OKCupid admits to experimenting on users

Online dating site OKCupid is admitting to experimenting on its users.

In a blog post on Monday — titled “We Experiment on Human Beings!” — OKCupid co-founder and President Christian Rudder discussed the site’s past experiments on users.


The three experiments tested how users responded to other people’s pictures and the score OKCupid provides to indicate whether two users are compatible. 

The admission comes after Facebook came under fire earlier this year for conducting psychological experiments on users to determine how they reacted to seeing emotionally charged Facebook posts.

“We noticed recently that people didn’t like it when Facebook ‘experimented’ with their news feed,” Rudder wrote, noting criticism from policymakers.

“But guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site,” Rudder continued.

“That’s how websites work.”

In the blog post, Rudder discussed a 2013 experiment that tested how users acted on the site when they couldn’t see other users’ profile pictures and another that tested how users treat potential matches when OKCupid tells them they’re highly compatible.

He also detailed an experiment based on a feature from an earlier version of the site that let users rate other users on their appearances and personalities.

The experiment found that users typically gave high personality ratings to users they found attractive and lower personality ratings to users they didn’t find attractive, regardless of the content of the user’s profile.

Rudder defended the experiments as the website’s way to determine what works and what doesn’t.

“Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better,” he wrote.

“Experiments are how you sort all this out.”