The Data Lovestory Of Amy Webb

One ultimate lifegoal is to find a partner, with whom you can spent the rest of your days.  Having the right person to found a family is highly desired. Everybody is looking for love – so does Amy Webb. Amy is a lecturer on emerging technologies and media at the Columbia University. Her age is unknown, according to Wikipedia, she is in her late thirties. She is a successful woman with a stable income and lives in Philadelphia. Amy has a big family – many of her relatives were starting to found families, which put her in an uncomfortable situation, because she couldn’t find a right partner. Hence, Amy decided to join dating websites. Using dating websites can be a convenient way to find a partner. For instance, if you approach an attractive person on the streets and ask for a date, you could be rejected which is awkward for you and for the other person. In contrast, dating websites provide a comfortable distance between the users. If you are being rejected, it doesn’t feel as bad as being rejected on the street, because you cannot see the other person physically.

Dating websites work with algorithms. Before signing up, users have to fill out questionnaires about their hobbies, their age, gender, sexual orientation and what activities they like to do. Based on these data, an algorithm program will propose profiles that might be interesting to the user. Hence, Amy decided to sign up for a dating website. The online portal proposed many matches to her, so she ended up with meeting many people from the dating website. Unfortunately, none of the dates were pleasant for her. For example, Amy met Steve in one of the most expensive restaurants in Philadelphia. At first, the date was pretty good. Steve shared a lot of interests with Amy like music from the eighties or technical gadgets. Both talked a lot and enjoyed classy meals. Than Steve stood up to go the toilet. Unfortunately he never returned back, leaving a bill over 1300 dollars for Amy.

Being frustrated about the bad dates, Amy recognised, that the algorithms of the dating websites were not detailed enough. Hence, she made an attempt to re-engineer the algorithm system by stating attributes for her desired man. For example, one criterion for Amy was that her partner shall weigh twenty pounds more than herself. Other attributes were that the man should be smart and jewish. She ended up with 72 criterions and grouped these into a three stage importance ranking. Every attribute was linked with a certain amount of points, depending on the ranking. The criterions in the highest importance stage were associated with the most points. Hence, Amy only contacted dates that received a certain number of points. To be more specific, different scores were linked to specific actions:

With a score of 700 pts: Amy contacts the match via e-Mail

With a score of 850 pts: Amy would be willing to go on a date with the match

With a score of 1500 pts: Amy could consider a long term relationship

Using the scoring system, Amy could filter profiles that were not appealing to her in a rational and quantitative way. Apparently, one match scored high on the importance ranking, hence Amy decided to contact the man behind the profile. However, she did not consider the possibility that the counterpart wouldn’t respond, which indeed happened. Being frustrated about the missing response, Amy investigated which kind of profiles were likely to receive a high response rate. Her analysis was based on ten fake profiles, that she created herself. These profiles included different attributes like a profile picture that displayed an attractive women, who showed a lot of skin, or a personal profile description that was linked to an open minded and adventurous women. By analyzing her findings of her research she was able to create a profile that was very likely to get a high response rate. Attributes of this “super-profile” were:

  • A short profile description about the user herself with an average text length of 97 words
  • Including simple, optimistic language, thereby avoiding specific academic terms in the user description was benefitial to the response rate
  • Timing matters: profiles with high response rates waited 23 hours on average, before they continued with the e-Mail conversation with the match.
  • Profile pictures that showed some skin were linked to high response rates.

By creating the super profile, Amy indeed found an interesting date that appealed to her. The profilename of the match was Thevenin. He scored exactly 850 points on her importance ranking, hence Amy decided to date him. The relationship between Thevenin and Amy went pretty good, after one year Thevenin proposed to Amy in Jordan during holiday. They married two years after the first date and shortly after that, their daughter, Petra, was born.

Amy’s data lovestory shows, how incredible valuable data can be.



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