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A free-of-charge social networking and dating website.

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OkCupid: The Free Dating Site Created By the Same Harvard Grads Who Created Sparknotes

  • Jun 8, 2009
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Random, fun facts about OkCupid: It was founded by three Harvard graduates who have awesome, odd senses of humor, and these are the guys who also created SparkNotes before their OkCupid venture.  SparkNotes saved me in high school, so I approve of anything these guys create.

This is kind of awkward to admit, but yes, I've been on OkCupid for over five years.  It's weird, but when I first came across OkCupid, I wasn't even looking for a date, much less on a dating website.  My friends had all taken the now infamous OkCupid Dating Persona that had quickly become all the rage on the net in early 2004, and I just wanted to see what it was all about.  I believe that the only way to get your test results back then was to create an account on the site, and so I did.  Little did I know, this would inadvertantly jumpstart my e-dating career.

With the exception of the last guy I met on OkCupid (whatever, he wanted me to delete my account after we met.  How insecure!), I've remain close friends with the other guys who I've met on the site years ago, despite the fact that a romantic relationship didn't work out between us and the fact that they've moved out of the state and even out of the country.  Though things have been a bit slow for me on OkCupid (I'll explain later), it was good while it lasted, and I still log on once in a while because, well, sometimes, it's just entertaining.

One of the main methods of matching on OkCupid is through answering certain quiz questions (very similar to rating data points on Lunch).  There are three components of one quiz question.  First, it's how you yourself answer it.  Second, it's how your ideal match would answer it.  And third, how important your ideal matches' answer is to you.  Answering those questions will improve your matches greatly, plus they're a great way to kill time.  I've seen people who have answer thousands!

This is a very interesting way of matching people, and they actually explain why they do this on their site.  I can't summarize it though, because all that computer/science/statistics talk is beyond me, but if you're curious, you can check out their FAAAQ for the explanation.

One of my biggest gripes on their site is their mailbox.  One: It's not big enough, and two: the user interface is an absolute eyesore!  I think that the biggest problem is the former though, which is actually pretty easy to fix nowadays.  Back when the site first launched, mailboxes would fill up fast, especially for girls, and the only way to get a larger one was to make a financial contribution to the site, or have someone buy you a larger mailbox.  When my mailbox got full years ago, someone actually bought me a larger mailbox just so that he could message me.  I'm sure that that has happened to plenty of other girls on the site, too.  These days, though, I believe that you can get a larger mailbox by using activity points, which you earn by being active on the site.

The cool thing about OkCupid's messaging system, though, is that OkCupid uses my messaging habits to match me up with people, such as how many messages I recieve, reply to, and the length of the message, etc.  I'm not exactly sure how it works, but the OkCupid folks say that they factor this information into matching!

The OkCupid crowd seems to be on the younger side, and speaking from a young'ish girl's perspective living in the San Francisco Bay Area (where a lot of graphic design, gaming, and web 2.0 companies are based), I've mostly been getting messages from 20-30 something year old, educated, computer geeks.  And of the guys who I've spoken to, their biggest complaint is that they always get messages from what they deem as unattractive girls.  Well, heck, it's not like any Brad Pitts have ever message me, but you don't see me complaining!  I guess I'm not as shallow :P

I've met some decent people on Okcupid, but as with all free dating websites, there are many creepos on it, which I'm assuming that the pay-to-use dating sites have less of.  An examples would be guys inviting me to webcam with them.  An even better example is this flickr community called Okdouchebags, where users post screen captures of instant messages that they've received on the site.  The creepos can be very, very entertaining though and make for good laughs sometimes.

Drawbacks (Besides the Creepos)
OkCupid has had its run for me in the past couple of years though.  In recent months, I've only dated one guy from the site, and I actually haven't been in a relationship with anyone who I met on OkCupid in two or three years.  It seems like OkCupid has run out of people to message me, and vice versa.  Though the site has tens of thousands of members from all over the world, I seem to keep getting messages from, and being matched up with, the same people over and over again.  They don't have enough new members to go around.

Other Sites
I actually haven't signed up for any other dating sites, but I've had many OkCupid members ask me if I have a Plenty of Fish account.  According to them, Plenty of Fish is extremely similar to OkCupid and actually has a lot of OkCupid users on it, even with the same screen names, pictures, and all.  Okay, that's just too much for me. 

Aside from websites made specifically for dating, other sites that I've gotten dates off of including LiveJournal, Myspace, and Yelp (I know several Yelp couples, even though Yelp keeps saying that they're not a dating site!).  When it comes to e-dating, I actually don't like actual dating sites too much and prefer getting dates from more "natural" settings on the web, but I'll make an exception for OkCupid.

Parting Words
Though my OkCupid experience in recent years have taken some wind out of my sails, I still credit OkCupid for introducing me to my some of my now-best friends who I otherwise, probably would have never met, and for the countless adventures and entertainment it has brought me.  I've known people who have found what they wanted out of the site, while others haven't. 

As in the real world, how much success you have on the site is really up to you and is dependent on factors like how much you want it, how much "game" you've got, and perhaps a bit of luck, among other things.  Those of you who have been on the site for a while probably know what I'm talking about in terms of perks and the drawbacks, but for those who have never been on the site before and are looking for a date, OkCupid is definitely worth a shot.

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November 09, 2009
I played around on OKCupid, but I don't recall if I ever met anyone in real life off of it. I love how you use other sites to meet dates. I haven't done that yet, but I'm holding out hope for Lunch.com! :)
November 10, 2009
I don't ever mean to, but it happens sometimes! And Lunchers are pretty foxy and rockin', but I dunno.... ;P
July 04, 2009
Good review. I agree that DC Merlin could well post this. Or I'll copy and post it myself to help me increase the number of reviews on Lunch (I'm kidding). Don't feel awkward. I think dating sites do have their uses, but I do agree that creeps also like the free sites too. As with anything, proceed with caution when dealing with strangers. Example: Sometimes I buy and sell things online such as Craigslist and I ensure I meet the person in a public place such as a BART station or a street corner with lots of people, and have a thorough conversation on the phone, as I am an excellent judge of people (he said, modestly). I've tried the Yahoo dating site with no luck but at this point I am happy being single -- what do you think of taking classes at a college where people have common interests? I think that would be less risky than OKCupid, no? Thanks,...
July 14, 2009
I don't know about "borrowing" reviews! :P  I completely agree that you should always proceed with caution when dealing with strangers, though.  Sometimes, there are ways to check out people online before you meet them, but with certain websites, like Craigslist, it's harder to check people out because they don't have screen names, profiles, etc.  Always a good idea to meet at a public place, like a Starbucks or BART station during rush hour.

If you ever want to pop back into the e-dating scene, give OkCupid a shot.  Never hurts to try!  The company's actually based around the Bay Area, so there are tons more Bay Area members on the site than in other parts of the States.

And I'm sure you could meet people in college classes, plenty of people do, I just haven't been one of them, but that's just me!  Maybe you can sign up for a photography class at CCSF :P
July 15, 2009
Actually a few comments, hope I don't bore you! I am starting night school in late August at CCSF for the paralegal studies program -- nice people but wouldn't wanna date them! Secondly I did give OKCupid a very short tour and didn't like it. What I see is a closed-mindedness in a lot of profiles. I had been active in Scientology for example for many years (not now) and though I would never push anyone to check it out, to actually put in one's profile "as long as you're not into Scientology" is a bit off-putting.
July 22, 2009
You're not boring me! :P  Yeah, I don't know about meeting dates in a paralegal studies program!  It's too bad that OkCupid didn't click with you.  I know a few Scientologists and they're, well, regular people.  I think it's just crazies like Tom Cruise who make Scientology look bad.
July 22, 2009
True, but he's toned down. His last Matt interview on the Today Show went well and they're friends. I got a lot out of it, for one thing my writing ability has improved to where I can write half-way decent reviews now! I'm not thin-skinned and can handle criticism, but people really got the wrong idea. Anyway, thanks.  I added a few website links to the Wiki article you posted, but hesitate to do a "review'" as they tend to pull in the crazies, though I'm sure the Lunch crew is a bit more openminded.  :)
June 24, 2009
First I would like to sincerely express my gratitude to user Devora for her largely glowing and once_upon_a_time-accurate depiction of OKCupid.  Were it not for her review I might never have even heard of Lunch.com to provide you with this clarification regarding the sad state of OKCupid.

It is hard to believe that was only posted earlier this month, especially in light of recent disturbing developments on OKCupid.  I've been on the site for over four years and seen so much progress... and now... so many changes and not for the better...

Well, where to begin?
About buying a larger mailbox.  That feature was disabled when they disposed of all of our activity points.  Yes, those of us who donated money, as I did, ($20/month for over 18 months) or edited lots of profiles, (which I also did, over 700 at last count) earned activity points which have now been entirely wiped clean.  Those points would have purchased an ad free site or a larger mailbox but you can no longer do that at all because there is no longer such a point system in use, nor is there a donation page.

Destroying our sense of community, part 1:
A couple or three years back OKCupid had a friending system whereby you could list your comrades.  This gave the site a sense of community.  They disposed of that and were not even kind enough to save us a simple text file of who we had listed.  It was a like a train wreck and none of the bodies were carrying ID.

Destroying our sense of community, part 2:
OKCupid then disposed of its own interpretation of the "Testimonials" feature that such sites as Plenty of Fish and Match.com have.  OKCupid called the feature, unfortunately, "Comments".  Because they called them "comments" instead of what they were meant to be, a lot of jerks posted comments like "You got really big melons!  Wanna frak?".  Fortunately most users ignored those comments and accepted ones that read like, "I've known Sylvia since High School.  She's a good friend and a great dancer!".  OKCupid disposed of that feature as well, and then the afore mentioned activity points.

The last straw:
The most recent disposed of feature to get my goat is the WTF.  WTF, which was as poorly named as all the other features stood for "What To Fix".  It allowed two people who liked each other but suffered poor match scores to compare their personality match answers and determine if their differences actually constituted anything serious or if perhaps, as sometimes happens, they both feel really strongly about the same issue but one of them misread the question and weighted the question strongly FOR when they meant to be AGAINST or vice versa.

OKCupid *very* recently disabled the WTF feature.  I posted about this latest irritation in a couple personal journals as well as a couple OKCupid communities.  At the rate OKCupid is deleting beloved features, it is only a matter of time before they deleted the journals as well, so I'll direct you to my posting on Live Journal instead, which contains a link back to the OKCupid journal if you are interested in posting links to it there as well.

"WTF" wasn't missed immediately because, while as necessary as the airbag or spare tire in your car, it is is something that you use rarely.  So unless you are very serious about a person you just don't have a reason to open it.  Every day I encounter more people who either used it or at least knew it existed and are now upset to learn it is gone.

I wish to say that even as fast as OKCupid is sabotaging itself by disabling these well loved features for no apparent reason, they are still head and shoulders ahead of Plenty of Fish.  I've met only an handful of people who insist POF is equal or better than OKCupid and those people were all rather lame people who complained that OKCupid required too much thought or effort.  I agree, OKCupid does require at least the standard number of functioning brain cells!  OKCupid could even be considered an intelligence filter.  Creepos stand out way better on OKCupid than on POF because, for one thing, "creepos" don't answer a whole lot of match questions.  (They CAN'T.  It's "Too hard"!)  On a site like POF the creepos look pretty much like everybody else, and it gives them "ad edge"

I've posted a comparison of the two sites in chapter 19 of my Guide to OKCupid, within which I list a lot of the shortcomings of POF, not the least of which is that POF would never permit anyone to post such a comparison on its own site.  Yes, if you so much as post the word OKCupid in your profile or even in a private email to another user, POF deletes the words.  You can't even send your phone number in a private email.  Seriously, you have to spell it in words, ie, "Eight Six Seven Five Three Oh Nine".

Certain other changes on OKCupid, such as the way the journal editor works means that it is now a great deal harder for me to edit and update my now 29 chapter guide to OKCupid.  You are welcome to read it as it is now, increasingly out of date by the day.  You can find it at tinyurl.com/guide2okcupid

If you want my opinion, I have a theory.  When I first joined four years ago, most of the staff was comprised of single and or poly people who had an actual stake in the functionality of the site.  Now that the staff is almost entirely made up of users in committed relationships, the attention has shifted from function to form, and perhaps to marketability toward potential advertisers.  I've written to them, even received responses.  They listen but they don't appear to be as interested in my opinions as they have been in the more distant past.  The other problem is that althought the initial appeal and continued appeal of the site has been toward geeks, it is apparent they are trying to dumb the site down to make it appear less challenging to POF-type users.  They don't realize that they are losing the geeks faster than they are gaining the POFs.  AOL is proof you can't win at that game.

What you can do:
OKCupid probably has the most talented staff of its entire history.  What it lacks is the vision of its past.  I think part of what derailed it was that because they stopped responding to users, as they once did, people including myself gave up on trying to offer them guidance.  I feel that if we all give them a shout at once, something to let them know that we are concerned, they might just possibly resume their previous course.

If you are an OKCupid user and you are disgruntled over the many not-for-the-better changes the site has suffered in the past couple years, you can write to their feedback department *here*, and know that whether or not they will heed our concerns, I am now convinced they are at least reading.  I feel they need to hear from as many people as possible if there is any hope of restoring the site to what it so recently was; The site that was, as Devora has so eloquently, although inaccurately described in her post.

How you can help me, personally:
I hate to sound like a rat leaving a sinking ship.  It is through no lack of effort on my part.  I've put countless hours into trying to reverse OKCupid's suicidal behavior.  If you can't help me save it, you can at least give me your best tips as to where I can go instead.

So, if anyone would like to refer me to a site which they feel works "sort of like OKCupid", I'm in the market!  I'd even be willing to pay for a site that is only "as good as OKCupid used to be", I'd even settle for "No worse than it is now", as I'm so dissappointed I can't even bring myself to "update" my guide for the removed features.

Contact info:
If anyone cares to look me up, I'm currently user DCMerlin both on OKCupid and LiveJournal.com as well as here for that matter.  :-)
June 24, 2009
Whoa, @DCMerlin, I've been on OkCupid for over five years, but obviously haven't been paying too much attention to the site lately because I haven't heard about some of those recent developments!  I never used WTF, so I can't say that I miss it :P

Thank you for your extremely thorough and very well thought out comment.   I really think that you should copy and paste your comment into a new review though.  That way, it can get more exposure, and people can actually comment and rate it.  Just a suggestion! ;)
June 24, 2009
Well I thank you. Lunch suggested I make it into its own review, and I considered it, but by then I'd already constructed this as a reply to yours and I'm the "new guy". I feel bad enough sculpting (as opposed to ripping) this highly accurate anatomical model of OKCupid's excretory orifice, without making an all new post to do it in. :-) I think maybe this does deserve more exposure, but it was only last evening that it came to my attention that not only is okcupid now denying us the ability to created new WTFs but now they've denied us access to the WTFs we already had with those we know, or were getting to know. I'm quite a bit more pissed off but still trying to remain constructive. Oh here's one more tidbit for you. You know how okcupid is FREE and promises to always be free. Well they are kinda still promising that but with the caveat that they are offering to charge for certain elite features... I can relate, I mean that's kind of how LJ always worked. There was FREE, and then there were options like more icons or photo hosting. Things that cost the site were premium. No argument. However, they could have done this with the donation system and points, and that way would would have appeared more "free" than it will if they adopt this new "OKCupid PRO" they are proposing calling it. I suppose it will look more professional to the advertisers. The problem is that they minute they offer actually sheduled pay for service, it sort of stops being listed as an entirely FREE dating site, because lots of pay for dating sites also claim to offer a free class of service, it's so bastardized nobody can stand to use it. Now I believe OKCupid does not intend to bastardize its free service like nearly all the other dating sites... but it does not change the fact that to the casual observer it will still resemble the others, which it didn't with the donations and point system.
July 04, 2009
Sorry for the delayed response, @DCMerlin!  Well, you can always sculpt it into a new review; this needs to be heard! :P  I had no idea that OkCupid was thinking about having paid accounts.  I'd probably stop using it as that's straying from the original concept of the site a bit much for me.  On the other hand, it might be kind of good, it could potentially keep away some of the creepos, emphasis on "some".

I was just curious because I couldn't seem to access it the last few times that I logged onto the site, but does OkCupid still have that "stalker" feature?  That was kind of weird, but fun and interesting at the same time.
July 06, 2009
In the poll which predates the apparently current plan (consider this speculation, like speculating thunder suggests rain) OKCupid promises that the paid accounts will only allow existing members to have access to some unnecessary but pleasant advanced features, ones that they *claim* cost them money. I'm assuming what they really mean to say is that these features put a CPU strain on the system and that the more people using these features, they more umm... lines... or something they need to rent or buy. I'm not really that kind of a geek so I can only guess that somehow that by limiting CPU straining activities to users who are helping to fund their system, it all works out.

Now personally I'd like to go on record right here as having SUGGESTED something like this idea, not once, but TWICE.

Believe it or not some years ago I wrote to them suggesting that it appeared to me their system was bogging down and that I simply suspected they could used some hardware upgrades. I surmised they were on a shoestring budget and I suggested that they allow those of us who can afford to, to donate funds to their site. I suggested they take credit cards. About the only other things I suggested was that they offer such subtle rewards as a larger mailbox for having donated and a badge that would show up on our profile to indicate that we support the site.

The badge I suggested actually had a couple of purposes. Sure a badge makes a person appear just a bit kinder and more generous, but it also separates the men from the boys, so to speak. Spammers are EXTREMELY unlikely to donate, at least not more than once, and at the rate they create new profiles it would get old fast.  Also OKCupid could refuse to take the same spammer credit card more than once!

Think about it, you can post all sorts of nonsense in your profile but when you attach a credit card to your account it makes you a LOT more traceable. I realize under age users might have have access credit cards, but it is extremely unlikely they would be donating money to a dating site without their parents knowledge. I felt that was a really good solution.

They took my suggestion and to it they added a couple features. One was Ad free browsing for the price of a monthly fee. I admit, for some people with dialup connections that's a really good idea! The other features was a point system which would record the portion of your donation not used to purchase these features for yourself which you could in turn use to buy ad free browsing or a super-sized mailbox for other people. I thought that was really nice. Of course like most other good things that's gone the way of the DoDo.

In the defense of OKCupid I wish to give credit where credit is due. OKCupid has actually improved in five ways I can think of: 1) They now allow us 10 photos per profile instead of 5.
2) You can arrange the sequence of your photos in your profile simply by clicking on them and dragging them up and down.
3) We are now permitted slightly longer captions under our photos.
4) The mail is now "threaded" 5) We may now add "filters" to who may email or IM us by such criteria as how many match questions they have answered, now low their match score is with relation to our own, how old or young they are, how far from us they live, etc.

I *did* warn you they would be small ways. I mean with relation to the features they've removed it seems difficult to imagine the means by which they arrange their priorities!

In my previous rant, I neglected to list a few other things they did to make the site less pleasant:
1) We may no longer block offensive people from commenting in our journals.
2) While they still permit us to post URLs/Links in our profiles, they delete any links you post in the first section of your profile, up at the top, and worse yet, they don't WARN people their links will be deleted. This gives newbies the false impression it is impossible, while frustrating the frack out of experienced users (including even myself).
3) and while this may not even be a "removed" feature, it sure has heck feels like one. Well, you know how they added "forums"? The forums are totally unmoderated. I mean, you an create a forum entitled, "Men who pick their noses and the women who love them", but if someone starts posting about his bowel movements, you CANNOT screen or delete those posts or ban that poster from your forum. As there are not clearly posted rules regarding these things, it is rather amazing the abuses are not even worse. So while I would not say that this is a "removed" feature, I certainly consider it a "Shoulda been there in the first place and still isn't" feature.

The second time I suggested OKCupid take money was about a year ago and I suggested it in the form of not even so much donations as a simple means to tell the spammers/scammers from the legit users.  I personally believe that if a user is so sick of that nonsense they would use it as a reason to leave the site, they should have the option to filter users by who has made a $5 donation with a credit card!

Now, the GOOD news is that since I posted to Lunch.com, I've been taking part in a new forum on OKCupid called, "New Site Design: How to request a WTF report". It dates back to the original disabling of the feature but predates the complete annihilation of the ability to access the feature through light to moderate hacking.

I believe this forum should be viewable to okcupid members and non members alike and I invite LUNCH.com readers to go take a look. While there are the odd confused users who don't really know what WTF is, and some totally lost users, so far this forum has as yet remained on topic. As I explained above, that probably won't last for long without moderation, but for right now it is an inspiring demonstration of how strongly people feel about getting this feature back.

The link I've provided takes you to the post of a user who is speculating about the purported ratio of those who take part in the forums as compared to the supposed 1.4 million registered users of OKCupid. This is yet another example of one time that OKCupid should have just kept its mouth shut! As you will see, my response underscores the need to take into consideration how many of these "registered" users are ACTIVE or interested or ever log in, or even remember their own password for that matter. How many times have any of us opened an account somewhere and totally forgotten the password.

If you answer ONCE and then multiply that by the number of people who have ever heard of OKCupid, well, OUCH! I'm not saying that at a purported 1.4 million users, OKCupid's claim is any less valid than the EQUALLY INVALID claims of Match.com or Yahoo personals or Plenty Of Fish. I am saying that if they are going to do something obnoxious and say that the portion of users active in the forums represent only about 1% of registered members on the site, they are inviting people like me to pipe up and mention when when you consider how many are inactive, AND HOW MANY ARE ONLY ON OKCUPID FOR THE TESTS AND QUIZES, it is really not fair to delete an important MATCHING feature for LACK OF USE against the total number of people on the site. It would be far fairer to compare the number of people in the forums against those who appear active, and social and... well, IN THE FORUMS. Yes, I think they should only count those who have ever taken part in the forums as "Xocially Axtive".
July 14, 2009
Wow, that's some essay! Thanks for the info.
July 22, 2009
I remember the days of donations!  Someone actually donated money to buy me a larger mailbox one time, and my mailbox size has remained large since :)  The badges were a great idea!    It's very odd that they added a forum without any moderations though.  I've seen some epic threads on there as a result of that.

It's nice to see another OkCupid fanatic around here (though I've been less of a fanatic in the past couple of years).  I'd love to read a review about your experiences some day!  Something tells me that you have some great stories to share about OkCupid :)  @dalydose recently wrote a review here about eHarmony, too.  By the way, thanks for editing my OkCupid profile, I just noticed that right now and had no idea that you could do that!

June 08, 2009
What's wrong with "20-30 something year old, educated, computer geeks"? :)
June 09, 2009
Absolutely nothing cuz I'm one myself :P  Just sayin'!
More OkCupid reviews
Quick Tip by . September 09, 2009
It seems like a good website, but then I get messages like these: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jP2ekRdgkjw
About the reviewer
devora ()
Ranked #4
When I'm not Lunching, I'm a jeweler, and an all around, self-proclaimed web geek. My passions include social media, the interweb, technology, writing, yoga, fitness, photography, jewelry, fashion, … more
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OkCupid is a free-of-charge social networking and dating website which features member-created quizzes and supports various modes of communication: blogs, instant messages, emails, and "winks". It is one of the largest dating sites on the web.

OkCupid users are presented with questions (most of which are authored, submitted, and vetted by members) about various topics such as politics and tastes page by page, and given a list of up to four answers per question to choose from. They are also asked "How would your Ideal Match answer this question?", and then "How important is their answer to you?", with degrees of importance for the latter listed as "irrelevant", "a little important", "somewhat important", "very important", and "mandatory", each respectively assigned a greater numerical value. The site uses the numerical values to calculate "friend", "enemy", and "match" percentages between any two members of the site based on how many answered questions those two users have in common (referred to as their "intersection"), with higher intersections supposedly producing more accurate percentages.

There is a very active journaling/blogging community on OkCupid as well. Members have the option of saving favorite users' profiles and then "stalking" them, which allows them to view all of their new journal entries, as well as comments on others' entries.

The journaling community frequently arranges meet-ups of OkCupid users in various areas of the world and people travel, sometimes from ...
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