Today, my friend Jim Keller and I are officially opening our new dating site, Junebug, to the public. For the moment, we’re focusing on building a user base in the areas around Philadelphia and New York City, but the site is open to everyone in the US. If you’d like to check it out, please go to junebugdating.com.
I decided to get involved with this project because I feel that existing dating sites are not taking advantage of the tools that machine learning provides for building better recommendation systems, which a dating site effectively is at its core. The contrast between the quality of suggestions that you get from Netflix and the quality of matches you get on existing dating sites is so great that I felt compelled to get involved, if only to see if we could do something to improve the state of the art in the field.
While there are many reasons why matching people with other people that they’d be interested in dating is harder than matching people with movies they’d be interested in watching or webpages they’d be interested in reading, I’ve become increasingly convinced that the big players in the online dating market are either unaware of or simply indifferent to the tools that computer scientists can offer them. I’d really like to help remedy that. With the so-called Age of Big Data upon us, I think dating sites need to exploit the amount of information they collect by turning things over to statistical algorithms that can do a more effective job of inferring people’s preferences.
We’ve built Junebug to do just that. We’ve got a lot of great algorithms ready to churn through the user data we’re hoping to collect. We need your help, though, because we don’t have much real data yet. If you’re reading this and are single, please sign up, try out the site, and tell us what we can do to make it more enjoyable to use. And it would be even better if you told your friends to try out the site as well, since that would start to provide us with the amount of data we need to really show much more effective a systematic statistical approach can be for building a better dating site.
If you think that online dating can be improved by the introduction of more sophisticated mathematical analysis, please helps us prove that’s true by spreading the word and getting new people to participate on our site. We can promise to do everything we know how to do to turn the data we get into a valuable service for our users.