July 28, 2014 at 1:26 PM ET
Experimenting on users? It’s no big deal, wrote OKCupid’s data guru Christian Rudder in a new blog post. Last month, Facebook got in trouble for letting researchers manipulate people’s feeds for a psychology study. Rudder wrote that is just how “websites work” and elaborated on some OKCupid experiments.
He dug up some stats on “Love Is Blind Day” — a promotion for OKCupid’s short-lived blind-dating app — when photos were completely removed from the site. It turns out users had longer, more involved online conversations — until photos were restored and people saw whom they were talking with, leading Rudder to conclude that “people are exactly as shallow as their technology allows them to be.” He also looked back at when OKCupid let people rate each other on looks and personality separately (today, it’s an overall rating) and found that words only affected someone's ratings by 10 percent. Users with sexy photos and no text on their profiles got high personality ratings, showing that, online, your pictures are the only thing that matters.
-- Keith Wagstaff