Some people have questioned why we don’t let them choose the gender of their conversation partner. For now, here’s some data that explains why. When we were initially considering this, the quickest way for us to test what happens when you introduce gender into conversation choice was to set up two Skype profiles: one male, one female. We then watched what happened while these profiles were in SkypeMe mode. Here’s the basics: in 24 hours, the Male profile got 2 contacts from others (1 was spam). And in 24 hours, the Female Skype profile got 84 contacts from others, including 33 voice calls, and 15 immediate text requests for cybersex. I could go on, but that sums up why introducing gender into a non-dating medium has to be done carefully.

What we have found so far is that when we put the emphasis on “what you want to talk about” instead of gender, it frames the situation differently and people tend to have better talks. Also, it reminds us that in normal life, we usually can easily have talks with people of either gender, so why should it be different when you’re discussing topics like “what should I do with my life?” or “your biggest secret” or “my philosophy”?

Looking forward to your thoughts. Keep on talkin’.

Note: I first presented (a fuller set of) this data at the February Dorkbot meeting in NYC and Hsing Wei also wrote about it here.

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