Hey reddit. My name is Christian Rudder and I am a co-founder of OkCupid, the person behind the OkTrends blog, and the author of the newly released book, Dataclysm. In Dataclysm I look at Big Data (from OkC, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and, yes, Reddit) in order to investigate larger questions about human behavior. I'm ready to answer anything - so AMA!

Proof: https://twitter.com/reddit_AMA/status/509810799704309760

Comments: 295 • Responses: 66  • Date: 

ik_houd_stroopwafels60 karma

Just wanted to say that I met my husband on OkCupid in 2011, and what initially attracted me to the site was OkTrends (I'm a stats major!).

What would you say is the most interesting thing you've learned about human dating from OkCupid?

oktrends54 karma

Hey, congrats (belatedly.) Um, I think the thing that surprised me most was how much cut-and-pasting goes on in messages on the site. And that it actually works pretty well to send the same message to a bunch of people. To beat the machine...you must become...a machine.

My NEXT OkTrends post will be about that. (and there's a chapter in the book about it, too.)

beaniebutt34 karma


oktrends24 karma

Yeah, me too.

Afflo41 karma

I don't do online dating now that I'm married, but I used OK Cupid for a couple of years. I had a nice, weekly routine of bad dates going for a while, a.k.a. the "Afflo Buys Single Ladies' Dinners "Fund. One of my takeaways in speaking to women is that they are constantly pelted by messages, many obscene at worst, and low effort at best.

Has there been any consideration given to limiting the shot-gun blasts of messages that men send on the site? Perhaps a down-voting type of system that would limit the ability to send out new messages? Women have told me that they considered dropping it simply because their inboxes would fill with garbage and they would miss messages that they genuinely would have liked to see.

(Alas, I met my wife through Meetup.com, which is ostensibly NOT a dating site, but worked out well enough for me.)

oktrends25 karma

Funnily enough, our new Chief Product Officer came to us from Meetup, and I'm really excited about her.

But as to your question: men overwhelming women (verbally/with messages) is one of our biggest concerns on the site...a reddit-style up/down system would be really interesting. Though we already have that, in a sense, with QuickMatch (and messages have an implicit up/down vote built in--the reply).

We've tried giving people (women) message filters, but it's a weird thing, because if you make the filters powerful for some people then people who don't need as much filtering can very likely wreck their experience by setting the filters too strictly. It's a delicate balance, and something that we still need to work on.


Can you give me 1 day of a-list so I can see these alleged 15 people who like me? I'm too poor to pay for a month

oktrends71 karma

You know what, no problem. Give me your username, and I'll hook you up with six months.

cupidjerkin30 karma

What do you think of the /r/okcupid subreddit and what goes on there?

oktrends42 karma

We check it all the time here. It can be pretty insular/in-jokey, but we don't always get a chance to watch people talk about the site like that. So it's good.

OfficialCocaColaAMA28 karma

Can you add an A-List search feature that only shows the girls that are definitely willing to go out with me?

oktrends56 karma

You mean "readPeoplesMinds.js"? Yeah, that's only a super-premium feature.

_kashmir_20 karma

What have you have discovered from looking at Reddit's Big Data?

oktrends31 karma

I plotted the "interconnectivity" of all the subreddits--how much (or little) the posters cross-posted elsewhere and made a map of it. It's like a mind-map of Reddit's collective id. It's one of my favorite parts of the book...

TourDeFrank16 karma

Have you seen better okcupid pictures than my profile?

oktrends11 karma

hahaha. No. They're sweet as hell. Do you get lots of messages?

TourDeFrank3 karma

I think I get my fair share. It's fun. Thanks for making okcupid for us.

oktrends4 karma

It's all our pleasure, for real.

oktrends15 karma

Also, something I've just got to get off my chest, you guys. Watching this is the closest I'll ever feel to being really high:


penguin_in_a_beret14 karma

Are there any systematic differences in OkCupid's user's behaviour in other countries outside the US and Canada?

To what extent are you mapping human behaviour, vs US cultural ones?

oktrends26 karma

Except when it comes to race, user behavior on OkC is pretty much the same in the U.S. as it is everywhere. Horniness doesn't really speak one particular language, you know?

penguin_in_a_beret13 karma

Except when it comes to race

Ergo in racially different countries, usage could be different (albeit I suspect your user base in, say, Japan, is not huge). But across similar racial-backgrounds in major Western countries you see no major difference? Is that the correct interpretation of your statement? Racial lines supercede national ones? (which is in itself an interesting conclusion).

oktrends14 karma

Yes, that's how I'd put it.

dimplejuice12 karma

What academic degree do you think is most useful for analyzing big data-- computer science, mathematics, statistics, physics...etc? I've seen alot of people in the field who have varied quantitative backgrounds.

oktrends20 karma

Really, I think it's something any smart person can do. The math involved doesn't need to be that hard, and in fact you can easily over-complicate things. Analyzing data for OkCupid requires a person know at least as much about human nature as about chi-squared or machine learning or whatever.

leontes9 karma

Can you cofound GOODcupid? I’m sad that I’ve been at it for a few years and don’t seem to be able find a life partner.

oktrends10 karma

I just check, and lifepartnercupid.net is available. We'll be getting that going soon.

ichegoya9 karma

HOLY SHIT! I loved everyone of the "projects" on thespark before it became the study guide type site it is now. I loved listening to you talk your sister down from completely losing her shit on you after the Date My Sister Project. I've read and reread that site so many times, and laughed my ass off every time. I also enjoyed the band you were in (sorry, I can't remember the name). So what other creative projects do you have going on these days, aside from the book?

oktrends15 karma

Hey, thanks man. It was really fun to work at TheSpark. Right now, besides OkC and Dataclysm, I don't have time for much else. Getting ganked at Dota2? Is that creative?

lawlore9 karma

As a long-time user, it feels as though the emphasis of the site has become less oriented towards the creation of an OkCupid community, with the removal of things like chat rooms, journal posts and the forums, and more around straight-up matchmaking between individuals.

Was that a conscious shift of direction for the site's development, and if so, what was the thinking/reasoning behind it?

oktrends10 karma

Well, it was kind of conscious shift. There were just too many features on OkC. And those ones weren't the ones that people really came to us for. We need (and needed) to be a dating site above all.

_binnie_8 karma

Will you keep on updating oktrends like before, or was it just a one off post for Dataclysm promo ?

oktrends7 karma

I just put a new post up about 30 mins ago. There'll be more, for sure.

oekhedr8 karma

Two part question from your sparknotes days. 1)Having a large range of literature to cover, how did you pick and choose which ones to cover first?

Second, how did you make the transition from book printing sparknotes to the inclusion of a website. Did you guys contract a specialist firm to upload the content for you or did you manually type it yourself? Thanks!!!

oktrends12 karma

So funny to read this. SparkNotes were online before they were printed. B&N bought us BECAUSE they wanted to make real books out of the website.

Also, though I was there very early on, I wasn't a founder of SparkNotes (my other three OkC cofounders were.)

ramalamatomselleck8 karma

A recent 60 minutes episode highlighted the growing number of "data brokers" selling our information on the internet. As this is a grey area for most of us, could you explain OKCupid's relationship with data brokerages? Do you sell our "answers to questions" directly to data brokerages?

oktrends18 karma

We don't sell answers to questions to anyone.

SexualDissonance7 karma

Why should users pay for a-list when it was you yourself who argued against paying for dating a few years ago on OKTrends (if I'm not mistaken)?

If anything there isn't such a huge improvement using A-list. One of the features - being able to see if your message was read - may bring closure for some who don't get a response. For others it just heightens their antagonism and sense of entitlement. It's not your job to police people's behavior, but still thought I'd ask if you're going to bolster A-list's "benefits", or if this is it.

Anyway, OKC is still the best. I will probably buy your book :P, if for the only to see what data shows how fucked up humans are online.

oktrends11 karma

Whether you pay for a-list is totally your call...OkCupid obviously works well either way. I will say this about that blog post: in the years I've spent working with people from Match, I have a lot more respect for (and understanding of) how they run the bring people together. So I'm glad we decided to take that post down...

yydnic7 karma

I met my current boyfriend on okc and he's the first man I've ever considered marrying. Thanks!

Now an answer to this question would be appreciated: If you turn a left-handed glove inside out, does it fit your left or right hand?

oktrends9 karma

Right hand, right?

catballistics6 karma

You ever been to Madiba's in Brooklyn? Best South African Food around. Heading there now.

oktrends12 karma

UPDATE PLEASE? Do they have good vegetarian options? What apps have you ordered?

Jawbuh6 karma

If you had to choose one thing for everyone to remember from reading your book, what would it be?

oktrends11 karma

Well, I guess that data is a good thing. And that while the world is kind of a fucked-up place, we're understanding it now better than we ever have. Hopefully, with that understanding, we can also make it better.

And yeah there's lots about sex and race and politics in there, too.

sleaziep6 karma

I have been a huge fan of yours since the early days of thespark.com and consider you to be one of the godfathers of comedic coding. Is there any chance that you will ever re-release the original Burnmaker or any of your projects that re-rendered 3rd party sites with chaotic silliness? Are any of your coding "experiments" or surveys available online?

oktrends6 karma

Hey man, thank you. Chris Coyne did a lot of the great stuff on thespark--especially the burnmaker and the jesusifier and really all the smart hacky stuff. I miss working with him...we were just talking about the burnmaker at lunch today.

CulturedYogurt6 karma

Given the experiments conducted altering match percentages for OkCupid users, would you say that compatibility is more a matter of perception than shared attitudes and preferences?

oktrends14 karma

Well, we found that it's a little of both. I also want to point out that there are MANY different ways to match people up. OkC uses something like "birds of a feather" which we essentially tested against "opposites attract." But, for example, Match.com uses a network-graph-based. We've tested it, too, and in some places it actually out-performs our tradition algorithm.

rozilla6 karma

Christian, can you hook a sister up with A list and some kind of button for when the creepers email me that when I press it makes their computers explode so they are A) Offline B) Maimed ??

oktrends4 karma

We've actually talked about that exact idea (complete with a bomb icon.) Thank you for reminding. It might happen. There's nothing I like less that shithead dudes on OkC.

dimplejuice6 karma

Do you think if you went to Harvard a few years later that you and Zuckerberg would have been writing algorithms on the windows?

oktrends8 karma

He's much smarter than me, I'm sure. But Chris Coyne and Max Krohn, my OkC cofounders did most of the algorithms for the site. And I'm sure they could hang with Mr. Zuckerberg.

SenorScumbag5 karma

Have you ever used online dating yourself?

Also, how do you feel that users of your website are responsible for a majority of r/creepypms?

oktrends8 karma

No--none of the founders have, in fact. It's like the reverse of this guy:


dragonfly19935 karma

how many OKC success stories do you meet?

do you feel your percentage grades correlate with compatability?i.e. 93% is an A, 84% is a B...

oktrends12 karma

I meet people who met on OkCupid almost every day. Pretty much any time somebody learns I'm associated with the site, they have some story, either about themselves or their friend or whatever.

obligation2shavelegs5 karma

Two things, as a fellow mathematician:

  • What mathematical techniques/algorithms do you find using again and again when analyzing large data sets? What do these techniques tell you about your data sets?

  • What is a mathematical field that you'd like to learn more about?

oktrends13 karma

I studied algebra mostly in college, and I wish I was better at that for sure. As far as what we use here at OkC and what I used in the book, it's really pretty simple median/mean type of stuff. Basically just counting up the data. The hardest part is trying to set up the controls correctly, so there isn't some garbage thing (selection bias, a weird quirk of the interface, etc.) polluting your numbers.

obligation2shavelegs2 karma

Thanks for the response. One final question. What technological trends are you most looking forward to? Driverless cars, superintelligent machines, nanotechnology, etc, etc? How would you like to see these technologies change the world?

oktrends8 karma

I look on a lot of this stuff with dread, honestly. As someone who spent four hours on the Long Island Expressway last Friday, I have come around on driverless cars...

coltthedog4 karma

I was an avid follower of the spark and loved the articles of losing fights so the other goes to jail and all your fun stuff, I was wondering if you ever were going to return to that kind of comedy mischief? I understand that your a big boi now but we would all love to see more sister dating experiments and such!

oktrends3 karma

Haha. Yeah, I miss those days. Life was janky and awesome. The book is a little more serious, but does have some high-quality jokes (if I do say so myself.)

dimplejuice4 karma

What do you think of Peter Thiel's program to encourage people to drop out of college before graduating and take a leap on entreneurship?

oktrends5 karma

I don't know anything about it, but education is such a personal thing that I can't imagine prescriptions one way or another are very useful. I didn't get much out of college from the classes. But it changed my life in many other positive ways.

myeyeballhurts3 karma

My husband and I also met on OKC, been together for almost 4 years (married for 2). Thank You! Guess I have to ask a question though, hmmmm, is match.com stat about like 1 in 4 marriages happen because of online dating true?

oktrends11 karma

I don't know the stat you're quoting...but I'm sure it is. First, those guys are very careful about what they say. And, second, OkC alone sets up something like 30,000 first dates EVERY DAY. That turns into a lot of marriages. (and, okay, fine, lots of napkins ripped into little tiny bits while you check the time.)

Kirbyoh3 karma

What is the most private thing you're willing to admit?

(Really.) Also, love the OkTrends blog.

oktrends4 karma

Thanks. I JUST put up a new post, like right before I started this AMA:


_binnie_3 karma

Dear Christian, waiting for your book to be shipped by Amazon to discover even more awful things on people, I am wondering: does being a data scientist with access to okcupid database have turned you into an hardened mysantropist?

oktrends4 karma

Sort of. Yes. But I betray my softy weakness by even bothering to answer this question.

cyclicwalk3 karma

What are your favorite sub-reddits to lurk? Do you use reddit regularly?

oktrends14 karma

You know, I used to check the front page all the time (and /r/dota2 occasionally). But the jlaw nude thing really disgusted me, and I'd sworn off reddit for a while. Though of course I'm back here doing this AMA. So...

cyclicwalk4 karma

Understandable. What is one surprising fact that you learned about human behavior in your studies? Something that you didn't include in your books/spoke to that much.

oktrends19 karma

These guys in the UK looked at Facebook likes (only the likes...no network stuff...) and from that alone they were able to predict with the following rates of succes:

95% someone's race 88% someone's gender 85% straight/gay ...down to 60% if your parents got divorced before you were 21.

That's pretty insane. And that's with less than 10 yrs of real data to go on. What will FB be able to tell us after they have decades of the stuff????

PunnyPenguins3 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA. I've been a member for years, enjoyed success for it, read your blog, and have your book on my desk right now (only starting part 2 of it now).

The question burning in my mind is about people and their self-descriptions. I often find that people are their own worst critics, and fall into describing themselves in idealized ways. It's for this reason that you see unique people posting non-unique descriptors (Love to laugh! Like to travel! Pose with tigers! Night in with Netflix and wine!).

What are your thoughts on how people are versus how they describe themselves? Also, do you feel that OKCupid tries to pair people based on how they describe themselves or based on who they actually are?

oktrends4 karma

Hey, thanks for buying the book. I'm certainly my own worst critic (unless you're counting people on twitter) so I know what you mean. OkC (mostly) uses match questions to match people. So, to the extent that people feel the need to "pose" in the questions, we do go on self-description. Of course that means we only get you matches that you won't really like. But to each his/her own, I guess.

_binnie_3 karma

On a bad day, did it happen to you already to consider tweaking okcupid algorithms to slow down the rise of Idiocracy?

oktrends7 karma

If found that idiots are surprisingly good at defeating algorithms. So it wouldn't work anyway...but, no we have no agenda in who comes together using the site.

PunnyPenguins3 karma

If you could make an executive decision to change one thing about the site, what would it be?

oktrends16 karma

Well, I'm still running the site, so in theory I have the power to do pretty much whatever.

I guess if there's one thing I'd change (but that is very difficult and that we're in fact working on...) is to figure out how to make OkC easy and approachable for people who don't like to write about themselves. It's still so text-driven, which isn't a problem for some. But not everybody wants to write essays...

beholdkrakatow12 karma

Why not a video option?

oktrends93 karma

dicks would be everywhere.

MasterMachiavel3 karma

Do you think the marketplace of love which OkCupid has created is useful for reliably creating long lasting and emotionally satisfying relationships, and do you have any reservations about the accuracy the site has in terms of identifying compatibility based on statistics before two people even ever meet each other?

Well done on the success though, I'm sure you've made many people happy :)

oktrends4 karma

Nobody in the office--from me all the way down--thinks that we've "solved" love. We're just trying to get people to talk, then (hopefully) go get a drink together and see what happens. There's no substitute for that, and there probably never will be. The way someone laughs, or holds their hands, or how they talk...that's something that only comes across in person.

That said, we've created hundreds of thousands of fulfilling relationships, and that's something I'm very proud of. We work with the users to make this happen...

RegalWombat3 karma

Got any stats at how many people get guilted into throwing a donation when they see that ad that pops up when the site knows you have Ad Blocker on?

oktrends4 karma

Hahaha. Yeah, the guilt doesn't really pay. I don't have a specific number at my fingertips, but it's not that much.

_binnie_3 karma

Do you like Excel ? What is your favorite reporting tool ?

oktrends10 karma

Oh my god yes I live in Excel. I was using Lotus 123 when it was in DOS to do my stratomatic stats, and I've just been addicted to spreadsheets since.

dimplejuice3 karma

Did you every think when you did Funny Ha Ha that you would be a pioneer in mumblecore?

oktrends5 karma

Not at all. Andrew only let us see the parts of the script that we were actually involved in. So I had no idea what was going on. Plus most of it was shot late at night, and I'm not a night owl. What I thought was mostly...who are these people...I need to get to bed?

lurk_in_progress3 karma


oktrends24 karma

I can assure you that nothing I do in the future will have anything to do with you getting laid!

lurk_in_progress34 karma


oktrends14 karma

Haha. Amazing.

koenigvoncool3 karma

If you had to choose a new animal to domesticate what would it be?

oktrends5 karma

My wild-ass dog.

AtoZZZ3 karma

Do you have your own OkC account?

oktrends21 karma

Yep. My username is "okcupid"

Street cred.

dimplejuice3 karma

Is Nate Silver a friend, a rival, or neither?

oktrends7 karma

I really admire Nate's work. And I've had lunch with him a couple times. So more friend than rival, for sure.

trail223 karma

How many messages should a man send without getting a date before he gives up?

oktrends8 karma

Well, I want to be like Winston Churchill and say never give up...so...the average reply rate for male-to-female messages is around 20% (I'm assuming you're a guy). So it's not uncommon that it takes a while.

ohherroeeyore2 karma


oktrends7 karma

Congratulations!!! I've never used OkCupid myself (I was dating my wife when we started the site.)

MColeB2 karma

What is so interesting about human behavior and how do you model that in a way a computer will understand it?

oktrends3 karma

Well, I mean, I think human behavior is inherently interesting. What else is there, really? Unless you're talking about geology or something. In the book, I don't model it so much as report it.

abcdefghijklmnopq3372 karma

Hello, my name is Paul Smith, who are your favorite authors?

oktrends4 karma

My favorite book is Shelby Foote's three-volume history of the Civil War.

tuesdayaway122 karma

How much do you guys interact with IACs other dating sites? Does IAC sell any of your user data?

oktrends8 karma

IAC gives us a tremendous amount of autonomy. They don't sell our data. Match has been a great partner, actually. We've learned a lot from them...even how to match people up better.

dimplejuice1 karma

Click Click Click is my favorite Bishop Allen song. What's the story behind the riff and song? Very catchy and easy/fun to play.

oktrends6 karma

Ha. Thanks. That song actually started out as a jingle (that no one bought and that we didn't really want to do.) Justin went around the house singing "Take Another Picture With Your Motherfuckering Camera". We changed one certain word to "click..." for the chorus when we realized it might actually make a good tune.

The story is pure Justin. He has an amazing imagination.

schaumann1 karma

Hey Christian. Thanks for your hard work with OkCupid, I've been on it for years and have had a blast.

I've found dating a little more difficult than expected since moving to Canada from Australia. My question to you is: what is your favourite bar / restaurant / other such hangout in Toronto? (assuming you've spent time here and know enough about the city to have a favourite).

I'm sure knowing this fact will increase my dateability - could you imagine reading this on a guy's profile?

You should message me if... You'd like to come out with me one day to (insert name of bar here). The co-founder of OkCupid personally recommended it to me.


oktrends3 karma

Shit. I have spent time in Toronto. A lot actually, mostly on tour with Bishop Allen. I seem to remember some karaoke bar. And a tiki place? We played El Mocambo, I know. But also...I give you my permission to pick your personal favorite bar and claim I recommended it to you.

Jawbuh1 karma

I saw a post on fivethirtyeight about you and decided to buy your book. I am a CS major and currently looking to master in data science. I wanted to know if you had any advice for a future data scientist? BTW I'm a fan of Bishop Allen!

oktrends3 karma

Hey, thanks. I really appreciate anyone buying it. I answered a similar question below...but I'll say again. I think curiosity and and understanding of human nature are essential (at least to work at a place like OkC...and I'd assume, Facebook or Google). So keep your background (and course of study) diverse.

purplenightsky1 karma

I am the funniest abortion loving chick on OKC.

Is your grandpa single? If so, could you please show him my profile and let me know if he's interested?

oktrends3 karma

Ha. Do you become single when you die? It's really a question for the ages.

purplenightsky1 karma

Oh sugar, there isn't a man alive who is dumb or horny enough to marry this mess. I am, however, fairly certain that Don Rickles would hit it and hit it hard.

To answer your question, I will be single when I die!

Does your dog have an OKC profile?

oktrends2 karma

Dog hasn't learned to type yet, so she goes through mine.

djb10341 karma

I feel like there is a perception that different dating sites are good for different things. I would tend to stereotype OK cupid as being more for younger people looking to date, with fewer older people looking for something serious leading to marriage ( I suppose I'd stereotype match.com, or eharmony especially, as the opposite.) Based on your data, is there any truth to this? What is the age distribution on OK cupid?

oktrends5 karma

Our median age is 29. I think people increasingly use the site to find something "serious" though of course we built the site to find you whatever you want...

blind_swordsman1 karma

Hi Christian! I love everything you've done with the blog, and am super excited to read the book! Two questions:

  • What advice do you have for startups who want to get more insights out of their data?
  • What does your big data stack at OkC look like? (DBMS, reporting, A/B testing, predictive analytics...whatever you can disclose).

oktrends2 karma

To your first question: I actually think "Big Data" is overhyped for startups. You need to first (a) have a good product and (b) get people to use it, before analytics do you any good. Without enough users making meaningful data, all the R in the world isn't going to mean anything.

To your second: we have a variety of custom tools (virtually everything at OkC is bespoke, including our webserver, okws.) But I will say there's very little prediction or modelling. It's actually far easier, far more accurate, and far more efficient to simply launch a feature for, say, 5% of the site and see how it does. We can argue endlessly about models, etc. But when something launches, and does well (or poorly) there's no argument...just reality.