The Null Device

The Desperation Feedback Loop

An article in The Guardian (which, incidentally, has a paid online dating site) claims that online dating is now socially acceptable, to the point where people who met on dating sites no longer lie about having met in a pub.

Meanwhile, OKCupid's excellent stats blog claims that paid-for online dating is a losing proposition, and puts forward a theory backed with numbers on why it's so. Behold: the Desperation Feedback Loop:

The Desperation Feedback Loop is exacerbated by the economics of paid-for dating sites, 93% of whose profiles (by OKCupid's reckoning) are inactive and which make higher profits by presenting these inactive profiles to customers. (Doing so keeps subscribers signed up longer.) Meanwhile, the punters flirting into the void get no replies, and slump into the feedback loop of sending out more, lower-quality, messages. Meanwhile, the recipients of these messages, confronted with a higher signal-to-noise ratio, stop reading their messages, further reducing the number of active profiles.

Of course, it's in OKCupid's interests to tell you this because they're an unpaid dating site who compete with the paid dating sites. The implication is that their model works better.

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