Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hottie or Nottie? Web Site Voters Let You Know Whether You Sizzle or Fizzle

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hottie or Nottie? Web Site Voters Let You Know Whether You Sizzle or Fizzle

Article excerpt

Byline: Nick Marino, Times-Union staff writer

James Hong knows about heat. He knows that water boils at 212 degrees, and he knows America's record hottest day within two degrees (134).

He also knows that, on a hotness scale of one to 10, Justin Timberlake is an 11.

Hong knows these things because he is the co-founder of hotornot.com, an Internet site which has logged more than 1 billion hits, and which (like so many online ventures) was sparked by a beer-fueled conversation among friends.

It works like this: You send in a photo of yourself, and then you watch as the cyber community at large determines your level of beauty on a scale of one to 10.

"In general, people will think they're hotter than they are," Hong said. "I fall into that category. My whole life I thought I was a seven."

But when he kicked off his site by posting his photo for voting, the 27-year-old Californian was shocked to find that he was actually a good solid 3.8.

"What I've learned from it," he later said, "is that I'd better have a good personality."

Ah well. In the throes of the dot-com bust, he's making a living from a Web site where a bunch of people rank each other's hotness. Life could be worse.

Apart from a handful of ads, hotornot generates revenue from the Meet Me service, which allows visitors who pay $5 or $6 a month to exchange photos and messages to decide if they'd like to meet for a (not-so) blind date.

"Some people use it to find their wives or husbands," he said. "Some people use it to hook up. Some people use it to find roommates."

He's not kidding about the wives and husbands part. Hong knows of six marriages stemming from hotornot meet-ups.

"The [most] fascinating part," he said, "was the first marriage I learned about. I looked up when the match happened and it was four weeks ago. And I was like 'Wow.' I'm not saying that it's more or less likely to fail. I'm just saying 'Wow.' That must have been a whirlwind romance."

If you log on to vote, you might notice that women get about 10 times the number of votes that men get, which seems to be due to simple supply and demand.

"Guys like to vote on girls mostly, and girls like to vote on girls, too," Hong said. …

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