As a result, (1) women’s inboxes fill up quickly and they are overwhelmed by the number of low quality messages, eventually causing them to become disgusted and leave the site, and (2) thoughtful messages from genuine, courteous guys get lost in a sea of asshole mail, causing them to become frustrated and leave the site.
The ability to block/report offensive users doesn’t help much because disengagement and attrition among women will begin after only a couple of bad messages and they won’t take the time to report the rest. It’s time for a systemic reset.
This problem could be solved elegantly by creating a “courtesy economy” where courteous, high-quality messages earn you the right to send more messages.
The key mechanism of this economy is a feature whereby users can assign a quality score to each message they receive (perhaps composed of two or more message dimensions e.g. courtesy and effort). It should be clear that these ratings have nothing to do with whether the recipient is actually interested in the sender.
The cumulative “courtesy” score achieved by each user should dictate how many people they can message. E.g. If over the course of a month, a certain user’s message quality is rated as 1/5 (based on at least ten messages), they can only send messages to ten new contacts in the next month. If it is 5/5, they can send messages to fifty new contacts in the next month.
This would have the dual effect of drastically cutting down on messages across the board such that message volumes are more manageable for users, and increasing the quality and choosiness of messages (given a limited supply of messages, people will only message people they are really interested in) so as to improve the likelihood of a successful match.
Just a thought,
p.s. Also, get rid of the ‘wink’ feature, it’s creepy and nobody likes it.