Teens, Welcome Back to Skout!

Today we are reopening our teen community.  Getting to this point has required a substantial amount of work and has resulted in a significant number of changes to provide our teens as safe a place as possible to interact.  I am going to detail the changes in this blog post so you know what the new safety measures are, but I hope you will also understand that some details must be held back for security purposes.

First, though, I want to remind everyone of the principles we followed in making these changes.  From the beginning, we have always wanted Skout to be the safest possible way to make new connections and friends.  We have always wanted Skout to be a place where people from around the world could meet others who share their interests in a comfortable environment.  Recent events convinced us that we needed to improve our safety measures and re-evaluate the features in our teen community to make sure that those friendships could spark and grow safely.  In order to do so, we temporarily suspended access while we worked internally and with outside experts to improve our safety and security procedures.

We are well aware that there is no such thing as “100% safe” in any aspect of life, but we believe the changes we have made to our app certainly make it safer.  We will continually monitor the community and make improvements and changes on an ongoing basis.

 

So, here’s a summary of the changes we’ve made:

  • Age Verification: We spent a big part of the last several weeks figuring out the best way to ensure users are the age they say they are.  There is no one perfect solution, so we are going to use several.  Users under 18 must now sign in through Facebook Connect which will allow us to do social proofing.  This gives us a good source to verify the age we are provided.

Please note that all existing teen users who log onto Skout beginning today must re-establish their contacts and favorites and sign in through Facebook Connect to activate their account again.

  • Location: To start, we will be changing the location policy for our under-18 community. In the user interface for teens, location technology no longer exists. You will not be able to search for other users by location and you will no longer see the location of the users you are chatting with.  Skout has redesigned the app to only allow teen users to communicate with other teen users who are at least 100 miles away from them.
  • Photo Sharing: We know how much you enjoy sharing photos of your experiences with your friends on Skout.  We encourage you to keep doing so but moving forward, we have decided to eliminate the private photo sharing feature. Every photo shared will meet the high standards we have for the community.
  • Teens and Adults: We are going to be more vigilant than ever in deploying our technology and our community managers to screen teenagers from the over-18 community and keep the two groups separate.  Skout’s advanced, proprietary algorithms continuously monitors activity on the network to identify users whose behavior appears unusual, inappropriate or suspicious.
  • Policy Violations: We have a very clear message to those who violate our policies: if you violate them, you will be banned.  That means if you give us a fake age and try to correct it later when you’re rejected, you will be banned.  It means if you step over the line when interacting with other users, you will be banned.  We know that there can be honest mistakes, so we will have a review process in place, but the bar to get back in will be very high.
The entire Skout team has been touched by the outpouring of support we have heard from the community.  We’re happy to bring the community back to you, and we hope you’ll continue to make connections with people around the world to share ideas, trades stories and build friendships. But we also know that today is just the beginning of a long-term commitment and focus on safety.  Please help us by taking your own steps to stay safe and visit our safety awareness center.

 

Thanks again for your support.

Christian

Terms of Service Update and a Reminder

With tens of thousands of new users signing onto our app each day, we’re working hard to make the experience of meeting new people as fun and positive as possible.  We want to do this by staying true to our community and maintaining your trust, so we regularly review and update our Terms of Service (TOS).

Today we rolled out some updates to the TOS, so that it’s easier to read, more transparent, and fully represents the intended uses of Skout and the character of our community. Importantly, although our Privacy Policy has long declared that Skout does not intend to accept registrations from children under 13, our TOS now explicitly forbids children under 13 from using our service. Skout is designed for two separate communities – adults and teenagers 13 and older – and we’ve made sure to spell that out as clearly as possible in this updated TOS. We encourage you to read the full policy and we welcome your comments.

Related to the TOS changes, we want to remind the community about what is and isn’t allowed on Skout. One of the things that users love most about Skout is that we are all about preserving and re-creating the “magic” of serendipitous meetings, making possible a wide range of social connections from friendship to networking. But while we love to foster serendipity, we aim to take the risk factor out of it. How do we do that? In several different ways:

  • One, we are obsessively focused on keeping our community safe. We have zero tolerance for bad behavior, and we ban about 40,000 devices each month for violations of our standards. Our community managers monitor activity 24/7, using custom-built tools to identify suspicious or inappropriate keywords and behaviors, in partnership with our vigilant users. Every single report from our users is looked at by a real person and addressed in a timely manner.
  • Two, unlike many location-based apps, Skout provides general rather than specific location information, empowering each community member to decide if, when and where to meet in person. Community members never have to reveal any personal information except age and gender. You are in control of your online experience at all times – and we always recommend that users remain anonymous until they feel ready and confident that the person they’ve been chatting with is safe to meet. If you ever feel unsafe or threatened, Skout recommends that you cease communication and report any misbehavior immediately using the Report button or emailing support@skout.com.

If you get to the point where you are ready to meet your new Skout friend in person, please refer to our safety tips, that we shared on the Skout blog a few months ago.

 

Happy V-Day!

Got special plans today with someone you met on Skout? Comment and share with us.

If not, get on Skout and meet someone already!

A great way to start a chat is with a gift! Because we <3 you, here are two sweet offers:

1. Give a free Heart in the Gift Store
While Supplies Last!

2. Get 25% off ALL V-Day, Heart, Flower, & Drink Gifts
Ends TODAY!

Celebrate yourself and your freedom today!

Kiss and Tell?

If you like to flirt, and to write, you could be our next Flirt Blogger!
Yes, Cheri is no longer writing the Flirt Blog, so you could work for
Skout (and be paid! Cash in addition to all the Skout Points you can
spend)….just send a sample of your writing to jobs@skout.com, with your
contact info, and one of our Staff Skouts will get back to you…Even
better, include your idea for your first Flirt Blog post, and you could
have the gig almost as quickly as you can find a flirt…

Announcing the winner! … And an extension. ;-D

Guess what, everyone?
Not only have we decided on a winner for last week’s Skout contest, but we’ve also decided to hold it open for one more week so a few of you can get in your last few entries!

Don’t forget.

The rules are:
Tell us your worst flirt! What you said, and what the result was. Let us know your most embarrassing moment when it came down to hitting on your main crush. Bonus points if it happened on Skout. We’ll reward the best 3 with free Pro memberships! Don’t forget to fill in your email accurately so that we are able to contact you when you win.

Deadline is Wednesday, November 17 at 12pm PST, when our next blog entry goes up!

As for a winner from last week …
Bryan! Come on down.

Bryan said, “I once in a class I left a note on this guys desk, that I had wrote telling him how sweet everyone thinks you are and I wish I had someone that would be sweet to me. Let me know if your interested.
I return a few min later to find,my note now on my desk with not only the words no but that see had spell checked it. I find that I had been spelling swetie and not sweetie. I never went back to that study hall again”

Haahhh!
Hilarious. Totally sounds like something I would do (spell checking a secret admirer’s note — I’m a total grammar nazi). You’d be surprised how much spelling counts nowadays, yeah? Oftentimes, your spelling alone can make or break a relationship or even your reputation! Especially online, or when it comes to representing yourself through text.

The guy I’ve been dating recently sent me a letter to go along with a gift he’d made for me (hand made gifts?! Brownie points!), and he spelled candles as “candels”. I couldn’t get over it. I still can’t. And believe me, I totally took a picture of it, sent it to his phone, and laughed my ass off when he gave me a call to “explain himself”. I haven’t let him live it down yet!

I hope you’ve learned your lesson, Bryan. Lol.
But all is not lost! Your epic fail has landed you with a Skout Pro membership! :-D

We’ll be in touch soon at the email that you’ve provided us with when entering the contest.

And to the rest of you? Don’t forget to tell us your embarrassing flirt stories! We’d love to hear them, and you might even win a Skout Pro membership! Have too much to share? Feel free to enter more than once, but don’t forget to use the correct email!

And as always? Happy flirting, Skouts.
XOXO Cheri XOXO

Announcing the Winners!

Congratulations to the following three entrants for their terrific entries into the Win a Free Pro Account contest! We selected these entries as a team and will be emailing each of you individually to remind you that you’ve won! Hoorahhh!

Nice But Not Good Looking:
Well, this is a proven fact,
You just need to have a good look on yourself, then anything works!!!
I mean I have tried literally everything “ALL OF THE ABOVE” to start a conversation…
Cut to the chase, Be myself, Nice comments and compliments, good nature human conversations, phycological tactics, find their interests through girls profile and talk about them, telling my good stories, Being a comic, Long and near distant, just start with Hi, how are you? to build up a relationship…
but nothing has worked, but if you are a good looking then, Boom, anything works if a girl likes what she sees.

So I am begging you, give me the free account so I can up my game more and try more to see if a not good looking guy still have a chance!!!

Dustin:
Start off by saying something unusual so you stand out. I like to say, “Aloha, how art thou?” Tell them something like “Fat penguin. [What?] I just wanted to say something to break the ice.” Introduce yourself. “My name is [your name]. What’s yours?” Compliment on a great asset of theirs, such as their smile. Start a conversation. Try to be genuine, flirtatious, and funny. Tell that person that it would be great if you had a chance to get to know them better. Try to be yourself instead of coming across as trying too hard.

Michael:
The #1 rule to getting a date is to put yourself out there!!! It’s as simple as just saying hi to someone and if they want to respond I’m sure you will get a hello back. With the thousands of people on this site I’m sure someone will respond to you so just have paticence. Once you’ve established a good base of comunication with someone don’t be scared to ask them out to dinner or some sort of activity that will give you some one on one face time. Always be yourself and always be confident in yourself!! And if their not the person your looking for then on to the next one!!! Never give up on the search for happiness!!!!!!!

What’s this?! A fourth winner?! Oh yes we did!
Jill:
Easy. Be a reasonably attractive girl and the men on here will come to you. As long as you know that most of them are saying the exact same thing to any other women within their search results, just go with it. A little conversation can’t hurt…unless they’re super blunt. Ignoring those messages is totally acceptable.

Again, congratulations!
Thanks to this awesome turn out, you better believe we’ll be hosting more contests in the future.

But for now, stay tuned and come visit us here at the Flirt Blog to check out more awesome news about an upcoming feature with Skout that is sure to make your hottie-hunting experience even better!

And as always? Happy flirting, Skouts.
XOXO Cheri XOXO

Win a free Pro Account from Skout.com!

Guess what, Skouts?
After scrounging around for ideas for our next Skout Blog, my awesome team (you met them last week in our previous entry on “How To Make A Skout Blog“) came up with the terrific idea to throw a contest!

Prize:
Up to 3 winners will receive a free pro membership for a year! Well, if we get more than 3 good answers we’ll give more prizes. We reserve the right to be arbitrary and unfair. Extra points for funny. Really extra points for prurient details. WOAH! But what exactly do you get with a pro membership? I’ll tell you! The ability to find out who checked you out, who thinks you’re hot stuff, dibs on premium placements in our listing, unlimited chats (yeah, these are already free on our iphone and Android apps, but web members have to pay), and unlimited “winks”.

Rules:
To enter, all you have to do is leave a comment on this entry with your best advice on how to pick up a date through Skout (actual experience would be awesome). Do you start a conversation? Do you cut to the chase? What has worked for you, or what have you been trying? Let us know!

Please provide your correct email address when commenting to be notified when you win! The deadline is Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 at 11:59pm Pacific Time , so get those entries in now!

And as always? Happy flirting, Skouts.
XOXO Cheri XOXO

How To Make A Skout Blog

First and foremost, writing this article was actually incredibly difficult for me because every time I popped open the application to reference it, I would get distracted by all of the hot guys in my area. Heheh!

To give you some background, at the time of writing this I’m on a business trip for one of my companies, crafting this blog post from a hotel room in Southern California — land of beautiful beaches, gorgeous people, amazing weather, and epic sunburns (you should see my shoulders right now, holy crap!).

You think I’d be out and about running around soaking in the sun or off at this huge, exclusive beach party with my boss that has an open bar, tons of free food, and a crapload of activities, right? But instead I’m here in my room, curtains swung shut, typing up this dang piece because I’m on a tight deadline! No distractions!

Such is the life of your favorite Skout.com blogger, Cheri. :P

Typically, I’ll miss my deadlines by a day or two and get shot an angry email by Robin Wolaner (one of my bosses here at Skout) saying something like, “Cheri! You need to be on a more regular posting schedule! I’m really annoyed right now!” LOL! Sorry to be such a headache, Robin! But she’s just doing her job, of course, and I do realize that I can be a huge pain in the ass. Especially since all of my articles are supposed to be in by Wednesday!

I bet none of you really knew that, huh?
Well now you do! I’m on a constant time crunch! And with everything that I do for a living, it’s some pretty stressful stuff!

But it’s difficult to consistently dish out articles when the ideas I have left are lackluster as hell! For instance, when coming up with ideas for The Flirt Blog, I usually ask myself the following questions, “What do people want to read about? What’s the latest in hook up gossip? What are people gabbing about on Skout?

Y’know.
Typical brainstorming stuff. ;)

Every once in a while I’ll get thrown a bone.
Like some cool press release about how Skout is the bomb dot com will be thrown out on the web and I’ll get to brag about how we’re the sh*t. Sometimes I’ll just brainstorm with my team about what we want to get out there, and they’ll shoot some cool ideas at me. Or I’ll even reach out to my own fanbase (not that I’m famous or anything, eheheh) and ask what everyone wants to hear!

But of course it’s not always guaranteed that I’ll land a good topic. Especially something that’s worth writing about that I feel you’ll all actually want to read (and after being a blogger for 8 or 9 years, I’m pretty sure I have a good grasp on what people enjoy reading)!

Fortunately, we usually end up with something passable. At which point I’ll type up the article, grammar-nazi the crap out of it to make sure everything flows and sounds absolutely perfect, write and rewrite the various paragraphs, then shoot it over to Tobias who manages the “picture inserting” portion of the blog!

Hey, Tobias. XD

For example.
You see all these nifty pictures here on the post? It’s all thanks to Tobias (who is actually working from overseas and is nowhere near me here in California)! Amazing how we pull together like that, isn’t it? So thanks, buddy. I’m way too swamped to run those photos myself, and these articles wouldn’t exist without you! Haha. I can’t take all the credit, right?

After he shoots the pictures over to me, it’s my job to insert them into the article, save the draft onto the Flirt Blog, then send over that same draft to Robin who will then read over my piece and let me know what she hates or loves about it, what I need to change about the article, or if it’s good to go!

And then I can finally post this thing. Phew!
And even then, what’s the guarantee that anyone will even read it, right?! For a process as long as this and for something that involves so many people, we sure don’t put a lot of time into getting the word out about this blog (which defeats the purpose, I think).

But no worries. Word on the street is that we’ve got something good cooking up that immediately lets you know when a new article is posted. And if not, I will make it my duty to push the idea on our team. Eheheheheh.

But okay!
My tip for this week is — are you traveling? Going on a road trip? In a new area of some sort? Pop open the Skout app and check out all of the hotties in your area. You’ll be pleasantly surprised! For me, constantly checking Skout in Stockton is like, “Yawn! Gimme something fresh!” So it was way exciting to see a ton of gorgeous people in SoCal on Skout when I traveled down there over the weekend!

So as always? Happy flirting, Skouts.
XOXO Cheri XOXO

100 Free Skout Points?! NO WAY!

Why hello there, Skouts! Did you miss me this week? :-)

We usually try to have a new blog post up by Thursday at the latest, but this time the delay works out!

I’ve just received word that Christian (the big boss man) has credited all of your accounts with 100 points! Whaaaaat?! You’re rich! You’re all stinking filthy rich! Ha.

But what does this mean, exactly? What are these points for? Well! Allow me to give you a quick walkthrough.

Have you been talking up a cutie? Maybe you’d like to show him (or her) some extra special lovin? Well. Use that new stash of points to pick her up a Skout gift! Pick her up some flowers, a drink, or impress her with a treasure chest for those money loving types. Ha! Skout has a virtual playground of fun gifts to send her (or his) way!

Or maybe you’re just in the mood for a quick ego boost, or want the world to know how dang cute you are? With Skout’s “Look at me” service, you can actually place a bid for a spot on our featured users list! Watch the picture comments and messages flood in, you little attention whore you.

Or maybe you’re not into all that competition nonsense and would rather custom select the Skout users that you receive attention from? There’s a feature for that too! With a wink bomb, you can send an attention grabbing wink to multiple hotties at once (at only 5points a wink)! You won’t know what to do with all the new faces you’ll be able to flirt with!

Maximize your Skout experience by taking these free points that we’ve hooked you up with for a test run. And if you find yourself wanting more? You can both purchase points, as well as earn them for free!

Yeah. I know.
It doesn’t get much better than that. ;)

But you guys, I’m way curious. What are you planning on spending your new Skout points on? We here on The Flirt Blog would love to know! Leave a comment telling us what you did!

And as always? Happy flirting, Skouts.
XOXO Cheri XOXO