I've joined OKCupid and have been spending my bored moments answering multiple choice questions in the hopes that it will lead to true love. After all, if I could score in the 99th percentile on the LSATs, I should be able to ace a match-making test!

OKCupid's schtick is that they give you lots and lots of multiple choice questions, which you answer. They then use an algorithm to translate your answers into a percentage match with all other OKCupid users. There are something like 3,500 questions that you can answer at your leisure, and the more you answer the more accurate it supposedly becomes.

Each question has three parts. The first part asks how you would answer the question. The second part asks how you would like your ideal match to answer. While you can only pick one answer in the first part, the second part allows you to indicate multiple acceptable answers. The third part asks you to rank how important you consider this question, with your options being Irrelevant, Slightly Important, Somewhat Important, Very Important, or Mandatory.

Once you've answered 500 questions, you gain the ability to submit your own questions to be added to the rotation. As a result, there are a lot of... interesting questions that cater to certain peculiar tastes. A classic example: "How would you feel if your partner urinated on you during sex?" I actually really like this. Having a huge swath of questions that deal with odd tastes allow more vanilla people and more kinky people to inhabit the same site and get potential unpleasant surprises out of the way up front. Which is to say, I would not be too thrilled to be urinated on during sex, and OKCupid allows me to register my personal distaste beforehand. I'd much rather answer the question now than be unpleasantly surprised in the bedroom. And, if you are into certain things, you can use OKCupid as a conventional dating site while also finding out who's into whatever your kink might be.

The downside of user-written questions is that many of them are redundant (No! I am NOT interested in a polyamorous relationship! Stop asking!), poorly worded (Is homeless primarily caused by laziness or impossible odds? Actually, I think it's primarily caused by a combination of mental illness and substance abuse, but that's not an option), or too abstract to be really meaningful in a dating context (If someone offered you a million dollars to marry them and make them a citizen, would you do it? I don't know, I'll tell you if the situation ever comes up). My favorite questions, though, are the really bizarre hypotheticals. An actual example:

You're given one chance to travel through time. How do you use it?
Alter events in history for the greater good.
Use past/future info for personal gain.
Alter something you regret
Do nothing--time travel could invoke chaos

I realize these goofy hypotheticals are intended to be only minor factors in your match algorithm, but what if you decided to mark a question like this as Mandatory? "I WILL NOT DATE ANYONE WHO DOES NOT TAKE THE INTEGRITY OF THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM SERIOUSLY!!"

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This page contains a single entry by Zach published on January 21, 2008 6:53 PM.

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