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Python Scripting and Analyzing Your Way To Love 188

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-might-be-overanalyzing-things-if dept.
fiannaFailMan writes "Wired reports one mathematician's mission to find love online by data mining from OK Cupid and applying mathematical modeling to optimize his profile(s). His methods included using 'Python scripts to riffle through hundreds of OkCupid survey questions. He then sorted female daters into seven clusters, like "Diverse" and "Mindful," each with distinct characteristics.' But the real work began when he started going on dates."
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Python Scripting and Analyzing Your Way To Love

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  • Translation (Score:5, Funny)

    by OffTheLip (636691) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:09AM (#46035391)
    Slashdotter has vivid coding dream in Mom's basement and find love.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:11AM (#46035411) Homepage

    I mean, I'm glad it can do almost anything, but I'm still waiting for import antigravity [xkcd.com] to work properly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:19AM (#46035469)

    Well, there's the step I never get to.

  • Hope he finds love but worried what the kids will turn out like if this works!
  • Sounds creepy .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:24AM (#46035517) Homepage

    So the real thing here is that someone needs to be building a dating website for nerds (assuming it's not already happened).

    Start with the proposition you've got a pool of educated individuals working in STEM-type jobs, and go from there. Then you at least know you're working with a pool of people who might have some chance of being interested in your collection of Star Wars figurines, or who want to debate the relative merits of Jar Jar as a character.

    Because, really, if you tell the person you're on a date with that you used Python scripts to categorize people into several containers ... you're not gonna get a second date, and the one you're on might end abruptly as the awkward silence turns into thoughts that you might, in fact, be some kind of creepy stalker.

    BEGIN NERD VOICE
    I've done stochastic analyses of your responses to questionnaires and exhaustively compared your responses to other women on this site, and I calculate there is an 45.2% you might like me. You're the highest score yet!
    END NERD VOICE

    Really, don't be that guy.

    • If you RTFA, that's pretty much what he said to the woman he's going out with now, and she didn't leave him.

      The coding and mathematical work he's done is only slightly interesting, what I'd really like to know is how he plans to keep a girlfriend while living out of a cubicle in a university office! That could be a real Einstein-level breakthrough!

      • by Overzeetop (214511) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @11:02AM (#46035913) Journal

        Finding true love is really nothing more than matching your personal with either the same or a complimentary crazy in someone else. Wearing your crazy on the first date is risky, but reduces wasted time on those who are incompatible with your personal brand of insanity.

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Finding true love is really nothing more than matching your personal with either the same or a complimentary crazy in someone else.

          No, that's just the first step.

        • by antdude (79039)

          We're all crazy! :P

    • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:36AM (#46035639)

      So the real thing here is that someone needs to be building a dating website for nerds

      So, thousands of guys fighting over a few hundred guys pretending to be women? You should set up a Kickstarter for that.

    • by Fuseboy (414663) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:48AM (#46035755) Homepage

      "Great, that sounds nice. I'll have my bots talk to your bots."

    • by AvitarX (172628)

      When I read TFS it sounded a lot like what ok cupid does already. And of the people I've met on it (probably around ten), at least half would of thought it was cool I augmented the site to waste less time with people I didn't like.
      What online dating suffers from is 75% of the participants are dudes, so the girls get tons of messages, get overwhelmed, and leave. This keeps the problem going.

    • by Minwee (522556)

      Really, don't be that guy.

      But this is an online dating site. The alternative is to be one of these guys [cracked.com].

    • by Greyfox (87712)

      BEGIN NERD VOICE I've done stochastic analyses of your responses to questionnaires and exhaustively compared your responses to other women on this site, and I calculate there is an 45.2% you might like me. You're the highest score yet! END NERD VOICE

      Really, don't be that guy.

      OOOH Baby! I'm SO hot right now!

      Hey, you never know who you might find out there! Maybe there's even a girl who likes dubstep! [youtube.com]

    • So the real thing here is that someone needs to be building a dating website for nerds (assuming it's not already happened).

      It did, it used to be called OK Cupid. Really interesting statistical mining blogs, actual matching algorithms instead of "look at purdy picture book", interesting somewhat more nerdly people, interesting experiments ("best face"...), developed by nerds, developers openly highly critical of the way that match.com etc operated (match.com specifically).

      Then match.com bought them. I'm pretty sure it's seeded with fake profiles now (sorry, but the chances of a page full of people living in the next suburb

  • Limited potential (Score:5, Interesting)

    by petes_PoV (912422) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:24AM (#46035531)
    His data analysis and harvesting will help the guy get a first date with more women. But all he's doing is trawling for ones that match what he thinks he wants. To get a second date his real-life personality and interests have to match what the other person thinks she wants.

    Even with the women in question also choosing him on the basis of his tailored responses, he's simply increasing the sample size (i.e. the number of first dates) he gets, without really addressing the quality of the data - how closely the women match him in reality and vice-versa.

    One of his descriptions in the article "star signs and all that crap" (or words to that effect) indicates that he still hasn't really "got" the women in the database. By dismissing what they consider important in a profile (the "crap") he's not helping himself. Maybe he should have turned around his search. Instead of hacking his profile to get more matches, he should consider modifying his personality to be more attractive to what the larger numbers of women feel they want in a man.

    But I guess to a techie, every problem has a technical solution. No doubt all the first-date restaurants will thank him for his patronage and his (later, but maybe not much later) divorce lawyer will also be suitably grateful.

    • Re:Limited potential (Score:5, Informative)

      by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:32AM (#46035593) Homepage
      Did you read the whole article? He ended up with his now fiance this way and they are doing well.
      • by petes_PoV (912422)

        Did you read the whole article?

        Good God, no. This is the internet, you know. Most people don't even make it past the headline. (and did you not see my line about divorce lawyer?)

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          Yes, but it wasn't clear if that was because you actually understood that the individual had a decent relationship going on or was just further snark. More seriously, As far as I can tell from the article the main problem with his method was a poor signal to noise ratio which was made worse by the large number of candidates. The signal to noise ratio on online dating is always terrible, but it would be more noticeable when one has a larger pool. In fact people optimize profiles all the time (which hobbies
      • by wvmarle (1070040)

        And that was not a perfect match either; just a 91% match based on the algorithms.

        Before that he had 87 dates with 99%-match women, and none of those worked out. Just a few he got to a second date.

        Script fail?

        • by JoshuaZ (1134087)
          No, more a function of noise in the system. The difference between a 91% and a 99% in the OKCupid system isn't that large, especially since less compatibility can also result simply from someone answering fewer questions.
    • he should consider modifying his personality to be more attractive to what the larger numbers of women feel they want in a man.
      I noticed you used "feel" instead of "say" if this guy were independently wealthy, I am sure he could have his pick of potential mates, but since he isn't, he's trying to increase his chances of success by casting a wide net. Seeing as how the typical courtship pattern involves the man making the first move, obtaining that first date is a successful strategy.
      his (later, but maybe
    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      It also makes the HUGE assumption that the women's profiles are actually accurate and honest. How many times IRL have you heard a female friend say "Looks don't really matter to me. I'm just looking for a nice guy," who then turns around and exclusively dates the same himbo pricks as every other woman? Saying "I'm looking for X and Y" doesn't mean that's what someone is ACTUALLY looking for. It's just what they claim.

      • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @11:36AM (#46036291)

        How many times IRL have you heard a female friend say "Looks don't really matter to me. I'm just looking for a nice guy,"

        Zero. I have never heard a woman say that. I think the idea of the woman who says this is made up by men who have no other quality other than being "nice" and want someone to blame for their lack of romantic success.

        • by rk (6314)

          Goddamn, and my mod points just expired. Listen and learn, guys.

        • by swb (14022)

          I've met in the last year two examples of women who are very attractive yet married to husbands much less attractive than them. Neither husband is wealthy, influential or athletic and in one case the wife earns 3x what her husband does and is in better physical condition than 90% of college age women. There's little explanation for the disparity in appearances other than some women really don't care.

          Personally, I think women who say "Looks don't matter" aren't really telling the whole story -- looks DO ma

        • by Livius (318358)

          I have heard comments that roughly translate to:

          " As long as a guy is in the top two percent most attractive, I don't care about the details of what he looks like. "

          and

          " I'm looking for a guy who will be vastly nicer to me than to anyone else in his life. " (Which is not at all the same thing as a guy being nice by nature.)

    • His data analysis and harvesting will help the guy get a first date with more women. But all he's doing is trawling for ones that match what he thinks he wants. To get a second date his real-life personality and interests have to match what the other person thinks she wants.

      Even with the women in question also choosing him on the basis of his tailored responses, he's simply increasing the sample size (i.e. the number of first dates) he gets, without really addressing the quality of the data - how closely the women match him in reality and vice-versa.

      One of his descriptions in the article "star signs and all that crap" (or words to that effect) indicates that he still hasn't really "got" the women in the database. By dismissing what they consider important in a profile (the "crap") he's not helping himself. Maybe he should have turned around his search. Instead of hacking his profile to get more matches, he should consider modifying his personality to be more attractive to what the larger numbers of women feel they want in a man.

      But I guess to a techie, every problem has a technical solution. No doubt all the first-date restaurants will thank him for his patronage and his (later, but maybe not much later) divorce lawyer will also be suitably grateful.

      Wait... if I'm understanding you correctly, you're saying that what women want/think they want is important? I've never really considered that, this could be a novel idea. Perhaps that's where so many of us have gone wrong all these years?

      • by Bigbutt (65939) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @11:13AM (#46036029) Homepage Journal

        The problem is what women think they want can be totally different than what they deep down want. Women can say one thing but after a while they'll realize it's not doing it for them and leave (hence the 70% of divorces being filed by women).

        It gets worse. Guys are trying to mold themselves to be what women say they want only to discover later that what women really want isn't what guys are now.

        Then the divorce lawyers cackle with glee.

        [John]

        • by mvdwege (243851)

          The problem is what women think they want can be totally different than what they deep down want.

          "I know she said no, but she totally meant yes"

          That's some real questionable reasoning you're showing there.

    • I was cheering for you with the "women are not objects" point of your post, and then you just had to go and assume that he's the one paying. Because it's the man's job to pay, right?

      Nevermind that any man that pays for his date off OKcupid on the first meeting is an idiot. Go dutch until she proves she's not just there for a free meal with company...which sadly, many are (mostly the "I don't want to waste a lot of time exchanging messages" types who also put little or no effort into filling out their profil

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:25AM (#46035533)

    So far no results for me. They all seem to want "rich, handsome guy who loves to travel."

    • That's closer to reality than you think. In my own searches, every single woman wanted a guy who was between 5'8" and 6'2". Every...single...one.

      • every single woman wanted a guy who was between 5'8" and 6'2".

        And I want a woman who isn't fat, doesn't freak out every time they get their period and don't use the "reality" shows as a template for how to live one's life.

        Looks like we're both out of luck.
      • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @12:31PM (#46036945)

        They always start out with an super-long, totally unreasonable requirements list that includes stuff that's totally irrelevant to any imaginable scope. Through hard work and negotiation and development of what you initially bring to the table, you need to bring down the client's impossible functional specification to something workable she can reasonably be satisfied with (also beer helps). It's called "game" for a reason.

    • by doggo (34827)

      You forgot "honest". A lot of pleas for an "honest" man. "Honest" about what?!

  • by RogueWarrior65 (678876) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:28AM (#46035561)

    Even though Howard wanted to say "mumbo jumbo"

  • Saw this article just after reading this one:
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/01/20/... [cnn.com]
  • by Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @10:57AM (#46035855) Homepage

    Just the headline reminded me of a story I read a couple of years ago. That site needs registration but he also posted it on a site which does not. 99 First Dates. [literotica.com] Hilarious.

    Warning - Adult Content if you worry about that kind of thing.

  • Maybe if he showed more interest in potential partners and less interest in python scripting he'd actually get a date!

  • Guy is foolish. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @11:02AM (#46035923) Homepage
    He did three things.

    1) Categorize women into 7 categories. That looks to me to be valuable, but the article did not discuss all 7 categories. It ignored the only interesting thing this guy did!

    2) Set up multiple profiles and use machines to initiate action with thousands of potential women.

    3) Went on hundreds of dates in a relatively short amount of time.

    His 'success' was statistically insignificant AND totally unrelated to his math. Anyone that goes on hundreds of dates and find the right woman.

    You want to impress me? Have the algorithm pick 5 women and have them all be very interested in you. Picking 100's of women with lots of failed dates is just a NORMAL DATING LIFE.

    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      Correction, he only went on 88 dates, not 100. Still, not that strange.

      You go on 88 dates, all pre-screened for normal things and you should find someone.

      • Re:Guy is foolish. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @12:42PM (#46037083)

        Yeah, for me the problem is getting that date count up.

        I've so far been online dating for about 9 months, I've dated only 6 women. Of these :

        * The first one entered into a relationship with me that lasted a couple of months, during which I didn't bother with dating sites for obvious reasons
        * The most recent is promising, but we've only been on one date, and because of distance and logistics, the next date is proving hard to organise

        I'm on two subscription dating sites (one is match.com) and two free ones (Plenty of Fish and OKCupid). Of these, I've had two dates from OKCupid, two from POF, one from Match and one from the other subscription site, so on this tiny sample the free sites work better than the paid ones... although they all barely work at all.

        I estimate I've probably messaged around 120 women, being picky*, sending proper tailored messages that actually respond to things in their profile, mostly concentrated in POF, OKC, and Match. (the last site is an odd one that only lets you browse a certain number of women per day that it picks out for you, and most of the profiles on there are very poor because their sign-up process numbs the brain). When I actually get a response, I think my "date rate" is around 50%

        In contrast, I went speed dating and out of a pool of 13 women I got two "mutual matches" and 5 / 13 expressed an interest in dating me. Clearly something is wrong with the way I express myself online. I've had women turn me down on the grounds that I was "too intellectual for them"... I'm not sure if this is a reflection on me, or the dating pool concerned (POF and Match.com seem to be more "everyman" than OKCupid which is definitely more artsy, professional, and intelligent in tone).

        The main surprise for me so far has been how many vegetarians OKCupid matches me up with....

        * defined as only messaging women that I actually find attractive

        • by radtea (464814)

          I've so far been online dating for about 9 months, I've dated only 6 women.

          Dating is a long game. In my early 40's I dated for years, including a couple of relationships (which lasted a few months to a year) before finding someone really compatible, and who I've been with for almost a decade now. Like me, she had by that time dated virtually everyone in our age group in the city we lived in, so it was optimization by exhaustive search for both of us.

          I've used OKC, PoF and a couple of paid services (LavaLife is the one I remember.) They all suck. OKC and PoF suck less.

          OKC routinely

          • by gurps_npc (621217)
            I found my current girlfriend on OK Cupid. I basically ignore their match potential numbers. Instead I paid extra and concentrated on women that had personality scores that were close to me on things that mattered. That worked acceptably well for me.
    • by Hatta (162192)

      1) Categorize women into 7 categories. That looks to me to be valuable, but the article did not discuss all 7 categories. It ignored the only interesting thing this guy did!

      No kidding. Where's the code?

    • by mdielmann (514750)

      First, I think there are plenty of people who would jump through any number of hoops in order to have a normal dating life. Second, he definitely was mission-oriented, and successful, which will also be appealing to those who are wondering what to do to increase their dating pool and, therefore, their chance of finding a suitable mate.

    • by spads (1095039)
      I think possibly the most significant thing he did was to get them to message him FIRST. As in David Halberstam's critical rule of diplomacy (from Best and the Brightest), the first to the negotiations table largely empowers the other to dictate the condtions of the armistice. Not that this is sufficient when dealing with women by any means, but it is significant.

      The other important things he did with this experiment is to identify the most critical questions, and confirm that women put considerable st
  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday January 22, 2014 @11:04AM (#46035935)

    Whilst what he did was very clever, at the end of the day he manipulated the scoring so that his profile was placed in front of thousands of womens search results because it had a high match percentage (that normally would never have been seen).

    The TL;DR version of this story is that if thousands of women see your profile and, at the same time, are told by a website that you're a high match to them, then you've got a very good chance they'll contact you. Which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.

    That, to me, is the digital equivalent of (the old advice) that you'll never meet someone unless you get yourself out there.

    • by msobkow (48369)

      One problem. He's gaming his profile to do it.

      That means when he does meet these women, he's not who they expected. Guaranteed waste of time.

      As can be seen by him going on dozens and dozens of dates.

      If you're going to put on a mask and a false facade, don't be surprised if people decide they don't like the real you: a con artist and a liar.

      • The article mentioned more than once that he answered his profile questions honestly; he just used statistics to figure out the target pools he was interested in and which survey questions they answered.

        He said he honestly answered his survey questions, it was just a question of which survey questions to answer for the basic grouping of women he was interested in.

  • But the real work began when he started going on dates

    You bet. He'll prolly even have needed a second or third job to finance the dates.

    • If you read the article, you would know that many of the dates he went on hardly cost him a thing other than his time. He often met up with his match on the beach or in a park and simply walked around and talked with her. If he did meet in a place where he had to spend money, it was either a coffee shop or a bar for a drink or two. In that respect, he actually had a pretty good approach - dating is supposed to be about getting to know each other, not dropping a ton of money on her with the hope that she'
  • I was surprised no one from OKC was interviewed to get their interpretation of what he did.

    Based on what I read, he didn't game the system in a dishonest way. All he did was try to figure out what groups of women he was interested in and what survey questions those groups answered, and then tailor a profile for each group so that he answered the same questions they did to increase the match potential. It said more than once in the article that he answered the survey questions themselves honestly, it was j

  • 88 dates means all his silly math failed. I'll guarantee you the average person doesn't go on 88 dates to find someone to date more than 3 times. It's wonderful he found someone, but the process sounds like it had a negative impact rather than a positive one.

    I did the online dating thing. The one thing it made me realize is that most people don't know how to describe themselves in a profile. There's also something completely ineffable about dating. OkCupid probably sorts out some really bad matches bet

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