Tinder’s algorithm has been secretly ranking you for months

12 Jan 2016

As it continues to be the dominant force in online dating, Tinder’s on-again-off-again CEO Sean Rad has revealed in an interview that a relatively recent algorithm has been ranking our standards for months.

At the start of a new year, online dating websites and services see numbers skyrocket as single people add dating to their list of New Year’s resolutions, but a recent revelation might do little to boost dating website users’ self-esteem.

In a recent interview, Rad said that Tinder has implemented an algorithm that means that when a user swipes right or left on a profile, the selection of a profile to appear is not down to pot luck, but rather assigned to you due to what Rad calls an ‘Elo score’.

For those unfamiliar, an Elo score is used in competitive sports, in particular as a method of ranking players based off their results and then using that to judge who they can play against as someone of relatively equal skill.

In the case of Tinder, however, this basically means that the profiles you’re presented with are likely to be in the same league as you, as some would say.

It’s not all about attractiveness, apparently

However, Rad – who of course puts himself as ‘above average’ in the company’s created Elo-like ranking system – says that it’s not based on attractiveness, but rather desirability and the number of right swipes a person gets, which is pretty much the same thing.

“It’s very complicated,” Rad said. “It took us two-and-a-half months just to build the algorithm because a lot of factors go into it.”

However, going on to explain further, Tinder’s data engineer, Tor Solli-Nowlan, said that it’s more complicated still, citing what’s in the photos along with the person can play into a person’s decision to swipe right or left.

So, for example, you might not be the particularly adventurous type and yet you’ve matched with someone who has a photo of them skydiving, showing they might be a little too outgoing for you.

Rather unimpressed man image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic