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I tried Hinge

Holy shit it is bad.

I thought Tinder was the worst of the worst, but Hinge is on another level.

Match Group advertises Hinge as being designed to spark intelligent conversation. Good luck with that. You can have a maximum of three answers on your profile, each with a character limit (150 characters), so it’s unlikely you’ll be able to say anything of substance. For context, that last sentence is 164 characters (including spaces and punctuation)… 14 character more than you could fit in an answer on Hinge. The character limit is transferred across to messages as well, so expect conversation to be stymied somewhat.

It is also advertised as not having swipes. I mean, technically, you don’t physically swipe the screen to like or dislike someone, but the basic premise is the same: vapid, superficial, instant decision on whether to like or dislike a random person… the same as Tinder and OkCupid. This basic format is what I term “swipe culture”, whether you physically swipe of not.

Where it departs from Tinder (and OkCupid, for that matter) is in messaging. You can send messages to other users without matching first. But there is a catch. You can only like/message someone if you complete your entire profile. This isn’t like how OkCupid used to limit how many people it showed you on the home screen based on how much of your profile you’d filled out. That was incremental. This is all or nothing. This means answering three questions and uploading six pictures. Ah, there’s the superficiality of the app again. Style (pictures) seems to be more important than substance (words), which is why it seems mainly to attract vapid, fake, wannabe Instagram models. There’s also the question as to whether the recipient receives messages before liking the sender (much like OkCupid’s short-lived intros that were scrapped earlier in the year). I cannot answer this question definitively (yet). However, considering it has “roses” (akin to OkCupid’s “superlike”), I’m guessing not.

It also feels rather cookie cutter. As mentioned earlier, you’re giving stymied answers to three questions from a list of around 75 pre-set questions. Again, because of the character limit, it can be hard to get across anything of substance. I mean, I struggle with Twitter’s 280 character limit, so cutting that in almost half is a nightmare for me. You can kind of caption your six pictures… kind of. You can use one of around 70 pre-set captions. Because of these limitations, it can be hard to show any personality you may have (which probably explains why no one I saw on there seemed to have a personality).

Ultimately, I would not recommend the app.

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.

More on Match Group’s broken algorithms (OkCupid)

I’ve covered before on this blog how Match Group does not use information you give it about your ideal match when providing you with suggestions on its Plenty of Fish platform. Today, Saturday 29th May 2021 (this will be important to know in a little bit), I am going to talk about the algorithm on Match Group’s OkCupid platform, and give an example of how broken it is.

Do you remember when OkCupid used to tell you when a user was last online? It was a brilliant feature because it meant you could avoid wasting time messaging someone who would likely not reply because they were no longer using the site. For example, if a user had not been online in over a month, it was likely that they’d given up using the site for whatever reason, and you were unlikely to get a response, so it wasn’t worth your time messaging them (once you got over the delusional “what if my message brings them back to the site” phase). You could also narrow down searches (when you could search) for only users who’d been online within a set period of time (a day, a week, a month, etc), so you could avoid even clicking on potentially dead profiles, saving you time on having to read that information on their profile.

This feature, however, was bad for Match Group. It allows users to hide dead profiles, which shrinks OkCupid’s apparent userbase. With fewer known active users, other users put less time and effort into the site, possibly giving up on the site entirely, which shrinks the active userbase more. Many of my OkCupid (and Plenty of Fish) hiatuses were caused by how stagnant the place was. I would keep seeing the same people every day, with no new users, and it just got boring.

Removing information about when a user was last online allows Match Group to pass off dead profiles as active ones, which artificially inflates the apparent userbase. Showing dead profiles means that OkCupid is unlikely to run out of people to suggest you to in Discover (since you have to rely on OkCupid showing you people, instead of being able to look for the kind of people you want to look for).

“But, Frank, do you have any evidence of Match Group showing dead profiles?” I imagine you asking. Firstly: my name’s not Frank, and it’s not what either of the Fs in my name stand for. Secondly: yes. Yes, I do. I have conclusive evidence that Match Group feeds you long dead profiles in your swiping sessions.

Thursday 21st December 2017. This is the date that OkCupid died. It’s the definitive line between the cool, old OkCupid that we used to love, and the boring, Tinder-clone OkCupid that we hate. This was the date when OkCupid phased out pseudonyms. It was a massive overhaul that pissed a lot of people off. Users crafted their pseudonyms around their personalities, they identified as their pseudonyms, it was a part of who they were. On top of this, users often felt safer without having their real name on their profile. It can, however, give us a baseline, a bare minimum estimate of when a user was last online. Let me explain.

After the switch to real names, a user could no longer use special characters or numbers in their username. When a user logged in for the first time after the switch over, they were greeted by a screen telling them to change their name. If they didn’t change their name to remove numbers or special characters, they couldn’t use the site (trust me, I had to use FSFEightySeven for a while before giving up and using my real name). Thus, if you see anyone on OkCupid today with numbers or special characters in their username, they have not logged on since at least that date.

I give you T***19861.

This is a profile that OkCupid served me earlier today (Saturday 29th May 2021). As you can see, T***19861 has numbers in her username. This means that T***19861 has not used OkCupid in at least three and a half years.

It makes you wonder: if OkCupid are serving you clearly dead profiles that have been dead for over three and a half years, how many other profiles that you see in a swiping session are dead as well?

The algorithms that Match Group uses just do not work (Plenty of Fish)

We’re going to look at three potential “deal breakers” on Match Group’s Plenty of Fish (PoF) app: distance, smoking, and kids. We chose these because they are all categories you can enter as options on your profile. We looked through 110 profiles that were given to us in the Recommended section of the app (at the very bottom of the home screen), without discriminating based on looks (i.e. we looked at people we wouldn’t regularly look at). Here’s the breakdown of what we found:

Firstly, distance. PoF gives you two options for who can contact you based on distance: within 75 miles or anywhere. One assumes that if you select 75 miles, you’re not interested in people beyond 75 miles, so PoF shouldn’t show you them. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In the Recommended section of their app, less than half (45%, or 49) users lived within 75 miles of our set location. It should be noted that four people did not actually give a city/town name on their profile, putting, instead, “UK”, “England”, “somewhere”, and one with just “St”. Because we didn’t know where they were, we set their distance as 678.7 miles (the most distant part of the UK from our location) for “UK”, “somewhere”, and “St”, or 460.6 miles (the most distant part of England from our location) for the user who entered “England”.

Secondly, smoking. You can tell PoF if you’re willing to date a smoker or not. I am a smoker, which is something that I selected as an option on my profile, so one assumes that PoF should only show me people who have said they will date a smoker (or, at least, haven’t said that they wouldn’t date a smoker). We had better success with people who would date smokers than people within 75 miles. Only 28% of users (31 people) in the Recommended section said that they would not date a smoker. This does leave 72% (79 users) who would. Good for us smokers, eh?

Finally, kids. I don’t want to date a woman with children, so I’ve selected “no” in the “Would you date someone with kids?” option on my profile. We found that 58% (over half) of the people who showed up in the Recommended section had children.

In total, only 16% of users (18 out of 110 people) who PoF recommended to us passed all three criteria. That leaves 84% (92 users) who failed at least one of the deal breakers, with 8% (9 users) falling fowl of all three.

From this, we can see that the algorithm that Match Group uses to serve recommended users on PoF is seriously broken. Are we being fussy with our potential matches? Probably, but that’s not the point. These are things that Match Group makes you put on your profile. It would be nice if these things were actually used in helping you find a match. Instead, they are completely ignored by the algorithm.

This is completely contrary to what OkCupid used to be. Sure, OKCupid would show you users who you were not interested in; however, it did not have options for whether you would date a smoker or a parent in your settings; this was not information about you that OkCupid had in its database and could use when showing you users. Instead, these were options you put into your search criteria (e.g. don’t show me users with children, only show me smokers, etc), and your last search criteria would be carried over to other sections of the site (e.g. recommended users). On PoF, however, these are settings that Match Group has implemented on your profile, and Match Group doesn’t even use them. On top of this, to see whether a user would date a smoker on PoF, you have to pay Match Group £19.99 a month (something we begrudgingly did for research purposes).

Another thing to note with OKCupid was that it had more flexible options for distance. You could select 5, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, 200 miles, or anywhere (I think those were the options), and it would usually not show you users beyond those distances (an exception would be early in the morning when there weren’t many recent updates from the UK, so it would show you updates from people in the US on the home screen). On top of this, the distance from your declared location to another user’s declared location was displayed on their profile, so you didn’t have to jump on the Google machine to see how far away they were and, thus, if it was worth your time messaging them.

If Match Group wanted to find matches for its users, you would think it would mostly recommend users who fall within the criteria that a user sets on his/her profile, not just 18 out of 110. However, Match Group is not in the business of finding you matches; rather, it’s in the business of selling adds and keeping you single. It’s in Match Group’s best interest to keep you single. If you’re single, you’re likely to stay on the site and be fed ads or become so desperate that you buy a subscription, or, god forbid, upgrade to Match.com. Whichever way you look at it, Match Group profits from your singledom; it doesn’t make money when you find a match and suspend your account. As a result, Match Group has rigged its systems to make it harder for you to find love.

Fake accounts

Before we begin, let me be clear, I can’t say if all fake accounts are controlled by Match Group, if none of them are, or if some are and some aren’t. If you see a fake account with “visit [URL] to see my nude pictures”, “google [word that will only bring up one result] to see my naked pics”, or “WhatsApp me on +447…”, etc, my personal opinion is that they are not Match Group controlled accounts. I would suggest they are on their own phishing expedition. However, they are incredibly useful for Match Group, which is why Match Group allegedly allows them to exist on all of its platforms, despite how easy it would be to stop them. I am in no way implying that Match Group actively creates and runs fake accounts. The purpose of this post is to explain their alleged usefulness to Match Group. Don’t sue me, Match Group.

An obviously fake account on Match Group’s PoF app.

We all know that fake accounts are a common thing on dating sites. We’ve all seen dozens of fake accounts on OkCupid, PoF, Tinder, Match.com, etc. If you don’t think you have seen a fake account on any Match Group platform, you haven’t been paying attention. In the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) September 2019 court filings against Match Group, the FTC estimated that “as many as 25-30 percent of Match.com members who registered each day” were “using Match.com to perpetrate scams” (i.e. they were either fake/bot accounts on phishing expeditions or real accounts looking to “rinse” other users). From my experience, I would estimate that about that number of PoF members are fake, too, and somewhat less than that on OkCupid. I haven’t used Tinder in a few years, so I cannot comment on how many fake accounts are on that platform nowadays.

Fake accounts hardly ever used to exist on OkCupid. Sure, you might have seen one or two, but the site was mostly populated by genuine people who could prove they were genuine by writing something unique and expansive on their profile. That was until the IAC/Match Group takeover in 2011, or, more specifically, when Christian Rudder stepped down as President of OkCupid in 2015 and his philosophy went out the window (along with all the features). Fake accounts are rampant on the platform now. You can’t go a single swiping session on OkCupid or any Match Group app without seeing a fake account. They may just seem like an annoyance; however, there is a more serious reason for them.

No doubt you’ve received an email from a Match Group intellectual property saying “[user] likes you!” (PoF), “Someone likes you” (OKC), or “[your username], you’ve been noticed” (Match.com). I receive dozens of these a day, and they usually come in soon after I log onto the site or app in question. These emails are all designed to get you to sign up for premium memberships. With the exception of PoF, the emails do not tell you the username of the member who liked/noticed you. To find out that information, you have to give Match Group money. With PoF, even though you can see the username, you cannot search usernames unless you have a premium membership. To make it more egregious, the email contains a link saying “View Their Profile”. This link doesn’t actually take you to their profile, but, instead, takes you to the “Interested in Me” section of the website. Of course, you cannot see this section of the website unless you have a premium membership; without a premium membership, this page just shows an advertisement for premium membership.

Fake account emails from Plenty of Fish

And this brings us onto the lawsuit that the FTC filed against Match Group in September 2019. The FTC alleged that Match Group actively used fake accounts in advertisements. That is, Match Group had marked these accounts as being possibly fraudulent, but still sent users emails saying that the account was interested in the recipient. The FTC alleged that this amounted to false advertising because the recipient would not receive the communications (messages, likes, etc) promised by Match Group after the recipient signed up for premium membership as a result of these emails.

Again, these are accounts that Match Group suspected of being fraudulent. So much so that Match Group withheld messages that these accounts sent to premium members, but non-premium members still received email advertisements saying that the account was interested in them. And we’re not talking about a few emails. In a two-year period between June 2016 and May 2018, approximately 4 million of these communications were sent. That’s about 5,000 a day. Match Group’s own analysis found that 499,691 members subscribed to Match.com within 24 hours of receiving advertisements regarding fraudulent accounts in that two-year period.

Now, the FTC’s court filings do not outline how much money was allegedly fraudulently taken from users by Match Group. And working out this figure is difficult because we don’t know which subscription packages users bought (1-, 3-, 6-, or 12-months), what sales were happening when the users subscribed, and where the users were located (since the costs are different in different regions). However, using current UK prices, we can estimate that it is likely between £15 million and £30 million, or between $20 million and $41 million when converted into USD. And, remember, that’s just from fake accounts.

On top of this, the FTC alleges that Match Group’s allowing fake accounts has exposed its users to fraud. The FTC does not put an exact figure on how much fraud; however, they do point out that between 2015 and 2017, losses as a result of all dating scams (not just from Match Group intellectual properties) that were reported to the FTC and FBI amounted to $884 million. And they are keen to point out that the actual figure is likely much higher because this type of fraud is underreported due to its nature (people are often too embarrassed to admit that they were rinsed on a dating site).

And these are just two (false advertising and exposing users to fraud) of the five charges that the FTC brought against Match Group in their suit.

So, the next time you see an obviously fake account on any Match Group intellectual property, just know that you’re probably seeing it because Match Group are allegedly using it in the hope of taking your money.

A 2019 analysis of online dating.

Here is something I wrote on my OkCupid profile in, I assume, 2019. I say “assume” because I can’t remember exactly when I wrote it. However, I mention that I’d been on OkCupid for 13 years, and, since I’m celebrating my 15th OKC birthday this year, it puts the timeframe around 2019.

It was just a single paragraph in my “I spend a lot of time thinking about” section (I liked to limit my thoughts to single paragraphs so you’d know when one thought ended and the next one began); however, I’ve broken it up into multiple paragraphs and edited it slightly to make it more readable, and I’ve also added some notes in square brackets.



Dating sites are starting to resemble online gaming. That is, in their structures, features, and InterActiveCorp’s business model [I did have a parenthetical thought here about how IAC (now Match Group) has a monopoly of the online dating community; however, I removed it because it didn’t read well]. You can play the game, earn the in-game currency (so to speak), and get by okay; or, you can pay them real-world money in exchange for in-game currency, and get a lot more success. However, it gets to the point where the “grind” (playing the game without in-game purchases) gets so restrictive and tedious. Now, I’ve been on OKC for 13 years, and followed its evolution over that time. In my 13 years, I’ve had amazing “success” on this site (as I said earlier on my profile, it’s taken me around the world), but, because of the removal of some of the best features (the blog [Notes], the quizzes [Tests], the psychology game [The Psychologist Game] that was fucking amazing) and putting some basic features (seeing messages without having to go looking for them, unrestricted search results [you could still search in 2019?]) behind a paywall, they’ve made it a worse place to connect with people.

Beyond that, they’ve given an unfair advantage to people who pay. [What I meant by this is that you’re no longer relying on your own abilities (something I have no problem with), but, instead, gaming the system.] If you pay, you get to see more people [for a while, OkCupid restricted how many people showed up in search your results based on your willingness to give them money], more people get to see you [if you didn’t pay, you wouldn’t show up in all search results, even if you matched the search criteria exactly], and they make you more “attractive” (how they do that, I have no idea [I still have no idea how they made someone more attractive beyond the previous point of limiting who could see you]).

Back in the day, there were only three reasons to get A-List [I decided to split this into bullet points to make it more readable]:

  • a larger inbox (3,000 messages instead of just 300), which I fucking needed back in the day, and I was so glad I got to keep after I cancelled my A-List (well, until they fucked up the messaging system);
  • to see who looked at your profile, while also remaining hidden [Incognito Mode]… you used to be able to see who looked at your profile (it wasn’t a paid-for feature), or not if you didn’t want other people to know you looked at their profile… A-List allowed both [i.e. the ability to see who had viewed your profile while also not showing up as having viewed other people’s profile; aka Incognito Mode]; or,
  • if you wanted to see likes [Winks] (much like now).

However, they’ve changed all that now. Now, if you want something basic, like, to always appear in search results that you would usually have appeared in, or read fucking messages without having to hunt them down, you’ve gotta pay for it. And it’s not like the $10 a month it used to be; no, it’s now $40 a month… for fewer features.

And it’s not just OKC. As I said, IAC (OKC’s parent company) owns pretty much every dating platform on the web, including Tinder, which has the exact same business model [and now feature set], and POF (I don’t know how that works nowadays because I got banned for using the word “clitic” (which in no way means what they think it means) and “cocktail” (although, I see they’ve still got the message “If your profile contains sexual language of any kind your account will be deleted” on account setup… the cunts [this appears to have been removed, but they still censor foul language, including “cocktail”])).

So, yeah, IAC is the EA of the dating world, but worse because there aren’t many other alternative platforms.

As I’ve looked into Match Group’s business model more, and as OkCupid has evolved more, I’ve realized that I was slightly misguided. This was written on the assumption that IAC/Match Group didn’t just buy OkCupid to strip it of its features in the hope of shifting people over to its premium site, Match.com. Thus, the analogy is a little flawed. IAC/Match Group is not so much the EA of online dating because EA doesn’t sell you one stripped-down game in the hope of you paying more for a completely different game. IAC/Match Group is much more corrupt than EA. EA hasn’t bought all of its competitors to gain a monopoly. EA hasn’t been sued by the FTC for false advertising like Match Group has. But I’ll dive more into that in another blog post.

Remember when OkCupid was cool?

Remember when OkCupid was cool? Before it turned into a Tinder clone? When you could actually search for people, using a plethora of criteria (age, gender, race, location, smoking, drinking, religion, diet, if they have children, etc, even keywords on their profile), sort the results, and browse through them at your leisure instead of just being served random people? When there wasn’t a limit on how many people you could like a day? When you could rate people out of 5 stars? When you could bookmark people? When you could see who had viewed your profile? When you received and could read messages as soon as they were sent instead of having to wait for OKC to show you the sender in Discover[i]? Before there even was a Discover? When you had to use a pseudonym? When Match ratings had some semblance to reality and wasn’t just a random number? When there was an Enemy rating? When there was a Friend rating? When you could see when someone was last online, giving you an idea of how likely they were to reply (if they hadn’t been online in over a month, it was a safe bet that they wouldn’t reply)? When it actually told you straight up on profiles how likely someone was to reply (using a traffic light system: red=nearly never replies; amber=sometimes replies; green=always replies)? When it had your personality traits (based on your answers to questions) in a bar graph on your profile? When the questions were categorized and you could easily sort through them? When it encouraged you to complete all the sections on your profile by limiting how many people showed up on your home screen? When profiles included a blog? When it had tests? When the home screen showed you people who’d recently updated their profile, uploaded a new picture, answered a question or taken a test? When you could send virtual gifts? When it had the Psychologist Game? When you could suggest edits to other people’s profiles? When you could use a mark-up language on your own profile to make text bold, italic, underlined, struck through, or any combination of the four, add hyperlinks, [tag your interests], [[tag your friends]], and there was even the handy little OKC Staff Robot who told you how to use the code? When it had analytics, insights, and actual tips for getting the most out of the service? When it was more of a social network than a dating site? You know, when you could use it to actually meet people? Before IAC (InterActiveCorp)/Match Group bought it for between $50 and $90 million (reports vary) and proceeded to strip it of all its cool features and turn it into a clone of their existing Tinder app? Before all the other controversies that happened after the IAC/Match Group takeover? When it actually worked for its users, instead of just being another cash cow for IAC/Match Group?

OkCupid used to work because it was designed to work. It had an underlying philosophy that set it apart from all the other dating sites from the time. That philosophy was to make its users happy by not putting restrictions on basic features. After all, a happy user is likely to return; a happy user is likely to use the site for its non-dating-specific features (tests, blogs, finding friends, etc), even after they’d found a partner (I personally used OkCupid for various things with three of my former partners who I found through the site); a happy user is likely to tell their friends about the site and get them signed up (I remember a former partner telling one of her single friends to sign up because she found me on there (I might be embellishing that a bit; it was really because of how cool the site was) (side note: that partner also got her mother to sign up for its non-dating-specific features, mainly for finding friends and people to talk to)). It was a good philosophy, and it worked. Unfortunately, with the IAC/Match Group takeover, that philosophy was scrapped. Now, it is designed specifically not to work. The aim now is to make it harder for users to find dates. If a user doesn’t find a match, the longer that user is on the site, and the more money IAC/Match Group rakes in through advertisements and through users buying subscriptions to unlock basic features that were once free. But don’t just take my word for it. This was all outlined 11 years ago in a 2010 OkCupid blog post by one of its co-founders, Christian Rudder, titled Why You Should Never Pay for Online Dating[ii]. The post derided the broken pay-to-play philosophy of Match.com and other dating sites. That blog post was removed when IAC/Match Group took over the site in 2011; however, you can still read it on the Wayback Machine.

Online dating is no longer fun. A common phrase you see on dating site profiles is “give me a reason to delete this app”. In fact, this is such a common trope that IAC/Match Group use “designed to be deleted” as the tagline for their Hinge intellectual property. Users hate what online dating has become under IAC/Match Group’s stewardship (and, yes, IAC/Match Group owns most dating sites/apps, including OkCupid, Match.com, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and, as mentioned in the previous sentence, Hinge, as well as several others). The swipe culture we’ve seen IAC/Match Group implement since it created Tinder in 2012, and has migrated to most of its intellectual properties since then, has ruined online dating because you’re no longer in control of who you see and who can see you. Your happiness is at the mercy of IAC/Match Group and their algorithm, which is designed specifically to keep you on their site as long as possible. The longer you are on a dating site, the more ads IAC/Match Group can force on you, making them money, and the more likely you are to buy premium packages out of sheer desperation (go on, have a look at the hundreds of likes you’ve received from fake accounts that we won’t show you in Discover; it’ll only cost you £19.99 a month). Because IAC/Match Group’s goal is to keep you on their site as long as possible, there’s no incentive for the company to find you a match. In fact, finding you a match explicitly goes against Match Group’s business model. This makes users feel like online dating is a chore, not the enjoyable pastime it once was. As a result, users don’t put the effort in, and they get little in return. This creates a vicious cycle of discontent. Couple this with the fact that IAC/Match Group only cares about raw numbers, so will not only allow fake accounts to bulk up their claimed userbase, but will actively promote them (unless they’ve liked you) to stop you from finding a match, and the problem is exacerbated.

This swipe culture, has another, more serious downside. It fuels male resentment and has led to the rise of the Incel community. Incels see their lack of success with online dating as a result of their own unattractiveness and what they perceive as the shallowness of women, not realizing that it is actually the system that is broken, not them or the women they pursue. This, tragically, has resulted in numerous killings of women by misguided men. We’re not victim-blaming here, nor do we want to minimize the tragic loss of life. None of the women who have been killed by these frustrated men are to blame for having their lives cut short. We’re saying that these men are victims too: victims of a culture that is forced upon them by a greedy corporation that cares little for human life.

It’s safe to say that IAC/Match Group’s monopoly in the online dating market has ruined online dating for everyone: men, women, and non-binary alike. On top of this, other, smaller services, such as Bumble – which hoped to tackle the problem of male fragility – have only made matters worse by taking the toxic elements of swipe culture and putting even more limitations on it, leading to more male resentment. Something has to change in the world of online dating. Someone has to step up and make the change happen. We need to go back to the old way of doing things.


[i] While writing this, OkCupid updated their system so you can no longer send an “intro” on the app until both users match, in the same way that Tinder does it. However, it appears that intros can still be sent on the website without matching first (for now).

[ii] https://web.archive.org/web/20101006104124/http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/why-you-should-never-pay-for-online-dating/