I first heard about My Single Friend a few years back, and to be honest, I loved the concept. I think one of the aspects of dating which people struggle the most with, is the element of self-marketting. How do you strike a tone where you present yourself in a positive enough light, without sounding arrogant or conceited? What should you say about yourself? What information do you include? What information do you leave out?
That’s where MSF comes in – a site where you get a friend to do the sales pitch for you!
When things went south with Mr SC, one of my closest friends suggested we spend an evening setting up a profile on My Single Friend. We literally sat, watching chick flicks, and eating pizza and ice cream, Bridget Jones-style, filling out a profile for the site.
Number of Options – 5/10
To be honest, this was actually the biggest stumbling block of the entire site. The site actually tells you how many members have joined in the past 2 weeks – roughly 200 a week. However when you split that out geographically across the country, and factor in the fact at least a half are likely to be women, it does mean, there aren’t a great deal of new options once you’ve searched for your specific criteria.
Saying that – the Advanced Search option on the site is great, as it saves your preferences, and allows you to look for a range of specific criteria – however once these are set, I noticed the same men coming up every time.
Serious Contenders – 8/10
Whilst there may be less options than other sites, what MSF does offer, is a far higher ration of ‘serious contenders’ to browsers. The very nature of the paid site, means people are likely to set up accounts to actually find a boyfriend or girlfriend, and this is evident from the descriptions written by their friends. The majority of men’s profiles which I looked at were written by female friends, which I take as a good sign, as it’s generally a good indicator that the man is on the site for a serious purpose, and obviously has social skills with women!
I noticed far less message traffic than on the free sites, but this means that anyone contacting you is genuine, and there is no cut and paste mail merge-style messaging.
The only reason I haven’t graded this a 10.10 is that whilst MSF is a paid site, you can set up a profile for free – and these users may well be browsers. Check out Free Services for the limitations of this aspect.
Free Services – 6/10
As a non-paying member, you can set up a profile on MSF and browse the site. You can also bookmark users you like. However, you can’t contact anyone, or read any messages anyone sends to you. This is obviously pretty frustrating. It does make sense, as the site is a paid site, and therefore, rather than making money through advertising, or by selling your data, it makes money from subscription fees.
The issue I had with the free services, is that it’s impossible to tell if someone is a paid-up member or not. So even once you’ve paid for membership and are able to email people, you don’t know if they can actually read the message you sent them or not. It would be helpful for the site to send some kind of pingback telling you that the user doesn’t have a paid membership so can’t reply – which is something other sites offer.
Ease of Set-Up – 7/10
The profiles are very simple to set up, however it is easiest to set up the profile with your friend there in person, as two emails are necessary to create the profile, and both of you must agree and set up different sections.
Firstly you fill out basic details about yourself and choose photos.
There are a range of questions which your friend can answer about you, and some either/or options (some of them rather odd, and perhaps not all that enlightening!) Your friend can then write as much or as little about you as he/she wants. He or she can also recommend photos to be used on your profile. Finally you write a response to your friend’s description of you.
It is a little bit labour-intensive having to both fill in and agree sections separately to set up the profile, however the description by a friend is a novel idea (which some people often use on other dating sites). It is a really nice touch which sets apart MSF from other sites.
Site Layout – 10/10
The site has a very user-friendly layout. I like that it shows your history with other users – so if you’ve mailed someone before it indicates that, and you can also easily tell from a profile if someone has favourited you, you’ve bookmarked them etc etc.
The bookmark and favourite features are useful (bookmarks are unseen, favourites are communicated to the other user), and the Sent Items section shows you if an email has been read or not. (Particularly useful if you’re trying to work out if someone has a paid membership or not!)
I really like the way the site saves your Advanced Option criteria – as realistically these are not likely to change often. I also appreciate the way the site allows you to search for matches in various areas, and that it allows you to post both the location you live and work in, taking into consideration that fact that people commute.
I also really like that it just uses your first name, and doesn’t make you come up with a ‘witty’ user name. This seems a lot more genuine and like real life.
App – N/A
MSF doesn’t currently have an app – which I think is a downfall in this current age of dating. An app would definitely encourage more users to the site, and perhaps get daters using the site more often, as it felt rather quiet compared to other dating websites.
Information about your Date – 9/10
The profile is pretty comprehensive, if people choose to fill everything in. Height, place of residence, place of work, religion, smoking, drinking education, employment status, profession, build etc. It also tells you who added the user, and then obviously has sections written by both the user and his or her friend. The two-fold description can add a different angle to the profile, though it’s unlikely to be too negative by the very nature of the site.
User Verification – 5/10
No specific background checks, though I doubt the site is likely to attract too many frauds – it genuinely seems a serious dating website full of people who know what they’re looking for. There is obviously a requirement to provide two email addresses – one for the friend, one for the user – though someone could easily provide two email addresses himself and write his own friend recommendation, if he were so inclined.
Value for Money (Paid Services) – 8/10
Ignoring the lack of an app, the actual paid aspects of the site were really good. As I explained above, it’s a very user-friendly dating website, and seems modern and intuitive. The free services can be frustrating, and obviously there is nothing to tell you if a user is a paid member or free member, but once you do pay, the services are really good.
The only downside for me was how quiet the site felt and a general lack of traffic, which is perhaps because I’m so used to using free sites.
I love the concept of being ‘introduced’ by a friend, and think this whole tone of the dating website works. I think the name is catchy and memorable, and stands out amongst other dating websites.
Unfortunately I feel like it has had its heyday. The site felt quiet, and in my six weeks using it, I felt like there was a very limited pool of men. I think where the market is saturated with paid dating websites, MSF has taken a bit of a backseat, which is a shame, as it’s a nice concept, and some of the features of the site – like the way it shows your history with each user – are really clever.
I do think the site needs an app to bring it into 2014.
I noticed a definite change in tone going from free dating websites to a paid one – communication was a lot less frequent, and only from people who seemed very serious about finding a partner. I guess people are a lot more selective about who they communicate with, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but did give me an overall feel that the site was a lot quieter.
Like a number of the paid websites, MSF has its own linked dating blog, however I didn’t really rate the content. It features a member each week (which I found a bit creepy – I get that they want to showcase that real people use the site, but it seems a little odd to make people into poster boys or girls for a week). There is on average one new post a week, however the posts are heavily geared towards setting up an account with My Single Friend – something which could be a little more subtle, as anyone reading the blog has already made it so far as the MSF website.
I’ve also noticed a big push on numbers and percentages in the PR mail outs which dating websites send out frequently to blogs like mine, and the My Single Friend blog posts were full of stats and numbers – something as a dater, I’m not fussed about. I don’t want to just see numbers, I want to see a whole range of faces. And a constantly changing range, which makes me feel like I have a huge range of options. I think in this respect, the sites where they show you samples of profiles – like the gateway into Guardian Soulmates, with rotating user profiles, works better than simply featuring on one site user a week. Once you’re signed up to My Single Friend, the first screen it takes you to is one filled with numbers (see the photo above), and again I found this a bit of a turn off.
Unfortunately I didn’t have much luck using MSF – of the 8 guys I liked and sent messages to, only 3 even opened their messages … suggesting perhaps a lot of the users are either dormant or free users? And I received very few direct approaches from guys, despite using photos and details which have been successful on the other sites I’ve trialled.
Miss Twenty-Nine xxx