Tinder’s Algorithm – How Your Elo Score Is Calculated & What you can do to improve yours [Legacy]

This archived post describes how Tinder’s algorithm used to work originally. It has been preserved for its sentimental value as one of the founding guides of SwipeHelper. See here for the up to date version.

How Does Tinder’s Algorithm Work?

Tinder’s matching algorithm and the elo score it assigns to you, based on a number of factors, determines whose profile you are shown and to whom your profile is shown, and how prominently (How high up in the stack it lands). Thereby it very much affects with whom you even have the possibility of matching.

The factors that affect your score/ranking/visibility:

Some of this information is extracted from official Tinder announcements and articles, some of it is almost certain based on personal experimentation and anecdotal evidence.

“It is known”:

  • New accounts get a noob boost (not to be confused with the paid boost feature), lasting approximately a day, during which their profile is shown to a very wide audience and featured prominently in their decks. During this time, an account’s elo score is first calculated. Once the boost has run its course, this score determines your visibility and audience. This is why you get comparatively many matches in your first few days and why that count drops rapidly within a week.
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  • The score system and matching algorithm doesn’t work in terms of a 1-10 attractiveness scale, but the effect can be expressed as such: If you have been determined to be a 6, you will be regularly shown to 5-7, and rarely to >7, or <5 rated people, and vice versa.
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  • It is possible to influence your score throughout the lifetime of your account, for example by taking some better pictures of yourself, but it will take time for any changes to be noticeable. It’s far quicker to reset your account to achieve this. Plus, you’ll get another shot with everyone who didn’t like your old photos. (It should be noted that since July 2018, resets have become much more complicated and risky, as Tinder seems to actually try to prevent them now.)

Educated Guesses as to how your score is calculated / what factors affect it:

  • A combination of % of people who like you as a whole…
  • …% of the people you like who like you back (“are you playing within your league?”)…
  • …and those people’s own rating. A person with a higher rating than your own liking you carries more weight than one with a lower rating liking you (like getting more points for defeating a higher ranking team in a ranked tournament).
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  • Your pickiness. Both swiping right to everyone and to almost no one are penalized, though mass swiping right a lot more severely than being too picky. A right swipe quota of 30-70% seems to be the sweet spot. This applies to swiping during paid boosts too.
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  • Whether you actually send messages to most of your matches. Sending messages, as well as receiving replies, appears beneficial.
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  • For visibility/Deck placement, not your score: Activity. Your placement gradually gets worse while inactive. (But recovers once you come back).
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  • It appears that Tinder Plus users who make liberal use of the unlimited swipes feature may be bricking their account. I.e. Swiping too often per day, or hour, may get you marked as a bot by Tinder, resulting in a kind of shadowban, or very, very low score, rendering you nigh-invisible.
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    Testing suggests 2’000 swipes per hour in any direction will get your account “locked” for 12 hours of the app telling you to “Check back later for new people”, potentially also carrying an Elo score punishment with it as previously observed. The relevant section of the Plus Features guide has been updated to reflect this as well.

I hope you found this guide helpful. Thoughts? Criticism? Praise? Something to add? Feel free to leave a comment below, or visit the SwipeHelper Subreddit. See you there 🙂