firedating.me is not for profit, as a result I personally don't care how much time you spend on the site. My success criterion is someone inviting me to their wedding after meeting on the site. Since this metric stays at 0 for a long time, I have various proxy metrics. I try to stimulate people interacting with each other, that's why I track and publish:
As you can see, I don't have "time spent on the site", "ads clicks" and so on. I don't even have ads. That's why the way the website works may look unusual and inconvenient at first, but many users thanked me for this decisions. Thus, let's go through all the features.
You just need your email to register. This is done to avoid bots (and being able to reach to you). This may sound scary, but there is no spam whatsoever. You can get notifications for incoming messages, incoming requests or your requests being approved (all such notifications can be disabled). Alternatively I can personally write to you e.g. due to some technical issues (happens rarely).
This way I don't care who you are and preserve your privacy. The site uses https, passwords are stored only in hashed and salted form in the database, so even I don't have access to them.
After creating an account, you have to fill in mandatory fields of your profile - basically, your gender, who you look for, where and whether online or offline. This is technically enough to start using the website, but there are many optional profile fields, such as description of your ideal day once FIRE or hobbies. Filling in optional fields helps your profile to be ranked higher (=more people see it) and overall gives other people some information to decide whether they like you, i.e. greatly improves your chances! You don't have to add info you don't want to, but you can still tell why you don't want to share it (be creative).
You can also upload your photo if you like. By default unapproved people see a heavily blurred version of it. It is still enough to pique one's interest, but can't be used to invade your privacy. Some people like more usual approach, so there is an option to always show unblurred photo (even to people who you didn't approve).
Let's quickly go through available parameters of your search. You choose your gender (sorry to non-binary folks, I haven't got yet to figuring a good way to support more than 2 genders, if you have an idea which options you would like to see - please reach to me), your target gender (if you don't care, you can choose both at the same time). Then you choose relationship type - either romantic or friendship. As a result, you will be matched with profiles which fulfill your parameters and whose parameters you fulfill. Then you choose how you would prefer to communicate - offline or online. Offline means "I want them to be geographically close to me" - you will be shown only profiles from your city or, if there are none, from your country. When you choose "online", it is more like "I don't care where they are located" and you are matched with people from all over the world (who have chosen online as well).
You can also make your search a bit narrower by choosing target age window. Since people may write their age not as a number (e.g. "around 30" due to privacy reasons), there is an option to include such profiles too. Personally I don't think narrowing search is worth it at this stage, since there are not that many people overall (around one thousand so far, but usually for each specific user the number of candidates is much smaller, rarely reaching 100 yet).
You can't write to other people before they approve your request or you approve theirs. This greatly decreases "spam" - you can get at most one unsolicited request from a given user, which basically means "hey, I like you, would you like to talk?", but without actual words. If you decline it, the other person won't be able to reach you in any way. If you approve, you will be able to send messages to each other. This also makes the process easier for people sending requests. Usually on dating sites which allow to send unsolicited messages there is a strong temptation to write a personalized message each time (e.g. based on what the receiver writes in their profile). This is time consuming and can be misleading. That's why on firedating.me you can at most show your profile to someone. I believe that if they don't like your profile (an approximation of you), there is no point to send them a message (which someone could artificially craft to be more like-able).
The site also has an artificial limit on number of requests sent per day as well as number of new profiles seen. One can send at most 2 requests and see at most 10 new profiles per day. This is counterintuitive, but as I said, my goal is not to keep you attached to the site, but to help you get to know other people. On sites like Tinder even if you find someone interesting, there is an infinite number of profiles left and perhaps there is someone better. There one can easily get stuck searching for perfection. On firedating.me you are motivated to actually reach to someone right now, because you see only 10 new profiles per day. So your next step is to actually talk to someone. Regarding at most 2 requests, this helps to fight "spam" and helps you to be considerate when choosing who to interact with. In the worst case, if there are 3 super interesting people, you can send the 3rd request tomorrow. This also helps fighting bots (it is a bit harder to maliciously download all profiles, this is definitely not a problem at this stage, but still).
Once you register, you can see profiles of other people with majority of photos blurred and some not if they owners have chosen so. I suggest you to go through all available profiles for today before sending any requests. Then send your requests. The receivers get email notifications (unless they turned them off). Then they see your profile with unblurred photo and decide. If they approve, you get an email notification (unless you disabled them) and you can start chatting. There is a built-in messaging on the site, so you don't have to expose your contact details. Many also reported that they like having a separate channel for such messages, since they can check them once a day and avoid distractions during the rest of the time.
When you chat, you are welcome to move to some other messenger. I understand that the built-in messaging is very simplistic and perhaps you actually want to not only get email notifications when your new friend writes to you ;)
I am making this site for you and it is not for profit. I just enjoy the process and I also use it, so that's my "salary". However, we are a very diverse bunch and, obviously, it is hard for me to know the best way forward. Thus, the site is heavily feedback driven. You can either write to me directly and we can discuss your idea or add it to a feature board and let other users vote for it. Thus, if you see how I could improve the site, please reach. It is just my hobby project and I am more of a backend guy, so some parts of it may be suboptimal :) but I would be happy to improve!
In the following posts I will discuss ways to use firedating.me more efficiently as well as how you could help me with the site!
TODO: add links to these posts.