I’m going to talk about various sites in the adult social networking space from time to time, and looking at a lot of the ones out there, I imagine I’m going to do a fair bit of bitching about them. However, before I do that, I’d like to rave for a minute about okcupid.
Okcupid is a dating site, which is an area of the adult online space that I’m a little less interested in. However, I thoroughly recommend it for finding people similar to you for any purpose, including dating, friendship, or casual sex.
Like many sites we’ll look at, okcupid is essentially based on one good idea. This is that compatibility between two people can be calculated based on their answers to various questions. The system works well because rather than just finding people who answer the same way as you, each question allows you to specify how your ideal match would answer it, and how important that answer is to you. I’m not going to go into any more detail about their algorithm, as it’s explained very clearly on the site.
A good idea is not enough by itself. What makes okcupid works is how well the idea is executed. You aren’t tackling huge questionnaires which require a massive investment of time. Any time you like you can go to the question page and answer one question, or one thousand questions, it’s entirely up to you. The questions are fun and engaging, and the site rewards you in various ways, such by using the number of questions that you’ve answered in public views of your profile, so that it feels like a mark of pride.
The game playing nature of the site is amusing for a couple of days, but where it gets really interesting is when you go and look at the people in your area who are good matches for your views. For me, with only a couple of hundred questions answered, my matches list immediately read like a who’s who list of interesting poly, sex-positive people in Auckland. There are heaps of different ways to explore your matches, including “find a random penpal”, detailed searching, and lots of boxes offering you varous similar people. The result, for me, feels like I’m surfing through a social network of sex-positive geeks. For you, it no doubt feels like your in a network of people sharing whatever your interests are.
Finally, as web developer, I’m often very turned off sites which have a good idea, but demonstrate poor design and useability or are full of bugs. In this area, okcupid doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of the few dating sites that I’ve used which demonstrates nice clean early web2.0 style design, with lots of active white space and nice clear ways to navigate. It’s delightfully snappy, and the developers tell us that they’ve written it in C++ and written their own webserver to boot. This may demonstrate that they are certifiably insane, but it certainly works for them.
Go check it out. They have a facebook plugin, but no sign of an API. I’d love to be able to integrate it with other social networking sites and use okcupid match scores as a way of navigating various communities, but we’ll have to see what happens on that front.
If you want to see how your profile compares to mine, you can drop by my okcupid profile here.