Those algorithms that dating sites use to pair up singles online have a new purpose: generating the guest lists for offline events.
"Forget having to wonder who’s single and who’s not at a bar or hot spot," Match.com's blog says of its new series of "Stir" events that will include happy hours, wine tastings and cooking classes, among others. "When you go to a Stir event, everyone will be single, everyone will be looking to meet someone, and each event will be customized through our group matching algorithms in terms of age, gender and interests."
Sixty such events have already been hosted in 10 U.S. markets, and the plan is to go national with 200 events per month by September, according to the press release.
"We expect to send half a million people to events this year,” Match.com President Mandy Ginsberg told Mashable. “I think we’ll be the biggest global events company in the world, with the exception of maybe the Olympics.”
Mashable also pointed out the potential for the events to help bolster the site's mobile opportunities, as users will be able to check in at the events in exchange for promotions:
“We’re really going to build on top of that,” Ginsberg told the site. “There’s in-event interactions and post-event interactions."
While putting a bunch of single people in one place might well result in some matches, the algorithms used by some online dating sites have been called out recently for not being so scientific after all. Long-term romantic compatibility, some researchers argue, can't be determined with the data that dating sites use.
The Stir events aren't the site's only attempt to make the online experience more like face-to-face dating: Match also announced in its press release that it would be adding gaming features to the site by the summer. Members will be able to engage in a series of one to five minute games -- some of the names of which include "Food Critic" and "Name that Dance" -- and they'll eventually be adding video as a component so the users can see each other while they play online.
"Our new games tackle one of online dating's traditional shortcomings," Ginsberg said in the release. "Online dating has been an effective way to meet, but it's not always the best way to get to know someone."