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Peering into your neighbors' windows (in aggregate)
June 30, 2009 9:46 AM   Subscribe

The fine folks at OkCupid, the dating site, have begun to analyze aggregate data from the questions their users answer to form dating profiles, revealing, among other things, that users in Nevada are more open to rape fanstasies than those from Michigan.

OkCupid users often answer hundreds of such questions, and various tests, in an effort to increase their match effectiveness. OkCupid has just started their blog discussing a few questions, and ask "These are just a few of the thousands of questions we have in our database. Are there any other you’d like us to analyze?"
posted by dammitjim (60 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
I like this little addition under the rape map:

It’s also worth pointing out that cattle outnumber women 26:1 in Wyoming.

I hope they're not suggesting what I think they're suggesting.
posted by Askiba at 9:49 AM on June 30, 2009 [12 favorites]


I think the latitude sand longitude maps would be much more helpful than the state maps.
posted by cimbrog at 9:52 AM on June 30, 2009


I hope they're not suggesting what I think they're suggesting.

Me neither. Moo means moo.
posted by jquinby at 9:53 AM on June 30, 2009 [63 favorites]


I hope they're not suggesting what I think they're suggesting.

Wyoming: Where the men are men, and the cows are frightened...
posted by jonp72 at 9:54 AM on June 30, 2009 [5 favorites]


I saw this on HN a few days ago, it's interesting but there are some significant limitations to how far you can take these results.

In two words: selection bias.

The reason Gallup polls can predict elections using samples of only 300 people or so per state or district is because they try very hard to come up with a representative sample of the population.

OKC has a much bigger sample -- tens of thousands of responses -- but unless you have a good idea about the people within that sample, you can't extrapolate anything about it to the greater group of "people from Michigan" or "people from Vermont." You don't know that "people from Michigan who use OK Cupid and respond to a question about rape fantasies" is representative — at all — of the greater group "people from Michigan."

So it's bordering on lying-with-statistics to say that these numbers tell you anything about people living in those particular states. That's not to say the numbers aren't really interesting, but you have to be careful not to take them too far.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:00 AM on June 30, 2009 [13 favorites]


I love OkC. Found my FWB there largely because I could examine profiles to see how open people were sexually.
posted by LSK at 10:03 AM on June 30, 2009


Man, Minnesotans are filthy motherfuckers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:03 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beats being filthy cowfuckers.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:04 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, joking aside, I don't know the actual ratio but because there are a lot more men than women living in Wyoming (I believe the same is true in Alaska), when I lived in Wyoming I observed two things: first, there are women who move to Wyoming specifically to find a mate, and second, the married women seem to think extramarital affairs are one of the perks of living there.
posted by Restless Day at 10:04 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Beats beating off to filthy cowfuckers.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:08 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wait, look at the second map, the have data for Iran! Please please please tell me more. In fact, tell me which state in the US is most Iran-like in its answers. That'll get you a headline or two no doubt.
posted by Sova at 10:09 AM on June 30, 2009


Now we know where the dirty hippies are. I'm looking at you, Oregon and Minnesota.
posted by frecklefaerie at 10:10 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


OK, Cupid, OK, that's enough.

Also, it seems NV is very fucky and showery!
posted by not_on_display at 10:11 AM on June 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


bordering on lying-with-statistics

It's well across that line. You can't make much generalization, but why those two highly selected populations would be different in MI vs NV is still somewhat interesting.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 10:15 AM on June 30, 2009


okcupid and metafilter are in my top five favorite websites of all time
posted by zeek321 at 10:16 AM on June 30, 2009


And a word about statistical validity: the best questions on OkCupid have been answered over a million times. Therefore we have unique insights into the American mindset...

Old media could only get 3,050 people to answer a poll about Obama. And it was enough to call the election with confidence.


BECAUSE WHEN YOU'RE GOING TO COMMIT A STATISTICAL FALLACY, YOU SHOULD DO IT AS EXPLICITLY AND LOUDLY AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN!!!!!!!!
posted by el_lupino at 10:27 AM on June 30, 2009 [10 favorites]


I agree with Kadin in that there are some serious concerns as to the legitimacy of the data-gathering that built these graphs ... and as a proud son of Washington State, I'd love to assert that we do bathe frequently and don't date just to screw ... but I live in Olympia and attend the Evergreen State College, where "dirty hippy" has layers and layers of meaning, so there might be something to this after all ...
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:27 AM on June 30, 2009


Vermont: Land of stinky prudes!
posted by The Whelk at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2009


What is it with people not bathing? *shudders* Take a shower, people. Unless you've got an open wound or your nice Amityville home is squirting blood from the nozzle, just get in there and wash. Every day. Been working out in the yard? Take a shower when you get in.
posted by adipocere at 10:43 AM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


How often do you bathe or shower?

WTF WASHINGTON? I thought you were cool.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:47 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


Your wording:

open to rape fantasies

is substantively different and more provocative than the original question's wording:

Would you consider role-playing out a rape fantasy with a partner who asked you to?
posted by naju at 10:49 AM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


In other words: While I'm not open to playing that Japanese rape simulation game, I'm open to indulging a little (slightly weird) fetish my girlfriend might have.
posted by naju at 10:52 AM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


For everyone who's so desperate for MetaFilter to set up a dating site, I strongly suggest that you just sign up for an OKCupid account instead. I promise you're hitting the same demographic.

(Also, I'm about to celebrate my one-year anniversary with a man I met on OKCupid, so I feel obliged to shill for them. Imagine me and him on a stark, white screen while Natalie Cole sings in the background.)
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 10:53 AM on June 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


Your wording...is substantively different and more provocative than the original question's wording
So congratulations son, and welcome to the New Scientist team!
posted by Abiezer at 10:53 AM on June 30, 2009 [7 favorites]


I've had an OKCupid account almost since they started (I followed the creators over from thespark.com), and I'd been waiting for when they would start doing this. My friend and I would puzzle over their system for hours, discussing the date and wondering about what they did with it.

I've been with my boyfriend for two years, but I keep my account so that I can keep track of what Chris Coyne and the rest of them do next. (I also met a few now-former boyfriends through OkCupid -- it was the only dating site I ever tried that came close to succeeding.)
posted by Toothless Willy at 10:57 AM on June 30, 2009


date=data
posted by Toothless Willy at 10:58 AM on June 30, 2009


Would you date someone just for the sex?

You stay classy, west coast.
posted by emelenjr at 10:59 AM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Cool Papa Bell - In our defense, it's too cold to sweat for about 80% of the year.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:05 AM on June 30, 2009


For everyone who's so desperate for MetaFilter to set up a dating site, I strongly suggest that you just sign up for an OKCupid account instead. I promise you're hitting the same demographic.

MetaDating: the same old snark, just in bed.
posted by Askiba at 11:05 AM on June 30, 2009


Cool Papa Bell - In our defense, it's too cold to sweat for about 80% of the year.

Yeah, but I live there, too, goddamit. Do I have to start handing out bottles of frakin' Pert Plus at the Starbucks now?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:10 AM on June 30, 2009


So basically, OKCupid is the Purity Test?
posted by FireballForever at 11:24 AM on June 30, 2009


Besides the sample size issues, the data presentation sucks. So, uh, Nevadians are way more likely than Michiganders to indulge in rape fantasies. Apparently. But there's no scale on that map.

Maybe the national average is 1% and Nevada is .9% and Michigan is 1.1%. Or maybe the national average is 20%, and Nevada is 30% and Michigan is 10%. The little map tells us damned near nothing.
posted by jacquilynne at 11:33 AM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


I was actually thinking of moving to Nevada. What does that say about me now? What state is "just up for a playful fun time"?
posted by SinisterPurpose at 11:42 AM on June 30, 2009


This is a good example of results that seems surprising at first, but make sense after some thought: it stands to reason people in hot and/or humid states must shower more regularly. I’d be very interested to hear from any New Mexicans why their state bucks this logic...

1. Albuquerque gets 11" of rainfall per year. That's the wet part of the state. So water is sort of a precious commodity here.
2. Low humidity, less sweating.
3. What jacquilynne said about the lack of scale.
4. "All calculations based on experience elsewhere fail in New Mexico." -- Lew Wallace, Territorial Governor of New Mexico 1878-1881.
posted by Killick at 11:44 AM on June 30, 2009


You're all dirty perverts. All of you, America. Every last one of you. You're awful, nasty creatures. And you sicken me.

Now, where'd I put those anal beads?

Oh. Oh, yeah.

posted by grubi at 11:55 AM on June 30, 2009


"what about people from Michigan?

Yeah, what are their fanstasies?
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 12:05 PM on June 30, 2009


And a word about statistical validity: the best questions on OkCupid have been answered over a million times. Therefore we have unique insights into the American mindset.

*single tear rolls down cheek*
posted by shadow vector at 12:08 PM on June 30, 2009


Yeah, what are their fanstasies?

Work for the same company for thirty years, then retire at 50 with full pension & healthcare benefits. You know, sick shit.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:19 PM on June 30, 2009 [8 favorites]


I thought playing out rape fantasies between consenting adults/spouses* was a pretty common practice.

Why is that so taboo?

*Spouses, I would think, do it more often and there is more trust there.
posted by Malice at 12:30 PM on June 30, 2009


I saw this on HN a few days ago, it's interesting but there are some significant limitations to how far you can take these results.

Well, you can take them to the water cooler, where somebody else will think, "Hey, maybe I should sign up on OK Cupid."

I guarantee that's as far as OK Cupid's intending they be carried.
posted by dhartung at 1:02 PM on June 30, 2009


Rape fantasies? Well, if you need a little canola or grape skin to get off, who am I to judge?
posted by klangklangston at 1:04 PM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


I thought playing out rape fantasies between consenting adults/spouses* was a pretty common practice. Why is that so taboo? Spouses, I would think, do it more often and there is more trust there.

Well, the question only allowed for a "yes/no" answer, and the sample is made up of people on a dating site. I think for most people, the answer to that is, "Depends on the circumstances" -- if a longtime partner asked, sure; if it's mentioned on the first date, creepy; and there's all kinds of room in between. If I were on a dating site -- you know, thinking about meeting someone and getting to know them -- I might answer "no" to that question because the scenario I'd be contemplating is someone I find on this dating site asking me about that when we met for drinks.
posted by palliser at 1:12 PM on June 30, 2009


Well, the question only allowed for a "yes/no" answer, and the sample is made up of people on a dating site. I think for most people, the answer to that is, "Depends on the circumstances" -- if a longtime partner asked, sure; if it's mentioned on the first date, creepy; and there's all kinds of room in between. If I were on a dating site -- you know, thinking about meeting someone and getting to know them -- I might answer "no" to that question because the scenario I'd be contemplating is someone I find on this dating site asking me about that when we met for drinks.
posted by palliser at 1:12 PM on June 30


Ah, I see what you're getting at. You're right, for the average person on a dating site, saying 'yes' to anything rape scenario-wise would probably be ill advised.

Then that falls into middle ground - what if you're really into that kind of thing as play, but are afraid to say 'yes' because you don't want to actually get raped, and you're scared it might lead to that?

Man, dating sucks.
posted by Malice at 1:26 PM on June 30, 2009


This whole exercise raises questions about the expectation of privacy on social networking sites.

While individuals cannot be identified here, some people might resent having their data aggregated in this way, and then displayed in a public place.

In the end, it seems best to assume that anything you put online could eventually become associated with your real name, and thus never post anything to a website that you would not want to see appearing in the Google results for your name.
posted by sindark at 1:55 PM on June 30, 2009


One other point about selective statistics:

Many intelligent users of sites like OKC try to guess what the preferences of people they find desirable are, then represent those as their own beliefs. That means they are thinking: "What answer would best satisfy the kind of person I am looking for" rather than "How do I really feel about this?"

Of course, that doesn't mean there could not be interesting regional patterns in the results.
posted by sindark at 1:58 PM on June 30, 2009


I didn't see "open to rape fantasies" as anything other than shorthand for "would consider role-playing a rape fantasy scene with someone who asked you to". Then again, I'm knowledgeable about safe, sane, and consensual alternative sexual play and am very aware that rape fantasies are among the most common sexual thoughts. Did you think it sounded like "open to rape"?
posted by scrowdid at 2:09 PM on June 30, 2009


Did you think it sounded like "open to rape"?

Not really, but I thought it sounded like "open to exploring my own rape fantasies" rather than "open to obliging someone else's," which makes a bit of a difference. I could very well be wrong.
posted by naju at 2:17 PM on June 30, 2009


I thought playing out rape fantasies between consenting adults/spouses* was a pretty common practice.

Today I learned something about Malice!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:23 PM on June 30, 2009


Oh yeah naju that makes sense. It does kinda sound different w/r/t needing to explore fantasies at one's own pace. With a "requester" who's not playing right, that can ruin the whole thing.
posted by scrowdid at 2:24 PM on June 30, 2009


Malice Then that falls into middle ground - what if you're really into that kind of thing as play, but are afraid to say 'yes' because you don't want to actually get raped, and you're scared it might lead to that?

Safeword.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:47 PM on June 30, 2009


I thought playing out rape fantasies between consenting adults/spouses* was a pretty common practice.

Today I learned something about Malice!
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:23 PM on June 30


I am not ashamed! =D


Malice Then that falls into middle ground - what if you're really into that kind of thing as play, but are afraid to say 'yes' because you don't want to actually get raped, and you're scared it might lead to that?

Safeword.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 2:47 PM on June 30


Real rapists don't use safewords.

Though it'd be awesome if you could say "BANANARAMA" and they'd just go away!
posted by Malice at 3:22 PM on June 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


Oh! "PEERing into your neighbors' windows..." I thought... Never mind.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:49 PM on June 30, 2009


Why didn't they plot "How often do you bathe or shower?" against Europe? *taps foot*
posted by adipocere at 3:59 PM on June 30, 2009


SinisterPurpose: What state is "just up for a playful fun time"?

Eponiscary.
posted by Greg_Ace at 4:26 PM on June 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been a member there for a long time (since thespark.com), but am only there for the quizzes. I don't really like their categorization system, with those little labels, because it's totally off for me. So if I ever tried to use the site for dating purposes, I'd feel misrepresented.

"Would you date someone just for the sex?"

New York is bright green.

I love it here, but that's just depressing.
posted by cmgonzalez at 4:50 PM on June 30, 2009


Vermont: Land of stinky prudes!

It is very very cold here a lot of the time which I think affects both of those statistics.
posted by jessamyn at 4:53 PM on June 30, 2009


Not really, but I thought it sounded like "open to exploring my own rape fantasies" rather than "open to obliging someone else's," which makes a bit of a difference. I could very well be wrong.

OKC asks questions (and has users weight the importance of responses) in such a way that it kind of covers both possibilities.
posted by the_bone at 5:07 PM on June 30, 2009


As a Nevada resident, the first thought I had when reading those results was "hellooooo strippers!"
posted by falconred at 5:57 PM on June 30, 2009


Kadin2048: So it's bordering on lying-with-statistics to say that these numbers tell you anything about people living in those particular states. That's not to say the numbers aren't really interesting, but you have to be careful not to take them too far.

But it sounds so much more awful for them if they say it correctly. See, watch:

Nevadans who fantasize about rape are more likely to sign up for OkCupid than Michiganders who fantasize about rape.

See? Sounds kinda awful for OkCupid when they put it that way.
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 PM on June 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


"I promise you're hitting the same demographic" Over the past year or so, I would have to say this is not true. I did meet someone wonderful on okcupid, but that was several years ago now. (We're still friends)

Otherwise, I've noticed that the demographics of the website have changed dramatically.
posted by drstein at 9:17 AM on July 1, 2009


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