Category Archives: onlinedating

Professionals and convicts

Yesterday’s research group in The Internet Course took a look at online dating. This is a fascinating topic because it has a historical aspect (computer matchmaking goes back to the 60s), an economic aspect (apparently it’s a bigger business online than porn) as well as a sociological aspect (for which there is a ton of research, including a large scale survey on How Couples Meet and Stay Together). The discussion managed to touch on all three.

belle gunnessThere was some discussion of the pros and cons, but it was a bit one-sided: the pros seemed to have the edge. As a coincidence, I had just seen this Metafilter post a couple days earlier, which discusses the creep factor. It’s about an OKCupid user who keeps a Tumblr of messages she gets from weirdos (Do I need to warn about the potential content?). I’m not sure how big the creep factor is – at one point she says, “The majority of the messages I get ARE decent. The scum bag idiots are a small percentage” but elsewhere in an interview she said, “Seventy percent of the messages are straight-up blunt, vulgar shit.” Someone did mention the Craigslist Killer, but truecrimers might recognize that murder-by-personals isn’t exactly a new thing.

I think it makes sense that that online dating has been around as long as the web. Tim Berners-Lee once said, in a different context, that the web was always about connecting people to people. And dating is one way people connect.


In November 2009 a 17 year old high school student in Moscow, Russia, named Andrey Ternovsky decided to create Chatroulette. It took him two days and two nights to build the site. He based this site after his experience on Skype. The name he gave to his site was based off a movie called The Deer Hunter in which Vietnam War prisoners are forced to play Russian roulette.

Chatroulette is based off webcam conversations. Users are paired with others around the globe. They can view the person through webcams and they can either start a conversation on the spot or click next and be paired with someone else through their webcams, an online form of speed dating. Even though, the site has a reputation of being the space for people being disrespectful towards other users by displaying their body, many have claimed to meet their partners on this site and its free!!



This site was launched on March 5, 2004. It was founded by Chris Coyne, Christian Rudder, Sam Yagan, and Max Krohn who were Harvard students. It started off when they created, we also know it now as In users were able to take a test and were later matches with other users who had taken the test. They then expanded this and created okCupid.

“He was yelling, ‘Dude! I have the best idea for a website! You would go to it and there would be a big ‘blind date’ button. You’d click on the button and the site would give you the name of the person you’d meet, the time and the location. What do you think?’” Yagan says.

Yagan and Coyne tried to differentiate themselves from and on the way they matched people by using mathematics instead of using psychology. They used users’ deal breaker responses as the basis of their match making.

Many people use this site not only to date but also to create friendships. There used to be a very active blogging community. Members who pay membership fees are considered A-list members.  They see no advertising and are able to choose whether or not their profile are viewed by those members they visit on the site themselves. Otherwise, the website is free.

In order to match people, okCupid bases its algorithm on the users’ activities and answers to questions. When a user answers a question, he/she rates possible answers based on what they prefer and these answers can be viewed by other users if they wish.


The Future of Online Dating???

As for what the future holds for online dating..we are not sure. Many online dating experts like Sam Yagan, one of OKCupid’s four founders, says it will be mobile. People will be using apps in order to meet new people. However, current apps only allow for hookups and not long term relationships. Most of future online dating will be based on dating your social graph, that is meeting people that are friends of friends of friends of friends.



This is Sam Yagan one of the founders of okCupid. He sold it to for 50 million dollars.

I used this Forbes article to do this post. Its really good! Check it out!!

Tomorrow, my group and I will be presenting to the class. I hope everyone enjoys it and helps my group and I build on our project even more!


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First computerized dating service EVER!!: Operation Match


In 1965, Jack Tarr and Vaughan Morrill, students at Harvard University, began the first computer dating service called Operation Match.

Interestingly enough, before building Operation Match, they had a conversation in which they discussed that computers would not help the fact that they dreaded mixers and blind dates.

These two partners knew that in Europe companies were arranging marriages through the use of technology and making money off of this. They also knew that these technologies were often used at some mixers (from which Tarr was tired of coming home alone from) for similar, more college environment purposes.

They decided to create a questionnaire that asked students to answer questions about themselves and about their perfect partner.


Students would then fill these out and return them with a $3 subscription fee.

By late February of 1965 they started advertising their service.



In March of 1965, the founders realized they weren’t receiving enough money to keep up with the work and actually profit from it.
Morrill was contacted by the CBS show “To Tell The Truth” so that he could appear on it, he quickly responded to the offer as it would boost their business and possibly give it the popularity they needed in order for it to be a success.
Soon after that Vicki Albright, a UCLA 19 year old, was selected as the Law School’s Woman of the Year, who had appeared on the cover of Newsweek magazine a couple of weeks earlier. Tarr and Morrill decided to sponsor her visit to Harvard and decided to match her with Harvard men using their dating service. She was matches with Kevin Lewis and pictures of them appeared on the Associated Press and other media like the L.A. Times and the Houston Post.
With so much esposare the amount of cuestionares they received doubled and they set up offices in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Bloomington Boston, and Chicago. However, this rapad expansion hurth their business with only 70 responses in Bloomington and a lack of responses in Boston.

Subscribers would punch their answers to IBM cards, and then a 1790 Avco computer would grab all questionnaires and match similar answers. Then, in a couple of days, subscribers would receive computer print outs with the names of six people and their phone numbers, addresses and graduating years.


Just six months after its launch, they had already made $270K. When they sold Operation Match in 1968 they already had over one million users.

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