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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Why I Hate Okcupid, But Can't Really Complain About It Because It's Free

Because I am 30 and therefore obligated to date and inevitably get married, I decided to check out the online dating scene. A few years ago a buddy of mine convinced me to join okcupid. My experience on said website has ranged from entertaining to exasperating. I have gotten so many horrible messages that a month ago I decided to screen shot them and save them on my pc. But the real reason I hate okcupid has little to do with the miserable pool of single men, the tastelessly bad messages (e.g. invitations to perform sexual acts) or how quickmatch restricts you to people only in or around your city. Alas there are other reasons to hate the match-faking website.

First, all dating sites benefit from single members staying single. Translation: websites make more money by keeping members single and therefore actively using their dating websites. Okc actually admits to lying to its users and manipulating match data.  Next, understand that okc is really just one big social experiment: every person on the site is a guinea pig. None of that means that sites like okc are inherently evil or that people cannot find love online. But we need to understand that the system has some major bugs. Enter the notorious Okc algorithm. 

Okcupid's algorithm is a major point of contention for me. In my perfect universe I would answer a few dozen out of the infinite number of questions, indicate through my answers which questions are most important to me and okc would hook me up with people who answered similarly. Unfortunately, okc is much more convoluted than that. According to about.com

"With every question that you answer on the site, there are folks that essentially get removed from your search results, and you from theirs. Unless you search for a very small subset of the site , you're only going to see people with certain markers in common. This means that The Perfect Person For You might have a fantastic picture posted to catch your eye, and match with you 97%, however because of the way the site is setup you'll be hard pressed to randomly run across them, or them you."

This of course supports my theory that ALL dating websites benefit from keeping people single. Why would a dating website intentionally hide perfect matches from its users? Think about it. Okc doesn't stay okc because of some kind of benevolent love for its users. Its stays okc because of the advertising dollars that keep it financially solvent. Lets say you joined XYZ dating service and after completing a profile and filling out a personality questionnaire about your interests and morals 20 minutes later your inbox was flooded with attractive, like-minded people. How would XYZ dating service or its competitors benefit from that? Hey, I get it. I don't mind staying on the site for a few weeks or months or even a year to find someone compatible with me. But I have been on okc on and off for over 3 years and I have not found one person who I would consider having a serious relationship with. 

I love the idea of online dating, but it doesn't always
work in practice. 
Last week I was matched 99% with a very attractive agnostic even though my profile clearly says I'm Christian and serious about it. About 90% of my matches are republican which, while not an absolute dealbreaker, is interesting because I am a prochoice , climate change believing, minimum wage raising, affirmative action supporting, card carrying liberal! Lastly, I indicate that I do not have children, do not want to have children (EVER) and do not want to take care of other people's children. So who am I matched with? Only those people who are gung ho about having kids, or who have children from previous unions. I wish I could set my preferences in stone and dare okc to match me with people who do not share my faith, my values, or my opinions on procreation. I could save a lot of time and so could the poor saps who write me and wonder why I do not respond when we are a 98% match. Lastly, I wish there was a way to account for racial preferences. While I am an open minded non-racist person, several men on the site indicate a strong preference to date exclusively within their own race--otherwise known as a preference to remain prejudice. I am so tired of being paired with white men on the site, reading their profile and thinking we would hit it off well only to find out that they are racist! (Hint: if you refuse to get to know someone based on their skin color you are racist). 

Other issues with Okc include having to constantly update your profile to stay relevant (um so many okc users are busy young professionals that don't have time to live on okc: that's why they are on okc!!!!) the fact the okc tries to use words in your profile to match you (all kind of problems with that one) and that quickmatch gives you a picture and a person's self summary and with that information you are supposed to like or dislike the person (hint: it would be better to use the My Details box, it's faster and makes it a lot easier to weed poor matches out).

So after all my complaining am I going to quit the site? Yes, but not right now A) because aspects of it are entertaining (eg. collecting horrible messages) b) it's like the proverbial carrot on a stick. If I keep running maybe I will be lucky enough to catch the prize. I'm sure the same logic drives gamblers to stay at the roulette table just a little longer. c) the site is free. Yes they are collecting data about me and using me as a guinea pig, while simultaneously reducing my chances of finding love (therefore toying my emotions and my future) but it isn't costing me any MONEY. Besides, Okc is actually head and shoulders above it's pay-to-contact competitors. Sigh. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just quit the other day.
I felt I would message men, and they wouldn't respond. Then I would get a lot of younger men sending dirty messages. I was dumbfounded at the "Quickmatch" feature. Mostly all the men were people I would never date. Now I wonder if it was a big conspiracy on OkCupid's part to try to keep me single. Ha ha. Possibly...