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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Talking with OkCupid Co-Founder Christian Rudder

Posted By on Tue, Nov 4, 2014 at 1:08 PM


If you're 20-something and single, you have probably used the dating site OkCupid before, even it was just to "see what's out there" on your friend’s account when they weren’t paying attention.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the concept of the site because you've been with the same partner for nearly a decade, OkCupid works by having each new user answer a series of questions ranging from “Do you Google someone before a first date?” to “Which is more offensive: book burning or flag burning?”

The site then calculates a “match percentage” between any two users, based on each user’s answers to the questions in order to provide users with an idea of how compatible they are with everyone who messages them.

Who comes up with this stuff? Harvard graduate Christian Rudder founded OkCupid in 2004, along with three of his co-workers he met at his former job, Sparknotes, in 1999.

“We are all matchmakers, and we were looking at the dating industry and thought it could use some more analysis. We wanted to match users based on more than just ‘you are both 25 and live in New York’," says Rudder.

Inspired by his work on OkTrends — the OkCupid blog, which analyzes the data about preferences and demographics generated by OkCupid users — Rudder began writing his first book, Dataclysm in 2011, and it was published September 2014.

“[The book is] is about the data people generate, and what we can learn about human nature,” says Rudder. 

When OkCupid was founded in 2004, online dating wasn’t as widespread as it is now. Until a few years ago, meeting someone online was kind of reserved for weirdos, but the plethora of dating apps and sites has made it much more socially acceptable.

“[Online dating] is pretty normal now," addsRudder. "I think most people under 30 think of online dating the same way they think of Facebook or Twitter. It’s just another social outlet. Online dating is just a way for people to meet more people.”

Rudder thinks that anyone who hasn’t already should hop on the OkCupid bandwagon.

“It’s awesome,” Rudder says of OkCupid. “If you haven’t tried it, you should.”
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Jessica Nemire

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