Most daters tend to want as much information as possible when they walk into a room to meet someone. But OKCupid is banking on the idea that information is actually getting in the way. There’s no denying that dating online is a bonafide “thing” now, but some wonder how much it actually results in people meeting their match. After all, users can spends weeks or months communicating with a potential match without actually ever meeting up. OKCupid co-founder Sam Yagan wants to change all that — he believes people should spend more time dating and less time talking. So the company decided to relaunch an old blind dating app they created several years ago — now called Crazy Blind Date — which uses highly protected OKCupid algorithims to match daters with similar interests.
But would you use it?
A quick poll of my single friends finds that most people balk at the idea of meeting a stranger for a drink. “Given the pool of dudes they’d be picking from? No,” said one friend, wary of OK Cupid after several bad experiences. Another said he’d be willing to try it, “as long as we all know that either of us can walk out after one handshake.” But Yagan and his team are betting that people will warm up to the idea.
The way it works is not entirely unlike competing dating site HowAboutWe. Users post a date — the time and place they’ll be available — and others can message them to set up a meeting. The catch? You won’t know what the person you’re meeting looks like, per se, and you won’t have access to their profile. You’ve got to trust the algorithm, which provides you simply with a name, a scrambled photo of the person you’re meeting and the location and time they’re going to be there. You are allowed to message them an hour prior to meeting up, I suppose just to confirm the date. And you’re only able to message each other after the date if both of you agree (independently) that you had a good time.
There’s also a financial component to the deal. OKCupid wants you to buy something called “kudos.” Users are encouraged to buy kudos in order to rate their dates, thereby supplying the Blind Date algorithm with more information. They’re going for a dollar a kudo at the moment. If you fail to invest in the game (of dating), you’ll find your dating algoithm will actually drop off, “in the same way that your own friends would eventually stop setting you up if you rejected enough of their suggestions,” explains Forbes reporter Jeff Bercovici.
If all this is giving you the creeps, well, you’re not alone. The idea of meeting up with a total stranger with so little information (and none of the personal verification a close friend or colleague might provide in a “real world” blind date scenario) sounds incredibly dangerous. And if not dangerous, well, then, sort of a waste of time. As any woman who’s spent any time on the site can attest, women get bombarded with messages from completely inappropriate suitors all the time. Which is to say, most women have very little faith in OKCupid’s powers of accuracy. Plus, you don’t even have to have an OKCupid profile to use the service — which means there’s even less vetting than normal.
If you’re wondering why OKCupid is relaunching this now, well, it’s because of the increasing success of sites like HowAboutWe and MeetCute. These sites are oriented around a shared love of certain activities, and mark a departure from typical online dating, where users can browse potential dates as if they’re reading a menu.
For now, OKCupid is banking on users wanting instant dating gratification — even if there’s no longterm romance to be found.
So singles: Would you use a service like Crazy Blind Date? Tell us in the comments!