Here’s why lonely techs are creating bots to slide on dating apps


Apps like Tinder, Bumble, Grindr and Hinge offer endless erotic possibilities. Like an unregulated free dating market, they showcase qualifying profile after profile and ask users to sort them using a simple hot binary or not (not that different from Zuckerberg’s Facebook precursor in 2003). The apps have optimized and sped up romance, opening up access to a wide range of otherwise unknown singles – something that can be as obnoxious as it is thrilling. Sifting through those eligible (and not-so-eligible) singles can take time and energy, and all that dating chore can make the experience vaguely painful, like a chore. According to a Pew Research Report 2020, dating apps are widely hated: “Americans who have used a dating site or app in the past year say the experience left them more frustrated (45%) than hopeful (28% ).

Dating is a labor-intensive activity disguised as a hobby, and much of the work takes place before you find yourself drinking an overpriced cocktail in front of a cute stranger – or even before sharing a simulated virtual exchange on favorite colors or restaurants. Dating apps force you to compress your personality into a few chaste prompts, choose a few hopefully flattering photos, and then swipe until your fingers ache, in an effort to match someone who responds. to a certain standard, whatever that means. Writer Emily Witt called the online dating landscape is a “sex supermarket,” a place where the options are endless and the choices overwhelming. And if a profile doesn’t match your niche specifications (a friend of mine just swiped straight at Jewish engineers with glasses, for example), you can get rid of it in one fell swoop. It’s brutal there!

It’s hard to find the best fish when the sea is so full. Even a mid-sized town like Ann Arbor has so many profiles that you can scan for hours without seeing the same person twice. It’s like running through speed dating, slowing down just enough to see what someone looks like. The choice overload leads some swipers to burn out quickly. It’s not an easy job to look at a handful of photos and assess whether or not a stranger can become your closest partner.

The paradox of choice, as described in a 2004 report delivered of the same title written by psychologist Barry Schwartz, implies the idea that an increased number of options decreases our overall satisfaction with our choice. Even when you make a great selection, you can worry about missed opportunities.

Not everyone likes the tech dating scene, but it’s a phenomenon that’s hard to escape. Over the past two decades, dating apps have eclipsed traditional ways of meeting (such as through friends or family), which makes it difficult for a tired date to ditch apps in favor of an old-fashioned dating like brushing their shoulders at a bus stop.

What should a young technician and lover do?

Well, you can employ a human matchmaker or post a Craigslist “dating assistant” job listing, but the MacGyver solution is to build a bot that automates the experience. A handful of swiping-tired singles ask the software to behave like a right finger, freeing them from their selection tasks.

My friend, David Sasson, a 26-year-old data scientist in Brooklyn, wrote a few lines of Python code to slide directly onto everyone he saw on Bumble. Its scenario is hardly more complicated than a hot dog connected to a motor, but he has been satisfied with it so far.

“That way I don’t have to engage in careful sweeping,” he once told me on a video call. “I can watch my games, see who messaged me and choose from a limited group of people who genuinely care about me.”

At that point, I asked him if the code was saving him a lot of time. After all, setting up took about an hour and requires a lot of dedication to sort out.

“Yes, it saves time, but probably not a lot. Honestly, I thought the creation process was fun, ”he told me.

“What do you do with the time that you save by not slipping?” I asked, to which he gave me a puzzled look and a slow response, “Read, exercise, hang out with my family, cook.”

For him, almost everything is a better use of time than trawling dating apps.

David isn’t the only one who disdains swiping. 21-year-old programmer named Zachary johnson Created a Tinder robot who sorted out qualities they found undesirable such as “has an empty bio”, “is a poly couple”, or “is far away”. I found him on Reddit and asked him, via chat, why he created the bot.

“My motivation was that it felt like a drain, almost an addiction, just sitting there mindlessly browsing hundreds of people, looking at their sexy photos and their trash profiles. Another part is that I like reverse-engineered APIs, so I didn’t need a lot of excuses.

On YouTube, there are enough Tinder bot tutorials to be a small genre. A video titled “Automating TINDER with Python Tutorial,” boasting half a million views, uses Python’s Selenium package to click in the Tinder web browser (not the app). The video, created by programmer Aaron Jack, has inspired a number of copiers, including one French which ranked the attractiveness of profiles to 12 decimal places (12! What precision!). Jack decided to go above and beyond by changing his bot to send automated messages to matches, and when the bot was able to strike up conversations, the creator said he “felt like a proud dad watching his son on a baseball game “.

Most of the people who create bots of dating apps (or at least those who talk about them) are men, which reflects the gender differences in using dating apps: essentially, women are much more stingy. of “I like”. According to Bench, men who have dated online in the past five years were more likely to have not received enough messages than women (57% vs. 24%). Based on The data of swipestats.io, a service that views Tinder data, women swipe right on just 5% of profiles, compared to an average of 53% for men. A 2014 New York Times article reports a smaller, but still pronounced, difference between men’s and women’s scans (14% vs. 46%). The bottom line is that men tend to cast a wide net while women remain demanding, a pattern that continues throughout the animal kingdom (sperm is cheap, say evolutionary biologists). Perhaps that explains why so many Tinder bots are made by straight men – they waste a lot of time sweeping up women who won’t match them.

Yet at least one female-designed Tinder bot exists. Engineer and YouTuber Bukola Ayodele created a Tinder bot project with an innovative conversational component. Use of Google Dialogue flow, the technology behind many chatbots, she designed her Tinder bot to initiate conversations that would eliminate two types of profiles she found unattractive: Trump supporters and those she called “dusty types” (interested men). by sex alone). While some conversations sounded natural, others were awkward and stilted. With a chuckle and a nod, Bukola shared the unusual messages his bot sent from his profile. In response to the question “Do you live in Jersey?” Her bot said “I can be trained to be more helpful. My developer will continue to train me.

“Lol hacked? Replied the Tinder match, to which the bot responded “No, I was not hacked. I’m really into technology;). ”

Needless to say, chatbots aren’t the most useful tool. An alternative can be a neural network AI tailored to your taste, sliding only on the best and most desirable profiles (maybe love is a else if statement away). That said, many apps already have an element of algorithmic curation. Hinge, the sophisticated and cosmopolitan dating app starlet (she was boasted as the most mentioned app in the New York Times wedding announcements) proudly uses the Nobel laureate Gale-Shapley algorithm. Tinder and Bumble are less open about how they determine the order of the profiles you see, but ultimately an algorithm can make some profiles more important than others. Whether you slide right or left, however, is entirely in your hands.

Ironically, human choice is what once set Tinder apart from old-fashioned online dating.

The first generation of online dating services, like match.com, okcupid.com, and others, took responses to comprehensive questionnaires and analyzed them to match compatible profiles – no scanning is involved. But over the course of the 2010s, users increasingly turned down computer-generated correspondence for applications that offered a hands-on approach.

However, sweep fatigue remains an issue, so much so that rigs are trying to narrow down that choice. In November 2021, Match Inc (the company that owns Hinge and Tinder) announced a human pairing function to help users who are feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. For an amount of $ 4.99 / month, a qualified (human!) Dating coach will select two profiles per week, thus preventing users from being overloaded with choices. Most apps offer services that, for an additional monthly fee, provide you with a list of profiles that sneaked right at you, and human matchmakers saw growing demand in recent years.

In the end, the buffet of potential partners turned out to be exhausting enough to inspire dishonest programmers to code to avoid scanning – a hilarious means of effort to save some time and energy. But hey, if you’re the type who reverse-engineers APIs for the fun of it, why not?

Declaration correspondent Annie Rauwerda can be contacted at [email protected].


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