Why you never see “attractive” people on your OKCupid page: Founder reveals dating site’s secrets during Philly visit


In a room full of people wearing ties and pantsuits at String Theory Charter School, OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder wore a black hoodie and striped shirt. His hair was matted and messy, like he hadn’t showered. TBH, he probably wouldn’t have rated too high on his dating site’s 1-to-5 star rating system. Or, who knows, maybe tons of people would have considered his fashion skills far superior to the standard business look.

Rudder would have wanted to survey as many people as possible and find out. Discovering and using data is his thing. As part of an event of the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, Rudder pointed out how the Internet is now allowing us to accurately gauge people’s behavior, beliefs and preferences rather than rely on judgements or perceptions. As he put it, people “believe they do X and then they go do Y and the internet is perfect for capturing the space between those things.”

Here are five takeaways from Rudder on OKCupid and using data for people and companies.

1. Women are a lot pickier than men

OKCupid has the data on average rankings for men and women (1-to-5). And if you look at the curve for men ranking women, the largest percentage of women are ranked as around a three. Men have don’t overly high or overly low expectations of women. As for women ranking men, uh…

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Yeah, it’s a little bit different. Rudder says, “women are way more selective.” Not only that, Rudder says the Y-axis on that graph doesn’t display the entire truth: “Something like 40 percent of guys are basically rated zero.”

2. If you’re always complaining the people you see on OKCupid aren’t attractive, you’re probably not attractive either

OKCupid uses its ranking system to choose which prospective matches it will display on your page. The people who are rated high see more pictures of people who are also rated high. And the people who are ranted low see more pictures of people who are also rated low. “If you ever hear someone complain to you that everyone on OKCupid is ugly,” Rudder says, “you can laugh because that means they themselves are not good looking.”

3. The best questions divide people

One of Rudder’s favorite suggestions for a question to ask users of OKCupid was, “Have you ever murdered someone?” He acknowledged that it was important in that most people don’t want a killer prospective mate. But the problem with questions like that are everybody answers the exact same. He said the best way to develop trends and categorize and match people are by crafting questions that split the audience.

4. Businesses should always be open

Rudder advises businesses to always let people know how they are collecting and using data, even if it pisses them off, you know, like explaining to unattractive people they’re unattractive. No matter the outcry over learning about how a company is using data, Rudder says it’s better than hiding it: “Vagueness and uncertainty can cause furor.”

5. Even Rudder knows the #LOLSixers are awful this year

Rudder says OKCupid doesn’t track closely trends in individual cities, so he couldn’t share anything Philly-centric. He was, however, willing to venture what Philly sports teams OKCupid members were likely chatting about in their messages. “I’m sure people talk about the Phillies, the Eagles and the Flyers more than people in New York. But not the 76ers.”

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