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How can I filter male and female users of a site?

My Problem In brief :

We are building a relationship website and want to differentiate users based on gender but need to avoid males registering as females. My problem is how to identify male and female members.

Some Possibilities which we explored

  • A video call with the new member to verify their gender;
  • Asking deep gender based questions (this might be easily faked by little googling)

My questions :

How to solve this problem ,what can be the user point of aspects that can be provided for membership to avoid fake registration users

Identifying fake IDs before registration would be the better option.

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This is a common problem in all social sites. Old men pretending to be girls, girls pretending to be old men. There's no simple solution to this, and if there is, let me know about it. In Finland you can identify gender from social security number, but it's not allowed to ask/store users social security numbers, and those you could quite easily also generate, so it's not foolproof either. With bank online credential authentication you can confirm the identity, but gender isn't confirmed... No foolproof solution. –  Samuel M Jun 26 '13 at 5:52
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Did you consider how much you gain with such a check and how much you lose by making users jump any hoops? I strongly feel that having verified, but tiny auditory that passed your "check" is much worse than have large auditory with some forged identities. –  Oleg V. Volkov Jun 26 '13 at 11:30
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How do you check for false statemets regarding age, weight, height, income, marital status and preference regarding housepets? –  Philipp Jun 26 '13 at 11:45
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You forgot intersex. Or perhaps just "other"? –  Izkata Jun 26 '13 at 12:09
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Don't forget that no matter what checks you put in place, it's always possible for them to get someone else to fake it for them. –  Bobson Jun 26 '13 at 14:15

7 Answers 7

up vote 38 down vote accepted

I really feel like I have to recommend you not adding some automatic system to analyse user gender. As Samuel mentioned, users registering with false information is a problem the absolute majority of social sites have to deal with. And the reason they deal with it is because there is no foolproof alternative (sure, requiring a social security number/ID number does connect a gender to a user, but these number are often quite easy to guess/steal). And forcing a user to record themselves with video or audio is first of all in some aspects violating ones integrity (recording yourself and letting some unknown being decide whether you're a female or a male), plus it's also quite cumbersome for one with no easily accessible camera. So my educated guess is that your conversion rate would suffer greatly from such a system.

Instead I would recommend that you introduce a user driven hygiene solution. Maybe let the users rate other users they have been in contact with after some time, or just let them flag users that they feel are being rude or could be forging their identity. On your end you analyse this data, to surely identify the users that a considerable portion has had a problem with. A system like this will also to some degree entice users to show themselves from their best side, and limit forging of ID's since if they don't act their role well they will be banned. This way you can also introduce strategies to deal with legit user ID's who just doesn't know how to play nice with the other users.

After all, a social site usually have bigger problems with their members than that a portion of them could be faking their identity. Someone who actually are who they say they are can still make the experience very unpleasant for their co-users, and it's your job to limit that and make the experience as pleasant as possible for most users possible.

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User driven hygiene solution is probably the best. But still as long as there's people, there's also liars. So some fakes always will live a bit longer before they get caught. No microphones/cameras will really fix that, only cause more harm to real users. –  Samuel M Jun 26 '13 at 7:27
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I like the idea of letting users flag up other users who don't 'act the way they claim to be'. –  PhillipW Jun 26 '13 at 9:32
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This allows users to create sockpuppet rings to provide reputation to each-other –  SLaks Jun 26 '13 at 14:42
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Doesn't add much about your problem itself but just to let you consider how hard the question of gender can be : blog.xkcd.com/2010/05/06/sex-and-gender . –  Josay Jun 26 '13 at 21:29
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@Josay thanks, an interesting read. however I'm not very surprised. The human race is beyond categorizing everyone in two specific groups, it just doesn't work. I've heard of other research being done on the subject, where one of the findings were that the researchers had identified 7 different genders actually. The male/female label is old, and outdated IMO. –  AndroidHustle Jun 26 '13 at 22:35

Gender based questions is really not the way to go, I mean what questions could identify that? That really put people in stereotypes.

Also you might not want to do too rigorous checking since a person could be of one sex but identify as either gender (transgender/transexual). Also you might want to provide a third option for gender.

That is ofcourse if your site is not "hetronormative people only".

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+1 very good point –  AndroidHustle Jun 26 '13 at 10:19
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Additionally, a visual check can be erroneous. Some women look much like men, and vice-versa (sometimes deliberately, sometimes not). Imagine the problems if you refuse (say) a woman because you think she is a man. –  Paddy Landau Jun 26 '13 at 18:17
    
The actual problem is when users feel decieved by a person, and that can happen for many reasons. Saying that you are x but actually beeing y. So the question is actually more "How do I handle users that are decieving other users (so that it becomes a problem)" –  Vixen Jun 28 '13 at 11:03

If you want 100% guarantee, the only way is to ask for ID.

Just to reduce fake account volume, you can try writing warning and motivating texts on registration page: "users must provide real data", "fake users will be banned immideately" etc.

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3  
How are you going to verify that the ID is not faked, that it is not a copy of somebody else's, that it's not the genuine ID of someone the user lives with, etc.. "ask for ID" is just hiding an enormous amount of complexity in a short sentence. –  l0b0 Jun 26 '13 at 7:59
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You cannot verify is ID valid or not, but such a requirement will reduce volume of fake accounts dramatically. People can fake real ID, people can even fake money. There always will be a possibility to fake –  Oleg Jun 26 '13 at 8:14
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I know sites who ask people to take a photo of themselves, ID in hand. Of course you can still photoshop the whole thing. –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Jun 26 '13 at 8:48
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@Oleg It will reduce the volume of real accounts as well, since most people have little tolerance for intrusive, manual registration procedures. –  l0b0 Jun 26 '13 at 13:01

Since you, the website operator, are not dating these people, it completely doesn't matter to you. This is information which matters to the users themselves. Just give them the tools so that they can work this out among themselves, without demanding anyone to disclose anything.

You do not have to be the ones requiring such and such proof or validation; that's up to the clients.

There could be an entire voluntary system whereby users can enhance their profile by providing evidence to the system that they are real. Scans of ID, mailed in notarized documents, whatever.

This enhancing information can be added to their account, and the enhanced status can be given some numeric grade which is a searchable property.

People wanting not to be invisible to these types of searches will me motivated to enhance their accounts.

A user can ask another "I would feel more comfortable in continuing if you could upgrade your profile to at least level 2 validated".

And, thereby, the problem takes care of itself.

You provide the basic mechanism; let users enforce their own mutual policies.

And, of course, have a big disclaimer in place that you only store profile information, and that you cannot guarantee the authenticity of validation in the profiles.

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Reactive measure:

  • Get a flagging system in place. If multiple people flag the profile as dubious or something, the profile is hidden from public view unless the user can verify their information.

Proactive measure:

  • The strictest method would be force the user to punch in their government ID or something from which you can get accurate information.
  • A slightly easier method would be to get their school ID/work ID/linkedIn ID or some other platform which can verify their identity.

I would suggest you try to avoid intervening in the matter and give the powers to the users. If it is a dating site, then give users a platform to verify their identity before they actually finalize their date.

Incentivize verifying one's identity. Have a verified badge on the user's public profile if they have gone through the trouble of verifying their identity. You can charge a nominal fee for this if you want to do it manually. I feel people wont mind paying a couple bucks for such feature.

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This is not 100% foolproof, but I think that a high degree of accuracy may be reached with automatic tools: get them to record their voice and analyze the recording. To prevent them from sending a file pre-recorded by someone else (like a slice from a song / youtube video), ask them to say a specific phrase. You can have a large set of those and choose one randomly during sign-up (CAPTCHA-like). You might also consider preparing some phrases in the person's own language, at least covering some major ones among your target audience. Another approach could be having them say nonsense words. I'm not sure how it would contribute, but it sounds interesting :).

The recordings would be analyzed automatically (some research can be found here and here). The ones where the computer isn't sure can be passed on to a person, there shouldn't be too many of those. It can be a dedicated person on the team or a random employee of yours, it's just a couple of seconds. It is probably possible to distinguish a real person from a text-to-speech output with a very high degree of confidence.

They can also be used as audio-captchas, to double-check and to further train the machine.

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Then you also need the user to have a microphone. Furthermore, you can just use many tools to circumvent this, the first that comes to mind is to use text to speech engines. –  Vixen Jun 26 '13 at 10:07
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Ah, text to speech! Shame I didn't refer to it in my answer. Oh, wait... :) –  Vitaly Mijiritsky Jun 26 '13 at 10:48
    
Can't see how I missed that. :D However it's still possible to "fake" your voice, making it hard for the recognizer/person. –  Vixen Jun 26 '13 at 11:32
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With this requirement you've also eliminated much of the deaf/mute/speech-impaired population –  Wonko the Sane Jun 26 '13 at 13:22
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Show me an application able to distinguish between male and female voice. Most human fail doing it correctly, especially when the voice is deformed by recording (telephone speech etc). –  Donaudampfschifffreizeitfahrt Jun 26 '13 at 16:00

Be the first relationship web site not to ask the question.

People like each other by what they want and what they give. The sex aspect can come later. When users communicate with each other the other person votes on what they believe the sex of the other person to be. So there will be a "like button" to denote the sex.

The key to building web sites is to differentiate yourself, this would be a very interesting twist.

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While an interesting idea, it would completely change the core mechanics of the website. How do you search for a date? Gender and sexual preference would be the top criteria when serving the user the results. If I am interested in women, I should not get men in my search and then guess their gender. –  rk. Jun 27 '13 at 1:41
    
@rk. Getting around those issues would again make the web site different from the other thousands out there. Pay to hav your sex locked in? So they pay 1$ to lock intheir sex and then you'd have their name and a good gurantee of there sex. Not foolproof, but a step closer. –  Meer Borg Jun 27 '13 at 2:24

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