Oct 11, 2009 3:13pm

Like this topic but now-er.

The latest string of OKTrends posts helped me to realize that the OKC people have their business intelligence shit together. That gives me a tiny spark of hope that they've got some intern that gets made fun of for pushing this in unrelated IT meetings.


If you don't know what an API is, it's a web 3.0 thing like Facebook Connect or Google Charts API or EBay's SDK, allowing developers access to OKC's functionality from other platforms. This is not a threat, but if they don't get something like this going, someone is going to be forced to screenscrape the site and that's just ugly.

What do you nerds think?


Oct 11, 2009 8:15pm

What this nerd thinks is that opening up any website like this to anyone who wants to write code that interacts with it opens a big fat Pandora's Box of potential security vulnerabilities.  Facebook has been hit with dozens of exploits over this sort of thing.

The other side of the coin is that OkC doesn't generate the kind of traffic that Google, ebay or Facebook does, and since they rely on advertising revenue to fund operations, allowing people to bypass advertising impressions is not a very smart business decision.

With all the other stuff that distinguishes one dating website from another (many of which OkCupid comes out on top compared to its direct competitors), I personally don't think the world is going to come to an end if OkC doesn't publish a public API in the near future.



Nov 1, 2009 3:19am

Speaking of which all sorts of Javascript has appeared now which appears to be preparing for linking between OKC and Facebook accounts. Strangely thought the code only appears in the source of profiles viewed while you're not logged in.


Nov 1, 2009 3:49am

Not only is the code there, the login page is already talking to facebook hosts at login time, because I see the open connections.  My system, with a browser currently sitting on OkC's login page, currently has an open connection to facebook, and I don't use that site myself:

TCP [HOSTNAME]:3210 www-13-01-snc2.facebook.com:http ESTABLISHED


Facebook Connect     Facebook Connect live sites



Nov 1, 2009 4:08am

That's Facebook Connect, Facebook's auth system, similar to openid. OKCupis is using _thier_ api.


Nov 1, 2009 10:11am

Man you guys are good, yes someone is testing adding facebook connect capabilities to okcupid. An open API is a huge undertaking and has been talked about internally but it hasn't progressed past the discussion stage yet.


Nov 3, 2009 12:20pm

And it looks as though it's now live on OKC under Settings > account settings > facebook connect

Can't wait to hear feedback..


Nov 3, 2009 7:25pm

Speaking only academically because I don't personally do Facebook.

The potential problem I wonder about is that while Facebook tends to encourage their users to have their "real identity" there (as it is designed around the idea of finding people you know or knew, and bringing your real-life community to that webspace), OkCupid is typically pseudonymous. (Considering the very personal/intimate information contained in many dating profiles, many people aren't keen on publicly revealing such things to all and sundry)

Thus I'm not sure people would want to link together those 2 different kinds of identities via a shared authentication mechanism.  I suppose it would depend on whether the relationship is only known to the user, and whether there is any other sort of data-sharing or public linking going on.



Nov 3, 2009 7:34pm

That is EXACTLY why I won't be doing it.


Nov 3, 2009 7:50pm

What would you want to do with the API? 

I can't think of much.  If you want to bring the content from OKC into some other app or website, I would imagine you'd have to pay, because otherwise they'd be serving you content with no possibility of generating ad revenue.

Ebay having an API is good for ebay, because it's use on other platforms would (theoretically) lead to more sales.

This isn't myspace with all kinds of dumb crap all over everyone's homepage.  It's not about adding wigets.  So, why an API?




Nov 3, 2009 8:46pm

Well, so he could write a malware app, of course.   :P

Or... perhaps something that spammed all users with advertising for Viagra.

Yanno. Useful stuff.  [grin]


More seriously: good point about the ad revenue thing.  That does seem to be the major stumbling-block.

Although there might be some thingies that wouldn't impact that so much.  Thinking..


Nov 3, 2009 8:53pm

API's aren't always about money. They are most often for branding, visibility and viral marketing.

Also, they already had the feature for quizzes, which I think would work perfectly in the realm of facebook.


Nov 3, 2009 11:10pm

"Thus I'm not sure people would want to link together those 2 different kinds of identities via a shared authentication mechanism."

Probably not if they realised the implications but people don't think about things. If OKC can get "XXX took the YYY test" appearing on people's walls (I think I'm using the right terms here, I don't use the thing either) then it has the potential to drive a huge amount of traffic to the site.

"What would you want to do with the API?"

Personally... lots. But it would mostly be stuff that wasn't far removed from the core features of the site - say something to download messages for example so you could easily argue that it would be easier and possibly better if rather than develop an API the site just officially added the features that users had been attempting to bolt on themselves.

One thing that would be fun and have a high level of user participated innovation would be if there was a way users could develop their own matching algorithms (My definition of fun may not be the same as most people's). What I'm thinking of here would be a sandbox environment with some API calls that allow the test (but not you directly so the privacy should be intact) to retrieve information about the users. So imagine you write a function which gets passed two user profile objects, you retrieve from both the content of their profile text and compare for similar words in the "likes" section and return a percentage value for how compatible you think they are. The system then includes the test in it's next run and returns a set of matches sorted by your new custom test score and somehow these tests get offered to other users to try. You could even run some kind of "Netflix" style contest if you were able to identify previous interactions that had been successful (long conversations most likely, high mutual ratings perhaps) and then see which of the user developed algorithms would have best predicted this.


Nov 7, 2009 6:40pm

I would love an API. I wrote a dating contest app using my company's survey software and leveraging some of OkCupid's Javascript API. They still don't have XML (as far as I know), but I was able to make it work. Check it out at http://surveygizmo.okccontest.sgizmo.com/

BTW for those of you who think Facebook Connect makes no sense in the context of anonymous dating, I think that we're about to undergo a huge cultural shift. Online dating used to have a big stigma attached to it, but these days people in their teens and twenties have grown up with it. I suspect that in ten more years it will be very common to have a "why you should date me/what I'm looking for" section of Facebook that your friends and friends-of-friends can use to discover potential dates.


Nov 7, 2009 6:51pm

wow you guy's are smart nerds! I have no idea what your talking about


Nov 7, 2009 10:05pm

Ten Years? !Damn!, that's a long time. I'm so impatient, I want it, NOW!


Nov 7, 2009 10:07pm

drumdance:  The issue with conflating the "real life" and "dating" profiles isn't a question of some sort of stigma attached to meeting someone online.  It's because people reveal all sorts of things on a dating profile that they would be insane to reveal to, for example, a potential employer, educational institution, certain family members, etc.  That doesn't change just because someone thinks there's no stigma around meeting someone online.

There has been much written about this current generation that grew up with the web, and all the problems they will have created for themselves as they get older, when it's become standard practice for employers, potential employers, family-members, spouses, intimate partners, business partners and everyone else to scan the web as a background-checking technique.

So a kid tries to move into a professional career or other position of responsibility and discovers that those teenage and young-adult web indulgences like the nude pics of themselves they posted numerous times, their detailed stories of various intoxicated and illegal escapades, cheating at school, their talk of depression, suicidal thoughts, homicidal thoughts, bigoted thoughts, childhood abuse, their long history of psychological struggles, psychiatrist-prescribed medication and so on is no longer looking like it was such a good idea to post all that stuff for the whole world to ogle back in those younger and more naive days, and indeed that stuff has become more like a big monkey on their back.



Nov 8, 2009 12:21am

"I would love an API. I wrote a dating contest app using my company's survey software and leveraging some of OkCupid's Javascript API."

If you haven't discussed this with a member of staff it might be an idea to - it is not at all clear that this is not an official OKC "thing" and you are asking for e-mail addresses.

I don't think Facebook is appropriate for a site such as this as it's very geared up to dealing with relationships with actual, "real-life" friends. When you met someone in "real-life" for a first time you wouldn't immediately give them a list of all your friends, where you worked, photos of the places you like to hang out etc. - there'd be a gradual getting to know someone first before you revealed such information and it should be the same online. Also what Sfguyy said.


Nov 8, 2009 5:23am

TheGoatOfMenendez - The app is an official contest of OkCupid. I worked with them closely on it.

sfguyy - In ten years those people who had trouble getting jobs because of something stupid on Facebook will have made it over the hump and themselves be managers. So when they're doing the hiring they won't think it's that big a deal.

By way of analogy, I smoked pot in college. My coworkers know this. No one cares. 30 years ago it would've been verboten to share that information at work.

For that matter, the current president has admitted to snorting cocaine.

Yeah, some things may prevent them from getting a security clearance with the Pentagon, but most people are not looking for that kind of work.


Nov 8, 2009 9:02pm

drumdance wrote:    The app is an official contest of OkCupid. I worked with them closely on it.


I didn't realize that you were involved with that, but I see now that it goes to that offsite thingy.  So at this point I guess I'm wondering why Chris or Max or Sam or JM or one of the others didn't already address your questions about an API. :P   (FWIW, erikok who posted here on Nov. 1 is OkStaff and I presume his comment is more-or-less the official stance on an OkC API at this point)

FWIW, your latest rationale about why it shouldn't matter what someone posts online is not very convincing, to me at least.


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