Thursday, January 28, 2010

eHarmony Is Ordered to Merge Gay and Straight Sites

eHarmony, which had operated a gay-orientated site separate from its main site, has been ordered to merge the two (Mashable).

As always, legal and ethical considerations should be put aside for an economic analysis. Why did eHarmony believe that having separate sites was in its best interest (the gay-orientated site wasn't even linked from eHarmony's home page)? Who wins and who loses under the new setup?

Surely gay and lesbian users will welcome the change. Some no doubt felt like second-class citizens when they had to use a lesser-known site. In addition, bisexual users had to pay twice to be listed on both sites if they wanted to keep their options open.

Some straights may boycott the site after the change, and some may celebrate the new inclusion of other sexual preferences, but I suspect that the vast majority of users will be indifferent. Advertisers would be thrilled to attract more users (if indeed that's what would happen), but the change might cause some of these to drop the site in order to avoid controversy (though, under the status quo, supporting a site that excluded gays and lesbians is also controversial).

Unless I'm missing something, eHarmony must have been afraid that the defection of straight users would more than offset any gains from being inclusive. Now we'll see if that's actually true (though the site can now partially appease the potential defectors because they know that eHarmony was forced to make this change).


Adam Gurri said...

They actually only created the gay site to begin with because they lost yet another court battle. Before they just had the one, straight only site.