OkCupid Is Overhauling Its Communication System To Reduce Unwanted Messages

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Any company needs to evolve in order to stay relevant, and given the especially speedy pace at which the world of online dating advances, it’s even more important for companies in the industry to regularly innovate.

OkCupid has remained a leading name in the market since its launch 13 years ago. But that also makes it one of the older names, facing stiff competition from younger upstarts like Tinder and Bumble.

To ensure it remains a go-to for singles in an increasingly saturated industry, OkCupid has announced a major update to its messaging system. Open messaging - which allows any user to contact any other user without restrictions - will be eliminated a favor of a system more akin to those of Bumble and Tinder, in which only users who have indicated interest in each other can easily access each other's conversations.

“After weeks of testing, iterating, and improving,” reads the blog post announcing the change, “we’re launching our new messaging system across OkCupid, so everyone can enjoy the better experience it has created: we’re talking an increase in matches, fewer offensives messages, and more.”

The new system will display first messages on the profile of the sender and only on the profile of the sender. All messages in your inbox will come from people you have already liked or responded to. If someone you haven’t liked yet messages you, OkCupid will promote their profile to you via DoubleTake, Discovery and Search. The only way to view a message from someone you haven’t indicated prior interest in is to visit their profile page.

“We didn’t want to just go the full Tinder route and say you have to match first [before messaging], because … if someone is very sincerely interested in someone based on their profile—and we have these big, rich profiles—I think it's unfair not to let people message,” Nick Saretzky, OkCupid’s head of product, told Slate. “So we’re trying to strike a new balance that I don’t think anyone has hit so far.”

The former Messages page is now Conversations, while the Sent tab has been discarded completely. First messages only appear to the recipient and “magically” reappear in the sender’s inbox when someone responds. If a conversation fizzles out, it will be moved to Old Conversations after 90 days.

Engineers hope the new communication system will help foster more connections while filtering out unwanted messages and spam. If they’re right, the change stands to benefit both male and female users - the latter because they are often inundated with a flood of messages it’s nearly impossible to wade through, and the former because they will have to stand out from fewer competing suitors.

Early tests show positive results. Messages flagged as offensive or inappropriate have declined by nearly 70%, OkCupid reports, while matches have increased by 32%. For more on this dating service please read our OkCupid review.