Ann Marie Carrothers from Mozilla is absolutely right, its something I have mentioned many times and recently decided enough is enough. Weirdly I have never had the discussion with Ann-Marie in person?
I avoid all dating apps and services which don’t allow me to search my own way through the people. I’m so sick of the systems forcing one way of interacting usually the tinder swiping.
For example OKCupid on the mobile app won’t allow you to search for people who use geeks in there profile. I can hear people say, “why on earth would you want this?!”
I’m personally not interested in generic people, I’m after unique people.
Instead of searching through millions of profiles, why not cut through noise by finding someone who cares enough to add it to their profile? For example geek with my other filters in the website (like gender, age, distance, etc) got down to two women.
My search for feminism got down to one woman.
Its not for everyone but thats fine, because the notion of swiping left and right looking at profile pictures isn’t for everybody either.
I had hoped I wouldn’t be back dating again but thats the way things go. Stepping back out into the online dating world I’m shocked how worst things have gotten.
Now OKCupid is now very driven around the hot or not mechanism. If you are on the web site, it is possible to search via questions and a keyword. But thats about it. I got sick of Bumble which once again wants way too much attention and removed the app. I requested my GDPR data again, as I’d love to get to the bottom of the cisgender male issue I had.
“We used to create fake accounts and chat with users. It was everything from someone having a premium account that wasn’t getting responses, to bored employees.”
The amount of fake accounts on dating sites is a real problem. All the sites are affected by this problem but the site team blame fake accounts on spammers. Most people don’t realise the problem is actually being caused by the dating site its self. People don’t connect the fake accounts with being ghosted over and over again.
“The algorithms are less sophisticated than you think. … The main goal of the algorithm is always to get you to pay, never to actually ensure you meet somebody in real life, as much as we tried to lie to ourselves that it was.”
With everything we know about algorithms in recent times (bias). Its been mentioned so many times and I made the judgement that this is exactly the same as the birthday paradox.
“Female dating app users tend to sign off for the day several hours earlier than male users, which results in men who log in after about 10 p.m. generally not encountering many logged in female users. In order to keep these men feeling like there is genuine female activity on the site (and thus continuing to pay for memberships), dating apps can pay for entire armies of ‘ghosts.’ Ghost profiles use photos of real women, but are operated by men, typically young men in their late teens and early twenties, living in France, Serbia, Ukraine, and Russia.”
The fake account problem again but targetted based on stats. Its something I’m aware of but I gather its different for different sites.
“Many apps seed attractive bots to keep people engaged. The bots will send/respond to a couple of substandard questions. ‘How was your week?’ ‘What are you looking for?’ and then ghost. Despite the ghost, the high of matching with a super attractive person who spoke to you is enough to get many people hooked and chasing the dragon.”
You start to spot a pattern with the chats. Heck you can spot pattens in the profiles. For example in OK Cupid, there is something I recently noticed with huge number of profiles which have answered the same 15 questions and in the same way. Their profiles were also pretty new.
“I worked as a software engineer for a dating site in the mid-’00s. Literally every single female profile was fake. They were ‘generated’ profiles using arbitrary data and paid-for lewd photos from various sources.”
I have actually seen packs of profiles (1000’s at a time) complete with photos and data you can buy to populate a new or young dating site. Most are grabs from different sources but when I last spoke to a person, they were suggesting some have been generated by machine learning practices.
As for the data, I have seen SQL and XML dumps but most are CSV and JSON.
Prices? I’m not sure but I gather a lot cheaper than getting real people to sign up.
“Most of the female users were fake. We would import thousands of fake profiles all the time to prop up the numbers and let the men think there were all of these women on the platform.”
I experienced this with Bumble a long time ago. For weeks I could get to through most of the users in my filters. Then suddenly there was a influx of model like profiles. They all had a similar style and shouted to me fake. That’s even before you read the small amount of written profile info, which could be a user or operator not bothered. Either way, its not necessarily someone I would be interested in contacting
“I ran operations for an online dating company (notably not affiliated with Match). IIRC, we were able to determine that it takes on average about three dates before sex happens (I don’t recall how we worked that out, I’m not a data analyst, but presumably it was some keyword-based algorithm looking at chat messages).”
Some people forget all messages between users are tracked and analysed. All those things you are sharing with another person is being logged and tracked. If you read some of the terms, you will see they also sell the keyword data
“The most depressing stat…was the histogram of word count in messages. Something like 91% of opening messages were just one word ‘hey,’ and ~85% of conversations were just one exchange long (‘hey’ -> no reply ever). Looking at human, digital mating habits splayed out in data science form was really depressing.”
This is why I stopped reading OKCupid’s Dataclysm, I started to loose faith in humanity with the conversation lengths.
“My roommate used to work at one of the big dating apps and one of the issues they had was that their algorithm changed at one point to more emphatically enforce dating ‘pools’ where people who got more right swipes would only see profiles of people who get more right swipes, etc. With the idea being that it would put people in similar ‘tiers’ to actually match. One big issue they were having was…well, racial ‘preferences’ or sexual racism being pretty amplified as a result. Black women and Asian men especially were being overwhelmingly shuffled down the algorithm because there are a lot of people who will basically automatically swipe left on them as soon as they see they’re a Black woman or an Asian man, even if they were hot as hell.”
Its clear by algorithmic bias that users are boxed off from each other. This is why its important to be able to find your own way around the users rather than the way the algorithm presents things to you.
My recent ex made it clear I was found outside of the recommendations. If she stuck to the algorithm we likely would never have met. I know some of you might say, well not everyone has the time to manually go through the site. But if you look at this way, madness is doing the same thing and expecting different results. I can’t tell you how good it was to read OKCupid members blogs and get in touch. Likewise I’ve been looking for abstract terms across POF to see where people have used it and how. Years ago I had a great conversation with a woman who included a circus skill in her profile. Unfortunately it wasn’t the Diabolo but the Poi is still cool.
My ex bf worked for the Yahoo Italy dating site back in the earlyish 2000s. His job was to pretend to be a woman, and message male customers just as their accounts were going to expire. This would encourage them to pay to renew their subscriptions. Once they renewed, he would ghost them.
He only lasted for a few months due to how unethical it was.
So common and I know a few people in the past who have done this. However recently I met a person who did this for a while for a small amount of money. They are paid to engage with users as they close to the end of their membership period then once they renewed their membership disappear/ghost.
Of course the profile is a fake one, sometimes they are made up by the person or are rotated by the dating site (this has limitations of course, where the ).
A couple met on the dating app I worked on.
Unfortunately, the man passed away and the lady returned to the app where they met for remembrance.
One day, a bug in the system made some profile likes to be sent again after months and she received one from her deceased boyfriend.
Her bug report was heartbreaking.
This is horrible but I have seen similar examples of ex-members receiving emails by accident or their profile coming out of a dormant state. Mistakes happen but this should never happen
I still have a strong feeling this is all too important to be left to the private sector. Imagine if the covid19 pandemic keeps us apart for another year? Or the next pandemic? We can’t rely on the unethical practices described above to connect people for the future…?
Falling fertility rates have been a problem in the world’s wealthiest nations – notably in Japan and Germany – for some time. In South Korea last year, birthrates fell to 0.84 per woman, a record low despite extensive government efforts to promote childbearing. From next year, cash bonuses of 2m won (£1,320) will be paid to every couple expecting a child, on top of existing child benefit payments.
The fertility rate is also falling dramatically in England and Wales – from 1.9 children per woman in 2012 to just 1.65 in 2019. Provisional figures from the Office for National Statistics for 2020 suggest it could now be 1.6, which would be the lowest rate since before the second world war. The problem is even more severe in Scotland, where the rate has fallen from 1.67 in 2012 to 1.37 in 2019.
I got a email from OKcupid the other day and it took a little while to work out which one was removed from my profile.
OkCupid’s photo rules are in place to make OkCupid enjoyable for everyone. We are letting you know that we have removed one or more of your photos that were found to be in violation of these rules.
The most common reasons for a photo being removed are:
1. Your face is not visible, but the photo is in your “profile photos” album
As long as the photo doesn’t break any other rules, feel free to upload it to one of your profile essays instead. We love pet photos!
2. The photo is copyright/ not yours
All photos must be of you or taken by you. No copyright material allowed, including memes.
3. The photo contains erotic content
We ask that you appear in your photos as you would in a normal public context. Because of that, we don’t allow sexy bedroom photos, underwear photos, nudity, erotic poses, etc. Swimwear photos are ok only if they are in public at a beach or pool.
4. The photo contains inappropriate content
We don’t allow advertising, publishing of private information, photos of children alone, or hateful, threatening, or upsetting imagery. Profiles with inappropriate photos may be banned in addition to having the photo removed. See our full photo rules
Please note that if you disregard our photo rules multiple times, it could result in your account being permanently banned.
If you’re shy or concerned about privacy, you might want to check out our Incognito feature, which allows you to only be visible to people you have Liked first.
Thanks, and best of luck on OkCupid!
Okcupid always be selling… They can take their incognito and stick it.
Worst thing is I can’t actually get a proper answer why the computer/algorithm says no. Love to know if its gotten it all wrong and why? I thought about making some changes but don’t fancy my account getting banned.
I recently rejoined the dating world again, yeah I know…
Once I finally logged in and agreed to their new terms, I was able to get my old profile back partly using my GDPR request. Its interesting to see whats changed and how awful the dating apps have gotten (really badly money driven). Thats a whole blog to its self but I also found the options of orientation and what you are looking for really interesting.
In Okcupid I was given these options for who I am seeking.
Wow this is quite something. I generally say LGBTQA+ but I hadn’t really thought that much about the + aspect.
Being curious minded I started to look into the different spectrum’s. For example the affection orientation- sexual, romantic and friendship. Its all quite amazing but I couldn’t find a map, which would have made things a little easier to understand the relationships between each one. I did find that each one had its own flag however.
I made the mistake of trying to be too woke. by setting my status to cisgender male, thinking this means I was assigned male at birth and identify as male. On top of this I set my settings to seek females.
However I looking while swiping around, its clear I am getting men in my feed. Its clear its not a mistake as they self-identify as male and are not seeking other male. Even if they were, I’m seeking women. Of course I changed this twice and can not change it now. Bumble said contact them and of course I have and had disappointing replies.
Thanks for contacting Bumble
Thanks for reaching out!
If you’re seeing users of the wrong age or gender, it might be that your filter settings are incorrect. Please check that you have selected the correct filter preferences in your settings menu.
If you are still experiencing this issue please let us know and we’ll be happy to investigate.
Emma Bumble Feedback Team
Seriously, like I haven’t triple checked my settings! I tried a few other times but got the same reply, so given up. I always liked the idea of Bumble but found the montization model far too aggressive for a casual mobile dating user like me.
To this situation has the benefit of checking out how little effort cis-males are putting into their bumble profiles. Generally its some bad pictures and little to no text. Heck I have only seen a couple who even put some basic details down.
The whole thing is about how men under 6ft tall are always the brunt of jokes and bullying. There’s also some critical points about the way society, masculinity and our culture thinks about short men.
Sizeism is hard to avoid on dating apps such as Grindr and Tinder, where users commonly forbid men under 6ft from contacting them. Tinder even made a 2019 April Fool’s joke about launching a “height verification” update that would prevent guys from exaggerating their stature.
Yet short-shaming isn’t harmless. “There’s a host of studies that show short men are stigmatized in many ways, not only in people’s perception, but in actual real world outcomes as well,” says Joseph Vandello, a social psychologist at the University of Southern Florida. “People perceive shorter men as having fewer leadership qualities,” he says, citing findings that majority of American CEOs are over 6ft in and voters prefer tall presidential candidates (including, at 6ft 2in, Trump).
All this starts early – even in kindergarten, studies have found, teachers perceive the shortest boys in their class as less academically capable than their peers.
Height is also perceived to correlate directly with masculinity. As Vandello explains: “Because of [the correlation between height and perceived masculinity], a lot of men feel kind of a chronic sense of anxiety and uncertainty about their manhood status.” Insecurity generally manifests in oversensitivity to insult (which may contribute to the stereotype of short men as angry, resentful, over-compensating Napoleons.)
I’m almost 6ft tall at 5ft 11 so rarely gotten much of the criticism of others much shorter than myself.
It got me thinking about a few things related to height in the past. Okcupids the big lies people tell in online dating and also the discussion we had on BBC Radio Merseyside about height. Even then, I was thinking there’s got to be a connection with self confidence here, for example a lot of the women I spoke to who couldn’t imagine dating someone shorter than them was shocking. Likewise men who wouldn’t dare date someone taller was equally shocking. This is where I started keeping a rough tally on how self-confident they appeared, and it seemed my rough theory might have something about it?
Like many short men, Steven recalls an adolescence spent believing masculinity was defined by a set of immutable characteristics – like being tall and imposing – and that by not fitting that ideal he was “kind of cursed.”
But as he grew up, he began thinking about manhood as something he could develop by embodying his values, rather than a blunt appraisal of his physical self. “I think to be masculine, to be manly, whatever that word means, is about doing good in the world. It’s about contributing. It’s about finding a way to serve other people, to be kind, to be strong in defense of those who need strength in their corner. The more masculinity is an idea of service the more I think it is helpful.
Now happily committed to a taller woman, Brendan hardly thinks about his height at all. “Once you get into that sense of self-confidence the height issue kind of melts away,” he says.
Before I headed on holiday, I got a message from POF then OKcupid a day later, saying they need the request from the email which is on the account. Fair enough, so I forwarded each email to that email address and replied all to myself and to them but from that email account address.
A few days later I got emails, first from POF and then OKCupid.
You have recently requested a copy of your PlentyofFish (“POF”) personal data, and we’re happy to report that we have now verified your identity.
We are attaching a copy of your personal data contained in or associated with your POF account. The password to access the personal data will be sent in a separate email.
By downloading this data, you consent to the extraction of your data from POF, and assume all risk and liability for such downloaded data. We encourage you to keep it secure and take precautions when storing or sharing it.
The information contained in this archive may vary depending on the way you have used POF. In general, this information includes content and photos you have provided us, whether directly or through your social media accounts, messages you have sent and other data you would expect to see from a social media service like POF.
Please note that there is some information we cannot release to you including information that would likely reveal personal information about other users. Those notably include messages you received on POF, which are not provided out of concern for the privacy of the senders.
You have recently requested a copy of your OkCupid personal data, and we’re happy to report that we have now verified your identity.
We are attaching a copy of your personal data contained in or associated with your OkCupid account. The password to access the personal data will be sent in a separate email.
By downloading this data, you consent to the extraction of your data from OkCupid, and assume all risk and liability for such downloaded data. We encourage you to keep it secure and take precautions when storing or sharing it.
The information contained in this archive may vary depending on the way you have used OkCupid. In general, this information includes content and photos you have provided us, whether directly or through your social media accounts, messages you have sent and other data you would expect to see from a social media service like OkCupid.
Please note that there is some information we cannot release to you including information that would likely reveal personal information about other users. Those notably include messages you received on OkCupid, which are not provided out of concern for the privacy of the senders.
OkCupid Privacy Team
So on my train journey from Stockholm to Copenhagen, I had a look inside the Zip files shared with me. Quite different, I’d be interesting to see what others will do.
Forrester, I – POF Records.zip
UserData.json | 6.2 kb
UserData.pdf | 40.5 kb
Profile_7.jpg | 30.1 kb
Profile_6.jpg | 25.0 kb
Profile_5.jpg | 17.4 kb
Profile_4.jpg | 18.8 kb
Profile_3.jpg | 26.6 kb
Profile_2.jpg | 11.7 kb
Profile_1.jpg | 30.7 kb
Ian Forrester_JSN.txt | 3.8 mb
Ian Forrester_html.html | 6.6mb
As you can see quite different, interestingly no photos in the OKCupid data dump, even the ones I shared as part of my profile. In POF the PDF is a copy of the Json file, which is silly really.
So the Json files are the most interesting parts…
Plenty of Fish
.POF don’t have much interesting data, basically a copy of my profile data in Json including Firstvisit, FirstvisitA, etc to FirstvisitE complete with my ip address. I also can confirm I started my profile on 2012-01-25.
Then there is my BasicSearchData and AdvancedSearchData which includes the usual stuff and when I LastSearch ‘ed and from which IP address.
Nothing else… no messages
OkCupid has a ton more useful information in its Json. Some interesting parts; I have logged into OKCupid a total of 24157 times! My status is Active? My job is Technology? The geolocation_history is pretty spot on and the login_history goes from July 2007 to current year, complete with IP and time.
The messages is really interesting! They decided to share one of the messages, so only the ones you send rather what you received. As the messages are not like emails, you don’t get the quoted reply, just the sent message. Each item includes who from (me) and time/date. There are some which are obviously a instant massager conversation which look odd reading them now. In those ones, theres also fields for peer, peer_joined, time and type. Its also clear where changes have happened for example when you use to be able to add some formatting to the message and you use to have subject lines.
Some which stick out include, Allergic to smoking?, insomnia, ENTP and where next, The Future somewhat answered, So lazy you’ve only done 40 something questions, Dyslexia is an advantage, But would you lie in return? No bad jokes, gotland and further a field, Ok obvious question, etc.
Next comes the photos (My photos, no one elses)
"caption": "OkCupid's removal of visitors is so transparent, I don't know why they bothered to lie to us all?",
"status": "Album Picture Active",
"uploaded": "2017-08-08 19:16:20"
Of course the images are publicly available via the url, so I could pull them all down with a quick wget/curl. Not sure what to make about this idea of making them public. Security through obscurity anyone?
Now the images strings seems to be random but don’t think this is a good idea at all! Wondering how it sits with GDPR too, also wondering if they will remove them after a period of time. Hence if the image a above is broken, then you know what happened.
Then we are on to the purchases section. It details when I once tried A-list subscription and when I cancelled it. How I paid (paypal), how much, address, date, etc… Its funny reading about when I cancelled it…
"comments": "userid = 7367007913453081320 was downgraded to amateur",
"transaction": "lost subscription",
The big question I always had was the question data. Don’t worry they are all there! For example here’s just one of mine.
OkCupid has received your recent request for a copy of the personal data we hold about you.
For your protection and the protection of all of our users, we cannot release any personal data without first obtaining proof of identity.
In order for us to verify your identity, we kindly ask you to:
1. Respond to this email from the email address associated with your OkCupid account and provide us the username of your OkCupid account.
2. In your response to this email, please include a copy of a government-issued ID document such as your passport or driving license. Also, we ask you to please cover up any personal information other than your name, photo and date of birth from the document as that is the only information we need.
We may require further verification of your identity, for example, if the materials you provide us do not establish your identity as being linked to the account in question.
I proposed a few times in the past that dating sites may not necessary showing your messages to certain people because of a number of reasons (maybe you are sending too many messages, maybe you are deemed no beautiful enough!)
Hi! We’ve made some exciting changes to how messaging on OkCupid works. You see, from member feedback we found that our messaging system needed some help: members were getting too many unwanted messages, which was distracting them from the messages they actually wanted to respond to. After all, the conversations that end up leading to something are between people who actually like each other, so we wanted to make it easy for you to focus on just those messages. So now, although you can still send a message to anyone, you’ll only see messages in your Conversations from people you’ve liked. People who have messaged you but whom you haven’t liked yet will be highlighted in DoubleTake (and everywhere else, too) — just visit their profile to see the message. And if you’ve already liked someone, their message will automatically show up in your Conversations. Easy! And now for the best part — after testing these changes for weeks, we’ve found that this new way of messaging increases matches by over 30%! So thanks to your feedback, we’ve been able to make some pretty exciting improvements in time for the new year.
It sounds like a reasonable change, but I do wonder how much further they will go with this? It wouldn’t be hard to not show messages because of x reasons.
If you think about it also, OKCupid is slowly pushing people towards the ways it prefers to connect with people. No longer can you browse, read peoples profiles and send a message hoping to connect that way. I understand why but once again where does it lead us?
After a little discussion with the amazing Lydia about this. I do think it’s good that okcupid is listening to it’s audience, but we do agree they may only be doing this due to falling numbers to the likes of tinder (owned by the same company) and bumble (match group tried to buy recently).
The skeptical me (anything okcupid does right now I am very skeptical about) thinks there might be a better way to educate users about their poor inbox filling messages. But it’s clear from okcupids founders own book Dataclysm, the mass produced non-personal messages seem to get conversations started (much to my dismay of humanity when reading this). Its also clear men are the biggest culprit of sending these and although a 2nd inbox (similar to Facebook?) to sorted by liked unliked people is a good for women. Maybe okcupid could educate the men before the message is even sent?
We seen (we see everything!) you copied and pasted this same message over and over again (5x times in 24hours), we are not going to send it till you think of something more original or read the profile!
Okcupid is a safe place for ALL its users…
Now that would be bold, helpful and move the emphasis from the victim to the culprits.
You could even quota the sent messages which resets when there is a reply and reduces further on blocks? But this all needs to be transparent and educational otherwise the user will just setup another account out of spite or frustration?
You see, DaddyzPrincess29*, we all have names. Good, noble names that took weeks, perhaps months to choose— from Hannah to Jordan to Lady Bird. And what we’ve discovered is that those names actually work best—better than usernames—when it comes connecting with people. So listen closely laidback___stu, because this applies to you — even if you are straight chilling right now on a basement futon.
Ahead of the new year, we’re removing OkCupid usernames. It’s starting with a test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profiles with what they want their dates to call them.
This instantly reminded me of Facebook real names policy, a few friends of mine have effected by this policy and many more. Of course Okcupid brush around this with…
We’ve also heard from many members of our community that they want to maintain the privacy they enjoy with usernames—with this change, we won’t be collecting full names; instead, we encourage our users to go by the name they’d like their dates to call them on OkCupid.
So this is what you would like to be called? Something like a username?
Is OKCupid going to take on the pain and effort of checking and verify peoples names? If so then they really need to look at the outrages previously.
If not, then whats the point of the change? I can easily call myself something of poor taste
As the Ars Technica calls it OkCupid’s rapid Tinder-ization (I’ve been pretty much saying the same thing)
In OkCupid’s case, the move follows some other major changes that bring the service far closer to resembling Tinder. This one, for example, mirrors Tinder’s use of Facebook profile data, which thus assigns a “real” first name to a user’s account.
Last month, OkCupid rolled out a change to its messaging system that prevents any user from seeing if they’ve received an unsolicited message unless they stumble upon the message-sender’s dating profile and indicate a “like.” Doing this unlocks that suitor’s ability to directly contact the other person. This is similar to Tinder, which only allows messages to be shared when both users indicate a “like.” For some users (read: the popular ones, as per activity on the site), this feature change can reduce mailbox clutter. For others (read: the less popular ones), this makes receiving messages much more difficult and all but requires constant flipping and swiping through profiles just to raise your chances of unlocking a sender’s ability to contact you.
In July, OkCupid also removed an opt-in feature that showed users who had stumbled upon their dating profile and at what time they did so. This allowed daters, particularly the less popular ones, to passively peruse potential matches of interest. By removing this opt-in feature, OkCupid essentially nudged users to do more browsing and swiping through the entire site’s meat market of available daters.
The Verge have a followup which goes into much more detail and hit right at the point of Okcupid’s flippant policy change
Via email, a company spokesperson told The Verge that OKCupid won’t require legal names, but the shift is already unpopular with users. Online, the reaction to the news has been overwhelmingly negative, with users either flocking to Reddit to discuss the change, or leaving angry comments on the post itself.
The change isn’t just, as OKCupid’s flippant post suggests, about users no longer going by aliases like “BigDaddyFlash916.” The allure of a place like OKCupid as opposed to, say, Tinder, is that it was a secure place to share more intimate personal details, including sexual preferences. Dating apps made for phones are generally looking for users to find matches based on proximity, age, and gut-instinct attraction to other people’s photos. OKCupid invites users to answer questionnaires, build elaborate profiles, and describe themselves thoughtfully. For users, this is a double-edged sword: you get to know people better, but you also make yourself vulnerable to strangers who can potentially learn a lot about you.
…Duportail eventually got some of the rest of her data, but only on a voluntary basis, and only after she identified herself as a journalist. Her non-journalist friends who followed suit never got responses to similar requests.
Finally armed with the 800 pages she had clawed back from Tinder, Duportail wrote a story reflecting on her own relationship with her data, and the myopic view Tinder had of her love life. I feel her story helps bridge the chasm between those with information stored in the database and the architects behind it, providing much needed neutral common ground to democratically discuss power distributions in the digital economy.
Given the popularity of her story, and my overflowing inbox, I would say many agree. And indeed, you should expect more similar stories to be unearthed in the future because of the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). From May 2018, the new European-level regulation will come into force, claiming wider applicability – including on US-based companies, such as Tinder, processing the personal data of Europeans – and harmonising data protection and enforcement by “levelling up” protections for all European residents.
…beyond the much older right of access, the true revolution of GDPR will come in the form of a new right for all European citizens: the right to portability.
It seems like such a small thing but actually it has the potential to be extremely disruptive. Heck its one of the things I wanted back in early 2011. Imagine all those new services which could act like brokers and enable choice! It could be standard to have the ability to export and import rich data sets like Attention profile markup language (APML).
WSJ: Could you explain the “substance over selfies” focus?
MR. SEIDMAN: If you look at what we have seen in online dating in the past four to five years, there is a huge increase in speeding up: Let’s get people to go faster, let’s get people to spend more consideration over booking a restaurant on OpenTable tonight than choosing someone to connect with on an app.
We said, we are actually going to double down on what is fundamentally true for a large part of people dating, which is, I want to meet someone based on who they are, not what they look like. One of the ways we do that is during sign-up we take you through a minimum of 15 iconic OkCupid questions. These go through religion, culture, sex and gets to what you are like.
Our questions emulate what is happening in the real world, like a conversation you would have at a bar or dinner party.
There are a lot of people who have strongly held beliefs but no overlap, and we don’t want to waste their time. We push people into not just answering these questions but creating profiles that are more than just their photos. The real issue now is, how do we make that easy and enjoyable on a mobile phone?
We recently renamed our swiping product from Quickmatch to Doubletake, because we realized the name doesn’t support the values of our community: We don’t want people to be quick, we want them to be slow. We look at it proactively through the lens of product and marketing, so when you get to OkCupid it’s clear it’s the place for you.
Nice in theory but as I pointed out a few times, the days of when people would spend time filling in the questions; has kind of gone. Even OkCupid doesn’t really put any emphases on the questions. Instead they seem to be pushing for more implicit data collection. Which leads you to a place where swiping left and right works in favor of both parties I guess? Although I obviously have a total distaste for this mechanism.]
The mobile app and website are more similar but its interesting to see the questions pushed to the far right of the page now. Even the top menu now is just Browse Matches, Double Take and Purchase A-list.
So my take away thought especially with the recent changes around visitors is frankly this whole thing about creating a community around online dating, is just PR nonsense.
On Friday, online dating service OkCupid introduced its biggest change since its 2009 paid “A-List” add-on package. Starting today, the site’s users no longer see a major data point that has been standard for nearly a decade: the “visitors” tab.
“What’s the value of a visitor?” the company wrote in an e-mail to users. “Short answer: zero.” However, that valuation is shaken up by a follow-up sentence, and it may explain why the Match.com-owned company made the change. “A person who visits your profile and chooses not to follow up with a ‘like’ or a message probably (read: definitely) isn’t worth your time.”
The Visitor feature was key because it allowed you to see if someone visited your profile. Its a really nice feature and useful to understand if someone is interest or not. (there is a way to opt out if you are worried about this feature of course, but you don’t get to see who looked at you).
In short, a user could look through and see who looked at them, which is a potentially quicker path to determining who out there might have actually tapped “like” on you. (Without real-life cues like body language, online dating users can benefit from round-about paths to finding potential interest. As an occasional OkCupid user over the years, I can attest to appreciating any cues beyond seeing what happens when I send awkward, unsolicited “HI HOW ARE YOU” messages.)
The statement from OKCupid is such bollox and clearly a sign they want more people to pay them for the A-list (premium service) which will get the feature of course.
I have used the visitor feature when sending a message and seeing if the woman is maybe interested or not. Generally if she looked at my profile, after I sent her the email. Then its very likely shes just not interested in me and thats fine. Its a good indicator rather than the like feature which leads towards a tinder like system.
I also tend to get about 5-7 visitors a week which is a nice place to look for potential matches.
Thus, OkCupid’s statement doesn’t necessarily add up. If a person visits your profile and does follow up with the “like” button, they just might be worth your time, and a “visitor” tab would let you tap “like” in kind and find out. But as of today, OkCupid now only has one option to reveal that information: A-List subscriptions, which cost $19.95 per individual month or $59.70 as a six-month bundle. (“A-List Premium” was introduced years later with an additional $15/month charge and more features.) Free users still “pay” for the site via advertisements, which A-List users can disable.
Once I saw this, I did look at the OKCupid EULA for changes and of course the site.
While OkCupid’s public-facing blog is typically transparent about changes, features, and site-driven research, the company elected to only inform users about this visitor-tab change via e-mail. OkCupid did not respond to Ars Technica’s questions about the changes in time for this article’s publication.
Suspect stuff… or a clear sign the match take over is in full effect now.
How many features have they got left at this point?
I think it is time to look elsewhere, as the original OkCupid idea died a long while ago and there is little which makes it better than POF (another Match group site!). At least they still have the visitor option (currently!)
All this drives my thoughts about decentrialised dating again. If I wanted to leave how would I take my profile? Could I take all those questions and answers I spent much time answering? I have had a task for a long while to make my okcupid profile public or duplicate it on a public platform I can control.
I realize it seems trivial to people thinking only of press freedom, but romance and sexuality are a huge part of human existence. Almost all major dating sites are owned by a single company (Match.com). It’s an area that requires privacy and gradual disclosure. Open dating systems are fascinating — posting one or more profiles on the open web in a way that preserves your privacy but allows gradual disclosure and connection.
He is dead right!
Some people, especially those married or in long-term relationships; but they have no idea the personal nature of the data being shared and mined by pretty much one corporation which just wants to toy with you and your life. I called it Endemic corruption and I wasn’t mixing my words.
There is an opportunity for something far better and much more useful…
I looked at OkCupid tonight and found the notice saying…
We’ve removed visitors so you can focus on better connections
Without the distraction of visitors, you can focus on the people who really want to get to know you. And when you’re focused on those people, your chances of higher quality connections improves.
The thing I keep hearing from people (usually in relationships) is tinder IS dating apps. When I tell them there is a new dating app/service every month, they never believe me. At a party on the weekend I tried to put into words why I use OkCupid and recommend other services over Tinder (yes I know they are owned by the same people).
I insist the system of tinder encourages or even dictates playful interactions. This is fine if you like playing but not ideal if not. Its clear people are using Tinder to fill their time when bored or playing around with friends.
The tinder/hot or not system is setup that way, and the human behaviour follows suit. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can work the other way but Tinder is strongly built with this mentality in mind. I am reminded of addiction by design, simple as this – tinder is built to maximum shallow activity. There’s no other way around that unless you pay them money.
Other services have similar systems (OkCupid has likes, POF has meetme, etc) but each one of theses have the ability to just see a user and message them. This subverts the tinder behavior but requires more effort like getting over your fear of rejection.
The key point I’m making is each service is different and requires a different way to look at it. For example Bumble although it does have the hot or not dynamic, the system is set up to give the women the control. As a result the behavior of the users is quite different?
It’s a mistake to think of Tinder as the de-facto dating app. It would be like thinking McDonalds was the de-facto of restaurants from those who are vegan!
Now that’s one scary thought, I think we would all agree?
I won’t even dig into why all these people with partners always want to get wrapped up in their single friends lives? Thats best left alone…
I was trying to find examples of what I meant but it’s very difficult googling for them as they get lost in a sea of other stuff, some of it very weird.
There was a period when a whole bunch of sites with domain names like…
youshoulddatejo.com, smartandhandsomeian.com and samwantstodateyou.com etc… (not real sites of course) Were the rage for a short while, they would pop up now and then. These people without knowing it could have changed the dating field. They all seemed to contain similar elements and it wouldn’t take long for someone or myself to modify microformat hresume into a hDating microformat (I’m not going to talk about Microdata or RDF/A as its outside the scope of this post, but yes to both). semantically rich data published on the web as way to bring a distribution model to online dating.
Steven was talking about the advantages of machine-readable Web Pages and his point knocks right at door of the walled gardens of the social networks. Swap social networks of facebook, instagram, etc for Match.com, EHarmony, OkCupid, etc’s walled gardens… and you got the same problem and same solutions?
But imagine if profiles were part of the public internet? When I mean public, I mean not hidden away behind a walled garden (hidden/private web). Because really what are you paying for, if you are paying at all?
I can hear you panic or even laugh… Here’s questions which might be crossing your mind
I don’t want my profile to be public!
This is fine, I understand some rather not be so open about their status. It doesn’t have to be connected with the rest of your online profiles by the way (this is down to you) It doesn’t necessarily need your name or even a public photo of you (there are many ways to verify someone without such information, think about what PGP, GPGP Escrow services, Ebay, Airbnb, etc do). Also like FoaF you can even hash or encrypt parts to avoid spam, catfishers, stalkers, etc. Maybe hide parts of your dating identity till its required. Theres endless possibilities, which I haven’t even explored.
How do I message or email someone, and what happens if things go south? South meaning, things start breaking up or you want to stop them messaging you. This is a partly solved problem. There no need to have you’re real email address. Services can step in and provide emails or instant messaging solutions which expire or forward on transparency. It could also be done with a standard protocol and encrypted for further privacy. Off the Record already does this, for goodness sake lets not build new protocols (badly or jokey) to do already solved stuff! (Yes this is what most dating sites are doing now)
How do I trust what I am seeing or reading?
The same is true of most dating sites now, how do you know the picture isn’t a catfish, they really are the body shape they say or show? How do you know the picture isn’t 10 years ago? All the dating site/service is really offering you is access to single people (not that is always true of course)
This is where the idea of a blockchain for online dating could come in quite useful, to verify with reputation, but if you don’t trust the technology. You can opt for something else… or even build your own! You only have to look at the people who have hacked OkCupid (Amy Webb and Chris McKinlay’s). Imagine what they could do if not restricted to the wall garden and the systems they could write for the rest of us.
But its easier to pay the money and sit safely within the closed garden? Safely…? Total illusions. But yes its easier, but you are limited by how much you are willing to pay. The open way you can have access to many more profiles, better ways to filter them and theoretically better solutions which you can share with friends.
This way also puts more emphasis on you to do work, but I can imagine systems and services like wordpress, medium, squarespace, etc doing the heavy lifting for you.
How would I search?
You don’t think some startup will jump into this arena? If not one of the big search giants?! The beauty is if you feel one is better than the other, you can easily switch. No rubbish claims, which can’t be verified. Just imagine when gocompare/money supermarket get involved to show you the best sites to find what you seek. Or imagine crowd sourcing this all.
But dating site x’s algorithm is great
Don’t worry there will be multiple services jumping over each other for your money, data or other things to prove they are the one you should use. Some will be highly manual, some will be heavily automated. Currently there is no urgency to fix, innovate or try something different. Its not all bad news for dating services, they can run their magic algorithms on the public data set.
But my dating service offers X, Y and Z.
Thats nice but have you thought how effective X, Y and Z actually are? Are they a distraction or actually making dating life better? Regardless… there is the perfect opportunity to have a ecosystems of services blossom and offer unique services on top of the open, machine readable profile network.
Think about the way search engines innovated on the structured data and offered better matches as a result. The important part is, if you don’t like what a certain service is doing or how they treat you, you can just move elsewhere without the fear of loosing access to that person still.
What I’m suggesting is similar but on your terms. There are other advantages such as having access to the biggest market of daters, personalised choice, better tools than one dating site can/want to create, bespoke advice and guidance from people who really give crap. This could issue in a new era in the art of match making!
But it doesn’t stop there, oh I’ve just scratched the surface. I feel a lot of the endemic corruption in online dating is due the centralised model.
Imagine if you could aggregate that profile into the legacy dating services. Almost a IFTTT recipe or Atomkeep? to update parts of your legacy profile on a schedule or manual push.
You could allow tinder to use one photo, OkCupid to upload 4-6 photos and a deeper description, Match.com only my photos marked professional and the deeper description.
All is possible if you rethink the current setup. unfortunately the controlling companies (MATCH group currently own 27% plus of the online dating market and they own, OkCupid, POF, Tinder and many more) have zero interest in changing much. On top of that daters seem quite lazy and less interested in working for dates?
As you can imagine, there isn’t much in this area but I did find fermat. Its a p2p matching platform. I have yet to really look and see if its doing things how I would imagine
There is a problem with online dating (not pointing to the white elephant in the room, as I have many times before); how do you know who you are contacting is really who they say they are? This has given rise to not only the 419 scams, catfishing but also sexortation scams. Also most of the research/hacking (amy webb/chris mckinlay) has been done through the loop-hole of people being able to just fire up (you can automate this, I’ve witnessed scripts) another profile.
How about if you could see the interactions between the people on the dating site? There actions verify who they are, the patterns speak volumes. Want to send the same messages out to 1000 people, go ahead but we (all) will see. Currently that data is only accessible by the owners of the site/service. Would that be a step too far into radical transparency?
Would that influence the way people interact? Knowing the interactions (not the actual messages/content) were publicly logged and could be looked at by anybody in the site?
One of the things I quite like about OKCupid & POF is the notion of the visitor. basically you can see everybody (unless they are paid members and turn off the visitor option). I quite like this because it makes you more careful about who you click on and view, knowing they will see this too. But with a public ledger system, others could see this too. This would solve my issue when trying to find the most popular person on OKCupid and throws up the question Hannah Fry talked about in a TED talk about finding love with mathematics and I experienced at MOSI.
Too many steps forward? Ok how about we hide the end points, like in a traditional blockchain system. You don’t see the interactions but you do get stats about how many times that person has fired out messages, what kind of reaction they got, etc.
Basically blockchain or distributed network ledgers could tweak human behaviour slightly towards something more positive for everybody? It’s an idea but something I’d like to see tried at the very least, expecially because its a total wild west out there right now.