Frustrated by sifting through the trolls lurking on your regular cruising app? Then you may be ready to try VGL, a new app that aims to help users find the hottest gay men available.
VGL, named for the internet cruising shorthand for “very good-looking,” is the brainchild of Joshua Liptzin, who concocted the app along with his partner when they both realized they were annoyed by the limitations of popular cruising apps. They started working on VGL more than a year ago and launched it on the iTunes App Store in March 2013. An Android version launched recently.
“A lot of the other apps were restrictive,” Liptzin says. “There might be only one picture; you couldn’t sort through and find the types of people you were looking for. It was just a mass of people and difficult to find the sort of people you’d be interested in.
“We were just wasting our time rather than going on dates,” he says.
In just seven months, the app has more than 200,000 members, mostly in North America, with an average of 2,000 more joining daily. Liptzin says more than half of current users are between the ages of 18 and 25.
Among VGL’s features are unlimited profile photos, unlimited filtering across criteria such as age, height, weight, ethnicity and online status, and the ability to get your profile “verified” by VGL staff, who will ask you to submit a picture of yourself holding up a sign that says VGL and a certain code.
“We basically just took all the features that we liked about existing apps and then added our own touch to it and really made it something that we would enjoy using ourselves,” Liptzin says.
VGL’s signature feature is the Hotlist, a cascade of the hottest users as determined by a computer algorithm that ranks users according to the number of times other users have viewed their profiles, sent them messages or ranked them “hot.” The Hotlist can be sorted according to geographic location, and there are also separate global lists for users who are currently “trending” hot, as well as the “all-time” hottest users.
“[The algorithm] assigns a score to each profile based on how much traffic goes to that profile and ranks the top profiles by that number. What you end up seeing is a lot of really hot guys as defined by our community on that list,” Liptzin says. “Even though some are far away, it’s still eye-candy to look at while you’re browsing the app.”
Users can also get a self-esteem boost (or not) by seeing where they rank on the Hotlist of their particular city.
The ability to send messages to users on the Hotlist is restricted to subscribers to VGL’s VIP service, which costs $10 a month or half that for a yearly subscription. VIP users can also see who’s looked at their profile and how many times they’ve viewed it, as well as who’s added them as a favourite or ranked them “hot.”
But Liptzin says that the Hotlist feature — and the fact that the app is called VGL — doesn’t mean that the app is exclusive to a particular standard of beauty.
“It’s not like there’s a committee that’s ranking the profiles that get on that list,” Liptzin says. “It is a dating app. People are there to find the types of guys that they’re interested in. You’re allowed to filter the hotlist . . . If you’re only into a certain ethnicity, you can only see that ethnicity on the Hotlist. You can select ‘I only want to see guys 35 and older,’ and you’ll see guys 35 and older on the Hotlist.’
“You can just tell the app what you’re interested in seeing, and if you take off all filters, you’ll see what the community as a whole thinks is hot.
“The real beauty comes when you tell it what you’re personally interested in.”