Tinder secretly scores the "desirability" of every user, and it seemingly uses that score to match up people of similar "desirability," according to a report in Fast Company. To put this bluntly, it very much sounds as though Tinder's scoring system is meant to display "attractive" people to other "attractive" people, "ugly" people to other "ugly" people, and so on and so forth. Of course, Tinder's scoring is based on swipes, and swipes are, in theory, based on more than just attractiveness — there's a brief description in each profile, as well as a person's job or school — so a desirability score technically represents an amalgam of how a person presents their profile. But that assumes everyone is swiping based on more than photos. Tinder did not respond to a request for comment.
"It’s very complicated," apparently
Fast Company doesn't have many details on how the desirability rating works. A Tinder engineer pointed out to Fast Company that people don't universally value the same things: "Some people really favor facial hair, while some do not. Same thing with tattoos, photos with pets or children, excessive outdoors shots, or photos of you with a tiger." Tinder may look for deeper patterns in who is swiping who and use that to adjust who you should be matched with — that would actually make sense — but it doesn't state that explicitly.
Tinder's CEO, Sean Rad, tells Fast Company that there's at least some level of complexity to the scoring system. "It’s not just how many people swipe right on you," he says. "It’s very complicated. It took us two and a half months just to build the algorithm because a lot of factors go into it." A Tinder data analyst describes a bit of its inner workings, suggesting that a person's desirability rating goes up more when someone with a high rating gives them an approving swipe than when someone with a low rating does. The analyst compares it to the ranking system used in Warcraft. "Whenever you play somebody with a really high score, you end up gaining more points than if you played someone with a lower score," he says.
Tinder calls its desirability ratings an "Elo score," after the Elo rating system that Chess players use to rank skill. Naturally, the ever-humble Rad points out that his score is "above average." Fast Company also has a separate profile on Rad starting to "grow up," which includes such tasteful quotes as, "Have you ever seen this many hot girls? It’s like five hot girls in a row!" The profile also describes an almost complete absence of women in Tinder's decision-making process. Rad apparently thinks input from women isn't necessary, describing Tinder as having the mind-reading abilities gained by Mel Gibson in What Women Want. Good luck with that.
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