Gelato thinks they have a better way. Using concepts happily copied from FriendFeed, the social site that seems to be the inspiration for all, Gelato brings the lifestreaming concept into the world of online dating. By connecting you with your social networks, site users can get to know each other in much more natural ways.Dating sites haven't changed much over the years. Oh sure, there are new matchmaking algorithms that claim to have a better shot at connecting you to that "special someone," but a few basic concepts remain. You still have to upload a photo, fill out a profile, list your likes and dislikes, and so on. Doesn't everyone enjoy "long walks on the beach" and "playing with their dog?" How does that help you really get to know who someone is?
Gelato: Bringing the Social to Online Dating
Gelato is the kind of web site that's going to make married and attached folks almost wish they were single again - it's that much fun to use. Getting started is one of the simplest processes we've ever seen. Not only does it offer Facebook Connect as an alternative to creating an account, it actually imports your Facebook profile information to create an instant dating profile on Gelato. (You can select and deselect which items you want to import, too).
However, Gelato doesn't stop with just Facebook - the site actually supports eight social services in total and has more on the way. Obviously, there's Twitter support, a key component to any good lifestream, but there's also Last.fm, Netflix, Flickr, Hulu, Amazon, and Seesmic. By adding a mix of these sites to your profile, it's much easier for someone to get an idea of what sort of interests you have than by reading some sort of self-created profile list. Think about it: you may have a rather typical list of favorite movies which include everything from "Forrest Gump" to "The Godfather," but your recent viewing of Dollhouse Season 1 on Hulu will out you as the sci-fi geek you are at heart.
Your updates on these social networks are combined to form a lifestream of your activities, just like they would on FriendFeed. Also like FriendFeed, you can "like" and comment on the items posted. And if you don't know what to say, various "icebreakers" are available to help you be witty on the fly. However, because Gelato is focused on making one-to-one connections, those likes, comments, and icebreakers remain private. The only person who can see them is the recipient. They can then respond to your comment if they want to start a conversation with you.
A real-time search feature, another borrowed idea from FriendFeed, helps you find topics you're interested in. For example, if you're looking for someone who's talking about the latest Harry Potter movie, you can search for that using keywords. Of course you're also able to filter your searches by age, sex, and location, too, so you can find someone local to chat with.
Legit Accounts and "Friendships"
One unique feature to Gelato that didn't come from elsewhere is what they're calling your "SCOOP" rating, aka the "social confidence of online profile." The higher the "SCOOP" rating, the better chance you're legit. This feature is designed to combat those who post fake profiles on dating sites. To bump your rating up, you can post to Twitter or Facebook and ask your friends to confirm who you are. Obviously, this isn't foolproof, but it should help highlight legit accounts as being so.
The only area that may need a little finessing is the way friendships work on the site. As with Facebook, you can send friend requests to other users and they must accept your request before you can be friends. This in and of itself isn't so bad...or all that different from how many other sites work for that matter. However, since a lot of online dating interaction is typically of the "try-before-you-buy" sort (live chats, email messages, etc.), it could lead to some sticky situations when you decide that the person you "friended" isn't someone you want to get to know better after all. To get them out of your friends list, you have to unfriend them and they will know you've done so. Considering all the other smart features in Gelato, it would have been nice if they could have come up with a less hurtful way of saying "I'm just not that into you."
Still that's a minor complaint in what is, overall, a unique entry to the billion dollar marketplace that is online dating. Despite the fact that much of the site's inspiration comes from FriendFeed, we won't hold that against them. In fact, we applaud them for it. Taking FriendFeed's innovations and applying them to a marketplace decidedly lacking in such technical innovation is a brilliant idea.
If you're ready to give the "stream dating" of Gelato a try, you can join now at ge.la.to.