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Why OkCupid is changing how you message

Why OkCupid is changing how you message

A guide to how—and why—it works

The entire dating landscape has changed and opened up since OkCupid started back in 2004. As a result, there are more opportunities to connect with people than ever before. On OkCupid, those connections start with a message. So making sure messaging on OkCupid is at its best is pretty important to us.

That’s why — after weeks of testing, iterating, and improving — we’re launching our new messaging system across OkCupid, so everyone can enjoy the better experience it has created: we’re talking an increase in matches, fewer offensives messages, and more. But before we get to that, first let’s go over why we’re getting rid of open messaging, and how our new messaging works.

The downsides of open messaging and what we’re doing about them

OkCupid has held on to open-messaging for a long time. In the beginning, back when JoJo and Usher were owning the charts, it made sense — even if JoJo actually being a pop star did not. At this time, online dating was fairly niche. People who were willing to post their faces online, share intimate details about their lives, and answer hundreds of invasive questions were relatively few. We won’t begin to hypothesize exactly when, how, or why this changed, but flash forward to today and a lot of people are now willing to do all of this in the name of online dating. And if you’re a single, heterosexual woman on OkCupid this means the number of messages you receive is almost unmanageable, and at times unsettling.

We’re well-aware that there are some people on OkCupid who send inappropriate messages. We pay attention to Twitter and Instagram, and unfortunately, just as in texting and on social media, we’ve found that women are often the recipients of these unwanted messages. We’ve also spoken to dozens of women about their experiences on OkCupid, and have heard the same sentiment over and over again: OkCupid can be overwhelming when you’re receiving tons of messages, even when the majority of them are well-meaning or fine enough — but not from the people you’re really looking for.

We want to fix that. We’ve tried filters. We’ve had members take a pledge. We’ve encouraged people to write better messages. We’ve seen some improvements, but unwanted messages can still slip through. So, we’re making a fairly radical design change that’s now available to everyone: first messages appear on the profile of the sender and only on the profile of the sender. Yes, you deserve an explanation, and unlike that guy who ghosted after three seemingly pleasant dates, we’ll give you one.

Messages are now just for the people you like

Now all of your messages will be from people you’ve liked. We don’t want to inundate you with messages from people you’ve passed on, or people who’ve messaged you that you haven’t liked yet.

Someone messaging you still works the same. Take Kaleb, for example (see below). He likes Mona’s profile and messages her to start a conversation.

Kaleb makes the first move by liking and messaging Mona.

But what’s changed is that, since Mona hasn’t liked Kaleb yet, his message won’t appear in her Messages screen. Don’t worry, she can still see his message. You see, we’ve got a lot of love for people who make the first move, so if someone you message hasn’t liked you yet, we’ll promote you to them and let them know you’ve messaged them in DoubleTake, Discovery and Search. And it works: people in the test group who sent a message withtheir like were significantly more likely to match with that person than people who didn’t accompany the like with a message.

Participants in the test group all increased their odds of a match when they sent a message with their like.

As the graph above shows, straight women who send a message with their like are more than 18x more likely to end up matching with that person than those who don’t. Gay women are nearly 10x more likely. And it works out for guys, too, with straight men who send a message being 6x more likely, and gay men being 4x more likely.

Messages have new filters, and a new name

What was once the Messages page is now Conversations — because that’s what it’s really for. The “Sent” tab has simply gone away. That’s because first messages now only appear to the recipient. Once someone responds, they’ll reappear (*magic*) in your messages.

Some of these messages will lead to conversations which will lead to dates, and some will go the way of the slow fade. When they do fizzle, sometimes it’s you, sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s both of you — but it happens, and we don’t really need to know why and we also don’t think you need a constant reminder of them. So those conversations slide down to “Old Conversations” after 90 days, and will be there for when you decide you actually could date someone who lives with their mom or they change their mind about your Victorian doll collection being a deal breaker. If there’s someone you don’t want to message with anymore, you can block them — they won’t be told they’ve been blocked by you, but they won’t be able to access your profile, the conversation will be removed from both of your Conversations pages, and you’ll no longer receive any messages from them.

And now for the really good part—it’s working

The new system wasn’t perfect when we first tested it. But we made changes and iterated along the way, and now we feel pretty great about how it’s working — because the data from our test group proves it.

First of all, a lot of the bad stuff has gone away. Messages flagged as offensive or inappropriate have declined by nearly 70%. And those conversations that quickly turn meaningless or offensive, or result in a swift rejection? The ones that never end up with a contact exchange or date on the calendar? Those have decreased by nearly 60%.

There’s less of the bad, and more of the good.

And there’s more of the good stuff. Connections have increased for everyone. As the graph below shows, gay women in the test group saw a 48% increase in connections and straight women weren’t far behind, with 45%. Straight men also experienced a 45% increase, and gay men saw a 19% improvement.

More connections means more opportunities to go on better dates.

We’re excited about improving messaging on OkCupid.We know change can be rough, but we strongly believe it will make OkCupid a better experience for everyone — after all, we did test it out for four weeks, in 18 regions, on nearly a million OkCupid accounts. We looked at the results and listened to their feedback and we’re feeling confident that it’ll help you find better connections in 2018. So until our next update — happy new year, and happy dating!