Is This the Netflix of Online Dating?

Online Dating

Is This the Netflix of Online Dating?

Gina Stewart Gina Stewart • 9/25/14

If you’re a fan of Netflix like me, you love how it lines up a bunch of recommendations it thinks you’ll like based on what you rated and searched before.

Oh, you liked “Weeds”? Netflix thinks you’ll like “Orange is the New black.” Thanks, Netflix. I do!

Researchers at the University of Iowa came up with their own version of how online dating sites match you with people, and it has less to do with what you say you like and more to do with the behavior of people you clicked on and responded to before.

Basically it doesn’t care if you say you’re willing to date 6-foot-tall blondes. Who you’re really clicking on and interacting with are petite brunettes, so it’s going to start showing you more petite brunettes who also show a history of corresponding to people who match the type of person you are.

What happens as a result of this magic algorithm?

You start getting matched up with people you’ll actually want to date and who will want to date you.

Their research analyzed 47,000 online dating users on an anonymous site for 167 days. They compared their model to the traditional model and suggest it is far superior for matching purposes, but they give no empirical data.

What are the cons?

Initially, the program is going to have no idea who you’re into based on your behavior because it has no history of things to analyze.

For example, when you first started using Netflix, remember how it would show you things like “My Little Pony” episodes next to documentaries on the Russian prison system?

In the long run, it would be a boon because (let’s face it) we all try to be pleasing to an audience when we say who we like and what we are looking for, but sometimes some things can’t be defined in the rational mind and humans are just going to act on instinct more often than not.

As someone who lives and breathes online dating sites and each of their respective flaws and features, I think this is super exciting.

It’s no secret I’m not a fan of most online dating site algorithms because science is overwhelmingly showing how they don’t help us find love any better.

You may have experienced this non-phenomenon personally if you’ve ever gotten matched up with someone, went on a date and ended that date scratching your head.

Maybe this model is a more realistic answer. If you like Hulk Hogan, Dog the Bounty Hunter isn’t that far removed.

I’m also just a fan of any changes to online dating sites that result in less effort or rejection. Some, or many, of you may have felt this at one time or another.

As for men, if they were being shown women who were more statistically likely to respond to their contacts, because in the past they indicated interest in men similar to you, you’d have saved a lot of fruitless search and contact attempts that contribute to not only ego deflation but a lot of wasted time.

It’s not a perfect solution.

There are so many contributing factors as to why someone may or may not respond, click or not click, but the idea is one I’d like to see played out like a Netflix movie.

Do you think dating sties do a good enough job of showing you matches you’d be interested in?

Photo source: androidtvnews.com.