Sunday, February 08, 2009

OK, Stupid, I Mean, Cupid (Epilogue)

…or “To the Beat of the Algorithm of the Night.”
In looking through the “matches” that have turned up for me so far at OK Cupid, I’ve been trying to determine where the flaw in the matching methodology lies.
It hasn’t really been easy to pinpoint, as there are a lot of variables, and some obvious limitations to the matching process.
Presumably the matches are based on some sort of algorithm that takes information provided by my answers to the various questions and tests, but it’s unclear whether or not it takes into account the information I provided for the basic “about you” kind of questions – age, race, sex, height, etc. – or if that information is simply provided for the benefit of any matches that the algorithm finds based on my answers to the personality questions.
I have to think that it doesn’t take that basic information into account, given the number of matches who own pets, despite the fact that in setting my profile up I chose “doesn’t like cats” and “doesn’t like dogs.”
Obviously the information that members write about themselves can’t really be accounted for in the algorithm, as those measures of personality are far too subjective to easily translate into any sort of mathematical variable.
So, if the only place I indicated that I don’t like pets had been in the Self Summary, it would be understandable that it would match me up with people who have contrary opinions, though that is not the case; I’ve made it abundantly clear in my answers to the questions it does look at.
It also makes sense that I might be matched up with people who say in their self summaries that they are only interested in men taller than six feet, or that, as a recovering alcoholic who prefers to stay in I might be matched up with someone whose idea of fun is going out to clubs and getting hammered 24x7 (an 89% match).
So the matching algorithm itself is incomplete – most likely by design to allow for the “human factor;” that is, someone might not appear to be a matched based on the numbers, but there might be something in his or her self summary that makes up for that – from at least one regard, and seems suspect in another.
Beyond that, there’s the fact that I’ve answered 1,000+ questions, giving the algorithm a lot of data points to work from, whereas many other members – the ones who apparently have lives, which leads me to wonder what they’re doing on a dating site – haven’t provided nearly as much information.
So that serves as another barrier to accuracy.
However, I think that the biggest problem is that my personality is inconsistent, contradictory, and just plain weird.
I know, for example, that the recommendation engine would hate me if such a thing were possible. It’s constantly making recommendations for things that I have no interest in, but which, by all rights, I ought to.
“This Jon guy loves Sarah McLachlan, Jewel, and Liz Phair, so why the hell doesn’t he like Alanis Morissette or Sheryl Crow?”
(It would be funny if, like some hoary old science-fiction cliché, I could get the recommendation engine stuck in some sort of logic loop that makes it explode. “Error! Error! Does not compute!”)
This isn’t to say that I’m so complicated and mysterious that I can’t be pinned down, it’s just that I don’t make sense.
Consider the “Outcast Genius” result of that test. Clearly I have nerdy, geeky, and dorky leanings, but I defy easy categorization.
And honestly, to pick one example, I’m not a very good nerd. Or rather, I’m not an especially promiscuous nerd, or a nerd who works at his nerdiness.
My range of interests is fairly limited and inconsistent.
For example, I like computers, but have no interest in video games. I like science fiction and fantasy, but I’ve never seen a complete episode of Dr. Who in my life, and I can best describe the experience of reading Tolkien as “traumatizing.”
I don’t collect toys.
I’ve never been to any sort of con.
I love comics and animation, but I hate manga and anime.
So it’s really no wonder that OK Cupid can’t find suitable matches for me. It’s not even as simple as trying to fit a square peg into a round hole; it’s more like trying to grab hold of an amorphous, prickly mass that won’t retain any shape and refuses to be placed anywhere.
In any case, that wraps up my three-day look at OK Cupid and what appears to be the utter hopelessness of any efforts to find a suitable mate. I’ll get back to the regular nonsense tomorrow, which is to say that I’ll probably be too lazy to post anything

No comments: