On April 7, 2010, OkTrends, the popular OkCupid blog that summarizes dating research, ran a story entitled "Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating." Curiously, that post appears to have been removed from the site. (Celebrating the idea, several other websites still link to where the post once lived; visitors are automatically redirected to the OkTrends landing page.) Could that be because Match.com, a long-time player in the dating game, just purchased OkCupid for $50 million in cash?
"Today I'd like to show why the practice of paying for dates on sites like Match.com and eHarmony is fundamentally broken, and broken in ways that most people don't realize," OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder opened the "Never Pay" story. (A cached version appears here.) "For one thing, their business model exacerbates a problem found on every dating site. For another thing, as I'll explain, pay sites have a unique incentive to profit from their customers' disappointment."
OkCupid launched in 2004 as an alternative to subscription-based sites like Match.com and, to this day, brings in almost all of its money from traditional advertising methods. The formula has worked: OkCupid was named one of Time magazine's top 10 dating sites in 2007 and now has more than 3.5 million active members. For comparison, the sixteen-year-old Match.com has 1.3 million paying subscribers, a number that Rudder tore apart in his April 7 blog post.