OkCupid revealed that it conducted an experiment on unsuspecting daters, and the company is making no apologies about it.
Been having trouble finding the right match on OKCupid? That could be because the Website was misrepresenting some of the matches that popped up on your homepage.
Site creator Christian Rudder admitted in a blog post on OKTrends that the matchmaking service had been running a couple of tests on its users. according to him, anyone that’s even been on a website shouldn’t be shocked to find out they may have been an unwitting guinea pig. “Guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site,” Christian wrote. “That’s how websites work.”
He argued that the test, as frustrating as it may have been to daters at the time, was really to help them all out in the long run. “OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website,” Christian admitted. “Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”
The test that really has the public up in arms was a dupe on a massive scale. the experiment was set up to see how suggestible they were to matches based on reported compatibility.
OKCupid told people who actually had a 30 percent compatibility rating that they scored much higher with one another at 90 percent.Christian and his team found that people were more likely to have conversations with people they thought were a better match. By “conversation” OKCupid meant an exchange of at least four messages, so there was nothing to suggest the quality of those exchanges.
Amazingly, this didn’t keep people from still finding their way to people they were actually compatible with. Stats post on the OKTrends blog, showed that daters were more likely to maintain a conversation with actual 90 percent matches, whether they reported to be only 30 percent or not.
The other test wasn’t quite as bad. It challenged users to go on blind dates in the truest sense. They had to make connections and set up dates based purely on personality because OK Cupid removed all of the pictures for its profiles back in January 2013.
People that went on the blind dates said they had a pretty good time no matter how hot their date was. OK Cupid also found, though, that female daters reported having a better time with guys that were a little less attractive. Christian reasoned that this was because “hotter guys were a*sholes more often.”
Interestingly, once pictures were restored those same women relied heavily on pictures to determine which men they would respond to. From this, Christian determined that “people are exactly as shallow as their technology allows them to be.”
The big takeaway here for daters should be that you probably shouldn’t pay as much attention to the compatibility rating on matchmaking sites as you should to your own gut.
If a profile catches your interest and what you read in a potential match’s write-up speaks to you, then go for it. Don’t be concerned with what a mathematical algorithm determines about the probability of your ability to make a connection keep you from at least trying to find out for yourself. Who knows you better: you or math?
Still, is it messed up that OKCupid probably set some people up that were way wrong for each other? Undoubtedly. Even Christian acknowledges that an experiment on Facebook to see how different news stories make people react is way different from tricking people who are honestly looking for love…or at least a good time.
“On OkCupid, when we make a change,” Christian wrote, “even a mundane one, that changes who people talk to, who they flirt with, who they go on dates with, and I’m sure in some cases who they get married to.”
Keeping in mind all that is potentially at stake, perhaps it would be best if daters took those compatibility ratings with a grain of salt.