If you've become an active member of Stitch, you will know that Stitch requires all members of Stitch to get verified before they can communicate with other members.
Stitch is a target for scammers just like any other site, which means we get dozens of scammers trying to sign up every week. Stitch's verification process -- along with the vigilance of our longtime community members -- is what keeps these scammers out, and thankfully we haven't ever had a single incident of a member being scammed on Stitch. By contrast, online scams elsewhere have continued to grow exponentially over the last few years, with over 50s the greatest target for scammers, as you can read in our article about online safety here.
You will, however, occasionally see unverified profiles on Stitch, which are tagged with the light green PUBLIC badge as shown below:
This has caused a little confusion for some members, so this article outlines when and why you might expect to see unverified profiles on Stitch.
Let's start with some background about verification, before explaining why unverified profiles may appear.
Most Unverified profiles are NOT scammers
This sometimes gets lost in any conversation about unverified profiles, but just because someone has an Unverified badge, it doesn't mean they are a scammer. In fact, 99% of the people who sign up for a Stitch account are real people.
In by far the majority of cases, the Unverified badge doesn't indicate someone is not trustworthy. It just indicates they haven't been able, willing, or motivated enough to get verified yet.
In all three cases, we all want to do what we can to convince them to get verified!
ALL members start as unverified
This one may seem obvious, but ALL Stitch members start out as unverified. And for many new members, the verification step can be daunting. It's certainly more difficult than simply signing up for a site like Facebook -- it wouldn't be much use to anyone if it wasn't.
Most new members will only verify their accounts when they are certain that Stitch is a community they really want to join. And we have found that the #1 reason that usually happens is when they hear from an existing member of the community.
Scammers don't attend Stitch events
Over the years of running Stitch, we've unfortunately had to develop a lot of experience with the way scammers operate. (I say "unfortunately", because it would be nice to live in a world where scammers didn't exist.)
If you've read our blog post on online safety, you'll know that the risk you face from scammers is online. To keep themselves safe, scammers operate from territories where they are not at risk of prosecution if they get caught. Even if they are operating from the same country as you, they are using fake personas, fake profiles, and stolen credit cards -- all with the goal of keeping themselves from getting caught.
They also focus on online targets, as this lets them target lots of potential victims at on time. They may only get a response from one person in a thousand, so the ability to target lots of people online is the only way to make scamming worth their time.
Both of these things mean scammers don't turn up to Stitch events in person. (In fact, most people who get scammed on dating sites never meet the person who has scammed them in person -- the scammer is usually a totally different person from the online profile they are using, so they try to avoid real-world interaction at all costs.)
By contrast, all real Stitch members would like to come to a Stitch event in person, to find out what Stitch is all about. So that's why we let new members come to up to 3 events before they need to get verified.
Unverified members can attend 3 Stitch events before getting verified
Attending a Stitch event isn't just a way to find out what Stitch is all about, it's also one of the most important ways that new members get verified -- in person, by a Stitch Community Champion, at an open Stitch event.
So that's why we allow new members to attend up to 3 Stitch events before they need to verify their account.
This gives them plenty of opportunity to ask a Community Champion to verify them at the event, as well as hear from other Stitch members about why they should join.
Note that they can only come to events that are "open" to Public members, not to members-only Stitch events. And while they can come to the event, they cannot communicate online on Stitch until they are verified.
So while you may see an unverified member's profile show as an attendee at a Stitch event, you won't see them posting comments or sending messages to other members. The Stitch system simply won't let them.
Community Champions need the ability to reach out to new members
One of the features we recently introduced was allowing the most highly-trusted Stitch members -- those who have achieved Gold status and above -- to communicate with unverified members if they choose to do so.
This was done in response to many requests from our Community Champions who are trying to build the community in their areas. They told us they need the ability to reach out to new members in their areas, to invite them along to Stitch events and encourage them to join.
If you're a Gold member or above, you can send Unverified members a message, and they will be able to respond. The system will remind you to be careful doing so with any messages you send to an Unverified member, as shown below:
It's important to stress that you don't need to use this feature if you don't want to. Unverified members can't initiate a conversation with you, they can only respond if you choose to contact them. It's totally up to you whether you decide to invite them to your events or not.
Regular members can see Unverified members when browsing
The only other occasion that you may see Unverified profiles on Stitch is when you Browse member profiles and you have exhausted all the Verified profiles within your chosen search distance.
The system only shows you profiles within the area you choose on your Search Settings page. If you've chosen a very narrow distance setting, are in an area where the Stitch community isn't very large yet, or have been a member for a long time and have browsed lots of profiles, then it's possible to view all the verified profiles in your area.
You are welcome to send a message to these members -- remember, some of them may just need a little bit of encouragement to join! -- but they won't be able to respond to you unless you are a Gold member or above. (We don't want to compromise Stitch's safety, so we only enable this feature for Gold members whose experience with Stitch means they are active contributors to helping keep the community safe.)
If you've reached the point where you are seeing Unverified profiles when browsing profiles, you can expand your search distance criteria, or stop and wait until more members have joined in your area.
Or better still, get involved in growing the Stitch community in your area! By doing so, you'll find it's quite easy to earn Gold status ... and did you know that Gold and above status level members can view more profiles on Stitch than any other members?
Membership status is what the system uses to tell us which members can be trusted with certain privileges, such as the ability to send more messages to other members. Experience has shown us this isn't a feature we can trust to all new members, given the potential for it to be abused. But for members who are using it as a power for good, reaching out to new members and helping them on their journey into the community, or helping build the Stitch community in their area, it's really useful.
We're on a mission to improve people's lives by building and growing the Stitch Community. Will you join us?