Withholding likes (more on OkCupid’s broken algorithms)

One of the biggest problems I see with OkCupid is that you are no longer in control of who you see. Match Group completely removed the search function sometime in 2020, so you can no longer choose who you want to look at. Instead, the site/app just shows you seemingly random people, one at a time and you have to make an instant decision then and there as to whether you like them or not (much like Tinder before it, and pretty much every other dating site/app since). The problem with this is that, when you receive a like, you have to wait for the algorithm to show you the user who liked you in Discover before you can interact with them. This leaves the door open to manipulation by Match Group. Ultimately, the likeliness of you finding a match is in the hands of Match Group, and it is determined by how much money you’re willing to give them. Let me explain.

Imagine, if you will, a truly altruistic company that wants you to find a match. You’d think that that company would be eager to show you who liked you, you know, it would be all “hey, this person likes you. I think there might be something in it. Do you want to check him/her out to see if the feeling is mutual?” You know, that’s something you’d expect from a site specifically designed to find you a match.

Now think of the opposite of that. Think of a company that doesn’t care about finding you a partner, that only cares about its profits, and will try to get every penny out of you that it can. The last thing that company wants is for you to find a match and stop using its service. You finding a match and deleting your account is bad for its bottom line. This company is likely to hide likes behind a paywall, and then just never show you people who liked you in Discover.

I ask you: which of these companies does Match Group most resemble? Clearly the second one, right?

Now, granted, Match Group does show you some likes in Discover. If they didn’t, no one would ever get matches, and everyone would leave the platform. That, of course, would be bad for Match Group’s bottom line. Thus, Match Group has to find a balance between giving you too much, and giving you not enough.

My estimation is that between only 25% and 33% of your likes show up in Discover. The remaining 67% to 75% will forever remain behind that paywall. However, I cannot say for sure until I do an experiment, gather data, and run the numbers on a profile that hasn’t been tainted by ordinary usage for the last 15 years. (More on this at a later date if I decide to conduct said experiment.)

There are a few questions you might be asking right about now. The most obvious one is: “how do you know Match Group hides likes?” I’ll cover this in a bit. You might also ask “how do you know you haven’t just swiped left on people who have liked you?” Curiosity always gets the better of me. I want to know how effective the algorithm is, so I nearly always swipe right, even on people I’m not interested in. Another question might be: “How do you know the likes you received aren’t from people further away than the distance you’ve set in your preferences?” Well, OkCupid really doesn’t pay attention to the preferences you set (just like Plenty of Fish, which I outlined in a post here). I often see people in Discover who live over twice the distance than I set in my preferences. I have also received some likes from people in other countries, namely, the United States and Norway (much further than the 50 miles from London, UK, that I’ve set in my preferences). I know of their existence because they showed up in my Discover and we matched (remember, I always swipe right). You might also ask: “how do you know they haven’t just disabled their account?” Well, if they had, my like counter would go down; instead, it remains the same and only changes when I receive a like.

If you have any questions that I haven’t covered here, leave them in the comments, and I’ll try to address them.

The most obvious argument for Match Group hiding likes on OkCupid is this: showing you all your likes in Discover negates the need for premium memberships. Match Group have stripped OkCupid of so many features that the only real benefit of premium accounts is seeing likes without having to wait for Match Group to show you them in Discover. If Match Group showed you all your likes in Discover, no one would ever pay for a premium membership. The practice of not showing you likes in Discover is designed to get you to upgrade to premium for between £14.83 and £29.66 a month (depending on which plan you go for).

Ultimately, it comes down to this: despite its name, Match Group is not in the business of finding you a match. Finding you a match goes against Match Group’s business model. When you find a match, Match Group loses a potential revenue stream. Instead, Match Group is in the business of selling you false hope. Match Group profits off your loneliness. As a result, the system that Match Group has implemented on OkCupid (and most of its platforms) is rigged against you.

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