I wish we could talk about Bitcoin without saying either 1. that its expected value is negative infinity dollars and pyramid tulip 2. that its expected value is infinity dollars and oppression fiat. I think both sides are well aware of the counter arguments.
But even though that will never happen, I think we can stop short of allowing ad hominems to be acceptable posts.
Naturally, you'd expect a community such as Hacker News to be below such subtlety. :D
PS: I am a fat nerd wearing a black t-shirt, love bitcoin, and have used OKCupid to get dozens of successful dates over the last 8 years.
Back in the 90s, the nerds dominated online dating. Same story with the Bulletin Board Systems of the 70s (The Matchmaker) and the punch cards at Stanford in the 60s (Happy Families Planning Services, used on the IBM 650) for the purposes of online dating. Today, it's much more pervasive with 75% of singles in the U.S. having tried online dating. Most of the women I've talked to on OkCupid are not technical, and when I setup a fake account to see what types of messages girls would receive, none of the people who initiated contact were hackers.
I still don't think the mainstream understands what BitCoin is, or why it's valuable. They hear things like "anonymous" and then wonder what they'd need that for, not seeing that the earliest users of BitCoin were hobbyists, hackers, and Silk Road members. If anything, hopefully this will push people to become BitCoin users, assuming the sign up process is easy enough and the price difference is enough to make them switch.
Edit: I find it strange that you deleted your previous comment after you wrote a reply to my comment, which said you've enjoyed using OkCupid for 8 years. That comment was part of what prompted me to respond initially, and why I didn't think it was sarcasm.
The only exception would be people in relationships or marriages. Unfortunately, even that is becoming questionable: look at Ashley Madison and its nearly 2 million uniques per month.
So you can search for keywords on OkCupid, such as "nerd" or "programmer." You won't find many results, but you can try. The other way to go about it is working exclusively with software companies, such as Google or Facebook (similar to how Facebook required an .edu address to join, you must check for a company e-mail to join). You still have a chicken and egg problem though, so you must solve that in order to make the niche nerd dating startup work.
e.g. for a dating site you'd have "less than 300 pounds", "graduated from Stanford", "not married", "hivfree"
for an HR site you'd have "not a CISSP", "graduated from Caltech in 2000 in CS", "US Citizen", "worked for Google 2000-2004", etc.
Individual tags would be searchable, high confidence, and ideally structured (so "College Graduate", "CS", "MIT", "MIT SB", "MIT 2000", "MIT SB 2000", "MIT SB 6 2000" would all be known.
(The stupid way LinkedIn does Endorsements isn't it, I think. What my friends click just to get a stupid box to go away isn't high assurance information. I'm not sure if crowdsourcing has any place, but the ideal is to get actual validation from the data owner.)
I wrote this comment before I made it to the end of what you wrote about LinkedIn endorsements. The implementation is still up for debate, but the idea is compelling at the very least. I do think that LinkedIn endorsements are worthless because I haven't yet used them, but that idea distills a person down to their core. We're basically trying to solve that problem through the single question that gets more responses than any other on our site: "describe your friend using only three words."
Being able to find a set of N people who are into ancap/lib ideas if not politics, blinded tokens, HSMs, and are within a 100 mi radius of X would be interesting.
So the natural consequence is assuming the absence of a verified fact for "is under 300 pounds" is "is over 300 pounds" with equally high certainty, if you have a well structured system which covers everything.
My theory is the problem of people lying on their profiles will go away when their friends are using the site with them.
Your potential audience is not tiny but it isn't massive either.
1) JDate allegedly has nots of non-Jewish people on the site who are looking to date Jews. I mean, it makes sense -- it's a great place to find them :) Maybe there are non-geeks who are looking to date geeks.
2) My definition of nerd/geek goes beyond programming. A professional (in law or medicine or engineering) is probably way more interesting than a .NET corporate programmer. I could see "career/lifestyle tags" working for this.
Arguably it wouldn't even need to be limited to geeky activities, but general interest interests as well. Maybe someone really likes backpackers, or people who have completed Bioshock Infinite, or corporate M&A lawyers, or people from Surrey. Having verified tags for those things would make searches more interesting.
I really wish they would start OkTrends (http://blog.okcupid.com/) back up; it was really fascinating reading, the kind of analysis that's impossible to come by unless you have free-rein map-reduce access to some company's Big Data. Given their userbase I'm surprised they don't think it was a bigger PR source; I think every article from it has been hot on HN.
Is it any coincidence that the blog stopped around the same time they were acquired? It served its purpose and ran its course. They're done innovating in the space. We'll have to let startups lead the next wave of innovation in online dating.
First, I used to work on the OkTrends team, but I'm speaking for myself, not on behalf of OkCupid.
OkTrends didn't shut down after the acquisition - in fact, they made two posts afterwards (one several months afterwards). The fact that they haven't posted much recently has more to do with the available staff.
It takes a LOT of work to make those posts. The research for "The Real Stuff White People Like" took me a month and a half of working full-time on that and not much else. (Remember that it's "easy" to solve a problem when you define the problem at the start, but with OkTrends, we weren't always starting with a specific problem - each post began as one idea, and then went through multiple iterations before we hit on the "real" question we wanted to answer.).
Around that time, there were three of us working on OkTrends, two of us full-time and the third more-or-less full-time. Once the two full-timers left (for reasons unrelated to the acquisition - I went back to school to finish my degree), you can see why it became much harder to work on those posts.
And before someone says that they could just hire someone else - yes, perhaps, but that's harder than it looks. Data scientist positions are already one of the most difficult to hire for (from a startup perspective), and OkCupid also sets the bar incredibly high. To date, I think that was probably my most intensive and comprehensive interview experience.
Trust me, I give the OkCupid folks crap about this every time I see them (particularly my old boss), because I'd love to see more posts too. But don't think the timing of the hiatus has anything to do with the acquisition; it's truly coincidental. Many startups stop innovating after they're acquired - OkCupid is definitely not one of them.
I heard there is a book containing a lot of similar information coming out though.
We had Christian Rudder writing the blog. Yes, he studied math at Harvard, but the math on OkTrends was high school level. And with a lot of statistical hand-waving and over-simplification. His posts were great because he's such an amazing writer, not because he's awesome at math. (He's certainly the best writer I know.)
Many startups stop innovating after they're acquired - OkCupid is definitely not one of them.
Can you elaborate on this? What innovation have they done since they were acquired by IAC, discounting Crazy Blind Date? I've used better mobile apps for dating than CBD, that app didn't work for me.
I honestly had no idea OKC was actually a dating site until I'd had an account for a year or two. I just had it to answer quizzes.
I wish I had that link, but I'll have to look it up.
edit: since MtGox only charges a fixed %age fee for transactions, automating a conversion into USD wouldn't cost any more than doing periodic larger transactions (other than the development and maintenance cost of such a system
People in the Bitcoin community believe that these options are mutually exclusive, but they're not. If you're doing a dual currency transaction in a period of high volatility, somebody is paying for that exchange risk. It's either the customer, the payment processor, or the merchant, or possibly two of them, but it certainly isn't no-one.
There were multiple periods today in which Bitcoin fell more than 10% in 15 minutes. If I were insane enough to sell Bingo Card Creator for Bitcoin, and then gave an elementary schoolteacher a quote for 0.42785714285714285714285714285714 BTC ($29.95 at 70 to the dollar), it's entirely possible that in the five minutes of thinking it took to process everything on the screen, the 0.42785714285714285714285714285714 BTC that I received would be worth only $27.81 at market prices. Hmm, that's funny, I just paid 7.1% in transaction fees before paying the transaction fees. (We're obviously operating in a perverse hypothetical world where elementary schoolteachers would both understand that option, have BTC available to spend, and be happy spending them, and where I would consider actually implementing this.)
It's possible that the payment processor I was working with would absorb this risk for me, because they hope to keep my business. That would be an extraordinary dangerous decision for them, because they're now running their merchant payments operation as a sideline to currency speculation. (Which I suppose makes them a perfect fit for the Bitcoin community.)
In theory how it would work is that your payment processor would get a price from an FX broker who would guarantee it for a fixed period of time (say 15 minutes) but would offer a worse FX spread with the difference between the offered spread and the market spread being their compensation for taking the risk.
The FX broker would mitigate some of their risk internally (against other customer who want to transact in the opposite direction) and through purchasing spot/forwards/options. As the volatility of the market increased the broker would widen their spread so as to avoid being over-exposed at any point. The business of the FX broker would fundamentally be one of risk-management.
So from a customer view point they'll get a crappy exchange rate compared to what they'd get from a BTC exchange, but they'll be able to do the transaction.
In reality this is quite similar to what happens in multi-currency transactions anyway, if you're buying something priced USD with a EUR credit card you'll typically:
1) Get a "frozen" rate (i.e. you'll get charged a specified amount of EUR) which is worse than market rate (as described above) .
2) Get charged the USD price at whatever the market rate is (-ish, there's still some markup on this) at the time the transaction goes through.
(some smaller vendors just have fixed prices in different currencies; this means that the vendors themselves are taking the currency risk)
If you were 1) very determined to sell in BTC and 2) could buy USDBTC options you could probably sell in BTC and limit your exposure to the fx risk.
Yes, and anyone whose business involves juggling chainsaws has to pay an awful lot for workplace insurance, but Bingo Card Creator doesn't involve chainsaws. Bitcoin proponents love to say "No transaction fees! Can your credit card processor do that?" while perhaps forgetting to mention that the actual mechanism for achieving this involves you juggling chainsaws.
If it works out like that, neat play for them. If it doesn't -- "oh well, startups are risky". Fair game for teams that have such stamina. ;)
When it comes to BTC, right now, all bets are off.
1% and 15cents? That's incredible.... Compared to the 2.9% and 30 cents most other payment processors charge.
I will be migrating my start up soon!
Also, right now the value of their bitcoins will probably drop by more than 2.9% in the time between them buying the coins and being able to send them.
I really do feel that MtGox will move to a higher fee schedule as Bitcoin volume increases, so it'll be interesting to see the convergence of Bitcoin fees vs CC/Stripe/Paypal fees and how processors reconcile the two and balance growth (driven by lower cost) vs immediate profits.
And thats one of the reasons Satoshi started Bitcoin to begin with - transactions within the traditional money network have become very complex and expensive. One of the aims of bitcoin is more economically efficient transactions:
The cost of mediation increases transaction costs, limiting the minimum practical transaction size and cutting off the possibility for small casual transactions, and there is a broader cost in the loss of ability to make non-reversible payments for non- reversible services. With the possibility of reversal, the need for trust spreads. Merchants must be wary of their customers, hassling them for more information than they would otherwise need.
A certain percentage of fraud is accepted as unavoidable. These costs and payment uncertainties can be avoided in person by using physical currency, but no mechanism exists to make payments over a communications channel without a trusted party
1. Receiving Bank Fee
2. Sending Bank Fee (most of the charge)
3. Network fee (visa, mastercard, etc)
And a good amount of fraud built into those fees. Fees often vary by fraud risk, with internet and telephone charging ~3% and supermarkets getting around %1 already. Debit cards can be flat fee also.
It'll be interesting to see how the model and fees develop, as Btc exchanges move from the current x% model to the inevitable x% + $y, $y, or $y/share model.
Pure speculation, but this could simply be a case of OKCupid wanting to support the Bitcoin ecosystem by providing a service that can be paid for directly in Bitcoin, thus raising the attractiveness of accepting Bitcoin as payment, further strengthening the system. To do this, they'll probably have to put the long-term net value of their Bitcoin holdings as zero, but they can probably afford that.
I'm pretty hopeful and positive about bitcoin but that's one of the things that makes me still very suspicious of it. Seems that the places adopting it are doing so for fun, ideological or theoretical reasons rather than to solve some problem they have.
I'm waiting to see online retailers requiring bitcoin payments for high risk transactions (eg sending mobile phones to nairobi). Something that demonstrates it solves a problem and (ideally) enables commerce where it wasn't possible before.
I know that doesn't necessarily make me safe, but it is one more step.