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How your online dating photo should look

When choosing a main pic, make sure to show people what you look like on any given day, our Netiquette columnists say.
When choosing a main pic, make sure to show people what you look like on any given day, our Netiquette columnists say.
  • Don't resort to the dreaded standing-in-the-bathroom-with-a-camera shot
  • Delete any pictures that could have been taken in Anywheresville, USA
  • Go it alone in your profile snaps, not with your better-looking friends

Editor's note: Brenna Ehrlich and Andrea Bartz are the sarcastic brains behind humor blog and book "Stuff Hipsters Hate." When they're not trolling Brooklyn for new material, Ehrlich works as a senior writer at MTV, and Bartz is a news editor at Psychology Today. Got a question about etiquette in the digital world? Contact them at

(CNN) -- Obvious observation number one: Judging by the high response rate of our last two columns on online dating, it sure seems like a lot of you out there are looking for love.

Obvious observation number two: Regardless of whether you agree with our advice, tons of you still have a lot of burning, itching questions regarding how to succeed in the digital-dating realm.

Obvious observation number three: We're not aiming to make like Carrie Bradshaw anytime soon (we're not really that into shoes), so this shall be our last column on online dating for a while.

Which leads us to the biggest obvious observation of all: When it comes to online dating, looks do count.

Before you start ranting and foaming at us about inner beauty, blah, blah, blah, we're not talking about how lustrous your mane is or how exquisite your bone structure. No, we're talking more composition here -- i.e. what pictures you choose when baiting the hook that catches the fish of love (mmm, wriggly).

Here are six examples of what will get you tossed back into the sea.

1). Baby on board

Why they're clicking "next": Featuring a picture with a baby does not make you look sensitive, it makes you look like you have a child.

Nix all pics of you and spawn. If you happen to look really winning in your nephew's birthday snap and you can't possibly crop the tot, go ahead and include it in your gallery (not as your profile pic) and make sure to explain its origins in the caption. Otherwise, you're that weird dude/girl at a "Dora The Explorer" bash.

However, if you do, in fact, have a child, by all means let all future Daddy Warbuckses and Maria Rainers know.

2). The wo/man behind the mask

Why they're clicking "next": Including a picture from this year's Halloween extravaganza can be a great way to show potential soul mates your "fun side."

However, when your profile snap depicts you dressed as Hunter S. Thompson in "Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas" when most days you're adorned in chinos and polos, the ladies -- they get confused. When choosing a main pic, make sure to show the masses what you look like on any given day, not just October 31. Either that or execute a gonzo makeover posthaste.

3). More than one's a crowd

Why they're clicking "next": We're going to refrain from telling you at this juncture to cut out any pics of you and your ex (because if we have to tell you that, you're likely not over your ex, and you should likely not be online dating).

No, we're just going to lay down this general rule: When it comes to digital dating, you should go it alone in your snaps (unless you're a member of that new buddy system dating site, DuoDater).

A group shot of you and your pals playing Frisbee or idyllically leaping in a rushing brook aren't all that bad (They show your adventurous side! We're using exclamation points because we're talking about dating!), but pics of you and three pals in the midst of arm-slung camaraderie are just confusing. Uh, which one are you? (Even worse: What if all your friends are better looking than you?)

Oh, and don't try to blur or obscure your pals' faces as a way to get around this golden rule. They just end up looking like Marty McFly's siblings in that picture in "Back to the Future" (read: creepy and melting).

4). The meta snap

Why they're clicking "next": Oops, your camera's showing. We understand that it can be hard to find a good picture, that most of our friends are not, in fact, professional photogs, resulting in a veritable parade of pics in which one is caught mid-sneeze, -laugh or -oozing drunken 2 a.m. taco bite.

But, my friends, amazing advances in technology have afforded us the ability to take pictures of oneself without resorting to the dreaded standing-in-the-bathroom-with-a-camera shot. Front-facing cameras! Computer-based photo booths! Our cups runneth over.

While posting a ton of self-made snaps on social networks like Facebook can seem a little, well, narcissistic and pathetic (you have no friends, you have no friends, you have no friends), it's totally OK on online dating sites.

However, have a friend look over your pics before you post. While you may think you look mysterious and dashing in the half-light of your darkened bedroom, the shadows playing off the sharp planes of your face, you may just look like a confused mole, squinting into the oh-so-captivating world of "WoW."

5). The -- sorry, I just fell asleep. What?

Why they're clicking "next": A washed-out picture of a dude sitting on a brown vinyl couch. An overexposed shot of a girl in sunglasses and a ponytail posing in Times Square. A blurry, red-eyed snap of a bro holding a beer.

These images are not even worthy of your Flickr account, let alone your online dating profile. Why? Because they might as well be of anyone.

As has been established multiple times already, online dating is a lot of clicking through pictures, waiting for someone to catch your eye, so it's vital that you have some good bait. Delete any pictures that could have been taken in Anywheresville, USA, and opt instead for a photo of you posing with your prize-winning 100-pound pumpkin/busting out your rad jump-kick skills/pretending to make out with the giant mouse at Mars' Cheese Castle.

Whatever. Wake us up when you're ready to wow (not WoW) us.

6). Just a torso

Why they're clicking "next": Yes, OK, Cupid recently did some study that shows that shirtless men are extremely popular when it comes to scoring ladies online, but that doesn't mean you should plaster your profile with pics of your abs and just your abs.

Such profiles usually belong to folks looking to splash around in the STD-infested kiddie pool of love. If you are one of those folks, carry on, but don't come crying to us when you catch something -- and we're not talking about the aforementioned fish.


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