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How does Tinder order your potential matches?


Oh Tinder, the cause of inflated egos, broken hearts and sore thumbs everywhere. Many an hour has been whittled away by singletons swiping through potential dates, and until now we’ve always just assumed that Tinder was presenting the nearest hook-ups available. But as it turns out, there’s a lot of speculation around what’s actually going on behind the scenes.

The tech wizards behind the app have kept hush-hush about what’s going on with those mysterious algorithms, to make sure sneaky copycat versions don’t catch on. However, technology enthusiasts on this Quora thread reckon they might have cracked the Tinder code once and for all.

Tinder on phone screen
(Jonathan Brady/PA)

Hot people come first (allegedly)

Tinder user and technology wiz Alex Mark theorises that each user has an “attractiveness score” based on how many people have swiped right on their profile. Those within your gender, age and distance restrictions who have the highest attractiveness score will be the first 10-15 users you see when you first open the app, because this makes you think that Tinder has LOADS of fit people on it. And if you think there’s plenty more where those hotties came from, you’re bound to keep swiping.

These beautiful people haven’t necessarily swiped right for you, but their profiles are there to lure lonely old you into thinking they COULD match you. After you’ve swiped through these beautiful creatures, Tinder presents you with mostly people who have ALREADY swiped right on your profile, mixed in with a few who haven’t matched you yet to keep users from catching on to the algorithm.

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Using Tinder more could increase your matches

Getting your thumbs working more often will increase your number of matches because those who have used the app recently will be sent to the top of the pile and more users will see your profile. This is to prevent users from being discouraged by swiping right on profiles that haven’t been online in three months and feeling disappointed when they don’t get a match.

It’s not clear what the cut off period is, but Alex speculates that after a while, users who have not logged on for a certain period of time will stop showing up in the Tinder rotation. The reason for this is pretty obvious: showing more active users instead of inactive users ensures that more conversations will happen, ensuring that the app keeps its value.

Tinder on phone screen
(Tsering Topgyal/AP)

Don’t be TOO picky

If you’re persistently swiping right day after day to no avail until your allocated likes run out, some speculate that your profile will come up less often. This is because Tinder thinks you’re a robot and is reluctant to show you to other profiles. However, if you are TOO picky, Tinder won’t show you as many profiles because you’ll disappoint their valued clientèle by never matching with anyone. Oh Tinder, you cruel mistress.

Don’t be afraid to Tinder in new pastures

Being the new kid on the block pays when it comes to Tindering, as many users have reported that users who are new to a location will automatically be pushed to the top of the pile.

What else matters?

Tinder GIF – Find & Share on GIPHY

There are many other theories floating around the net, but due to the tight-lipped nature of Tinder and their engineers, it’s impossible to know how those algorithms are judging us. Some speculate that facial recognition could come into the mix, determining how typically attractive you might be based on the size and placement of your facial features.

Others rumour that common friends, distance and age gaps also come into play, as well and common “likes” on Facebook (bet you’re glad you liked all those hilarious pages in 2009 now, aren’t you?). There is some speculation that unmatching people, or being unmatched by others will make your desirability score go down and therefore make you less likely to pop up when the guy or girl of your dreams is swiping away.

Again, nobody really knows for sure how exactly the Tinder mystery works, and we never will know unless one of those algorithm brainiacs spills to beans. Still, it’s fun to speculate (and come up with excuses for why you haven’t found a Tinder bae already).