There’s something you need to know about Tinder.
A few years ago, I turned to a friend as I was swiping through the popular dating app and asked, “Is this really the best Tinder can offer me? Why does everyone look like they might be a serial killer?”
Unfortunately, my friend had a simple answer.
“You’ve fallen victim to the Tinder algorithm,” he laughed.
And according to the algorithm, these less than desirable human beings were very much on my level.
Allow me to explain.
Tinder is one of the world’s most popular dating apps, with an estimated one billion swipes a day. The user swipes right for ‘Yes’ and left for ‘No’.
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In order to keep users on the app – the people served to them cannot be random. From Google to Facebook to Instagram, every platform needs an algorithm in order to prioritise content and give a user precisely what they want. Because when we get what we want, we stay on the app.
So Tinder, from the moment you create an account, ranks you. They confirmed this in 2016.
Imagine Tinder is like a deck of cards. Except… instead of Kings, and Jacks and Aces, you have people’s faces.
The theory goes that the first 10-15 cards are not real.
They will be highly attractive, giving you a skewed impression of what people on this app actually look like.
You also won’t match with them. If you felt as though it were that easy – why would you stay?
As you swipe, and as people swipe ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on you, the app begins to determine a ‘Desirability Score’.
Tinder data analyst, Chris Dumler, calls this process a “vast voting system,” explaining that every swipe is “casting a vote”.
According to experts, it’s not as simple as calculating how many ‘Yes’ swipes you get, but rather the percentage of ‘Yes’ swipes. So if you receive a ‘Yes’ swipe 90 per cent of the time, Tinder deems you to be attractive.
But there’s another layer of complexity.
There are certain users whose swipe is worth more given their own ‘Desirability Score‘. If you continually match with other highly desirable users, Tinder will see you, too, as desirable.
So – how desirable are you?
Well, you can somewhat tell from the quality of your matches. If you think the app has issued you a low score, experts suggest you “improve your pictures and your profile,” which feels… harsh.
Tinder’s internal rating is, understandably, not available to the public.
“I’ve regretted learning it ever since,” he said.
His score was 946, which, on first glance, means nothing.
“It’s on the upper end of average,” Carr was told.
As he leaned in to get a closer look at the stats, the Tinder data engineer advised he not read the details.
There would, apparently, be information he would not want to see.
And perhaps we, too, would be better off not knowing exactly how Tinder is rating us.