OkCupid founder Christian Rudder bluntly informed the public on his blog Monday that his company conducted human experiments online and, in the wake of the uproar over Facebook's experimenting
, explained that "that's how websites work."
“OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website,” Rudder wrote.
“It’s not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.”
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To try to figure out what it was doing, Rudder said OkCupid took a hard look at data of varying types and detailed three of those situations online. It's experiment called “The Power of Suggestion” that is getting the company some online criticism.
In that situation, Rudder said OkCupid was concerned that people considered themselves good matches with someone only because the company’s software told them they were a good match. So, to determine how much the power of suggestion actually comes into play, the company told some people they were an excellent match (90 percent) when they were actually a poor match (30 percent), Rudder wrote.
They also did the opposite, telling some who were good matches that they were actually poor matches.
The OkCupid story, coming on the heels of criticism aimed at Facebook for manipulating users’ emotions, generated some online fire.
The company noted on its blog that once the experiment was over the users were notified of their “correct percentages.”
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