Tinder around the globe. What 39,125 Swipes in 78 Cities Taught Me

Swipin’ ’round the Globe – A Tinder Passport Experiment. 39125 swipes across 78 cities in 33 countries later, the results are in.

The first and most sobering of said results is that I will not be able to publish the kind of article I set out to write after three months of research. You see, I had planned to release detailed stats about outgoing and inbound right swipe ratios, match rates, as well as data on super likes, reply counts, probable bots, and personal impressions on each city and country I swiped in. I was gonna prepare an info graphic, maybe an interactive map, you know, I’d have made it nice. It was gonna be grand.

I did collect all that data. Using Tinder Passport, I swiped 500 times per city (sometimes less if Tinder ran out of profiles, sometimes more), spread evenly throughout the day, starting at the same local time, all in “recently active” mode with distance hidden. That was controlled enough for me to call the results reliable and “scientific”.

“Why?” you might ask. Why go through all this effort? Curiosity, of course. And maybe a bit of an obsessive nature. Also, Tinder Gold had recently come out and I figured it would be a good time to come out of hibernation and thoroughly test the new Tinder, to keep all the information on this site up to date.

However, one of the things I learned from this experiment also called into question the validity of my results. There was a variable I hadn’t accounted for. Luckily, it was not the only valuable piece of information I was able to gather, but it is the first I will now share with you:

Tinder does not recalculate a separate score for each city, or even country…

…and the traveler’s boost you get when you arrive in a new location is not enough to nudge your existing score far enough in the direction of what your score might have been if you started in this location.

This might have sounded terribly confusing depending on how much you’ve already read into Tinder, so a quick aside:

Tinder assigns each user a score, based on their attractiveness. This then determines whom you see and to whom you are being shown. The Algorithm is more complicated than that, but this is the TL;DR version. When you start out on Tinder, or when you visit a new city, you receive a kind of boost for a while, where you’re shown to many more people than usual. This, so Tinder can calculate your score for the future.

Based on my previous experience, I was sure this boost was enough to recalculate my score based on how the locals liked me (or didn’t). As much seemed evident from the drastic differences in matches I experienced in different countries. Yes, I have done tests like this before, though on a much smaller scale and without meticulous note keeping.

I believe what did me in this time was spending extended periods of time in regions where I appear to be less than popular (namely, North America). My score must have tanked so much in the weeks I spent there, that I received less than half as many likes as I’m used to back in familiar countries. It might have recovered after spending lots of time in regions where I know I’m popular, but once I realized elo scores are severely and lastingly affected by previously visited places, the whole methodology of the experiment had been called into question. I guess I would have had to reset my account after each city or country, but that’s just too many phone numbers to go through for a project of this scale. At least for now.

So, while all the data I collected is still interesting to me, it can’t be used to compare or rank results the way I planned. Oh well, at least I learned more about the inner workings of Tinder, and was able to confirm or debunk some old and new suspicions. Coming up 😉

 

“Smart Photos” is the reason you see many Profiles twice or more. And it’s costing you likes!

This is something I have been suspecting for a long time, but not until I cast so many swipes in such quick succession have I been able to prove it. Now I have.

The way smart photos is supposed to work, in short, is to put your pictures in “test mode” to see how many right swipes they receive individually. So much for what we officially know.

What this means in practice, is that smart photos takes your pictures and creates one-pic profiles without your bio, Instagram or any other context. These bare bone versions of your profile are then shown to people to swipe on in order to rank your pics. Never mind the fact that many people swipe left on one-picture profiles on principle, or that a certain picture following or preceding another one might create the context that makes people swipe right.

What I have been able to confirm now is that

  • even if you swipe right or left on a smart photos test picture, the full profile can still show up later (or vice versa).
  • those right swipes count. If you don’t have a subscription, you are wasting right swipes on smart photo tests.

So the smart photos “feature” is wasting your time, daily likes, or both. To add insult to injury, I have yet to see it actually do anything to the order of my pictures. Or you know, “work”.

As a precautionary measure, I would recommend never super liking a one picture profile without bio or anything linked. Yes, Tinder lets you waste these too.

 

There was no difference in match rate between Gold, Plus, or no subscription

Just to put this suspicion to rest: Subscribing to Tinder does not directly increase your match rate. It does let you swipe more and comes with other benefits which may increase your match count, but not the rate. Not your visibility or score.

More importantly, I saw no difference between Tinder Plus and Gold. As you may know, I have not been a fan of Tinder Gold from the start. Now that I have thoroughly tested it, I must say it is interesting to see who has already liked me, but it has in no way affected on whom I swipe right. To me, it’s not worth the premium. Plus is sufficient.

What I did notice was a sharp decline in my delayed/passive matches since Gold came out. But already before I tested the subscription. Almost like someone was trying to create an incentive to go see who liked you already, for a lack of “normal” matches…

 

Tinder Gold shows you people on whom you already swiped left

Now, it’s no secret that Tinder shows you profiles of people who already swiped left on you. Or at least, that’s been a part of the Unofficial Tinder F.A.Q. for a long time now. Of course, this makes sense from a business perspective. Imagine how much sooner you’d be out of profiles (and done with Tinder) if they removed everyone who already noped you.

Maybe I should have suspected as much, but what struck me by surprise was that because of this mechanic, Tinder Gold shows you people you already rejected. (And they make up a part of the number of likes you received, as a means to entice you to try gold).

It goes like this:

  1. You swipe left on Sam.
  2. Sam then sees you and digs your style.
  3. Sam likes you.
  4. Sam pops up in your “Likes you” queue, ready to get rejected again.
  5. ???
  6. Profit.

Yay. At least without Gold, you only have to swipe left on people once. On the plus side, paying for Gold gives you that “Why won’t it stay dead” feeling.

 

“Recently Active” shows you the same people as “Balanced”

I had this wrong before. The way it made sense to me was that the “Recently Active” sorting method you get with Tinder Plus showed you profiles solely based on when they were last active, ignoring your score. After all, what else could the purpose of this setting be, seeing as “Balanced” already sorts by recently active (combined with other things like distance).

Earlier (and smaller) tests seemed to confirm this. Also, Tinder would not be alone in offering such a feature. OkCupid for example blatantly tells you you can see all hidden (read: out of your league) profiles by paying.

Now, however, after so many swipes, I have to admit I was wrong. It’s exactly the same profiles, just in a different order. A very slightly different order that has you seeing the same person maybe ten positions earlier or later. In short: The “Control who [sic] you see” feature is completely useless.

 

Minor Revelations (and Tips)

Paid boosts seem to ignore elo scores

Thanks to Tinder Gold, I could see a very… different makeup of people who liked me during a boost, than what I usually saw. This, to me, means Boosts ignore your elo score and just show you to everyone. Well, not everyone, but a bigger portion of currently online folks.

Why is this relevant? It may not be super important, but it does mean that a good portion of those “9.3x as many people” you were shown to are people Tinder usually deems “not good enough” for you. Of course it also goes in the other direction, but usually, you don’t see many more likes from that direction of the scale in your queue. Ahem. Moving on..

 

“Recommend to a Friend” lasts 2 days

Well, there’s not much more to it than that. Just pays to know this if you use the function to recommend a profile to yourself to super like later. After those 2 days, it will give you a “Profile not found” error.

 

Switching between “Balanced” and “Recently Active” can get you out of a slump

If you find yourself left swiping everyone you see (suddenly), you might want to try switching back and forth between the two sorting options. Don’t forget to change your distance settings to make the change stick each time.

I don’t know why, but this has the strange effect to sometimes stir the pot and suddenly show you more… desirable profiles again.

 

Aand that’s all, folks. While I was unable to give you the r/dataisbeautiful post I planned on, I do hope you found some useful information here that will help you in your future Tinder career.

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

 

 

2 Comments

  1. Nice blog! Nice to have current info as the app changes. You should write a min guide on how to use this effectively and how to keep your elo score high.

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