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How I Gamed Online Data to Meet My Match: Amy Webb at TEDxMidAtlantic (Transcript)

And so when I went back in I found Eric1971. He looked pretty good. I liked the way that his profile sounded, I liked the things that he wrote and as I started scoring him on a scrolled matrix I found that too many of the things from my list fell below the middle line and so as a result of that I saved myself a terrible date. Right, and having to send out a bunch of emails.

Then I found Jewishdoc57 which, I have to tell you, he was really good looking, but he also specifically in his profile said that he liked to travel and not cruise-ship travel, and I thought, “I’ve hit the jackpot”. My system is definitely working. I put him on a matrix and everything was above that middle line. I had created my own sort of algorithm and my own way to personalize these online dating websites so that I could use them as databases for my own individual tastes and needs. There’s one problem with that.

I realized that if I thought Jewishdoc57 was so amazing there were probably some people out there who did too. So, still in my drunken state I decided to take a look. And that’s when I found Smileygirl1978. SmileyGirl was very short and very thin and said that she was silly, nice and friendly and has a “genuine” sense of humor. Who is this horrible woman? And why can’t she spell? Well, SmileyGirl picked my interest, so I went deeper in and found that I had some problems because while all of these women looked pretty much and sounded pretty much the same, when comparing them to the photos that I had posted, I saw that perhaps I had a problem. And that my perfect 1500 point man may not think that I was so perfect back.

I also looked at the way that they were describing themselves so whereas I had my entire resumé posted they just used aspirational language and sounded like they were really fun to hang out with. At that moment I knew that I needed to be fearless. It was time to join JDate as a man!

True story! So I ran a little experiment. I created 10 male profiles that each fit the archetype of the perfect point man that I had developed And when I say, “Created 10 user profiles”, I didn’t just go in and type in some stuff the way that I did the first time around. I created 10 separate characters with huge amounts of data associated with each. I knew what their favorite foods were, I knew that one was in a battle with his sister and they didn’t get along because of something that happened in a car at a family vacation. I knew these men inside and out and they all scored the minimum threshold of points for me to date them. And my goal here with these 10 men was to learn.

I wanted to find out why the women who were popular on these dating websites — because the algorithm certainly wasn’t helping me, right? I wanted to know why they were popular. So I looked at their vocabulary and language. I looked at the length of the profiles; they had their senses of humor, how they describe their career, I looked at their height and their weight, what they were listing. I looked at photos, and I was also categorizing the amount of time that it took for them to make the first interactions. My family always said I couldn’t possibly email or talk to a guy first, that I would seem too aggressive. That I had to wait for them to come to me and I wanted to find out if that was true.

So started collecting data over that month and I was looking at both qualitative and quantitative data. Qualitative data show that aspirational language like “love” and “like” and “fun” would never describe something like a building as “fun.” But I learn that the popular women do.

I was also looking at quantitative data. Now we all think that everybody lies about their weight. Would you believe that more women online are actually lying about their height, rounding significantly down, than are lying about their weight? It’s one of the interesting things that I found out. After this month I had enough data now to create what I called a super profile. It was an amalgam of what I had found from the popular women that was very much personalized to me. And that’s when I gamed the system.

So I created a new profile with different photos. I was honest about my height and my weight. I can’t help the fact that I’m 5’6″ and not a size 2. But I did shorten what I had originally written in my profile significantly. I now used aspirational language, I mentioned my career but it wasn’t the focus. And suddenly I was the most popular woman on all of these websites. I had a full inbox for the first time in my entire life. I had men coming at me from every direction, every single guy out there wanted to date me. And what that allowed me to do, was to go back in and from this enormous pool of men apply my own framework, my own algorithm if you will, and the problem in doing this was that even the best of the men that were out there only scored 650 points.

My friends and family said, “Are you nuts? Everybody out there wants to go out with you. You’re still being too damn picky!” And that’s when I found this guy. So, immediately I like the way that he looked. I’m into baldies. I really loved what he wrote as his job — he said that he was an arctic baby seal hunter — and I thought he was pretty awesome. And, since he immediately scored 800 points I thought – you know – maybe my system is working.

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By Pangambam S

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