OkCupid: Review of the Free Dating Site You Love to Hate, and Can't Leave
Mention OkCupid to anyone doing online dating, and you'll either get an enthusiastic, "Yup, I'm on it!" or the answer-with-eye-roll "OkStupid? Yeah, I'm on it". Despite massive success as the most popular free online dating site, (PlentyofFish is arguably the largest, but not the most popular. See our review here). People tend to have a love/hate relationship with OkCupid. As you spend time checking out the various online dating sites, you'll start to pick up a general tone from each... a group-speak personality, if you will.
OkCupid: A giant cocktail party
In one corner, by the bar, there are tons of cool-kid Hipster-types drinking micro-brews and flashing their tattoos. Peer around the corner and you'll spot the self-effacing (but proud) techie-geeks, gamers and nerds. Descend a flight, and you 'll discover the private dungeon of the Polyamorous (there is even a category status for the poly on OKC known as "Available", which is code word for open-relationship/Swinger.) Don't say we didn't warn you about "available".
There are foodies, college students, gangsta-wannabies, and of course, there are the typical work-a-day schlubs like you and me, simply hoping for a somewhat normal, not-scary date. There really doesn't appear to be an average user age (maybe early 30's) but like all sites, the older you are, the smaller your pool gets. Many of the users of OkCupid are refugees from the other paid or free sites.
OkCupid tends to attract a more creative crowd, in general, somewhat more artsy, but being a free site, also attracts its share of numbskulls snapping shirtless selfies or pursed lipped and pierced self-ettes. ((Dare we mention that the founders of TheDating Gurus met on OkCupid?))
OkCupid's 'Magic' behind the Curtain
Back in the day, only a very few dating sites proudly touted the use of algorithms to match up their members, but now most of the top sites use similar programs as a matter of course. The "magic" involves calculating a match percentage for you and someone else based on questions you answer when you sign up. The higher the percentage, the more likely you are to get along. OkCupid collects three values for all users.
- Your answer
- How you’d like someone else to answer
- How important the question is to you.
The "Improve Matches" page suggests that you answer the (literally) 3000 optional questions, (if you have no life to attend to).
Each question you answer with a rating on a 1-5 scale from " not impt" to "mandatory" creates the building blocks for your very own matching algorithm and brings you closer to meeting your dream-date.
Interested in reading this critical piece from a writer on Forbes about how OkCupid may have duped some of it's members regarding compatibility? Or perhaps this wildly successful book called "Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One is Looking", by one of the founders of OkCupid, Christian Rudder?
Some Basic Features on OkCupid
- Easy to personalize and use Search: Search for matches by heading up to “Matches” on the top of the page and click on “match search.” Users can input preferences. To add a preference that isn't listed, such as height, drinking, musical preferences, etc, click on "Advanced".
- Visitors: Whomever "visits" your profile page will leave a trail of their picture on your "visitors" page, unless they are visiting anonymously. Likewise, you will also leave a trail on whomever's page you are visiting.
- Anonymous browsing: It is possible to “browse anonymously,” which means that a that you can peek, stalk or be stalked without the object of your desires knowing you have visited their page. Unfortunately, when you activate the anonymous browsing feature, be warned that this means that you won't be able to see who has visited YOUR page during this period.
TIP: Many people prefer to leave browsing transparent, because when a visitor checks out your profile page, it often sparks an interest in the visitor (or might cause you to block them!).
TIP: If you do decide to browse anonymously, go to “Visitors” and click on “Change your visitors settings,” and then follow the prompts.
- Winking: Ah yes, the ubiquitous wink. We discourage use of this feature, since everyone hates it, and which signifies:
a) you are too lazy or insecure to actually write a few original sentences to the object of your attraction
b) you are a player who sends out mass winks to see who bites
- Hiding: When you do match searches, and people come up as matches who you have zero attraction to, either go to their profile and click "hide" in the upper right, so they are no longer visible in your searches.
- Quiver: Sometimes, OKCupid will pick some matches for you. You can see these by clicking on “Quiver” in your Matches menu at the top of your screen. You can either respond as “not interested” or YES. (Or you can just ignore these suggested matches).
- Instant Message: If you are simultaneously online with someone whose profile you are peeking at, you can access the IM function. To initialize, click the little icon on the bottom right of your screen, and click the wheel with spokes to edit your chat preferences. Click the bubble to start a chat with someone. You can block incoming IM's this way as well. You're welcome.
- Favorites: Let someone know you’re interested in them without contacting them, or add them to your favorites after having contact with them to "place hold" them (they will see that you are doing this) and then they will appear as "now online" whenever they sign on. You will find this icon on each person’s profile. Blocking them will prevent them from knowing when you are online.
Just Who Started This Party?
OKCupid.com was founded in 2003 by boy-wonders Sam Yagan,, Christian Ruder, Chris Coyne and Max Krohn, who became friends while undergraduate math majors at Harvard. After creating several wildly successful consumer internet businesses, Yagar and team realized that although they were clueless about the dating arena, they could apply their knowledge of matching algorithms to pair users with people they were interested in. Christian Ruder's book on on data and dating is now on "NPR's Best Books of 2014".
How does OkCupid make money?
Easy. Selling ads. The founders cleverly realized that since most the other websites people frequent, , i.e. news, weather, fashion, social networking, etc are free, why should you have to pay to use a dating service? You can become a premium member to bypass the ad.
Interestingly, OkCupid.com was acquired by the operators of Match.com in February 2011 for $50 million although Sam Yagan continues to be its CEO. OkCupid members often hedge their bets by also cross registering on one paid site such as Match.com or also use a a more social networking focused dating site such as HowAboutWe or Tinder.
DATING GURU'S GRADE: A
We have to say, that this one is easily our favorite in the sea of dating sites. And did we mention, it's free?