OkCupid hacks: Five lessons from a math genius

optimal cupid
“Optimal Cupid” is an in-depth manual to using OkCupid to your advantage.
Credit: Chris McKinlay

Mathematician Chris McKinlay was growing frustrated by his online search for love when realized he was doing OkCupid all wrong.

McKinlay was recently featured by Wired for mastering the art of OkCupid using math, computer codes and a bit of common sense. He went from sending lots of unanswered messages to receiving 10 OkCupid messages a day from women after he “optimized” his profile. Eighty-eight dates later, McKinlay met his future wife on the dating site, and recently published his e-book “Optimal Cupid: Mastering the Hidden Logic of OkCupid.”

McKinlay did not respond to our requests for comment, but we read his book and discovered five OkCupid hacks to increase your match percentages with potential dates and optimize your love life.

1. Choose and answer your questions wisely: The questions on OkCupid have the greatest impact on your match percentages, so don’t take them lightly. McKinlay’s tip for people who want to increase their visibility and number of matches is to answer “non-divisive questions.” What is a divisive question? It’s a question that has one “throwaway answer.” If a question has more than two answers, and one of the answers is unacceptable to you, then you have your divisive question. By accepting all other answers except for the unacceptable one, you broaden your chance for a match. Don’t accept all answers: If you do that, then the question counts as “irrelevant” and is not a factor in calculating a match percentage. McKinlay says you can answer questions without a throwaway answer if they’re important to you, but assign them a less important weight.

2. Assign the proper weight to your questions: OkCupid allows you to select how important your potential mate’s answer is to you: mandatory, very important, somewhat important, a little important or irrelevant. Basically, if you assigned an answer as “mandatory” and Person B selected your answer, the positive impact on your match score is much greater than if you had selected “somewhat important.” The OkCupid blog explains that “mandatory” counts 250 times more than “a little important” toward your match score. McKinlay writes that this doesn’t mean you should assign everything as mandatory. Assign questions with three or more acceptable answers as mandatory, two acceptable answers as very important and one acceptable answer as somewhat important.

3. Find “hooks” for your profile: Everyone knows you need some conversation pieces in your profile so people can ask you questions or point out common interests in messages. McKinlay calls these “hooks,” and he says there’s even an efficient way to find the best way to phrase these hooks. Come up with a list of “hooks” (rock-climbing, writing, etc.) and run a search through with these keywords — find out which ones are most popular among the people who have above a 90 percent match with you.

4. Be an active OkCupid user: OkCupid rewards users who log into the site and penalizes those who don’t, tracking this with a bar that says whether a user “replies often,” “replies selectively” or “replies rarely.” McKinlay says users who don’t log in will automatically have this bar reset to “replies often.” More importantly, McKinlay points out that once he started clicking on every woman’s profile who showed up as over a 90 percent match (he used a script to do this), he started getting flooded with messages. No need to actually look at the profiles, he says — just open the window so they’ll see you as someone who viewed their profile.

5. Check out the competition: It doesn’t take a math genius to figure this one out, but it does take a very savvy online dater to come up with this idea. McKinlay suggests temporarily changing the gender of your profile or making a fake profile (if you are heterosexual) to see the top matches within your own gender — in other words, the people you’re up against. Look at their profiles, photos and “hooks.” What are you missing? Step up your game by seeing how you can stand out.


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