Slater is the founder and editor of The Long Forum, a website that promotes the best of long-form journalism.
TL; DR: OKCupid’s study on male dating photos fails reproducibility If you’re a guy who uses online dating sites/apps, you’ve probably heard this one: don’t smile in your picture.
The post was called The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures.
Since Ok Cupid published their data in support of not smiling in pics, the tip has been quoted as gospel truth on dating advice blogs, PUA podcasts, dozens of dating subreddits, forums, everywhere.
In 1966, the inventor of computer dating, a Harvard math major named Jeff Tarr, joked to a reporter: “If there’s some chick I’m dying to go out with, I can drop her a note in my capacity as president of Operation Match and say, ‘Dear Joan, You have been selected by a highly personal process called Random Sampling to be interviewed extensively by myself … In 1965, Dewan told the Harvard that his competitor’s questionnaire was “less sophisticated, appealing to the big, Mid-west universities.” All these years (and all this behavior science) later, it’s not the professor-backed dating sites but the ones run by math geeks that seem to be on top.
‘” The industry’s second-comer, another Harvard math geek named David Dewan, remembered: “There was a lot of randomness to it. At the conference, Sam Yagan, a cofounder of the free dating site Ok Cupid.com, strutted around, collected multiple awards (for the second year in a row), and gave a talk on how he sold Ok Cupid to last year for million, an incredible sum for an advertising-based business model that is thought by many in the business to bring in little revenue.
Oh yes, of course we’re always refining our codes, optimizing our algorithms. From the company’s perspective, claiming a superior “scientific matching system” or “personality profiling test” could distinguish you from the field.So to accomplish that we play a giant question-and-answer session with everyone on the site at once.” When John clicks on a new profile he’s shown a “match percentage” that accounts for all the questions that both he and the potential match have answered.If they’ve both answered 1,000 questions, then Ok Cupid’s algorithm generates a match percentage based on 6,000 answers–the product of 1,000 questions times 3 answers per question times 2 daters.“I don’t care what matching system I have,” Yagan told a reporter after the algorithm panel.“I just know I have to have one.” Dan Slater is writing a book about the online-dating business and what technology means for the future of relationships, to be published by Penguin (Portfolio) next year.