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This chart shows 380 of the top 1000 most commonly used words in profiles on OkCupid. The color-coding shows the average attractiveness rating of the people using those words. Click here to enlarge.INFOGRAPHICS BY JOSEF REYES
Every day, millions of singles crawl dating sites and apps, flipping through photos and profiles of potential matches. He’s got nice hair! She’s a skydiver! He’s a pastry chef! Users skim profiles looking for a reason to send a message or dismiss (hint: do not mention your mom or exes). Finding a date, let alone love, just isn’t easy—even though there are plenty of apps for that.
Here at WIRED, we couldn’t help but think there might be a better way to optimize your chances, so we pulled massive amounts of data from OkCupid and Match.com, searching for tips that might help you master Internet dating and find someone awesome.
Call it the algorithm method: Working with data crunchers at the dating sites, we put together 25 tips for writing the perfect profile, selecting the right photo, and really understanding your audience. We analyzed the 1,000 most popular words on both men and women’s profiles, tabulated the most popular movies and TV shows, and crunched stats on what people consider their best feature vs. what features their potential dates are attracted to. We even scoured the top 400 most popular OkCupid profiles—the hottest people on the site in ten US cities—to see what their profile pics could tell the rest of us about attracting a date.
We couldn’t have done any of this without the help of the data maestros at Match and OkCupid: Christian Rudder, cofounder and president of OkCupid, and Jim Talbott, director of consumer insights at Match.com. These guys and their data teams ran queries of all kinds and pulled spreadsheet after spreadsheet of information to try and answer our strange questions. We also needed OkCupid to get permission from their users to enable us to publish those popular profile pics. In short, we couldn’t have scraped all this data and derived this advice without the help of these talented data crunchers who are as dedicated to data analysis as we are.
Buried in all that data were some surprising facts about how to optimize your dating profile. If you’re a gay man, pose outdoors—48 percent of the profile pics of the most popular gay men on OkCupid were snapped outside. (It was 80 percent in Atlanta!) Selfies are acceptable for women (45 percent of top-ranking straight women used them, as did 4 percent of lesbians), but not so much for men. Enroll in a yoga class and learn to surf—they’re the most popular activities for men and women alike, so either desirable singles are super mellow or it’s aspirational, and everyonewants to be mellow. Mentioning cats is fine, but mention “my cats” and you’re a weirdo. The data shows that lesbians appreciate nice legs, gay men prize nice arms, and straight women and men are looking for flat stomachs above all else. The tips got pretty specific in some cases: It’s 28 percent better for a male to refer to females as women rather than girls, and men who use “whom” get 31 percent more contacts from the opposite sex.
Our best advice? Learn to surf, listen to Radiohead, mind your grammar, use Tinder, OkCupid, Match, and Grindr on Sunday, watch Homeland, stop listing your eyes as your best feature (nobody cares), and please, please make eye contact with the camera and smile with teeth in your profile picture. Happy dating!