Where women go, dick pics follow.
Forthcoming dating app Wyldfire seems to get this. With herds of men vying for virtual female attention, its founders hope to apply a measure of quality control.
When the app launches next month, women may join Wyldfire freely, but men can only be invited by an existing female user. Baseline criteria for invitees likely includes "unlikely to send dick pics" and "not interested in dating personally," thereby creating a pre-approved pool of dateable men.
Other companies, like Hinge and forthcoming Siren, aim to recreate successful offline settings and install vetting mechanisms to make their experiences more pleasant for women. While Tinder allows anyone with a Facebook profile to join in (shirts and surnames optional), Hinge connects users based on listed mutual friends or third degree connections, while pulling information like education and occupation from public-facing Facebook profiles.
Wyldfire still stands out for its originality. If Tinder is your neighborhood pickup bar and Hinge your friend's coworker's house party, Wyldfire may be that dinner party where everyone brings a platonic plus-one.
Founders Brian Freeman and Andrew White saw a void in the dating app space as soon as they entered it. "The app really was born out of our experience with other sites," Freeman told HuffPost over the phone. "We'd start matching up with these awesome girls, and the conversations would go nowhere. They would either start and fall off or never really get going."
After speaking with close female friends and surveying hundreds of women on their app experiences, Freeman and White determined that unsavory behavior on behalf of some has consequences for men sincerely interested in making connections.
"We were part of the lowest common denominator -- guys using dating apps are guilty until proven innocent. By virtue of being on here as a guy, you're assumed to be a creep. Basically, you need to prove you're not," White said. "So we thought, Why don't we just cut out all of that nonsense."
Freeman and White recruited women to design their app.
"We can't tell what women want. So we hired awesome women to work with, we interviewed 200 women to try and nail down the right choices, and hired female designers so we could implement the right features," White said.
Indeed, the app hinges on a deep trust in sisterhood: Female users will be shown potential matches in her area, but she won't know who actually deemed them dateable. Wyldfire confirms vague eligibility, and will highlight mutual connections if both users have joined through Facebook -- but your freshmen-year roommate who knew him at camp probably doesn't know anything about his proclivity for dick pics.
Most women only know a limited number of single, straight dateable men that they are not interested in dating. And beyond prompting users to invite one male friend at the sign-up stage, Wyldfire does not offer women incentives to recruit more men. But with so many dating platforms overpopulated (or at least, abused) by men, the founders hope women will privilege quality of matches over quantity:
"Hopefully they're incentivized to create a community of cool people... and the personal satisfaction of being in control of their own environment," Freeman said. "We'll have weeded out that percentage of guys who weren't really going to be a great fit for anybody anyway."
The app limits messages to 20 to encourage matches to move offline. Here's hoping this precludes a slew of "Hey" "What's up" "Hi" "Hey cutie" "Don't be shy ;)" "Where r u?" et al. festering in women's Inboxes.
Will its male CEOs be on it? "Hard to say!" Freeman said. "I think we are 'invite-able guys though and I have confidence we can get someone to invite us."
Comrades in cellular courtship: choose wisely.