Last weekend, I got a curious email from OKCupid. I have a profile on the site, but rarely log in and haven’t actually messaged with or gone on a date with anyone in months and months. I still get regular emails about having new matches, but this email subject line stood out immediately: “Match % update for [REDACTED USERNAME].” Hmm. The email (above) alerted me that due to “a diagnostic test,” my match percentage with a specific user had been erroneously reported and the two of us were actually 92 percent compatible, as opposed to the previously determined 32 percent.
Really? I thought. This mistake was worth emailing me about? Curious, I clicked the guy’s username and perused his profile, discovering nothing of particular interest — though this is not a dig at him so much as a reflection of my lack of interest in online dating. Still, the email stuck with me, as it seemed seriously weird to me that OKCupid would go out of their way to generate an email about something so inconsequential. I mean, message me if you accidentally matched me with a registered sex offender, OKC — that would be worth the effort. I asked a few friends who are frequent OKC users and none of them had received a similar email.
Well, it turns out that I wasn’t alone — other users did receive emails similar to the one I got, and all of us were being lied to. According to TIME, that email is part of an experiment OKCupid conducted on users to see whether we could be influenced to give more attention to bad matches when we’ve been told they’reactually good. “The result was that they were far more likely to exchange four messages — aka an actual ‘conversation’ — with a bad match they thought was good than with a bad match they knew was subpar,” explains TIME about OKC’s “findings.” However, further OKC research revealed that online daters still were more likely to engage in conversations with legitimate matches — i.e. real high-percentage matches we weren’t alerted to in a specific, lie-filled email. In other words, while OKC was able to bait some users into conversing with people they were told were a good match (but actually weren’t), those users would still rather exchange messages with legit matches.
No duh. While OKC may have piqued my curiosity with their little email, a quick perusal of my alleged match’s profile did not. Now, maybe JUST MAYBE if I were more interested in online dating right now and was casting a wide net, I might have viewed the email as a sign that this particular dude was worth shooting a message. I don’t put a tremendous amount of stock in those match percentages; I’m not going to veto a dude because we’re only 85 percent compatible, as many of the questions you answer that determine your compatibility are ridiculous and unimportant. That said, I’ve answered a lot of questions that reflect my values and desires and therefore I certainly don’t waste my time looking at the profiles of guys with whom I have 32 percent compatibility. So I kind of resent OK Cupid for even attempting to waste my time by telling me a low match is a high match.
I guess I can’t be too pissed about it, since my account is free … and that much easier to delete. Sorry, OK Cupid, not gonna be your unwitting guinea pig any more! [TIME]