Shaadi.com Experiment

I conducted this little experiment on an Indian matrimonial website…

Some background: I’m a macaca. And just like Jewish people have JDate, Indian people have Shaadi.com.

Shaadi.com claims 710,000+ success stories. Some of these are arranged marriages (your profile can be created by your parents, siblings, or friends). Of course, you can also put up your own ad to potentially meet a spouse.

It’s not a dating site like Match or Craigslist. When you register, they ask you for your gender. Your choices are “looking for groom” or “looking for bride”… (Sorry, gay people.)

From almost every conversation I’ve had about it with other Indian people, it’s pretty much the last ditch place you go when you need to marry yourself off. If you haven’t met anyone and your marriage is becoming a fading dream for your family, or if your family didn’t know another Indian family with a single son or daughter, you go to Shaadi.com.

The upside: If your ad is up there, you are likely to get many responses.

The downside: It’s Shaadi.com.

Anyway. The experiment:

I put up a posting a month ago just to see what would happen.

My profile name was FriendlyAtheist. (I’m blunt.) My picture was on the profile, as were my basic stats. My religion was listed as “No religion.” When it asked for a bio, I wrote about my hobbies/interests, job, etc. I did stick in a short paragraph in the middle saying I was an atheist who worked with “secular organizations.”

Everything was honest.

As for who I was searching for, I didn’t make many specific requests other than I was looking for someone in Illinois. And the woman’s age had to be 18-29. In all, 430 women fulfilled my (very broad) requirements.

The profile was up 19 days.

In that time, the profile was viewed only 32 times.

No one “expressed interest” in me, no one sent me messages, no one called me.

Ouch.

Yesterday, I put up a new profile. With a couple exceptions, everything was the exact same, including the picture.

What were the changes? My profile name was now FriendlyIndian (I know, I know. Very creative). My religion was now listed as Jain (and my sect was listed as Shewetamber), the religion in which I was raised. The statement about my atheism and working with secular organizations was deleted.

It hasn’t been 24 hours yet.

17 people have already viewed the page.

One girl has already “expressed interest.” (Woo!)

I’m not about to extrapolate anything from this (and I took down the profile). Clearly, there are too many variables that could’ve played a role in this. People flock to new profiles quickly, religion is very important in the Indian community, etc.

But you’re telling me that on a website that brown people flock to when trying to marry someone, the atheism was that much of a turn-off?

*sigh*

So there you go, mom and dad. This is why I probably won’t end up with an Indian girl.


[tags]Indian, Indian-American, matrimonial, Shaadi.com, macaca, atheist, atheism, Jewish, JDate, arranged marriage, Match, Craigslist, gay, religion, Illinois, Jain, Jainism, Shewetamber, secular[/tags]

  • txatheist

    I definitely consider the dating scene to be completely different with comparison of Chicago to Austin and also San Diego. Heres my view that is not based on anything but my getting shot down by women a couple thousand times :) In all honesty now that I look back it’s a numbers game.

    I definitely think the women in Austin much different than Chicago and also compared to San Diego.

  • tcc

    Yes, but wouldn’t that particular website attract mostly people from fairly traditional backgrounds looking for a fairly traditional marriage based on a shared cultural background which would include religious beliefs? Seems like the experiment was sort of stacked towards this outcome from the get-go.

  • Devika Keral

    Yeah, religion does seem to be really important for traditional Indian families. Being Indian woman & humanist (and therefore “too much of a thinker”), I knew my chances of marrying someone Indian were slim. But, I am very happily married to an atheist, and even though he’s not Indian & doesn’t believe in a god, my family loves him dearly. It doesn’t have to be as grim as one might think. BTW, I often told my parents that THEY raised me to be someone who questions everything – and now they have come to be proud of that, too.

  • Karen

    Ouch. You’re mature enough to take it well, but still – that hurts, Hemant. I’m sorry.

    Yet another negative repercussion of rationality.

    There is an active humanist movement in India, as I understand it. At least there’s a group that’s referenced by the Humanist Network once in a while. So – you never know, right? Are your parents extremely wedded (heh) to the idea of your marrying another Jain or at least Indian?

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com Mike C

    I can definitely see that being an atheist would negatively affect one’s personal life. Most people want to end up with someone who shares their most deeply held convictions. Inter-religious marriages can be very difficult – as I know from the experience of several family friends. So I guess it’s natural that people would generally date within their own religion. But of course, since there are much few atheists out there than other groups, that would signficantly limit your options.

    Hope you single atheists out there can find partners that are as open minded as you are.

  • txatheist

    Mike C makes a good point and there are even few humanist/atheist females than males percentage wise.

  • Siamang

    Now if you had only posed nude in the SkepDudes calendar, you wouldn’t be having these problems.

  • MTran

    Hemant,

    Sorry to hear about the outcome of your experiment. If marrying a person of Indian ethicity is important to you, then you have my sympathy. But there are plenty of other wonderful people in this world to choose from.

    I entered university as a pantheist and left as an atheist. I met people with all sorts of beliefs but ended up married to a hard core atheist. If I were married to a someoe who strongly believed in any supernaturally based religion, one or both of us would probably be miserable.

    For about 10 years I have lurked and occasionally posted on a site for fans of a rather outre rock star. One might expect to meet all types on such a site. But although I’ve made somewhat controversial comments in the past about politics, sexuality, ethics, art, you name it, it wasn’t until a month or two ago that I was “bozoed” for the first time! It happened within seconds of a rather innocuous post where I chimed in about something patently offensive done by a so-called Christian organization. I said something like, “I’m an atheist but those people don’t sound very Christian to me.” Wham, apparently someone was so offended that I said I was an atheist, she put me on her bozo list. Of course, she was one of the most reviled people on that site, and had actively proselytized for a strange literalist sect for years. I took it as a badge of honor but really, it’s a pathetic reaction to a simple statement of non-belief.

  • http://doubtingthefish.wordpress.com/ olly

    Hemant –

    Sorry fot the off-topic comment, but TAG you’re IT!

    -olly

  • http://oxymoronredundancyparadoxtrap.blogspot.com benjamin ady

    Hemant,

    sorry–that must have been at least a bit disappointing–I guess we all want to be wanted. On the other hand, I found it fascinating. I’m in school doing psychology, and a couple friends in my psych research class wanted to do something similar with fake ads on craigslist, and they couldn’t get it approved by the human sujbects committee, which was way too bad ’cause it sounded fascinating. I was stoked to see that you had actually carried out such an experiment. In fact, I’d love to have a copy of both ads and any additional data (demographic data on people who viewed your profile, if available) you may have so I could do further analysis.

  • Moglandor

    Wasn’t India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, an atheist?

  • http://www.friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    Wow, a lot of people think I’m bummed out about this.

    I’m not.

    I kind of expected the results, but I thought there was a chance I might be proven wrong. I mean, the first ad (with the atheist side showing) was put up on purpose just to see if anyone would be interested.

    Finding someone Indian doesn’t matter to me. Finding someone I like does; I’m sure that’s the case for everyone here.

    I’m sure the parents would love it if the girl was Indian, but they know better than to think culture dictates who we should marry. And they’ve been pretty liberal when it comes to dating compared to other Indian families I know, which is good.

  • MTran

    Hemant,

    Your experiment may have had the expected results, but to me, it is still unfortunate, because of what it says about the world. I’m always pleased when my negative expectations are over-turned! This ant-atheistic attitude is one that I would like to see disappear, though I don’t expect it to occur in my lifetime.

    You indicate that your family background is Jain. Is your current value system very different from the values your family has or that you had prior to becoming an atheist?

  • MTran

    a couple friends in my psych research class wanted to do something similar with fake ads on craigslist

    I suspect that academic ethical standards had a lot to do with the decision to nix that experiment.

    I’ve always valued honesty so highly that I feel a bit uneasy whenever anyone tries to game a legitimate enterprise. Even for a good, humorous, or educational purpose. As a result, programs like Candid Camera really turn me off. As does police entrapment of vulnerable people. Or “fishing” expeditions run by the departments of justice that attempt to lure people to gross porn sites. Or literalist religions, which prey upon the ignorant and frightened among us. Of course, I suppose I’m sort of unrealistic about this.

  • http://doubtingthefish.wordpress.com/ olly

    You know, as an Atheist married to a Theist, I think the most important thing that ithese relationships need is to evaluate this: what’s more important, y our feelings for the other person, or your commitment to converting them to your view.

    My wife and I disagree quite vociferously regarding religion, but both of us realize that our relationship will always take precedence over it… in the end, we have much more important things in our lives to worry about then whether the other person believes (or doesn’t) the same … bills, bills, bills, and oh, did I mention bills?

    -olly

  • http://www.friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    You indicate that your family background is Jain. Is your current value system very different from the values your family has or that you had prior to becoming an atheist?

    MTran– My values are almost entirely the same. When my parents found out I was an atheist, they were worried that the values would change (mind you, I had been an atheist for years before I told them), but now they seem to understand my values aren’t based on religion. So they’re much more lax about it now.

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Indian Wedding

  • http://mysticindica.blogspot.com Indica

    Hemant,

    Cpl of things about shaadi.com that might explain some if not all of the (in)action

    1. Girls don’t normally go about sending ‘messages’ or expressing interest outright. They just assume that the guy would take the initiative to contact them and in almost all of the success stories out there, invariably it started with the guy making contact first.

    2.Let’s just say you did all of the above, then despite your athiest beliefs and simply because you expressed an interest in a girl’s profile, she would be more likely than not to reciprocate and things might actually move forward. But you’re right in the sense that if you already hold world views different from the beaten path, most girls would consider making a ‘cold call’ to such a profile a big risk. What’s to gain given that A. The guy doesn’t meet your ‘ideal’ partner preferences and B. It’s not like the guy is impressed with her (so to speak) or has made the first move.

    3. You probably specifically mentioned girls in the chicago area. Just how many do you think are out there ? The same ad might have worked for
    A. A different geographical area having a greater demographic of eligible Indian girls – such as Mumabai / Delhi. or B. Had you mentioned you would not mind someone who lives in the continental united states.

    So all in all, there are more reasons than your athiesm for you to throw in your towel just as yet on shaadi.

    Just some gems from one user to another ;)

    -Indica

  • http://www.friendlyatheist.com Hemant

    Indica– Thanks for the comments. Some responses:

    1) If I were actually looking to meet someone, I would’ve approached someone instead of waiting for someone to come to me. But I didn’t approach anyone in either case and wanted to know if anyone would be interested regardless. Women on other sites do often make the first move.

    2) And I thought hard about whether or not to restrict the profile to Chicago or everywhere. I figured since I wasn’t serious, and I wanted it to be most convenient for the girl, I’d keep geography as close as possible. So there was a reason for that, and I kept the geography restriction the same in both cases.

    – Hemant

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Daytheists

  • http://www.suyogdeshpande.net/blog/ Supremus

    On second thoughts think about what you didnt miss by not being contacted by ppl who think of religion and god as a barrier :D

    I am myself on shaadi.com and the experience has been nothing short of amusement. Its just hilarious.

    S

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » HisHolySpace

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » eHarmony Saying No to Atheists?

  • seema gupta

    My friend using our advise found the man of her dreams on Shaadi .com. Alas today I feel like it should be Barbaadi.com. This guy turned out to be a wierdo, and to make a long story short, they were seperated and she got a restraining order out against him. Today he rented a car and drove to her hometown , many hundred miles away, bought himself a gun, got himself buzzed into her apt, and shot her to death five times before pulling the trigger on himself. I will never ever advise anyone again for shaadi.com. The oldfashioned Indian matchmakers way, where he knows all the families in his network in much safer.Pls share this story with anyone U know, to proceed with caution ,with the internet matches. Always get a private investigator to do a background check also, its worth it.

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Your Daughter Can Date Me Now!

  • reji varghese

    Getting an athiest match in india is very difficult. As seema gupta told there are lots of troble hidden among internet matches.

  • sanjeev

    This is a ridiculous exchange of mails I had with the customer service of shaadi.com.

    Theres a total disconnect between marketing, sales and customer service….read on….

    Hi Shiv

    Further to our earlier mails, Im sending this mail to you again. I have no choice but to do this as I see my money being wasted on a product which doesnt bring any value to a platinum customer.

    I really wonder what make you the best site that your company seems to be claiming.

    You expect me to renew my subscription with a 15% discount. Now read the rest of the story and then tell me if a paid member would ever decide to renew.

    i Did a very simple quick search of finding male members in UAE.

    I selected an age group of 27 to 35 and selected doesnt matter as an option for religion and mothertongue.

    There were 60 pages listed and my profile was on the 25th page. The results were sorted as by default.

    The same search when i sorted it by newest first then my profile was listed only on the 42nd page of the 60 pages.

    When I sorted it by age my profile was listed on the 60th page.

    And finally when I did it by height my profile was listed only on the 28th page.

    Of all these options Im sure most of the female members use the default and maybe the newest first options.

    If I had a choice I would never be listed on your site.

    You guys are best among all the worst sites.

    Based on this results it makes sense for me to let my membership expire.

    I will create a new profile and take a 3 month membership which will atleast help me be listed in the 1st few pages.

    And expire this every 3 months and then again create a new profile.

    Unless your management and product team really want to get up from their fat MBA arses and start listening to the concerns of a genuine customer.

    And the Customer service rep sends the reply which is mentioned below……

    Dear Sanjeev,

    Thank you for writing to Shaadi.com Customer Relations.

    We would like to mention that premium membership has no co-relation with listing your profile on top of search results.

    We would like to inform you that the visitors narrow down their search based on 20 different criteria – religion, age, height, mother-tongue, education, occupation, and so on.

    So, when a profile meets all such search criteria, it is automatically listed high up in that particular search.
    Still, this is a passive approach. We recommend a more active formula for Success at Shaadi.com.

    Also, thousands of new members join Shaadi.com everyday. So, beyond a point it is very difficult to be listed high. That is why we advise you not to depend on response from others. Instead, you should yourself aggressively search and express interest in all potential partners.

    In fact, as a Premium Member, you can even write a personalized message to every member you express interest in. Under our Platinum and Diamond Memberships, your profile is also highlighted in every search listing.

    Trust the above makes it clear that high listing is not as important as being an active member yourself.

    If you need any further assistance, kindly contact us on `Live Help’.
    You can click on the following link to chat online with our Customer Relations Team:
    http://www.shaadi.com/customer_relations/faq/index.php

    You can also contact us on +91 98335 74223 (Standard charges apply).
    We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    Happy searching and contacting!

    Sincerely
    Arti
    Shaadi.com Customer Relations
    People Interactive

    And for the above reply I had to send this response…

    I dont want to have any interaction with you because it shows you have no clue what you are talking….but on second thoughts let me give you a reply.

    If all free members, inactive members can show up in a search with paid members then why pay?

    Your search algorithm should have that ability to priortize and sort profiles based on paid and active, paid and inactive, free and active, free and inactive.

    And as for being proactive and aggressively sending interest then you should do a report on my member activity. Other then my activity I keep My profile and messenger online almost 20 hours of the day so that it shows up in who is online search. And sorry to say there also your site sucks.

    All this will make you realize that you have sent a wrong reply and you should have waited for shiv to respond.

    Its getting too much and I plan to put this complaint to all the blogs on most of the popular sites.

    Let people know that while shaadi is the best marketing company their product and customer service sucks.

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » Highlights from Harding University

  • Mr. Schwinn

    Slightly off topic…
    I think the presentation of atheism could have been done better than an “in your face” attitude I often see from atheists. This is all a matter of phrasing the question the right way.

    For example couldn’t you get away with saying you were a “literalist” Jain?

    To the best of my knowledge from college studies I understood there are atheistic religions (who don’t believe in a god/creator figure) and Jainism is one of those. Looking up Jainism in wikipedia (and not sure how much it can be trusted), while it is a cultural thing, it celebrates “role models” rather than gods and does not believe the role model heroes/teachers currently exist somewhere in some other plane of existence but rather are only to be emulated. “Jains do not believe in an omnipotent supreme being, creator or manager (kart?), but rather in an eternal universe governed by natural laws.” from Wikipedia.

  • Mr. Schwinn

    Looks like that last “(kart?)” part did not copy and paste too well…

  • Mriana

    That’s sad. :( Well, if it’s any consolation, Hemant, and I know I’ve said this before, but if I wasn’t too old for you, I’d date. ;) But alas… I’m sadly old enough to be your mother. I’m sure your mother is very proud of though and I know why- as a mother too at least. :lol:

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » My Parents Won’t Know How to React

  • Tammy Gill

    Thank god someone else had the bad experience I had.
    I am so upset about how they treated me I can’t even talk about it at the moment.
    I know exactly how you feel !

    Thanks,
    Tammy Gill

  • A.S.

    Well, I hit upon this blog post when I searched for feedback re: Shaadi.com. Yes, yes, I relented….to appease the mom. Why not give it a go? (she asked) Well, I guess, hmm, why not. I am still at the ‘free membership’ stage, as a poor student, $ needs to be thought about long and hard.

    And, as an Indian female, and an atheist at that (which my mom still hopes is a phase)…I am disheartened (elated? serendipituous sabotage via listing atheist?) at your review of Shaadi.com.

    When filling out the profile, the initial thing that bugged me was, complexion choice (there was no ‘prefer not to say’/'no answer’ CHOICE!! and I am morally opposed to such Fair & Lovely rhetorics). And, then, the bullcrap with astrology and what time I was born (who knows such things, and why care? but, I couldn’t figure out how NOT to fill the field and still get the profile accepted, so I ball-park guessed from random past convos with the mom – she was apparently there). As you mentioned, I also noticed the bride=looking for groom and vice versa (the rainbow isn’t certainly bright in their corner). And, the fact that there’s no option to hide exact birthdate (pre-emptive strike against fundie astrology freaks, but, alas). And, finally, the contact info. Why do they need a phone number? Stalkerish!

    In conclusion: I am not very impressed, and may hold out on the $$ towards a paid membership. At least you can say yours was an experiment. Maybe I should do the same.

  • Bash

    I agree, it is difficult for an atheist to find an atheist partner in India.

    It is not so difficult for me as I belong to the Neo-Buddhist community in Maharashtra. Many people in this community are atheists or understand atheism or practice Buddhism in way that is close to atheism.

    Alas, some people have forgotten their roots in order to closely integrate with their Hindu neighbours, or simply do not think much to care about it.

  • http://virtualityforreal.blogspot.com Allytude

    Darn, had I a. not been married b. visited shaadi.com, it would have been the right match for me…. and the age fits too!

  • Sukanaya

    I fully agree with Sanjeev, I have same experience with Shaadi.com so I decide to find
    something new. I did google search and spoke to my few friends who were looking for some time and decided to register on ShaadiKaroge.com , these guys were very helpful and know what they are doing and helped me in finding the match in just 4 months which I was not able to do at Shaadi.com in 9 months.

  • IC

    It gave me a kick reading your shaadi.com experiment; I thought honesty would be appreciated considering every second profile I have checked states how bleedingly honest of a person they seek.

    I’d have expressed interest in the FriedlyAtheist profile had I seen it ;) .

  • Aayushi

    Hey
    Quite sad!! I express interest! :)

    I am doing a similar experiment, only its caste. they dont give you data if its religion you know. As soon as I get the data, muhahahahah!! Anyway, will write about my results soon. SHould be in a week.

  • septemberbelle

    hi, i came across ur blog during a research search and feel like i have to let u know that as a single indian (Jain) woman.. its not ur athesism that bothers me so much as the fact that u use it to define urself…
    u have issues and hence ppl gave ur profile a miss the first time around..
    apologies for being blunt..
    cheers

  • Mriana

    I doubt in real life Hemant uses atheism to define himself, septemberbelle. The whole thing started out on E-Bay and he wrote a book about it. In the process the website was started. His website and all is one thing, but I’m sure his personal life is a whole other issue. I highly recommend his book to you, septemberbelle.

  • Shruti

    Oh boy. I am an Indian woman. And an atheist. And not too long ago, I had out of curiousity, created a rather detailed (blunt) profile on shaadi.com. Not one man came near me with a flag pole.

  • Seora1312

    Its a gross waste of money and time going into shaadi.com, there are real M..F…sitting there luring customers to pay. You register and show expression of interest, to a 1000 girls, I’ll consider you lucky if you get response from genuine 10 girls. And very lucky if you get an email from them, and very very lucky if they are real. Chances are 5% that you might strike up with some one genuine.  and then you are serious to find a girl and to send a mail to them you get tempted to pay. Just try this out, go to the payment page and then close it, i’ll guarantee you that you’ll get a call in 24 hrs. Even after a call you hesitate to pay voila!! your in box is flooded with acceptance of beautiful girls. And LOL once you pay none of them respond…..most of them are fake profiles generated by the system. and once you send a complaint that no one is responding, thats it you had it bro…they will block all your messages to the girls.and thats one more reason why the girls fail to respond even after accepting you. they never get your messages. And try one more thing…register as a girl and see……….over night your inbox is flooded with proposals….!!whoz doing all this…programmers sitting behind the laptop. Trust me Chances that you may meet your guy or a girl in a supermarket is more bright. Dont waste your time on this stupid site.