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Can Women Build A Better Tinder? (medium.com/backchannel)
39 points by steven on Nov 21, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 67 comments

> When a 34-year-old biologist is asked what she is looking for in a man, she doesn’t respond with a height requirement or a hair color. She pauses for a moment, reflecting on a divorce and the French man who came after. He needs to be there for her; she has to be sure of him. But the most important thing, she says, as she points to her head: “It’s all up here.”

Yeah, but that's merely what the woman says she wants. That doesn't reflect what she might be impulsively attracted to.


It's like some of my female Asian friends who say they don't actively exclude Asian guys, yet their dating history pretty much is exclusively white guys (even in cities with plenty of Asian guys). Yet if I said that my small company only hires and interviews male engineers, I'm pretty sure people would criticize us for being sexist.

Furthermore, we can look at stats in online dating and compare rates of interracial marriage segmented by race and gender. What we find is that taller men absolutely have higher number of sexual partners compared to shorter men. We also find that Asian women and Black men marry out at a significantly higher rate than Asian men and Black women.

Dating and hiring are worlds apart. Having a preference for your intimate partner isn't the same as hiring policies. A company that hires only men is being sexist. A man or woman that is intimate with only men isn't being sexist; their private life doesn't hold others back from social opportunity.

I don't think that colmvp was trying to draw a moral equivalence. Just saying that "the proof is in the pudding". You can say you don't screen on criteria 'x' but that's not convincing if you happen to never select people who match criteria x.

A person is a relationship; people are markets. Even though the consequences are different downstream the structure is similar, in that in both cases there is market behavior, an expectation of bias, an expectation of denial of bias, and yet statistically a bias seems to exist without intervention.

That being true, I am very leery even of the basic "doesn't respond with a height requirement" part of this anecdote.

I have seen a lot of dating profiles with things like "no short guys please", "minimum height 6 ft." etc; and have heard a lot of my female friends openly admit to "not liking short guys". For some reason, admitting that seems to be a lot more socially acceptable than a man admitting that he doesn't like women with a certain body type.

Discrimination is a funny thing. We think we've solved it all (or at least seen the light on what's right and wrong) when it comes to race, gender, religion.

Yet prejudices and discriminatory attitudes show up again when dealing with other factors. Today is seems the trend falls upon age and height. The worse is that it tends to manifest at an almost subconscious level.

It's not discrimination, it's a matter of preferences. Hell, if I want to date a girl younger and smaller than me it's my right, isn't it? Plus on these apps/dating websites, you only state preferences. As I said, I would prefer a girl smaller than me, but it doesn't mean I'll not end up with someone taller than me.

> Profiles ask you to include things like your job title and college

So, maybe not height, but apparently a prestigious college is important. Down here in Australia, mentioning your college like it's part of your personality is just plain weird. People mention what was studied as a matter of course, but where you studied it isn't a significant part of your personality.

I can see this format of dating site solving the problem of women getting unsolicited dick pics, but I don't see how it can solve the problem of less-attractive men getting some attention.

Women tend to make all these "lists" for what they want in a man, and then fall for the "bad boy" that may match nothing on that list.

People in general have trouble articulating what they want (and sometimes admitting it to themselves). You're not wrong but it doesn't just apply to women so there's no need for this misogynist garbage.

If you ask anyone what they are looking for, chances are they will describe the qualities missing in their last partner. But that's simply describing the qualities that a person they actually wanted didn't have.

Men do the same thing. Though perhaps not the "bad girl", but we often fall for a type (of the many types) that's a lot of fun but terrible for long term relationships and leave the ones that have better long term potential out.

Have you met men who says otherwise? Isn't that why you have the meme "Don't stick your dick in crazy"?

You mean men with a list of what they want but never end up dating women that match it? Yes. Though less at my current age, most of my friends are married at this point.

No, I mean men who claim that they don't fall for the "wrong" women.

Yes. But mostly they're married at this point.

Your anecdotal remarks would appear more credible if you skipped out on the "air quotes"


I remember reading that Netflix practically ignores what you rate shows when generating recommendations, that using what you actually watch is much more accurate. You may have gave A Clockwork Orange 5 stars, but you binge watches Jersey Shore.

I imagine the same applies here. You might say height isn't a factor, but only picked men over 6'.

"A Better Tinder", to me, would be one that actually supports its original function, of being "a hook-up app." There are plenty of dating apps; but Tinder was supposed to be a unique value offering: "like Grindr, but for more than just gay men." But it failed to be that, because there was nothing stopping people from making profiles "just looking for friends" or "just looking for long-term relationships", like in any other dating app. (Obviously the "game mechanics" of Tinder are completely at odds with those uses—why pick friends based on mutual physical-appearance attraction? But people still try.)

The best thing any social-networking app can do is to prune its userbase (i.e. ban people from the service) so that everyone who remains is actually using the service for its intended purpose. Then you don't need the initial extra step of both parties dancing around the question of "what are you on here looking for?"—if they're using the app, they're here for what the app is for.

> "A Better Tinder", to me, would be one that actually supports its original function, of being "a hook-up app."

For ages, there have been sites catering to people looking for casual hook-ups. And they all run into the same problem -- very few women sign up for them. We could debate why this happens (most women don't need an app to have casual sex? The risk of casual sex with a stranger is much higher for women? There is a social stigma of being a woman looking for casual sex?). Once a site embraces being a hook-up app (e.g., Ashley Madison, Craiglist's casual encounters, etc.), it invariably ends up a vast sea of desperate men fighting over scraps.

Certainly, some men and women do use Tinder as a hookup app. Numbers suggest that the vast majority of women are all swiping right on the same very small minority of very physically attractive men. Whether women are hoping for a relationship with these men or looking for casual sex, I think it's safe to assume Tinder leads to a lot of hookups for these guys.

In any case, by removing the social stigma, Tinder became popular among a much larger segment of women compared to previous dating sites. It's not unusual in Los Angeles to see models on Tinder, which you just didn't seen on dating sites of the '90s and '00s.

The developers at Tinder can't even figure out how to ban spam profiles from the service. I doubt they have the knowhow to do what you're describing.

Who says just hooking up was Tinder's "original function"? This is something users attributed to it because some people who are successful in using it this way brag about it and spread that reputation. This doesn't mean it was designed specifically for that purpose, though it might do it well.

My impression from watching an interview with the founder [0] is that just a hook up app is exactly what they don't want to be.

"Our vision from day one was to solve the problem that there is always someone you want to know, but you're afraid of rejection."

My view is that they built a hook up app and then raised a ton of money and now want to branch out and be taken seriously.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn1zDaFGpYs

Granted, female-run dating startups are not immune from the same controversies as male-run dating startups.

The League, in particular, has received quite a few accusations of being elitist/racist because of its selectivity, and the culture that it implies: http://www.buzzfeed.com/jarrylee/tinder-for-elites

The Dating Ring, a Y Combinator-funded dating startup, was also involved in some interesting Hacker News drama regarding spamming OKCupid users. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8454405

The dating industry in general is iffy; it's hard to isolate what works better and what doesn't when everyone is reluctant to release data.

When a 34-year-old biologist is asked what she is looking for in a man, she doesn’t respond with a height requirement

The research on the topic is quite clear that across all ages, across all cultures, and across all races, heterosexual womens' unspoken but critically important criteria in mate selection is height.

> heterosexual womens' unspoken but critically important criteria in mate selection is height.

Your impression may be biased, in part, because it's easy to measure height and create studies based around it.

My friend is handsome and rather short, whereas I'm tall and average looking. Despite what the studies say, women throw themselves at him whenever we go out, and he has a ridiculous match rate on Tinder.

While height may be one of many factors influencing attraction, it is in no way an overriding critical factor as your statement suggests.

>>While height may be one of many factors influencing attraction, it is in no way an overriding critical factor as your statement suggests.

He didn't say overriding critical factor. He said a critical factor. Yes, short but handsome men are also attractive. But nowhere as attractive as they would be if they were taller.

And tall and average-looking men are nowhere near as attractive as they would be if they were tall and handsome. What's your point? Poor and handsome men are nowhere near as attractive as they would be if they were rich. And rich and timid men are nowhere near as attractive as they would be if they were confident.

In real life, being handsome generally wins out over being tall, despite many men who fixate on height as a critical factor holding them back. Why is this? Maybe it's easier for someone to imagine himself as taller rather than as more handsome. You could be taller without altering the physical traits that you associate with your identity. Or perhaps most men think of themselves as handsome, whether or not they really are.

> "He said a critical factor."

>> "heterosexual womens' unspoken but critically important criteria in mate selection is height."

I stand by my assertion that his phrasing implies height is the critical criteria. Of course, this doesn't quite make sense grammatically.

Handsomeness is subjective. Height is objective. You're comparing apples and bananas.

You've arrived at my original point: we see so many studies that focus on height because height is unambiguous and so easy to measure. This "scientific proof," in turn, makes it seem like a bigger factor than it is.

Handsomeness (or physical beauty) is difficult to quantify and therefore much harder to study. Yet that doesn't make it any less of a critical factor to attraction as it plays out in the real world.

He's talking about studies and data, not "this one time my friend" stories.

Absolutely, and my claim is that height gets overrepresented in studies on attraction because it's so easy to measure. This leads to borderline-absurd statements like:

> heterosexual womens' unspoken but critically important criteria in mate selection is height.

In the real world, attraction is significantly more complex than this implies. It's obvious (to anyone who has observed attraction, rather than just read a study about it) that many factors are involved, most are hard to quantify, and these will underrepresented in studies and data.

You're right, of course, but the article was talking about a specific woman there. It's very possible that women care about men's height, on average, but that particular woman does not.

do you even have proof?


i'm not short (i'm exactly average) but this pops up a lot on the subreddits i frequent.


Not especially good evidence that women care, but it certainly looks like men do.

That doesn't invalidate his comment. You have to ask yourself _why_ are men exaggerating their height by two inches on average?

They wouldn't exaggerate their height if it wasn't an important factor in potential mates. And the data confirms it: "We've found that taller people, up to a point, have more sex". You see on the graph that the "frequency of sex" (unlabeled y-axis) increases for men up to 6'8".

"It is fucking exhausting. Especially for heterosexual women."

"I found myself having semi-intelligent exchanges with adult men. On a dating site. This was new!"


Also it's an ad for bumble. There's some interesting points, but as usual tired of filtering the pages of pure and repetitive noise.

An hour ago I'd never heard of bumble. Now I've heard of it through two unrelated articles found on two different social news sites.

Bumble's PR people deserve a pat on the back (and the profession of modern journalism deserves a kick in the head).

Did you happen to read a Daily Mail link? That was an unabashed ad whereas this could just be a blog post.

    Bumble’s landmark feature is that women must
    take the initiative on all conversations
It's cool that they bake this into their platform. This was always how I approached online dating through OKCupid, and it worked out far, far better for me than messaging women. Perhaps not surprisingly, it seems that an average woman on OKC receives an order of magnitude more 'likes' and messages than I ever received (or more!). By only engaging with women who'd reached out to me in some capacity, it was much, much easier to actually meet people (like, e.g. my girlfriend of nine months).

Bumble is pretty lolworthy, ostensibly built on a fundamental misunderstanding of male/female dynamics. Good job raising money from naive investors though, uh, I guess.

Whether or not the premise makes sense, I've landed way more actual dates with much more attractive women (physically, and also in terms of personality, education, career, etc.) on Bumble than Tinder.

It might have nothing to do with male/female dynamics, and may just have something to do with a better UI/UX (which Tinder seems to have lifted heavily from in their last update), or a lack of spam bots (seriously, a third of my Tinder matches are spam bots linking to the same URLs over and over -- how is this still an issue??).

Investors are likely considering the growth, rather than the theory. Whatever the underlying reason, from one user's perspective, Bumble's growth seems very impressive.

which, of course, you are an expert on

The subtitle is "Why the best dating apps are founded by people who aren’t dicks." Does the article explain why the founders of other dating apps are dicks? Or is it just because they're men?

I can't speak to other sites, but there are lots of stories online about why the Tinder founders are dicks.

This is all but a sponsored post for Bumble that's basically just a long form advertisement masquerading as a think-piece.

Based just on what we know from OkCupid's excellent analytics blog back in the day, there's nothing about their business model that suggests they'll be successful. The founders are non-technical, the business model isn't data-driven, and there are lots of questionable design decisions throughout.

They're getting a large amount of positive press from people who share their apparent ideology, but there's no actual information being put out. They're closed source, privately held, and don't publish any meaningful usage statistics, so what do we know about them other than they have good PR people?

Building a "better" Tinder seems like writing a convincing email for the advanced fee scam.

It appeals to the wrong people. The Nigerian prince scam works because it effectively filters anyone who wouldn't send money to a stranger emailing them out of the blue. Making Tinder "better" would draw in people who are not interested in what is essentially a hook-up app.

this bumble app is getting so much pr, but it seems like only the journalists are using it

They don't even have an Android app! I don't know how they expect to be taken seriously. They're doing a bunch of PR like this and appearing on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but it doesn't seem like they're actually ready yet.

Well they're not actually using it, they're just doing their jobs. [1]

[1] http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html

There are a number of things I disagree with in this piece. (I will mention that I think trying different approaches to online dating is a great idea in and of itself. I don't disagree with the app's existence, but rather the way it is being presented here.)

> The mainstream online dating technologies — OkCupid, Match.com, eHarmony — were all founded by men. So it’s no surprise that most popular dating products cater to male user problems.

The first part is true, but the second is non sequitur. I'd also like to ask: what is a "male user problem"? Although the wants of men and and women are somewhat different, I think it's probably a bad idea to paint genders with stereotypes in this way.

> Bumble’s landmark feature is that women must take the initiative on all conversations.

> He is most likely tired of reaching out blindly to women all the time,” she tells me. “Maybe he feels rejected. He feels ignored.”

This sounds very interesting, and good on the founders of the app for trying something new.

> Though she is extremely limited legally in talking about her experience at Tinder — they have since settled out of court — I wonder if her negative experiences there inform her dating theories now. Perhaps as a hint of Bumble’s influence, last week Tinder announced that users could now include details on education and work. [emphasis mine]

The author "wonders" if "perhaps" there is influence from Bumble on Tinder. In other words, this paragraph has no factual standing.

> If you are a male entrepreneur, approaching the problem of online dating from your point of view, the goal would be to provide male users with more women.

This statement seems presumptuous. It's not about males vs. females! It's about new ideas! Past platforms take a traditional view to dating, Bumble likes to change things up, and this is a novel thing. This piece turns a novel concept into gender politics and boils down entire companies to the gender of the person at their helm. Bumble won't succeed just because its founder is a woman: Bumble will succeed because it's a new concept from a different perspective, executed by someone who is smart and has experience. You're erasing Whitney Wolfe and writing "all women", which seems demeaning.

> This isn’t to say that all men approach online dating haphazardly, without goals or specific desires. But [...]

This comment isn't to say that this article is poorly written. But, look at all of the evidence above and think for yourself. (I mentioned another argument to look objective... but never gave it any evidence, so the reader will take my subjective perspective as fact.)

> But with these online dating innovations, the tech industry just might realize what they’ve long been ignoring: women’s experiences matter, too.

No one's ignoring women's experiences. The founders of the mainstream dating apps simply have their market and refuse to pivot because they have shareholders and investors that would rather they not change the model so immediately and drastically. What we have now is a result of a function of market forces rather than a function of gender.

I think the idea behind Bumble is very interesting, and I'm glad there are startups trying something new in the dating scene. I'd actually like to try one of these in due time. But this article just looks... bad. It turns independent, strong, intelligent people into the stereotype of "female entrepreneur".

>> If you are a male entrepreneur, approaching the problem of online dating from your point of view, the goal would be to provide male users with more women.

>This statement seems presumptuous. It's not about males vs. females! It's about new ideas!

Yours is a very generous comment on a highly misandrist statement. The fact that a dating app creator/founder/owner is male doesn't mean that they must therefore have designed the app "to provide males with more women".

Even if they are using "online dating" euphemistically to refer to hook-up apps then they're making the classic mistake of assuming females aren't interested in sex and males are solely motivated by acquiring a quantity of it. Sure, subsets of those populations exist that fit the bill but the reverse associations also exist at some level.

Does this mean the founders of Bumble want "to provide females with more men" above all else?

I also alluded to this with the "male user problem" and with the market forces concept. Women like sex too. I won't call it misandrist for the reasons I don't like being called misogynist. But yes, there are many things wrong with the piece rooted in unintelligible and illogical gender politics.

I wish this piece didn't exist, because it makes the world a worse place.

Tinder actually had a female cofounder. And it wouldn't work if women wouldn't use it. What a silly article.

That female co-founder is the founder of Bumble, the subject of this article.

I'd argue that Tinder doesn't work, and this probably won't either.

As you and the article mentioned, it did have a female co-founder. And she has since left Tinder and founded Bumble, the app the article mostly focuses on.

The premise in the first part of the article was that Dating apps suck because they are not made by women. At the same time they bashed Tinder, which was cofounded by a woman - so the article's premise is obviously absurd and I didn't read on. That the cofounder went on to start Bumble doesn't change that.

An app being "cofounded" by a woman and an app being "made" by a woman are two different things. For example, perhaps her input was dismissed by her male cofounders (who, incidentally, tried to strip her of her cofounder title because they thought it would be embarrassing to have a female cofounder).

Yeah - whatever. So why, in your opinion, did no women step up earlier to create a dating app, if that is even true (there are a lot of dating apps in existence)?

If you believe the spin of the article, that women make better dating apps and men are not interested in making good apps for women - OK. More power to you. Enjoy Bumble, I guess.

> So why, in your opinion, did no women step up earlier to create a dating app

Why haven't women stepped up earlier to create apps in all categories? It's a complicated question and one I cannot answer. But among women-created apps, dating apps currently seem to be well represented. This may suggest that prior dating apps and sites have been deficient in serving the needs of these founders, and they think there is a still a problem to be solved in this space.

Whether or not this is the case, I don't know, but their belief is not getting under my skin.

> If you believe the spin of the article, that women make better dating apps and men are not interested in making good apps for women

I believe that it's possible for people who are not white males to bring a different perspective to the table, and I believe this can potentially serve as a competitive advantage in business.

Whether or not this holds true for Bumble, I again don't know. I didn't know any of this backstory about Bumble before today, I just knew it had a better selection of women, a better interface, and that I've gotten more dates on it than on Tinder. By comparison, Tinder primary purpose seems to be connecting me to spam bots.

I've never used Tinder nor Bumble, nor do I hope to do so in the future because it would imply that I had a divorce. I just know that nothing prevents women from picking up a keyboard and coding any app they like. That's why I call bullshit on the article.

For sure Dating Apps still can be improved, although I doubt that you need a specific gender or race to qualify for making a better Dating App.

You didn't read the article did you?

(the founder of the advertised app is the female cofounder you speak of)

I read the first part, which included enough nonsense to make me stop reading.

Certainly there was nothing to stop women starting Dating startups before now.

If that woman has success with Bumble, why not?

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