Update May 2011About a week after posting the story below, the media manager for HAW contacted me with the following explanation:
Talked to Aaron (the founder) to clarify, and the basic issue here is that the user experience isn't strong when a person's profile either gets deleted or restricted in some way or another. There are some confusing things that happen -you get an email saying you have a message from them and then can't find that message...but can still find their profile, etc. We're working on getting that all cleared up.
As for the specific user in question, unfortunately we can't reveal anything about their profile status as that would be violating their privacy.
Just to be clear, we definitely don't do anything to purposely send fake messages to get people to convert. Not our style. But I do understand why it appeared this way - more just a tricky instance of bad timing than any malice or sketchy play on our part.And just to be clear, I have been a suporter for HAW ever since. But the lesson I would share is note the unintended consequences of bad user flow / interaction design before it gets to someone that might have a megaphone to speak from.
Original PostSo - maybe you have heard about HowAboutWe on the web - a NY-based site that seems to be the next "new thing" for meeting people without using the bar scene as their primary source of connections with the opposite sex.
When it came out, I signed up because 1) I am single and would love to find my beshert and 2) I am always up for supporting a NYC venture. So, I signed up, added my profile information and even submitted a proposed date.
Suddenly, the "I'm intrigued" emails started to come in. And I can say that the women who I was getting are nice, but none who inspired me to pay the fee for joining to send an email - which required an upgrade to pay for the service.
And then suddenly, I get this barrage of three emails from one user - tanyak123
Now Tanya is not normally my type, but I wonder - why is she sending me two "I'm intrigued" messages and one personal message. But I can not see the personal message unless I pay for the service. So, curiosity got the best of me and I decide - what the hey - have not had much success on jdate or Match, so lets give it a go.
I google for a discount code on a coupon site (MyDate) and get the six month deal for half-off. I think - wow, great deal.
Then I log in to finally read these emails from Tanya. And what do I discover?
Those "urgent" emails are no longer there. Suddenly - Tanya is not in my inbox. That "urgent" email - gone. Or at least, Tanya is not trying to get ahold of me.
And while I thought it suspicious that Tanya - who cares about her Christianity a great deal - would be so "interested" in me, I must admit - it was tantalizing to investigate.
So, I must applaud HowAboutWe on their excellent conversion tactic - tantalize us with someone we might want to meet - and then suddenly have them disappear off the list.
Enjoy the game at your leisure (or peril) depending how you look at it.