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Ok Cupid's algorithms use only the questions that both potential matches decide to answer, and the match questions Mc Kinlay had chosen—more or less at random—had proven unpopular.When he scrolled through his matches, fewer than 100 women would appear above the 90 percent compatibility mark.He'd sent dozens of cutesy introductory messages to women touted as potential matches by Ok Cupid's algorithms.Most were ignored; he'd gone on a total of six first dates.
Ok Cupid has a system in place to prevent exactly this kind of data harvesting: It can spot rapid-fire use easily. He turned to his friend Sam Torrisi, a neuroscientist who'd recently taught Mc Kinlay music theory in exchange for advanced math lessons."They could see some new game—like Three Card Pai Gow Poker—then go home, write some code, and come up with a strategy to beat it."Now he'd do the same for love. While his dissertation work continued to run on the side, he set up 12 fake Ok Cupid accounts and wrote a Python script to manage them.The script would search his target demographic (heterosexual and bisexual women between the ages of 25 and 45), visit their pages, and scrape their profiles for every scrap of available information: ethnicity, height, smoker or nonsmoker, astrological sign—“all that crap," he says.Raised in a Boston suburb, he graduated from Middlebury College in 2001 with a degree in Chinese.In August of that year he took a part-time job in New York translating Chinese into English for a company on the 91st floor of the north tower of the World Trade Center. (Mc Kinlay wasn't due at the office until 2 o'clock that day.
Members answer droves of multiple-choice survey questions on everything from politics, religion, and family to love, sex, and smartphones.