Stupid Cupid, stop picking on me
December 22, 2017 5:45 PM   Subscribe

OkCupid's ending usernames, and will start enforcing real-name rules. From the article: "The feature will only display first names, and OkCupid says no outside-service verification will be used to confirm that the name matches your actual identity. An OkCupid spokesperson tells Ars Technica that the only requirements are a two-letter minimum without numbers, symbols, or emojis and that it will operate a "banned word" list, whose contents it did not disclose."

From OkCupid's open letter: "Ahead of the new year, we’re removing OkCupid usernames. It’s starting with a test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profiles with what they want their dates to call them... We’ve also heard from many members of our community that they want to maintain the privacy they enjoy with usernames—with this change, we won’t be collecting full names; instead, we encourage our users to go by the name they’d like their dates to call them on OkCupid."
posted by Iris Gambol (105 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah - I basically wrote them a piece of my mind and instantly deleted my account.

I'm really getting tired of these companies thinking they know what's best.

I hope this backfires on them, but I won't be back. They've been going to shit since Match bought them. And hell if I'm going to "Match". OKC, like LJ was one of the "good ones", but both have turned to rot.

You know what, I think I'm gonna donate to MeFi now just because. We need to keep this alive. To our last breath.

Long live the spirit of the 90s internet. Long live pseudonymity. Long live our privacy.
posted by symbioid at 5:53 PM on December 22, 2017 [108 favorites]


This is honestly worst than the Patreon thing, IMO, in the gaffe department--Patreon's thing obviously did more immediate harm, but at least Patreon didn't unveil their proposed fee changes by calling $1 donors cheap and stupid. Regardless of whether they're going to kick anybody off for using something other than their real name... it's like saying that you don't need a picture, but everybody else has a picture and nobody's going to click on you if you don't have a picture and you're dumb for not having a picture, and that's the same as privacy, right?

OKC has for awhile now been charging significant amounts of money for features that're mostly useful for women who want to avoid harassment from strangers, of course. (And also LGBT people in the closet, etc--exactly the same people harmed by this.) Incognito is $20 a month, and you have to keep paying for it as long as you want an account and to not show up in searches, so basically if you want to stop paying you have to delete or disable your account entirely, or else do some drastic surgery on whatever in your profile you didn't want to be public knowledge.

Now combine that with this, and they're pushing you to put your real name on this and still evidently proposing to charge you that much to not let every random person who signs up for an account see that you're there.
posted by Sequence at 5:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


This is being blown *way* out of proportion. When you logon to the app they straight up ask you what name you want to use. You can type in anything you want including a pseudonym. I didn't use my real first name and the app had zero problems with that.
posted by dgeiser13 at 6:00 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


dgeiser,

They should have left it at that.

Actually mocking their users means someone else is at the wheel, who didn't learn *by second grade* you don't make fun of people's *names*. Even if they're Unicorn Jizz.
posted by effugas at 6:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


OkCupid says no outside-service verification will be used to confirm that the name matches your actual identity.
I predict that within a few months, over 50% of the women remaining on OKCupid will be 'named' either Ivanka or Leia.
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


I had to type in a name before it would let me delete my account. But to their credit, they were totally fine with asdf as a name.
posted by aubilenon at 6:11 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was in the middle of arranging dates with people I was actually interested in meeting when the blocker screen kicked in, so I thought about deleting my account, but I entered my username as my real name and it was fine with it.

This is such a dumb and instantly unpopular policy I'll give it a minute to see if it really sticks around, since as long as it lets me use a fake name I still hate OKC less than the alternatives, but wow what a bad rollout to a bad policy.

(Though, the new messaging system is still incomprehensible to me, and it's obnoxious as hell that they'll tell me I got a message but make me click through the Tinder-style list of randos to see what it is or who it might be from, and this is somehow for my convenience and comfort.)
posted by jameaterblues at 6:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


I guess that means that OKCupid zucks.
posted by acb at 6:22 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


It was pretty easy for me to delete my account since instead of getting me dates, OKCupid just made me feel bad (mostly my fault, not theirs)
posted by aubilenon at 6:27 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Long live the spirit of the 90s internet. Long live pseudonymity. Long live our privacy.

There'll probably still be pseudonym-friendly dating services somewhere on Tor. Most of them will be tarpits run by the Russian Mafiya, on which all the profiles are bots programmed to empty your bank account, and the others one will have to contend with drug dealers, paedophiles and ISIS recruiters to deal with, and will probably draw attention from the spooks if one some much as is aware of their existence. Other than that, this is Mark Zuckerberg's world; we're all just living in it.
posted by acb at 6:27 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


They don't ask for your real name, but they do tell you to use the name you should want your date actually calling you, which if you are looking for actual dates for an actual relationship, is probably going to be something like your real name.

Sure, you can get around it. But as with the picture thing, you're now at the mercy of the culture on that site to continue thinking that using a pseudonym is okay--and OKC has just themselves made it very clear that they do not think that using a pseudonym is okay. They don't have a policy forcing it to be related to the name you use in real life now--but that doesn't have to stay the same. What they've done is adopt a position on this: You should be on the site under your actual name. They are creating a situation where people have to choose between maintaining reasonable privacy and the chance at romantic relationships. It's coercive. And this new status quo that they've created is disproportionately dangerous to people who are already-marginalized. So, hey, go ahead and do something different, but they're going to be actively encouraging the expectation by cis white guys that they'll be seeing real names, so--hey, good luck everybody else, naming yourself other stuff is definitely not going to cause any problems!

They don't need to enforce it by actually checking your ID for it to be a problem.
posted by Sequence at 6:51 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


They could have avoided so much pain if they had just put the actual new policy in big bold letters rather than trying to be cute. They used to have a username field; now they have a "name" field in which you put whatever non-banned identifier you want to be called. I don't see how that's actually particularly different from a privacy standpoint, even if it's user-hostile to make everyone go through this.

If they had just clearly communicated that, just a "hey, the thing we called 'username' is now going to be called 'name,' so put whatever you want other people to see in that box and that's what we'll call you; use your name or something else, we really don't care," this shouldn't have been a thing.

The real issue is that they only added the "we won’t be collecting full names; instead, we encourage our users to go by the name they’d like their dates to call them on OkCupid" bit later, after people got mad (here's a capture of an earlier version). It's almost 2018, and there are still people on the internet who are so dense they didn't realize that rolling out a real name policy without thinking about privacy was going to be a problem. And given that failure to read the damn room and think about the basic implications of what they were doing, it's hard to imagine trusting them to make good decisions in the future.
posted by zachlipton at 6:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Part of why this is bad is that by either not thinking about the privacy implications or not caring, they show that they can’t be trusted with exactly the sorts of personal data that their site traffics in.
posted by wotsac at 6:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


Yeah - I basically wrote them a piece of my mind and instantly deleted my account.

Same. And made sure to be clear why in the "why are you deleting your account" field on the deletion form.
posted by ctmf at 7:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm surprised they didn't imply anyone not wanting to use their "real name" was cheating.
Would pay cash money to find out how many users just straight up deleted as soon as the change hit their account.
posted by fullerine at 7:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


They hadn't made me change yet; I deleted preemptively. I suppose there's a chance they'd do a "our user spoke, we listened!" self-congratulating apology and rolled it back, but I don't trust them any more.

They already took away (or started charging for) a feature I found useful, number of views. I don't need to see who or when, but I like A/B testing what works and what doesn't, and it's harder if you can't see how many initial views a photo is getting, or how many contacts *out of what number of views*. Plus, this year in Japan, there are *drastically* fewer people even on the service. What used to be hundreds is now the same ten or twelve and "can't find any matches right now" unless I make the filter ridiculously permissive (i.e., useless).

Thanks for finding me some friends I still see often, OKC. But you're done now.
posted by ctmf at 7:11 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Welp, I was thinking about getting back on OKC because I'm so socially isolated in my new town, but I guess I'll just continue on with my plan of dying alone.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:14 PM on December 22, 2017 [37 favorites]


Plus, this year in Japan, there are *drastically* fewer people even on the service

I suppose it's possible that I was blocked in a matter of months by hundreds of people I've never contacted, but seems unlikely.
posted by ctmf at 7:16 PM on December 22, 2017


The good news is, Tinder has been overrun by people "not interested in hookups". Nothing wrong with that, of course, but it seemed like the extended profile OKC let you do was more conducive to that kind of matching than the tiny space you get on Tinder.
posted by ctmf at 7:19 PM on December 22, 2017 [7 favorites]


This is more tangential... but how do people handle the stress of online dating? I was on OKC for a little while because it seemed more me-friendly than other sites/apps, but eventually I deleted my account because it was overwhelming. Both too many options and too few appealing options. A lot of trying to ask questions that would get people to respond. Too many requests from men in their 20s asking for me to be their Mrs. Robinson. (One, okay. Many? Also, I'm only in my 30s. I'm not ready to play Mrs. Robinson.) Too few responses from other queer ladies. And we're not getting into the safety issues.

I'm becoming tense just thinking about it and it exasperated all of my insecurities. I often feel a little wistful for some sort of romance, but the act of internet dating makes me feel panicky.

And adding my real name to the mix would only increase the panic. If I talk about myself at all, I'd be pretty easy to find on the internet. In my professional life, I want to be easy to find. But sometimes if I think about what I need to do in order to get ahead in my artistic career and what makes sense in terms of being female on the internet... I wish they weren't so contradictory. Add potential dates googling me... well, look another reason to be freaked out by online dating.
posted by JustKeepSwimming at 7:30 PM on December 22, 2017 [10 favorites]


When I got the email, I was instantly annoyed and thought about canceling my account -- a paid one -- but later decided that, as a man, my willingness to use my real name will signal something positive. But this is an amazingly stupid, destructive, dangerous policy to impose upon women. But they've been doing things such as encouraging people to link their Instagram accounts for awhile now.

With reverse image searching and a first name, or just first name and age and location and stuff revealed on the profile and Q&A, it will expose many women to stalkers and other danger. It is astoundingly idiotic of them to impose this rule right at the most visible level. If they wanted some more real-name accountability, they could have tried to do so at a level that isn't universally visible.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:47 PM on December 22, 2017 [12 favorites]


With reverse image searching and a first name, or just first name and age and location and stuff revealed on the profile and Q&A, it will expose many women to stalkers and other danger. It is astoundingly idiotic of them to impose this rule right at the most visible level. If they wanted some more real-name accountability, they could have tried to do so at a level that isn't universally visible.

This is what jumps out at me. I can totally get them wanting to be able to tie profiles to real people for accountability reasons, but pushing for that to be public seems poorly thought-through.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:03 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I wrote OKC an angry email about this change, mentioning my safety concerns. This is their non-reply reply:

Thanks for your message. Dating is more personal than a username. So we're getting rid of usernames and replacing them with real names.

It's starting with a small test group and will soon be rolled out to everyone on OkCupid, so all users will need to update their profile with their real name. If you don't see it yet on your account, you will soon!

You can add your name from your profile by clicking/tapping the green pencil icon at the top of your profile, or on the settings page.

You can read more information on our blog post here: https://theblog.okcupid.com/an-open-letter-on-why-were-removing-usernames-addressed-to-the-worst-ones-we-ve-ever-seen-dd017c75d49a

I will pass along your feedback about this change to the team. Please let me know if there's anything else I can do.

posted by mcduff at 8:08 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I just had a thought ... Doesn't Match.com present itself as a "Christian", cis-het-only website? I wonder if this change is geared at encouraging already marginalized non-cis-het-Christian people to go away.

Suspicious? Why would I be suspicious of our omniscient capitalist overlords?
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:12 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


I am making an effort to reduce the amount of data that is available about me online, and when I got the message from OKCupid, it was a pretty easy decision to kill my account.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 8:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


but later decided that, as a man, my willingness to use my real name will signal something positive.

It’s exactly because I’m a cis/het man that I feel I should delete my account and yell loudly. Plenty straight white men will happily employ slurs and be creeps, pseudonym or real name, birthdate and current address published.
posted by wotsac at 8:31 PM on December 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


i wonder if someone finding out you're using a fake name once they've met you will be grounds for terminating your account, should they choose to report you. if so, it would be harder to get around this.
posted by wibari at 8:32 PM on December 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


Eh, I don't know . Since you can choose what to use, maybe I'll just start going by my middle name. Always wanted to do that and now may be a good time to indulge that whim since it'd make it easy do so.
posted by los pantalones del muerte at 8:33 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I've been a user for over a decade, and a paying customer for the last few years. If they want to kick me off for using a pseud, that's their lookout. My whole impetus for using their site is to eventually not have to, if you catch my drift. Maybe if enough people leave or are booted, we'll get something that's what OKC used to be. In the meantime, there's always schadenfreude on the subreddit.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:57 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


Doesn't Match.com present itself as a "Christian", cis-het-only website?
I think you're thinking of eHarmony.com, which does skew more Christian/cis-het (not officially, now, but when they started up, you could only choose cis-het as an option, and you couldn't even make a profile unless you listed yourself as "single" or "divorced" ("Separated" would get you shut out. In 2006ish, anyway.)
posted by The otter lady at 9:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Hey it worked for Google+
posted by benzenedream at 9:02 PM on December 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


I've been a user for over a decade

I had been a user since SparkMatch.

Man back then their quizzes had some good questions. e.g., True or False: Winter is a very romantic month
posted by aubilenon at 9:05 PM on December 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


Well, I was thinking about joining once my situation stabilized a bit, but now I won't. I'm gay and trans and though it wouldn't affect me much (I'm out and my name is legally changed) I don't want to support a site with a policy that's going to disproportionately affect marginalized people.

I assume most people are just going to pick a pseudonym and reveal their real name in chat, if they want. This is a completely pointless exercise. If they wanted to ban certain words/names like WhitePride69 or whatever nonsense, they could have done that before.
posted by AFABulous at 9:06 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


"The good news is, Tinder has been overrun by people "not interested in hookups".

Even screening very selectively about who I meet and doing it rarely, my meetups from Tinder have been way worse matches for me. There's no screening for anything important. Sure, someone may show higher than average intelligence, and I may find their description funny, or the ethics they list sound, but you only have space for one, and someone who may also enjoy playing games could say something horrifying about black people on a first date. These are the sorts of experiences I've had.

OKC has gone way downhill lately though. I've started getting a lot of rude and semi-literate responses, and crass emails about my anatomy in the last year, which wasn't common before that. Tinder people have been WAY more polite on average. On Tinder the rudest response I've gotten was one guy hinting at sexting by asking if I had Kik. Frustratingly, the lack of screening and my small budget mean that a $30 date to determine someone is smart and seems nice and then says he doesn't think sexual assault is a big deal (actually happened to me) on a first date are dispiriting. And blows my dating budget for the next week or two. No matter how many times I insist on coffee, people persist in moving the starting line.

OKC sprang the name thing out of nowhere, and the popup on my phone wasn't clear that they wouldn't cross-check weird names, like Facebook does. So in that shocked instant I chose a protest-username that I was sure would cause my account to be canceled in the long-run, instead of cleverly choosing my username, and now I appear to be stuck with that without a way to change it.

I'm so frustrated I don't even know how to quantify it. I'd rather switch to meeting people in person and not thinking about dating someone until I know them as friend, but I know no one in this city, and once a month meetups aren't enough to build friendships. How do adults make friends in a new city anyway, especially with a limited budget?

I mean, I go to the gym, I do book clubs, but man. It's just brutally hard.
posted by liminal_shadows at 9:09 PM on December 22, 2017 [17 favorites]


It's pretty clear their intent was to have a real name policy (as seen in mcduff's email) and they started trying to quietly backtrack by slipping in the "go by the name they’d like their dates to call them on OkCupid" bit after people started asking WTF.
posted by zachlipton at 9:11 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Here's the other thing: I got so completely frustrated by being bombarded with polyamorous people that I finally said something to one of them and that's when I discovered that while you can search for "single" people you can't search for polyamorous people. I still blame the users too, because if someone's polyamorous they'll mention it in their profile, but how can okc not understand that this feels like pestering to a lot of women and they're facilitating it by not offering better search options.
posted by liminal_shadows at 9:18 PM on December 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


Also a user off and on (RIP, failed relationships) since The Spark/Sparkmatch, and man the internet went downhill when someone handed Joe Average a phone and told them it was a great substitute for a keyboard. I'm not snobbish about clothes or jobs, or apartments or where someone went to school, but I am just not simpatico for internet newbies. Or Joe/anne Average.
posted by liminal_shadows at 9:21 PM on December 22, 2017 [11 favorites]


OkCupid is arguably a product from the desktop-laptop era of the Internet. Its long, verbose profiles aren't as easy to read or write on a smartphone.

It is designed for an era when going on the Internet was a distinct activity. You were in front of your computer or you were not, and you had screen names that were not your real name.

I'm betting all of that is alien to the current generation of single 23-year-olds. For the young women who are the bread and butter of any dating site, seeing men with in-joke names is probably off-putting in ways it wasn't a decade ago.

This may also be a way to purge older users, especially aging men seeking women.
posted by smelendez at 9:50 PM on December 22, 2017 [32 favorites]


You can search for non monogamous people. Under search filters, in the availability section you can choose.

It’s really disappointing that OkC has made so many negative changes lately. It’s long been the only good option for non monogamous online dating in my experience. Tinder and Bumble were both lousy. Is there a better option?
posted by Cogito at 9:52 PM on December 22, 2017


smelendez,

You win.
posted by effugas at 10:16 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Frustratingly, the lack of screening and my small budget mean that a $30 date to determine someone is smart and seems nice and then says he doesn't think sexual assault is a big deal (actually happened to me) on a first date are dispiriting. And blows my dating budget for the next week or two. No matter how many times I insist on coffee, people persist in moving the starting line.

I was under the (mistaken?) impression that men are still widely expected to pay for the first date, so I'm a little surprised—not to mention rather saddened—to hear of your unfortunate experience. While it's commendable for a woman to insist on each party paying for themselves on the first date (or what is really, in this internet age, the "pre-first-date-screening"), I don't think anyone should have to spend more for such a screening appointment than is comfortably within their budget. Have you thought of enforcing a first-meeting rule with no exceptions (stated clearly beforehand): coffee or tea only for each of you on this first meeting, or you are walking?
posted by tenderly at 10:19 PM on December 22, 2017


Cogito: "It’s really disappointing that OkC has made so many negative changes lately."

Agreed. They were by far the best option out there when I was newly single, and I was lucky enough to meet my wife there. Seems like it's been mostly getting worse ever since.
posted by Chrysostom at 10:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


It's just lovely that the internet starts turning to shit right when I decide to dip my toes into making human connections again. I guess my options are either jump into the deep end or dry out completely. You win again social anxiety :\
posted by Freelance Demiurge at 11:13 PM on December 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


I was on OKC very early on, and for a brief year or two is was a glorious sexy nerd paradise. If there was ever a healthy and low drama MeFi dating site, that would have been it.

I think the last exchange I had with anyone on OKC was over 5 years ago. It involved someone from Enumclaw (yes, that Enumclaw) who liked Nickelback, who replied with "Great, I love Nickelback!" when I tried to politely decline and noting Nickelback as a prime reason as to why we weren't going to get along. Woah, hold up. This same person spammed me five more times in the next five days reintroducing themselves and asking if I liked to party with Tina. No, I certainly do not. I definitely did not initiate any of these conversations beyond the initial polite reply.

Around a month ago a robot emailed me and told me I needed to log in to preserve my account or it was going to be deleted. I have not. This was just before all of the changes to messaging and now names, and I'm sure they're related with whatever sprucing up they're doing.

My perspective on all of this is kind of skewed because I'm really so nerdy I wouldn't have had a teenaged or young adult dating life at all without "online dating", first with local dial up BBSes and meetups and such. It wasn't weird among my circle of friends to say "oh, we met online" but it certainly was weird to pretty much everyone else, like announcing you met them in a dark alley or at an anonymous and seedy swinger house or something.

Right now I have no desire to try online dating again. The thought of having to use tinder or even the old OKC today just sounds excruciating.

Is there an eHarmony for weirdos? I mean, that used to just be the internet. No, Fetlife definitely doesn't count.

Also, what Gen X really needs at this point is a couple of not-dating apps.

There'll be cuddlr, when you really just want to take a nap with someone and chill, netflix or not. Profile matching features will include big spoon vs. little spoon preferences, snoring or non-snoring and so on.

Then PimPlr is the hookup app when you just really need someone to pop that painful zit in the middle your back that you can't quite reach, or help you trim or pluck your increasingly alarming ear hair. Users can build profiles of preferred monkey grooming rituals they offer and they'll be matched with someone who can barter compatible grooming tasks directly.

Then there's the CHORE app were you can get matched with other happily introverted single people who want someone to do chores and errands with, or go to the Farmer's Market or thrift store on a not-date.
posted by loquacious at 11:54 PM on December 22, 2017 [32 favorites]


bring back the quizzes, you cowards

Also the graphs showing actual probability distributions of personality traits, I loved those
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:05 AM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


livejournal : dreamwidth :: okcupid : ????
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:06 AM on December 23, 2017 [7 favorites]


Here's a recent, openly hostile doozy I've been watching to see if it is ever pulled...

How do you feel about the word queer?
x I like it. / identify as queer.
x It's okay / I don't mind it.
x I don't like it / think it beats around the bush
Answer(s) you'll accept
x I like it. / identify as queer.
x It's okay / I don't mind it.
x I don't like it / think it beats around the bush
x Any of the above

Explanation:
Erm...the selectors are textually hostile, excluding any option to advocate for/support for a demonstrably subjugated minority by a predominantly self-selected designation while a single selector fuses any such advocacy for/support with self-identification. It is an indirect form of hate speech by terms of constraint and a version of doxxing were OKCupid not anonymous in design.

As framed, these selections normalize a point of view that LGBTs illegitimately appropriate language.
=====

I wrote those words weeks before OKCupid announced its change...

"Beat around the bush" is some prick's "notion" of humor...
How a statistics-based approach by a non-normative community of brilliant people who achieved more than Kinsey with discriminations so fine the Gods were threatened...
Finds expression through porn merchants who openly collaborate with what is, in part, a trafficking site across the Asian Pacific is too emblematic of the web to be understood by the public or any compromised investigative authority.

I have a working knowledge of probability and maintain a profile since 2007 and can attest to what I discern is tweaking returns. The status quo has come marginally far in allowing women (and a comparatively small number of men) to operate without pimps, but eliminating the pimp in toto is not easy.

That said, OK Trends correlations were often unsurprising.

The most savvy of women, long inundated by crotch shots and spammed wolf-whistles, have evolved a strategy of a single picture and minimal textual engagement because the numbers don't lie.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 1:43 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Telling them "why" you're doing what you're doing on your way out the door is an interesting exercise, but it's more than they deserve. They aren't telling you why they made the changes. The reasons given in the blog post are as likely entirely made up as they are to reflect the motivations or thinking behind the changes.

To me it looks like classic product/UX career incentive stuff. There's an industry trend or two towards the new This Is How We Do Things now, plus some stakeholder needs a change they can take ownership of and put as a bullet-point under stuff they did that added value later. It doesn't really matter if it actually helps OKC function more effectively as a tool for people connecting/meeting each other. It only loosely matters if some metrics *suffer*, as long as they can find the metric that improves with the right framing.

By all means, nope out and find another avenue as a form of protest -- the more engagement and revenue drops, the harder it is for the careerists to find their booster metric, though rarely impossible -- and if it gives you satisfaction to vent a little as you exit, go ahead. But don't do it under the illusion there's likely anyone making those decisions who cares. Particularly when the announcement of the new feature is as tone-deaf and boneheaded as this one is.

But personally, I think the real bomb this month is Why OK Cupid is changing how you message. It's absolutely true that there's a giant message quality problem with open messaging, particularly for women. I can almost spot them credibility on the change since it's genuinely an issue. But this is basically the death blow to any pretense of "substance over selfie" philosophy. When you need to see the profile *before* you can see a message (much less when you need to like-match before you can see a message), that lines up all the incentives around making your profile as appealing as possible. And on a product with tl;dr profile presentation (and every mobile-first product is like that), well, it's all about the photo. Now without even a carefully chosen username to give a hint!

And what kind of incentive does it give first-messagers in terms of crafting a message? I mean, the incentives are already bad here -- the reason why message quality is low is that (a) people who aren't particularly sophisticated send unsophisticated/uninteresting messages and (b) the people who *are* more sophisticated figure out pretty quickly that unless you're outlier attractive, you are probably going to send an order of magnitude more messages than you get responded to. That can be worth doing anyway in a measured and calculated manner, but knowing that people won't even *see* your message, won't even get a chance to evaluate you on what you *say* rather than how your tl;dr profile looks, means your incentive to put time into a message drops precipitously. Messaging only people who've liked you is the only sane choice if you don't want to waste a lot of time. At that point, it's the same proposition as Tinder and why even allow messaging before matching *at all*?
posted by wildblueyonder at 3:05 AM on December 23, 2017 [12 favorites]


I think it's as simple as "Tinder is what the kids like now; make it like that." Real Names was probably going to be their distinguishing feature, the "how is this not just a copy of Tinder?"

Guess what? You managed to turn a good thing into a thing just like Tinder, but worse.
posted by ctmf at 3:35 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


lazycomputerkids,

I think it's a clever question. You can't outright ask someone if they hate gay people, they know not to answer that truthfully. But you can ask them something in a sort of side-eyed, "So...*obviously* you don't have a problem with gays, but do you think they could be perhaps...more free with their speech?"

That can potentially get an honest answer, and in this particular space, honesty means a bunch of people for whom the answer is critical, don't have to match with this guy. Everyone's happier.
posted by effugas at 3:56 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Messaging only people who've liked you is the only sane choice if you don't want to waste a lot of time. At that point, it's the same proposition as Tinder and why even allow messaging before matching *at all*?

Either you're confused or I am. No longer seeing who "likes" you was policy more than six months ago, I believe. Prior to it, non-subscribers were very limited in mailbox capacity. When they took away "likes", they expanded it by a factor beyond ten.

I think it's a clever question.

No, it's not. And I comprehend prior questions that were straight up Nazi-like questions and their use to avoid those users. What you fail to see in my post is what I included in my Explanation of the Question: It is an indirect form of hate speech by terms of constraint and a version of doxxing were OKCupid not anonymous in design.

Three or four weeks later, anonymity became the latest change. Am I missing something? You do understand how correlations are achieved? Confidence intervals? What weight one gives to the discriminators is everything. In that question, no support of the term "queer" excluded identifying as queer.

Do you not perceive the agenda of these changes?
posted by lazycomputerkids at 4:05 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Tinder has been overrun by people "not interested in hookups".

Although, a lot of people put that just in case their friends spot them. (I occasionally even get propositioned BY a person with that in their profile.) If you write that and people proposition you for a casual hookup anyway, this is why. They're not ignoring your clearly-stated wishes, there's just no way to know which is which now that nearly everyone puts that.

Which only goes to show, women should get to choose who they want to see messages from, default-deny. At least both OKC (very late in the game) and Tinder have that part figured out.
posted by ctmf at 4:23 AM on December 23, 2017


Erm...the selectors are textually hostile, excluding any option to advocate for/support for a demonstrably subjugated minority by a predominantly self-selected designation while a single selector fuses any such advocacy for/support with self-identification.

It's a question about the reclamation of the word 'queer' by queer people. It's not a space for you to "demonstrate support". It's not a question to be shown to or answered by straight people.

If I were chatting to someone who objected to 'queer' and they were under the age of, I don't know, 50, that's definitely something I need to understand their reasons for, as it's easy to imagine reasons that would be a dealbreaker, but possibly also reasons that are "agree to disagree".
posted by hoyland at 4:55 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


It's not a question to be shown to or answered by straight people.

How's that work for a public facing site?

But I see the premise you're positing, given you might show people under the age of 50 having evolved some distance from the term "queer" after it's normalization, and given its heritage. I think you are full of it, however, because your reply fails to address the context of this question appearing when the site was anonymous and shortly before an announcement it no longer will be.

I mean, if your premise is people shouldn't remain in a closet, such as the tension accurately portrayed in Milk(2008), if you believe doxxing is okay, then...?
posted by lazycomputerkids at 5:34 AM on December 23, 2017


So they say "we encourage our users to go by the name they’d like their dates to call them on OkCupid", but then won't let me use the name BigDickJackson69-420 even though that IS what I want my dates to call me.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:49 AM on December 23, 2017 [7 favorites]



Which only goes to show, women should get to choose who they want to see messages from, default-deny


As a woman on both OkCupid and Tinder, I liked that people could message me on OkCupid without having to spend time myself swiping their profiles and making judgments on someone's acceptability with so little information. I used OkCupid by (a) logging in if someone sends me a message or (b) searching for cool people and messaging them. Now, I won't see the (a) messages, and it's less likely the folks in (b) will see mine.

It would not have been difficult for them to have added "only show me messages from people I have liked" as an inbox filter rather than a requirement, but they chose not to, which I find just as baffling as the name thing.

They lost a lot of users to Tinder and so decided to become an awkward, less useful version of Tinder instead of playing to their strengths, which is a darn shame.
posted by metasarah at 5:55 AM on December 23, 2017 [10 favorites]


Likes can no longer be seen for how long now? Six months?
posted by lazycomputerkids at 6:03 AM on December 23, 2017


I can totally get them wanting to be able to tie profiles to real people for accountability reasons

Accountability my arse. This will be all about data matching and aggregation for targeted advertising.
posted by flabdablet at 6:28 AM on December 23, 2017 [12 favorites]


I predict that within a few months, over 50% of the women remaining on OKCupid will be 'named' either Ivanka or Leia

And 50% of the men will be John Small Berries.
posted by flabdablet at 6:32 AM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


"They lost a lot of users to Tinder and so decided to become an awkward, less useful version of Tinder instead of playing to their strengths, which is a darn shame."

Yeah, it's frustrating. I really, really hate the "it's all about the photo" approach to online dating. It's not that I'm saying it shouldn't matter, but I very strongly prefer to start with high matching % and the profile.

Also, I'm very atypical for a man in that I'm highly selective about who I actually write. Let's say there are seven 90%+ marches meeting my filtering requirements -- I'm likely to end up being even mildly interested in three or so of them, and odds are that I'll only write to one. I'm too initially discriminating, I think, but even so, the whole point of OKC to me is to use all that other information in the Q&As and the profile to find people I actually might be interested in. The Tinder model leans toward quantity over quality and on the basis of little information.

If the goal is to reduce all the penis pics and spam that's sent to women, and to move toward greater transparency and accountability (particularly in the case of straight men), well, I'm all in favor of that but it shouldn't come at the cost of greater risk for women, obviously, and being more like Tinder and the rest. Because that's stupid -- OKC isn't Tinder and won't be able to compete on that basis.

"Accountability my arse. This will be all about data matching and aggregation for targeted advertising."

I don't doubt it. But I was giving them the benefit of the doubt because there's a strong argument that can be made to support some changes on that basis.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:43 AM on December 23, 2017 [9 favorites]


To me it looks like classic product/UX career incentive stuff. There's an industry trend or two towards the new This Is How We Do Things now, plus some stakeholder needs a change they can take ownership of and put as a bullet-point under stuff they did that added value later. It doesn't really matter if it actually helps OKC function more effectively as a tool for people connecting/meeting each other. It only loosely matters if some metrics *suffer*, as long as they can find the metric that improves with the right framing.

I suspect that this is really the case.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:05 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Loquacious, your Gen X non-dating app ideas are genius. If these were real, I'd be throwing handfuls of money at the developers.
posted by the thought-fox at 7:08 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


But personally, I think the real bomb this month is Why OK Cupid is changing how you message. It's absolutely true that there's a giant message quality problem with open messaging, particularly for women. I can almost spot them credibility on the change since it's genuinely an issue.

It's interesting -- the change in messaging seems at least in part like a (clumsy and overly broad) response to the actual problem of many women feeling deluged by messages. But the change in naming seems somewhat like the opposite, something that appears to needlessly add risk (like being easier to track down for off-line harassing).
posted by Dip Flash at 7:40 AM on December 23, 2017


It's interesting -- the change in messaging seems at least in part like a (clumsy and overly broad) response to the actual problem of many women feeling deluged by messages. But the change in naming seems somewhat like the opposite, something that appears to needlessly add risk (like being easier to track down for off-line harassing).

I don't understand why your language is so understated and reticent to call a spade a digging tool. Seems somewhat like? It Will. Brogrammers are not all concerned with any risk to individuals in the pursuit of quarterly profit and valuation. What laws and police policies address harassment and assault online are infamously weak.

All these anecdotal attestations to how any individual uses the site versus its intersection with sex workers is bizarre. I've a decade discerning correlated percentage returns and any transparent, legitimate return can be switched off to steer any demographic to another, globally. The site's ownership is trafficking in plain sight. Asia is not a closed market to OKCupid.

MF, above all, knows the value of moderation, knows better than most how hollow most web app enterprise is in terms of the number of employees who proffer proposals and potentially obscure a technique to "wow" an executive rank. Zuckerberg's enterprise is a fiefdom of what will advance a team to better position, and where both the stakes and most radical manipulation of data have emerged.

The database produced by eliminating "likes" forces textual interaction and is why the mailbox's capacity was increased. 2/3rds of the women's profiles now make this explicit at an outset to potential matches: I can't see "likes" anymore, so you must write me.
posted by lazycomputerkids at 8:03 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, nothing about this makes sense. They're saying "here, put your real name in this field, it has to be your real name plz" - but doing nothing to enforce real names. It's essentially a relabeled "Username" field.

So they get all of the (predictable) blowback, with none of the (supposed) benefits of a real-name-only community. Nothing material has changed - except that users are pissed, and OKC is getting a ton of bad press.

And, I mean, how out-of-touch do you have to be to think that taking basic privacy tools away from users - on a dating site - is a good idea? Seriously. I wish I could watch the tape of this meeting, because the thought process is unfathomable.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:15 AM on December 23, 2017 [9 favorites]


one of the projects in my day job has been focused on merging user data on a few of my employer's different web properties. It's one of those companies that partially grown by acquisition and you can imagine it being akin to the problem of Amazon buying Zappos and Comixology and having to confirm if Amazon user:"jsmith31337" is the same as Zappos user "jane.smith" because both records have the same first name, last name, DOB, and email address, and we would like to be able to present Jane with one single unified history of all her past purchases, because we think that she'd be delighted by that (as would our marketing department)

(for the record, we are not solving this problem with heuristics like above, we're actually just asking the user to merge their accounts manually because the cost in user goodwill in making a wrong guess is far, far more painful than asking them to do the work and giving them control over what accounts should be merged)

We actually had a spirited debate within our team in a recent sprint planning meeting about whether or not we should retain usernames, mostly because we had the problem of needing to keep username distinct in the new system, and there's a non-trivial number of users who are different individuals but have the same username in at least one of the systems. Who gets to keep the username 'jsmith31337'? Is it the Jane Smith who registered with one of our systems first and got dibs? Is it the Jeremiah Smith who has been most recently and actively logging in and might therefore care the most in the short term about keeping that name? Should we build a new interface and workflow to help these users disambiguate? Does that need to bring in design? Could we just drop username as a login requirement altogether and therefore drop the uniqueness constraint?

I deleted my OkC account a long time ago, shortly after the Match acquisition, so I confess that I don't know the extent to which the two platforms have intertwined with each other, but in the spirit of Hanlon's Razor and not attributing malice to that which can be explained by stupidity, I would not be surprised if this is just a call that was made because OkC is finally fully merging their platform with Match and some harried product manager out there just doesn't want to even with the problem of username collision on both systems.
posted by bl1nk at 9:08 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm conflicted about this. On the one hand, enforcing a real name rule would be a terrible and bad idea. On the other hand, what they seem to essentially be doing here in practice is just eliminating the requirement that your username be unique, which is a really good thing—it took me the better part of an hour to come up with an OKCupid username that wasn't completely stupid.
posted by fifthrider at 9:09 AM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


...but in the spirit of Hanlon's Razor and not attributing malice to that which can be explained by stupidity,...

That has not worked out well for women along any front you care to cite...but won't, and can't because apologia isn't innocent. WeChat shall bury much, just as FaceBook was the summary death of Reunion.com

/out
posted by lazycomputerkids at 9:13 AM on December 23, 2017


I haven't logged-in in years, but it's sad to hear what's happened; back in the early 2000s, OKC was this strange land of smart, nerdy people, and the quizzes were entertaining enough on their own to keep people (at least, people that I knew) engaged even if you weren't entirely comfortable with online dating. The stats posts they used to occasionally do were fun, too.

Maybe it's one of those things that's just fundamentally incompatible with a profit motive. I suspect that the number of people on OKC today is many times what it was in 2004, when I was on it, and since a particular user only has so much time in their life for dates, beyond a certain size, having more users really isn't beneficial. An optimal dating site would be niche and focused on a particular type of person. But that's never going to be profitable.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:45 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


POF's strategy of staying firmly ensconced in mid-aughts technology and aesthetics is about to start paying off!
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:01 AM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


I joined in earnest as a male transfemine seeking women about a month ago and have achieved two replies, zero dates, and a whole lot of heartache despite having good support and encouragement from my real-life friends. Part of it is my location, part of it is me (high anxiety & avoidance, low self-esteem & confidence, general weirdness), but I had been sticking with it in hopes of something happening against probability, i.e. "Magic and miracles DO exist." This latest change doesn't really even push my buttons to push the button on its own. It just seems like a further escalation in hostility and difficulty in an already difficult and challenging situation.

That aside, this action immediately made me think of something Jascha Kaykas-Wolff might do.
posted by glonous keming at 10:14 AM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


Loquacious, your Gen X non-dating app ideas are genius. If these were real, I'd be throwing handfuls of money at the developers.

Oh? I just happen to be developing them right now (opens up IDE in the background, calls up AWS front end) would you like a paypal address to throw money at? /s

If my track record of coming up with random stoner futurist thoughts* that end up coming true is any guide, and accounting for eschatological acceleration and time dilation, you should likely see these apps in about five years. Maybe less. My lead time has become highly unreliable these days, if not backlogged.

Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if someone hasn't already used Fiverr or TaskRabbit for these kinds of things. "Help! I have a hot date! Shave my back!"

*Example: I totally "invented" Uber and Lyft in my head back in the early 90s if not the late 80s, but it was more of a friendly GPS and computer enabled ride sharing service, because I hated cars and how wasteful they were. Smart phones weren't really a thing, but embedded and mobile computing certainly was. Another idea I had around the same was GPS enabled buses that had active displays at bus terminals that could tell you if you missed the bus or if it was late, so you could attempt other routes or connections. That's totally a thing now, and NextBus or OneBusAway are things, too.

No, these aren't particularly difficult or unique ideas. I'm sure a lot of people had ideas about how to use GPS and mobile computing to solve transit problems that were just like this.

Next up: Smartphones become tricorders and respectable field science tools. This has already been happening with sensor package add-ons like the FLIR and Seek thermal camera modules, oscilloscope dongles and microscope widgets and other science friendly stuff.

posted by loquacious at 12:07 PM on December 23, 2017 [3 favorites]


Well I guess it's time to delete my account there. Not that I'm in the market for new lovers anyway, I haven't used it in forever.

I typed "Fake" as my "real name" when they required it on login. The mechanically-cheery popup of "Fake. Has a nice ring to it." made me laugh.

And now they have one less account. With this new policy as the reason for it going away.
posted by egypturnash at 1:48 PM on December 23, 2017 [5 favorites]


Also I would like to share this story about OKCupid.

I used to get a ton of "matches" with guys who were clearly conservative. Which would be a pretty terrible match for a liberal trans lady. Then one day when I was killing time by answering some of their zillions of user-created questions via going down the list of ones a conservative "match" had answered, I came across one that was something like "if AIs started demanding rights, should they be allowed to have them?"

I said yes, I'm definitely for AI rights, and marked the question as "somewhat important".

And I never got another conservative "match" offered up to me again.
posted by egypturnash at 2:10 PM on December 23, 2017 [9 favorites]


Messaging only people who've liked you is the only sane choice if you don't want to waste a lot of time. At that point, it's the same proposition as Tinder and why even allow messaging before matching *at all*?
Either you're confused or I am. No longer seeing who "likes" you was policy more than six months ago, I believe. Prior to it, non-subscribers were very limited in mailbox capacity. When they took away "likes", they expanded it by a factor beyond ten.


Everyone can see at least one subset of people who've liked them: mutual likes / "matches" (and I think that as of 2-3 months ago, subscribers had an asymmetric ability to see people who liked them, but I might be wrong, or it might have changed).

And from where I sit, it looks like these are effectively the only people you can have a reasonable expectation will see your message. Sending a message now stands essentially the same chance of getting someone's attention as a "like." But a like is a more sensible investment of time.

So, we have Tinder incentives with a veneer of open messaging freedom. That's a recipe for frustration among those who don't realize that messaging is an increasingly poor way to attract attention, and also among those who appreciate quality messaging as a way to receive attention.

People who like Tinder will probably really like it, though. Apparently that also includes OKCupid's corporate parents, who wonder why it can't be more like its brother.
posted by wildblueyonder at 2:19 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


I predict that within a few months, over 50% of the women remaining on OKCupid will be 'named' either Ivanka or Leia.

Out of curiosity, I tried creating a new profile with these names. They were both rejected as invalid.

I also tried the first name Hillary, and it was also rejected by OKCupid as an invalid first name.

Hillary is the legal given name of quite a few women. Who does this? Who demands a first name, but rejects the first name of someone lucky/unlucky enough to have the same name as a political figure or movie character? OKCupid, I shake my fist!
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 2:22 PM on December 23, 2017 [8 favorites]


This is a spectacularly boneheaded move. Happily I quit OKC more than a year ago because I finally met someone and it doesn't look like I'll ever need their services again. But there's zero chance I'm putting my real name, even first name, on a dating site for casual browsers to try to connect me with my dating profile. If I agree to meet somebody, sure - but any random person, like random cow-orkers in the same city? No thank you.
posted by jzb at 3:50 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Correcting my comment above. Opening an incognito browser window seemed to help; OKCupid ended up accepting Hillary at least.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 5:03 PM on December 23, 2017


what they seem to essentially be doing here in practice is just eliminating the requirement that your username be unique

And counter-intuitively relieving themselves of having to listen to complaints about them. Hey, if BigDickJackson69-420 is his name, well then there's not much we can do about that now, is there? (Less jokey - if someone does complain, it's no longer a judgment call someone has to make about what's "offensive". Is it your real name or not? Done.)
posted by ctmf at 5:07 PM on December 23, 2017


Opening an incognito browser window seemed to help;

Not sure the implications of that are comforting. Now they're tracking you while you don't have an account, facebook-style? Are there shadow profiles? Naughty, naughty! We know your name's not Hillary.
posted by ctmf at 5:15 PM on December 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Again, they didn't know my name's not asdf (I guess I'm 0.01‰ doxing myself here by letting everyone know my name's not asdf)
posted by aubilenon at 5:26 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


That's what you think, asdf.
posted by ctmf at 5:46 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


But I’d want my dates to call me “awkWORD”!
posted by bendy at 5:46 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


There were a couple of stories over on the okc subreddit about legal names being rejected and having to make up fake ones.

Which, y'know, the more this story unpacks the more it's turning into one of the worst design and function changes ever, and should be a clear example of UI feature creep to justify a paycheck or new job somewhere else.

Hey, here's an app and social information site someone should make - Create a public database that cross references the claimed accomplishments of a UI/UX/Dev job candidate to the actual user feedback and company performance metrics.

So when someone talks about all the great changes they made, somewhere there's a barnacle and not so shadow index that follows that up with ammunition "Yeah, and you drove off 75% of the existing users and drove them to the competition you were emulating, because you were no longer differentiated in the marketplace. Isn't that company dead, now? Want to talk about that experience a little?"

You could do it by date instead of name to avoid directly identifying information and libel. The managers and interviewers just look up the performance and user metrics at a given time range for those claimed deployments and changes via a timeline and precis compiled from twitter feeds, alexa and google rankings and more.

Simply "These changes were deployed on these dates. Here's the user feedback on twitter. Here's a few composite graphs of user activity, page hits and other metadata."
posted by loquacious at 5:49 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


Count me in as someone who is really upset by this change. I've tried Tinder and I've only met creeps there. I have had a few successful relationships that came out of OkCupid; one lasted for over 3 years and was very nice.

The other thing that's fascinating to me about this if they rolled it out the day before a major holiday weekend in the United States. Many people won't be back at work at all next week, including people at OkCupid. This is colossally bad timing. It demonstrates a complete lack of awareness on the part of OkCupid that they would roll out such a major change at such a time. Did they not pay any attention to what happens with Facebook's real name policy? What that's done for people who are marginalized?

One of the things that I really dislike about Tinder is that men found me in real life and either emailed me or friended me on Facebook after knowing just my first name and profession. That is really creepy. I just don't feel safe with men knowing that I am single and interested in dating being able to find me elsewhere on the internet with just a few clicks. Hell, my office is in a public building and the address is posted right online for anyone to see. I don't want men showing up at my office. And that might sound far-fetched to you, but I would guess that's because you're not a woman in her thirties trying to date online!

I'm really unhappy about the changes. I am strongly considering hiring an old-school match-maker the next time I'm ready to date. Online dating has seriously gone downhill and I don't see it improving.
posted by sockermom at 5:54 PM on December 23, 2017 [21 favorites]


you drove off 75% of the existing users

Pfff. Users. Users don't know what they want. Like Henry Ford said “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” You need bold, visionary, professionals to make products that delight and astound and really, you know, move the needle. Like Steve Jobs. Think he listened to complaining users? No he did not. Vision, man. And maybe A/B testing. But mostly vision. {/}
posted by wildblueyonder at 5:59 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


But I do want faster horses.
posted by aubilenon at 6:02 PM on December 23, 2017 [6 favorites]


Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming: "Hillary is the legal given name of quite a few women."

And men.
posted by Mitheral at 6:52 PM on December 23, 2017


One of the things that I really dislike about Tinder is that men found me in real life and either emailed me or friended me on Facebook after knowing just my first name and profession. That is really creepy.

Oh, shoot, that totally reminds me. Background checks. Cheapass easy to obtain background checks are apparently a thing in online dating and they can be a problem.

Let me preface this as definitely not being brought up under the guise of not all men, just creepy overly investigative date-ish behavior. I also want to say I totally get why someone would do this, but this was a first for me because I'm usually pretty genuine and transparent IRL. But this was a pretty invasive experience for me.

I had someone run one of those cheap/sketchy background checks on me before even meeting, or maybe shortly after. And we did meet. She never mentioned it voluntarily. I only found out about it because I suddenly started getting all kinds of voice, SMS and email spam along with a bill collector for a totally outdated and erroneous medical bill, and I asked her later if she'd done anything weird with my phone number.

I was a little upset. Not about the fact that she wanted or had the information - hell, I don't even have a jaywalking ticket. I wouldn't have minded walking into a police station and having them run my record right in front of her.

Heck, at this point in history I'd love to have some kind of vetting service or safe-for-both-parties background check system that wasn't Facebook or something unvetted. It'd even be useful outside of dating, like if I was doing tech work or something in someone's home.

What was upsetting about it was that whatever low budget service she used had all the scruples of a payday loan and drive through liquor store and they immediately sold my information as known to be active and valid or whatever.

And whatever service this was apparently kept me on a list for what seemed like about 3-4 months. For the first few weeks I was getting 20-30 spam calls or texts a day, and then nearly daily calls from a really nasty bill collector or multiple bad paper collectors that called from numbers all over the place, including spoofed ones where they were obviously trying to trick you by calling from a matching area code and prefix. It only slowly tapered off after something like 5-6 months.

Don't get me wrong, women deal with way, way worse with violence and stalking. I've never had someone show up at my work and stare at me like a piece of meat or anything - or worse. The irony is definitely not lost on me.

But this was actually pretty rough and invasive for me. I hate phones. I like my phone to be essentially quiet except for texts, and not too many, please. But I had to keep my ringer on for work at the time.

This particular episode basically scared me off of online dating in general, or sharing too much information with anyone before meeting them somewhere public. I also never, ever answer my phone now unless it's someone I'm expecting a call from. Everyone else can leave voicemail or text me directly.

And I'm begging folks.. if you find yourself in a position while dating of wanting to run a background check that has at least half a chance of not being a total jerk and definitely not a rapist or someone violent or even so much as a petty criminal, please choose the background check service carefully?

Or maybe just ask them before you do to scare them right off if they had anything to hide?

Because whatever service that she used was awful, and the fallout from it was really stressful for me for an inordinate amount of time.
posted by loquacious at 7:01 PM on December 23, 2017 [10 favorites]


One of the things that I really dislike about Tinder is that men found me in real life and either emailed me or friended me on Facebook after knowing just my first name and profession. That is really creepy. I just don't feel safe with men knowing that I am single and interested in dating being able to find me elsewhere on the internet with just a few clicks. Hell, my office is in a public building and the address is posted right online for anyone to see. I don't want men showing up at my office. And that might sound far-fetched to you, but I would guess that's because you're not a woman in her thirties trying to date online!

Me, too. That doesn't sound far fetched at all.

Let me tell you a story. A few years ago, after I left my ex and decided it was time to date again (just date, have some fun, etc), I went on two dates with another woman, who, it turned out, wasn't even Ms. Right Now (I was actually texting my now wife throughout both dates, but that's a story for another day.)

I told her thanks but no thanks. She immediately found me on Facebook with my first name and my employer. And FB is a treasure trove of personal information - that I'm mostly happy to share because I know most of my FB friends in some capacity, or at the least they're vetted by a mutual friend. It was scary. Luckily, she finally backed off, but if she hadn't, it would have been the real deal scary mess.

Now, this is when usernames were still a thing, so yes, I'd already given her my name. But at least I knew who she was, knew how she'd found me, etc. I cannot imagine - as a woman with my incredibly public facing job - having a profile out on an online dating site with my government first name on it. (See above - it's not hard to find me with any details about me. And no, I don't have to put that I teach for a living - but then we're back to that whole "but we want people to know more about you!" thing. I don't necessarily mind being findable - I have a pic of me in my Metafilter profile - but I like have a modicum of control over how people find me.) Since OKC's response so far (along with mocking people's usernames) has been, oh, you don't have to put your legal name, just put what you want your dates to call you, now, what, we need a 'Starbucks name' for dating, and if you make it to date 3, you get my government name? ... Ewww. That's a great way to start things off.

I deactivated this afternoon.
posted by joycehealy at 7:23 PM on December 23, 2017 [1 favorite]


oh, you don't have to put your legal name, just put what you want your dates to call you, now, what, we need a 'Starbucks name' for dating, and if you make it to date 3, you get my government name?

The funny thing is, that's exactly what the old "username" system was, only it was explicit. So now they're basically telling everyone to do what they've always been doing, but do it with handles that look at least plausible.

The only upside to this that I can imagine is that it might cut down on some shitty behavior, because there's some evidence linking particular types of trolling and general antisocial assholery to anonymity, and that people behave better when they believe they're not anonymous. So a platform that doesn't appear anonymous might encourage better behavior by people inclined to 4chan-style shittiness. But I'd have to imagine that comes at a tradeoff of a chilling effect on people who really need that anonymity or pseudonymity to be their true selves. And if that really is the motivation, it's interesting that they are building the platform around the crappy behavior of bad actors (and, if I had to guess, spoiled manchildren) rather than catering to the users who can't or won't ever feel safe using a platform that encourages real names. I am left with my earlier comment, that the business case for this is probably a no-brainer, but maybe this is a service that the market will never provide decently for any length of time via a for-profit organization.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:12 PM on December 23, 2017


Let's not throw UX designers under the bus for this ok. This is pure Product Management crap.
posted by bleep at 10:43 PM on December 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


What was upsetting about it was that whatever low budget service she used had all the scruples of a payday loan and drive through liquor store and they immediately sold my information as known to be active and valid or whatever.

I'm guessing that she wasn't a keeper then.
posted by acb at 5:50 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of quote from someone (Neil Gaiman perhaps?) about the Hollywood studio script-doctoring process, where there are a lot of executives taking turns to make their mark on a script by putting in their own changes, with the end result being something that smells of piss. This seems to be the same phenomenon.
posted by acb at 6:31 AM on December 24, 2017 [1 favorite]


if BigDickJackson69-420 is his name, well then there's not much we can do about that now, is there? (Less jokey

Disturbing personal factoid: 2 of my relatives within 2 degrees of separation were using fake names on The FaceBook. These 2 relatives underwent a formal name change to match The FaceBook fakename when the fakename account was turned off to get the account turned back on.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:05 AM on December 24, 2017


tried using my username as my first name but they don't take numbers as a real first name.
posted by 922257033c4a0f3cecdbd819a46d626999d1af4a at 6:37 PM on December 24, 2017


I don't want my outrage to be monetized by clickbait headlines. So I tested the claim. My first name on OKCupid is now "Clive". My Metafilter name, matt_arnold, is on my legal ID.
posted by matt_arnold at 7:39 AM on December 25, 2017


I spotted someone with the name of "Nope" while poking around the other day
posted by vibratory manner of working at 9:36 AM on December 25, 2017 [2 favorites]


>This may also be a way to purge older users, especially aging men seeking women.

What OKC's doing here is really frustrating. Where am I supposed to meet people? No one ever responds to me on Tinder, no one ever responds to me on Bumble. I've set my matches to between 35 and 47, and the only place that I've gotten any response is OKC.

But the real issue is with people who need anonymity. Whatever frustrations I may have, they pale in relation to LGBTQ folks, or folks who otherwise need to be pseudonymous on a platform.

sigh.
posted by arkhangel at 12:15 PM on December 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


So, what I'm seeing from this thread is there's a market for some kind of Gen X focused, slightly alternative but GLTBQ and feminism focused dating site that respects safety and anonymity, and that is not a crappy Logan's Run fuck-o-mat like Tinder, Grindr or, now, OKC.

I'm also sensing a strong market for "Ah, fuck it. Who cares anymore?" which I strongly empathize with.
posted by loquacious at 6:59 PM on December 26, 2017 [3 favorites]


I'm liking the japancupid interface a lot. My only quibble is the window to try it out full-featured is way too short to know if you like it before you have to become a pay subscriber to send and read messages. Like, less than 24 hours. I still want to see if it's all bots and escorts before shelling out the money. The search functionality and the notifications (views, likes, messages) is what okc should be (and once was).
posted by ctmf at 3:11 AM on December 27, 2017


"So, what I'm seeing from this thread is there's a market for some kind of Gen X focused, slightly alternative but GLTBQ and feminism focused dating site that respects safety and anonymity, and that is not a crappy Logan's Run fuck-o-mat like Tinder, Grindr or, now, OKC."

Oh, yes. Exactly. Please?
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:58 AM on December 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Oh, yes. Exactly. Please?

I can see myself designing the functional block diagram and flow of such a site and its functions and how it should work, but coding and hosting it definitely isn't my wheelhouse.

I can also offer graphic design skills, but finding someone more recently experienced and talented with web UI design would be really easy.

If anyone has free time they'd like to throw at this, I'm interested in pitching in.

It's pretty clear that someone should do this and eat OKC and Tinder's lunch, 'cause they're just leaving it on the table.
posted by loquacious at 4:11 PM on December 27, 2017


Coding is my wheelhouse, and I've long wanted to work on an alternative to the terrible options for online dating these days. The major impediments I've always seen were lack of design and marketing skills, so I'd say we're 2/3 of the way there, loquacious.
posted by Cogito at 8:53 PM on December 27, 2017


... not a crappy Logan's Run fuck-o-mat like Tinder, Grindr or, now, OKC.

I'm also sensing a strong market for "Ah, fuck it. Who cares anymore?" which I strongly empathize with.


Perhaps the latter market would be well served by an app self-consciously embodying all the popular anti-patterns. You could call it "Logan's Run Fuck-O-Mat."
posted by wildblueyonder at 3:11 PM on December 28, 2017 [3 favorites]


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