Break out your calculator, because to win at online dating, you’ve got to do your math

onling dating big data awmy webb

If dating was gravity, Amy Webb would be Isaac Newton: She’s got the game formulas figured out down to a tee. Or at least she hopes. When there are millions of online daters about the Web, you could only pinpoint so many characteristics you want in a person before OKCupid, JDate, and Match.com blow up in your face and churn out tons of “good on paper” guys that are no match for you in real life. So how do you cheat the system?

Webb, author of “Data: A Love Story,” gave a speech at SXSW 2013 yesterday on how she decided to treat online dating the way she would approach big data: If you want to parse things down to an extreme match, you have to input specific criteria and only select the options that meet or exceed your needs. The problem with online dating, she says, is that the questions websites ask you generally do not matter in the long run. “I don’t care if he is a dog or a cat person,” she says. “[These questionnaires] create a significant superficiality. I’m not looking for a pen pal, I’m looking for a husband.”

amy webb sxsw 2013Instead, Webb found that when she narrowed variants down to exactly what she was looking for in a lover, she was able to create a better points system to rate potential dates. “What’s his approach to work? Does he come from the same background I do? Does he like to travel – excluding cruise ship vacations?” Webb attempts to answer all these questions based on a person’s profile description and would only contact the people who exceeded 700 points. It seems extreme, but it helps cut down on the crappy date and ensure you’re  going out with someone you are truly compatible with on paper – and possibly in person, too.

But then the question comes back to her: What if she’s not what the guys are looking for? To get a glimpse from a man’s perspective, she created a fake male profile to see the matches she’d get if she were the perfect guy. What she gathered from her competition was that these girls often had profile shots that included a natural smile angled from the waist up. The profile descriptions also used optimistic words and sounded conversational and light. She also found that specifics are good, but not too specific. “It’s intriguing to say you like psychological thrillers, but it’s weird to say your favorite movie is The Human Centipede.

Using the information gathered from hundreds of sample profiles, Webb altered her profile to make it as personable as possible – at least, whatever that means according to her research. The process eventually led her to meeting Brian, a first date that lasted 14 hours, and a proposal during their trip to Jordan. It’s a long journey, and an experiment no one as obsessive would ever bother with. But the lesson from this wildly complicated experience? Webb advises to treat online dating sites as a giant database. It’s not the websites’ job to find you the perfect match, it’s yours to parse and find yourself what you need from the results.

Smart Home

The Nest Secure included a microphone no one knew about — except Google

The Nest Secure home security system has had a microphone this entire time that no one knew about, except Google. The company claims the mic was never turned on, but customers are outraged.
Deals

Are flat pillows a pain in your neck? Here are the best pillows for side-sleepers

If you've tried doubling up on pillows or buying larger ones to no avail, then it might just be time for a new pillow – one made for sleeping on your side. We've rounded up the best pillows for side sleepers that give neck and head…
Home Theater

Reasons not to mount a TV over your fireplace (and other helpful tips)

Mounting a TV above your fireplace may be popular and it might even seem appealing, but we have some concerns. We've got a list of reasons why placing your digital picture machine over a fire should be avoided, if at all possible.
Outdoors

High-tech but low-key, these are the amazing materials inside your outdoor gear

We take a look at some of the materials that are used in the creation of our favorite outdoor gear, making our jackets, sleeping bags, tents, and other items warmer, drier, and more comfortable even in harsh weather conditions.
Smart Home

What exactly is Alexa? Where does she come from? And how does she work?

While "Alexa" has become synonymous with products like the Amazon Echo, you can't actually go out and buy an "Alexa." So what is Alexa? How does she work? Here's everything you need to know about Amazon's virtual assistant.
Mobile

From folding phones to 5G -- here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked

Samsung's Galaxy Unpacked event treated us to a real parade of technological excellence, from folding phones to new fitness wearables. Here's everything we saw at Galaxy Unpacked on February 20.
Smart Home

Stainless steel is so last year. In 2019, it’s all about colorful appliances

For the past couple of decades, the color of choice for appliances has been stainless steel. Now, makers are introducing ovens, fridges, and dishwashers in vibrant hues to give customers a more customized, refined look in the kitchen.
Smart Home

Leviton’s Wi-Fi Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers give your home a brain

Is your home ready for a brain transplant? Adding individual smart plugs is quick, easy, and inexpensive, but the benefits are limited to one plug at a time. Leviton's Load Center and Smart Circuit Breakers can give your home a brain.
Smart Home

GE Appliances shows off wall oven with built-in air fryer, food dehydrator

GE Appliances is taking the air fryer trend to its logical conclusion and adding one to a wall oven. The company's new oven, on display at this year's Kitchen and Bath Industry Show, also includes a food dehydrator.
Smart Home

Google Home vs. Amazon Echo: Which one is better for you?

What happens when you compare the Google Home vs the Amazon Echo? Both smart speakers have good qualities, but what happens when you compare they're features side-by-side? We think one of these smart gadgets wins over the other.
Smart Home

OK Google, what else can you do? The best tips and tricks for Google Home

The Home functions in a similar fashion to its main competitor, the Amazon Echo, but has the added benefit of select Google services. Here are few tips to help you make the most of the newfangled device.
Smart Home

Colored fridges are back, baby! GE’s new appliances revive the 1950s trend

GE Appliances is coloring us surprised at KBIS 2019 by introducing new hues for its signature Cafe line of smart home appliances including four new hues launching this fall to complement its black and white options.
Smart Home

Amazon Echo Dot vs. Echo Dot Kids Edition: What’s the difference?

The Echo Dot Kids Edition combines a free year subscription to FreeTime Unlimited with a two-year, worry-free warranty. But is the Kids Edition really all that much different than the regular Echo Dot?
Product Review

Miele's TWI180 dryer has one job, but struggles to get it done

Miele’s Heat-Pump Dryer is a compact machine that steams your clothes by recycling the water collected during the drying process. But how well does this technique work for getting clothes dry?