First to Use Sutcliffe’s SelectAlternatives System
Seattle, Wash. — July 12, 2004 — The days of 900-voice personals and generic web personals have ended at The Stranger.
Readers of The Stranger and users of www.thestranger.com have two new relationships services: Lovelab and Lustlab (for kinksters.) Both programs utilize Andy Sutcliffe’s SelectAlternatives platform, which combines Web, telephone and print into one integrated system.
Tim Keck, Publisher of The Stranger stated: “SelectAlternatives is the type of personals system I’ve wanted for years. It fully incorporates both voice and online ads, is incredibly flexible and allows us to truly build an on-line personals environment that fits the style of our newspaper. The personals business is still out there, but we haven’t been getting it like we used to, and we’re mostly to blame. We bifurcated the online world with what appears in our print publications. We allowed our online ads to mix with ads from other publications, confusing our readers and, worse, we had generally given up on personals. We’d taken away the reasons people used to like our personals system: it was fun, easy, and they could check out other people who consider our paper a community. Andy Sutcliffe’s new system, I’m convinced, will go a long way to right The Stranger’s personals program.”
Lovelab and Lustlab were launched on June 18th. Printed personal ads begin in The Stranger in the July 8th issue. In less than a month since the launch, over 1000 Stranger readers have signed up. “With our old 900 personals, the average age of our female personals advertisers was over 40 — a full decade older than the paper’s median age. The average age of female Lovelab members is 29.5,” said Keck.
Stranger readers who place ads on the system select from numerous profile questions written by Stranger staff. For example, one question asks about the person’s political leanings and contains a long list of multiple-choice answers, such as “soft left,” “hard left” and “nothing left.” There’s a question concerning dietary preference, with suggested answers including “veg-aquarium” (vegetarian that eats fish) and “indiscriminate omnivore.” And there’s a section called “In and Out,” where users pick one of two possible answers, such as “Monorail or light rail,” “Starbucks or Victrola,” “Hedwig or Dina Martina,” and “Johnny Depp or Tom Cruise.” And if you like to answer essay questions, The Stranger has several, including “MLK was way more radical than Malcolm X. Discuss.” Unlike other online services with static questions, the system has been designed to allow the Stranger staff to periodically add new questions.
“It was a lot of fun working with Tim and the staff of The Stranger,” said Andy Sutcliffe. “I wanted a first client who would push the design and features of the SelectAlternatives system. And push they did. With The Stranger and the Chicago Reader having very different approaches, we needed to make the system incredibly flexible. The folks at DesertNet did an amazing job.”
SelectAlternatives has been built utilizing DesertNet’s Gyrobase platform.
The Stranger joins the Chicago Reader, Washington City Paper and the Portland Mercury as the initial four papers that will be launching the new service in the next few weeks.