When it comes to online messaging, keep it short—no more than 60 characters—if you want to increase your chances of getting a response. And if you want to recycle a stock message instead of taking the time to write an original note each time, that’s a-OK, too. In fact, it’s a surefire way to increase your chances of success overall. Or so suggests OKCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, whose new book Dataclysm: Who We Are When We Think No One’s Looking is excerpted at New York magazine’s Science of Us blog.
In the piece, Rudder explains what he’s learned about online dating from analyzing OKCupid’s huge database of private messages, collected over the past decade.
According to Rudder, OKCupid users exchange more than four million messages a day. And over the years, and under the influence of smartphone technology, the size of those missives has altered dramatically, decreasing in size by two-thirds. The average message is now just 100 characters long, a fact that makes tweets look wordy by comparison. Messages that get the best response on the site, however, are even shorter—between 40 and 60 characters long.
The excerpt also offers a few fascinating tidbits on the way we date now, which may or may not cause you to question the wisdom (read, sanity) of your status as an “incurable romantic.”
According to Rudder, further analysis of those messages revealed that many people—about 20 percent—aren’t composing unique greetings for each potential paramour but are simply cutting and pasting them from already-sent messages (one male user sent the same message to 42 different women).
These masters of romantic efficiency may be on to something, though. Rudder says that while retreads under-perform against original notes by about 25 percent, when looked at in terms of effort put in versus results, they are 75 percent as effective as original compositions.
Basically, what he’s saying is that while you aren’t guaranteed to find love with a recycled message, you do increase your chances of getting a date. If true love is your end goal, however, at the very least it might be wise to come up with some original material to use IRL.