Dating service OkCupid has cheerfully admitted to manipulating what it shows users, a month after Facebook faced a storm of protest when it revealed that it had conducted psychological experiments.
Christian Rudder, OkCupid’s co-founder and data scientist, posted three examples of experiments the firm had performed on to the site’s OkTrends blog, in an upbeat article entitled “We Experiment On Human Beings!”.
The blog, which used to chronicle the discoveries OkCupid made by observing its users’ behaviour, has been mothballed for three years, since OkCupid was purchased by dating behemoth Match.com in February 2011.
“OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing,” writes Rudder in the most recent blogpost. “Neither does any other website. It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”
Rudder refers specifically to Facebook’s troubles over its experimentation, when the firm tweaked the content of users’ news feeds in an effort to discover what their reaction was to a higher proportion of positive or negative posts. “Guess what, everybody,” he says, “if you use the internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.”