For a year and a half we've been hearing that an ambitious dating and social-networking site for the poly and open, backed by Sex at Dawn
's Christopher Ryan, was about to happen Real Soon Now. It's named Kotango
(originally Kotangle). It's been struggling along in beta but, supposedly, is finally coming together for an official launch in spring 2014. (Update January 21, 2015: It's got more members now, but parts of the site are still pretty clunky.)
At least, so says a long article in the business section of the San Francisco Chronicle.
Where the article diverges from reporting on Kotango, however, it strikes off-key notes that don't help me trust the rest of it. I mean, since when is poly a subset of kink, or only about "sexual adventurers"?
By Kristen V. Brown, Chronicle staff writer
Kotango brings kink and tech together for sexual adventurers
Since moving from Louisiana a few years back, William Winters has ascended to a sort of unofficial throne, the de facto king of the East Bay polyamory scene.
The poly potlucks he hosts have surged in popularity and tripled in regularity. It would appear that in the Bay Area there is an expanding interest in upending the traditional relationship.
|William Winters (photo by Michael Short)|
But even in a region where alternative sexual cultures thrive in the open, the polyamory community has remained a relatively small circle. And as interest in open relationships grows, so too does a need to reach a larger, more diverse and perhaps even more vanilla crowd.
Kotango, a new social network for those who ascribe (or aspire) to something other than monogamy, intends to do exactly that.
Imagine it as something like a kinky mashup of Facebook, OkCupid and Reddit, a place for the sexually venturesome to connect, cruise for dates and seek out advice.
Or, in the words of Polly “Superstar” Whittaker, a co-founder of the site and leader of San Francisco’s varied sex scene, it’s “kind of social networking for kinky hot nerds.”
...“We wanted a safe place for people to meet, connect and share stories,” said local IT bigwig Andrew, the brains behind the site (he asked to go by first name only, as his kids aren’t aware that he and his wife have an open relationship).
As the polyamory community grows, he said, it needed a “gateway,” something more approachable than sex parties or dinner with a room of open-minded strangers.
Other online fetish networks exist, but, as the Kotango website explains, “a lot of people are looking for a sexy, intelligent community without the sleaze and shame typical of many conventional dating or swingers sites.”...
...Andrew came up with the idea for the site, then passed it along to Christopher Ryan, co-author of the book “Sex at Dawn” and a celebrity in the polyamory community. Kotango launched in beta last year and is slated to debut in full this spring. So far, it has attracted over 5,000 users, about 2,000 of them in the Bay Area.
Here is a snapshot of some of the happenings on the site: a query as to how to tell the kids that mom and dad are polyamorous; a nuanced discussion of the difference between jealousy and envy; and advice for newbies on managing the complex emotions of relations with multiple lovers.
...The site is surprisingly tame; in fact Kotango advises its members to save the sexy shots for themselves. The site’s name is a portmanteau of tango — “unlike other dances, it doesn’t have a pre-determined set of steps,” the website explains — and community, cooperation and connection.
...In a lot of ways, it makes sense that polyamory is the place where new and old San Francisco come together.... “There is a historic relationship between San Francisco and self discovery and renewal,” said Andrew. “In tech and in polyamory, there is this whole idea of reinventing everything.”...
Read the whole article
(early March, 2014).
Also, on Social News Daily: Kotango Might Be The Polyamory Social Network That Doesn’t Out You On Facebook
(March 7, 2014):
Over on Facebook, polyamory groups have been exploding in size and scope — enter Kotango, which aims to coalesce the social polyamorous community on a single site, away from judgmental monogamous eyes.
...It looks like Kotango will seek to occupy a space on the social venn diagram between Fetlife (which is too BDSM and kink oriented for many poly folk) and Facebook (which, while very well-trafficked, can be unpredictable at best in terms of disclosure.)
...Kotango seems to represent a safe middle ground for poly people who worry about Facebook outings, but aren’t ready for the dick in your faceness of FetLife.
...Aside from this new poly network, just this week, OKCupid finally added a “strictly nonmonogamous” option for users who identify as polyamorous or otherwise don’t adhere to monogamy.
Kotango's About Us page
, getting out of date.
(For the record, I have no financial or other interest in Kotango).
Okay, so I guess it's time for a POLY-DATING DATA DUMP.
I've been saving up poly online-dating information and advice. Here goes.
is the default poly dating resource everyone uses. It's free, enormous, and mainstream; the reason it works as a poly dating site is because it's very customizable for subgroups and special interests — if
you know how. If you choose and answer lots
of relevant questions about yourself, OKC matches you with people who answered similarly. The key: choose and answer lots of poly-supportive questions such as the ones listed below, and rank many of them as very important or mandatory for matches. Also answer at least 100 other questions (maybe 300 or more), skipping those of low importance to you.
This advice was recently posted by Greenfizzpops, longtime organizer of the South African poly community:
OKCupid (www.okcupid.com) is a very poly-friendly dating site with eerily accurate matching algorithms.
The first thing you need is a great profile. There is some solid generic advice in the do and don't lists in the right sidebar here: www.reddit.com/r/OkCupid.
The next thing you need is to make your profile poly-specific in profile content and match questions, and then politely (extra points for also being lucid, engaging and positive) message people [who show both] poly profile cues and high match percentages.
The perceived best way to use OKC as a poly person is to:
(1) Fill in your profile with the word "polyamory" or "polyamorous" marked as an interest.
(2) Answer at least 100 matching questions, marking the polyamory-related answers as "very important" or "mandatory" for your ideal match to answer that way.
(3) Search for and contact people with high match percentages.
Its not always easy to find the poly-related questions, so here's a helpful list of the ones that qualify in my opinion. These are the direct URLs to the questions; all you need is to already be logged onto your OKC account before you click on the URLs:
Would you consider dating someone who is already involved in an open or polyamorous relationship?
Would you ever consider an open marriage? That means you can sleep with other people.
Would you get upset if your girlfriend/boyfriend flirted in front of you?
If you had a one-night stand DURING a relationship, would you confess to your mate?
Would you consider having an open relationship, where you can see other people?
Would you be upset if you saw your boyfriend or girlfriend checking someone else out?
If you're dating someone, is it okay for your partner to kiss another person closed-mouth, on the lips, as a hello?
If someone chooses to wait for marriage to have sex, that is...
Would you SERIOUSLY date someone now whom you knew you absolutely could not marry?
Do you think that people should be allowed to marry more than one person at a time?
Do you consider yourself a truly honest person, in all aspects of your life?
Would you be okay with your significant other spending a lot of time with one of his/her exes (as a friend)?
Do you consider yourself to be good at clear verbal communication?
Have you ever had multiple romantic partners during the same time period?
Would you date someone who was already in a committed relationship with someone else?
Someone in an open relationship asks you out on a date. You:
Do you believe that it is possible to experience romantic love for more than one person at a time without loving one less because of your love for the other?
Do you believe in monogamy?
Do you take prevention of STD transmission seriously (making sure your partner has been tested, using protection, being upfront if you're at risk, etc.)?
Do you bring up STD results/risk factors before you start fooling around?
Is it okay for a married person to play around with someone with the permission of their spouse?
Do you think it is possible to have more than one soul mate in a single lifetime?
Is it OK for a person in a serious relationship to use OkCupid to make new friends?
Would you consider being part of a commited polyamorous relationship - i.e., three or more people but no sex outside the group?
How would you feel if your partner asked you to get tested for STDs before having sex with you for the first time?
If you had to choose one for the rest of your life, which would you pick?
P.S.: Don't forget — match percentages are worthless without overlapping match questions.
Writes tosii2, "Don't forget the tests (in addition to the questions). There are several that 'measure' how poly you are."
An OKCupid plugin for polyfolks:
Ben Jaffe recently wrote a free OKC plugin (for Chrome) that, he says, "makes OKC much better for poly folks [and other minorities]": OKCupid for the Non-Mainstream User
. It automates and shortcuts some of the above.
OKCupid like many dating sites can be a zoo, especially if you blunder around uninformed. A typical exchange in a poly Yahoo group:
I'm on OKCupid and my inbox is assaulted daily with "want to have sex" requests from straight men.... OKC is not my friend, in fact it makes me want to turn off my computer forever ;)
The most effective way I know of to reduce propositions on any online site is to limit the skin you show. Use attractive but "vanilla" photos.... I realize this is not "sex positive" but you are trying to shut out men who never heard of "sex positive"....
* Learn how to flag emails with disagreeable pictures.
* Learn how to block people after the first transgression.
I met Kelly on OKC. But online dating is hard. I probably waded through 100 people I wasn't interested in and met 20 I wouldn't meet again, just to find one Kelly.
Women may find their inbox filling up with driveby propositions by men playing the numbers game (ask 100 random women "Wanna fuck?" and one may say yes.) If you only want to hear from people who actually read your profile, bury this near the end: "If you message me, include aardvark in the subject line so I'll know you've read this." Set a filter to delete replies lacking "aardvark" in the subject line (pick a different word).
OKCupid is always changing, so specific advice may go out of date fast. Nevertheless:
● Michael Rios, who has long used OKCupid with good results, advises, "Be sure to answer at least 300 questions, and skip any that don't speak to you or where none of the answers fit. Then do your match search on Match %, then Friend %." See his discussion of how to use OKC effectively at www.polyinfo.org
(the Meet Others tab).
● A reddit thread: Poly and OKC: Share your tips
site's OK Cupid for the Polyamorous
, by Polyana in the U.K. (2012)
● Kit O'Connell's 7-part Polyamorous Dating With OKCupid
● Pepper Mint's OKCupid Dating Tips
Poly dating sites other than OKCupid?
. They're out there — a search will turn up a bunch — but many seem dead-ish and I'm not the one to ask. Comments?
One that has been around for many years and is often mentioned, however, is PolyMatchMaker
. It currently claims 32,260 members and the posted number creeps up daily, I see. Comments?
And remember, when someone you meet says "You're poly? Oh wow, so am I!", do not assume that the word means the same thing to them that it means to you. "So how do you do poly?" is one of the first things to discuss.
Labels: dating, SF Bay Area