Yesterday the big internet news was that IAC, the company behind and (two of the bigger online paid dating sites) had purchased OkCupid, which is perhaps the biggest of the free dating sites, and is a company that was famous for interesting data-driven blog posts about its users and (notoriously) about the business models and advertising claims of its paid-dating competitors, specifically including

[Disclosure: IAC owns a metric ton of sites in the paid dating space, and I’m fairly sure some of them have advertised on ErosBlog at one time or another.]

OKCupid’s price tag? Fifty million bucks. That’s a lot of clams for an advertising-supported company, especially in an internet economy where all the smart people say that advertising-supported business models are in decline.

My first thought when I heard the news was “Wow, OkCupid really must have been cutting into their sales if the paid boys were willing to pay that much to take them out.”

My second thought — and I tweeted a version of it — was “Damn, no more hilarious blog posts lampooning the ridiculous advertising claims of the big paid dating sites.”

So you can imagine my amusement this morning to discover Violet Blue’s collection of links about this, which included the it-shouldn’t-be-surprising-news that OkCupid has already taken down its most notorious blog post about, the one called “Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating” (link is to cached version), the one that started “Today I’d like to show why the practice of paying for dates on sites like and eHarmony is fundamentally broken, and broken in ways that most people don’t realize…”

\"the practice of paying for fundamentally broken\"

The most amusing of Violet Blue’s links, however, is this the-lady-protesteth-too-much link from the New York Observer: OKCupid: We Didn’t Censor Our Blog Post. In which OkCupid says, of course, something that doesn’t perfectly match the headline. That blog post? That old thing? Not censored, no, of course not. But, uh, dudes, they paid us fifty million bucks, it wasn’t exactly a secret what they were buying, you expected us not to give it to them? They didn’t have to spell it out for us, no, that would be crass: didn’t ask OKCupid to take down the post, CEO Sam Yagan told The Observer, it was just the “common sense thing to do.”

“I know everyone wants to make a big deal out of this,” he said. “They didn’t tell us take it down. I wanted to do it. … We obviously believe in a free model but there are also paid models and I didn’t think [the post’s] continued existence served much of a purpose. People will say, ‘Oh my God, they’ve sold out and they’re censoring it,’ that’s fine. When we put our next blog post next week and keep being awesome and the product keeps being awesome and free, people will just realize they’re overreacting.”

Furthermore, the data that OKCupid gathered from’s public filings and press kit were not completely accurate, he said, which he realized once he saw the real data.

“Upon having more knowledge as we’ve gone through the process of getting to know Match and them getting to know us, some of the conclusions we drew are not quite as exaggerated as we made them out to be,” he said.

Not quite? Well, that’s a relief, then.

It will be very interesting to see, in the coming months, what happens to the free dating experience on OkCupid, and I invite people who are familiar with it (I’m not) to post here in the comments as that develops. My suspicion is that they will develop the site to function as a feeder to the paid sites, making the free experience less and less functional and more and more annoying, slowly and incrementally over time. I’m basing that on a cynical reading of this language from the buyout press release:

“We know that many people who start out on advertising-based sites ultimately develop an appetite for the broader feature set and more committed community, which subscription sites like and offer, creating a true complimentary relationship between our various business models.”

And if they don’t develop that appetite now, we’re pretty sure that once Tarzan comes swinging across the screen selling auto insurance for the nine hundredth time, they might start. And all you’ve got to do is get rid of that pesky little “show once” cookie on the advertisement! Easy peasy…

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