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How Does the Tinder Algorithm Work?

Posted by Jamie on May 16, 2019

How does the Tinder algorithm work? Can we game the system to get more dates? Is there a secret sauce to guarantee right swipes on the dating app?

The Tinder algorithm has been a topic of conversation ever since the dating app began changing our behavior. When we first began being weighed, measured and been found wanting, we have all wondered how Tinder works and how it figures out where to put you in a stack and whether there is some complicated math involved.

Tinder did let the cat, kind of out of the bag when they let Fast Company into their HQ to have a poke around. The famous, or infamous, ELO score was revealed as one of the elements behind how Tinder works. The ELO score wasn’t as complicated as it seemed on the surface and worked quite simply.

Tinder has since moved on from the ELO score and it is now only a minor part of how the app works.

ELO score

The ELO score was likened to how chess matches were set up. Players are ranked using skill levels and placed with equally ranked players to ensure fairness and good competition. Tinder’s ELO score did the same thing in a way.

Your profile is ranked in the overall scheme of things depending on how many people swipe left or right on you. The more right swipes you get, the hotter you are deemed to be by the algorithm. The more left swipes you get, the lower your score.

This score would then dictate where and when you would appear in other user’s stacks. You would more frequently appear in front of users with a similar score and less frequently on those with higher scores. Allegedly.

Then, there is the outmatched element that Sean Rad, Tinder CEO said in that interview with Fast Company. He said ‘ I used to play (World of Warcraft) a long time ago, and whenever you play somebody with a really high score, you end up gaining more points than if you played someone with a lower score,” he says. “It’s a way of essentially matching people and ranking them more quickly and accurately based on who they are being matched up against.’

This implies that if someone regarded by the Tinder algorithm as super hot or way hotter than you, your score jumps further.

The new Tinder algorithm

Tinder says the ELO score is old news. It was purposely vague about the ELO score’s successor and kind of repeated the ELO score in the explanation. The new system does sound more complicated. Instead of using a scoring system, Tinder says they use a more interactive sorting depending on a wider range of actions.

For example, if I am presented with a profile card and swipe right and you see the same profile and also swipe right, the new algorithm will record that. I can then be presented with profiles you have also liked but I have yet to see in case we both have similar tastes. You would then be presented with profiles I have swiped right on for the same reason.

I suspect this just scratches the surface of what the Tinder algorithm actually does but the company isn’t going to let out any secrets. It has the dominant position in the market and is a cash cow for parent company Match so it isn’t going to let us mere mortals learn about how it works.

Can you game Tinder to get more dates?

Yes you can if you’re willing to pay. Super Like and Likes You are both ways to skip a lot of the algorithm and get to the good bits. A Super Like will propel you to the top of someone else’s stack and shout with a big blue star that you really like them. Creepy or not, it works for some.

Likes You skips the matching altogether and shows you a grid of all the people that have already swiped right on you. You no longer have to wait to be matched or swipe through other people to get to them. Select the profile with the gold ring around it and look at the grid. All the people in there have already swiped right on you. No need to be matched, check them out and swipe them back to be automatically matched.

Is there a secret sauce to guarantee right swipes on the dating app?

No there isn’t. You need a compelling profile with some great quality images in order to be right swiped. Even then it’s down to the taste of the person doing the swiping. Get your profile right and you increase your chances but there is no such thing as a guarantee on Tinder!

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