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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Dating App "The Grade" Grades Its Users, Eliminates Users With Low Grades

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2015 at 4:00 PM

  • The Grade

Ever since the first time I downloaded — and, consequently, was disappointed by — a dating app, I've been saying there should be a dating app with a Yelp-like feature so that users can "review" other users. I thought that if each person's profile was reviewed by other users who had talked to them, then awkward, unsavory, or just plan irritating dating app interactions would happen much less frequently.

The new(-ish) dating app The Grade has answered my prayers. 

Launched in November in New York, and available everywhere for both iPhone and Android, the Grade assigns grades to users based on their behavior on the app. Each user's grade gets displayed to other users, and users with an F get kicked off the app.

"We created The Grade based on a lot of feedback from singles who are using other dating apps," said Cliff Lerner, the company's CEO. "Guys complained women never responded, and women complained guys were hostile and offensive and sending inappropriate pictures."

According to a survey the Grade team conducted on Facebook, 77 percent of women on dating apps had been asked to send an "inappropriate photo," and 90 percent had received inappropriate messages. (Wow.)

Lerner said that the Grade thought a good way to address the problems that users were having was to hold the users accountable for their actions.

"We built an algorithm that 'grades' users on the quality of their profile and their messages," Lerner said, also mentioning that using "certain words and phrases" will get users banned from the app, as will grammar and spelling mistakes. (No more "your cute" messages?! Halle-frickin-lujah.)

Lerner reported that since the app's launch in mid-November, 500 users have been booted off the app, mentioning that there are currently 1,000 users who are "on the verge" of meeting the same fate. The Grade has 50,000 users to date.

Aside from the grading feature, the Grade is set up similarly to Tinder — users can't talk to each other until they have both indicated that they "like" each other, and each user has a profile listing interests and displaying photos.

The Grade also did a study to determine which types of photos get profiles more likes. Lerner noted that users on Tinder and similar apps try uploading different photos to see which photos "do better," but that "they just never have real data behind it."

The app has a feature that shows the percent of likes and skips on each type of photo, which updates every three seconds to provide up-to-date information on which types of photos are successful and which ones aren't.

The Grade team also manually went though thousands of photos users had uploaded so see which photos got more likes, based on the profiles that different users had either "liked" or skipped past without giving any sort of rating.

Lerner reported that the test had some "encouraging" results—women with pictures on their profiles displaying lots of cleavage, for example, proved to be less successful, whereas women using pictures of them playing a sport or an instrument got them many more likes.

"What was really discouraging for us was [that] selfies didn’t perform any better or worse," Lerner said, conceding that, "but just because [someone is] taking a selfie doesn’t mean they're a bad person." (Words of wisdom.)

On the topic of selfies, Lerner said that the photo test also proved that "shirtless photos of guys don't do well," and neither do photos of guys with hats. Neither gender likes group photos, either.

"We noticed how little people seem to notice what works," Lerner said. "Guys think shirtless selfies are OK, and women don’t like that, but most guys don’t know that."

The test also showed that pictures of women with dogs didn't get them that many likes, whereas men with dog pictures get a lot of likes. Also, pictures of men with facial hair got lots of likes, but pictures of women with tattoos did not.

The bottom line is that the most successful photos are the ones pertaining to traveling, showing instruments or just showing clearly the kind of person the user is.

“Show your personality," Lerner said. "That's the best thing you can do."

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Jessica Nemire

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