Weird Twist on Internet Dating

What has happened to good old-fashioned Internet dating? As meeting significant others online has become more mainstream and accepted, I have noticed that the kind of dating websites out there are becoming more and more specialized.

I recently came across a dating website that is relatively new to the mix — a site called Motodate — and couldn't pass up the opportunity to point it out. The premise of the site is to connect people who first see each other from their cars while sitting in traffic. The way it works is through a kind of tagging system that members use to identify themselves on the road. Once someone signs up for a membership and creates their profile, Motodate sends them a sticker with a four-digit code to put on their car window.

That way, when someone driving next to you thinks you are cute (or vice versa) all they have to do is remember the four-digit code and then they have a way to contact you, even after you drive into the sunset.

You're probably thinking, "What? Is this for real???" because I certainly thought that when I first came across the site. And while I give its founder, Tim Baudler, credit for his innovative concept, there are way too many questions surrounding the idea. First of all, for people who aren't familiar with Motodate, there might be many missed opportunities to meet the person of your dreams. Without a major publicity campaign, how is a sticker in your window really going to get someone's attention? And, even on the chance that someone does know about Motodate, not everyone is good at remembering numbers. It's one of those things that sounds really good in theory, but may be too impractical to actually work.

The idea also raises some concerns about stalker behavior. I can't help but think that signing up for this dating service will make members more susceptible to being contacted by weirdos.

While there are one too many kinks for me, I can still appreciate the creativity that went into tapping the market of singles in big cities. And with traffic now a growing headache in many cities across the country why not test out the idea? Growing up in the unbearably traffic-clogged city of Los Angeles, I am all too familiar with the silent flirting that can occur during those long hours of desperation on the highway.

But will the site be successful? That definitely remains to be seen. So far, Motodate has attained trademark status and is now awaiting approval for a patent. According to a recent press release, the site has grown significantly with members in the Los Angeles area where it was initially launched. As with most new concepts, there is always a period of adjustment wherein consumers become the ultimate decider of what will catch on.

This was certainly the case with another out-there dating website that launched in 1997 called Women Behind Bars. The site helps women who are in prison find potential suitors outside of jail. Women Behind Bars existed for about five years until the era of internet dating exploded — it didn't start getting major media attention until 2003. But even then, the idea that there would be any sort of market for dating an inmate was considered strange. Today, the site has thousands of visitors a day and dozens of success stories. And reason it's still around is because it continues to produce results — members write in to share how they met and married the love of their life while in jail.

It seems to me then, if there aren't enough success stories of people meeting each other and ending up together through Motodate, eventually the site will no longer exist. So, what do you think? Is Motodate too crazy of an idea to work? When it comes to dating sites, is there a threshold to how far innovation can be taken on the Web?

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5 Comments

  • Jimmy

    I actually think it's a cool idea. I've been known to look around to see who is around me when I'm sitting in traffic, so why not? Weird maybe, but look at how popular the chiapet and pet rock became. I think this website has a shot...kind of wish I would have thought of it!

  • Mali

    "And, even on the chance that someone does know about Motodate, not everyone is good at remembering numbers. It's one of those things that sounds really good in theory, but may be too impractical to actually work"
    Shouldn't someone come up with a simple device-dictaphone customised for in car use-to help people remember.......and record interesting useful information from adverts on cars to drive radio advts etc.

  • David Evans

    I've written about these types of services for years on my dating industry blog. Plates, stickers, clothing, they never seem to really take off. Flirting in Traffic is a recent competitor. It will be interesting to see who gets the lion's share of the truly mobile dating market.

  • DB

    Somebody already tried this idea with license plate frames - I think it cost $15 to sign up - it got some news coverage up front but of course it bombed. Good luck!

  • Marcio

    Motodate may well expand its concept and put 4-digit tags in pedestrians as well...Now, seriously, the idea will be a DOA if many cars have shaded windows.