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Frequently Asked Questions

Table of Contents

  1. About HookupSite
  2. Matching
  3. User Questions
  4. How do I? / What the heck?
  5. Friends and Favorites
  6. Psych Tests (The Virgin Game, for example)
  7. Technology
  8. Technology: The OK Web Server
  9. Business

About HookupSite

1.0. What is HookupSite?

It’s a totally free matching service. It’s also extremely accurate, as long as (a) you’re honest, and (b) you know what you want. We don’t claim to evaluate you perfectly, but we do claim to find someone who claims to fulfill your claimed requirements, exactly. We firmly believe that most matching sites are just personals services; their “matching” systems are nonexistent or overly subjective.

While we have a small team here, we all take math (and all that math implies) very seriously. HookupSite is a fun project for us for a variety of reasons, only one of which is the actual content. We aim to be the best matching service on every front: superior technology, better math, better psychology. And of course, it’s free, unlike all the others.

Back to Top 1.1. Don’t I know you guys?

Maybe. We, the Founders of HookupSite, are also the creators of both SparkNotes and TheSpark. We are no longer affiliated with either. Barnes and Noble now owns both sites. Sadly, they shut TheSpark down in June of 2004. Anyway, keep in mind we sold all our old articles (The Date My Sister Project, The Fat Project, etc.) so we cannot fulfill requests for them.

Back to Top 1.2. Is HookupSite entirely free?

YES. We intend to keep it that way. Our plan is never to charge for anything that’s currently free on the site, including messaging other users.

Back to Top 1.3. Why aren’t there other free matching services?

It is a nearly impossible market to crack without marketing, which costs money. That’s our best guess. Also (sorry to complain, but) most matching services use poor, expensive technology, or crappy languages like Java, requiring many more resources.

We are not psychologists. We are mathematicians. Most of us went to Harvard.

Back to Top 1.4. Do you make money?

We’re a private company.

Back to Top 1.5. What’s your business model?


Back to Top 1.6. What’s with the rainbow?

HookupSite is just the website. Our company is called “Humor Rainbow, Inc.”.

Back to Top 1.7. How do you differentiate yourself from other matching services?
  1. We’re free;
  2. We don’t advertise;
  3. We have a fast joining process;
  4. We claim better matches through:
    1. questions that also include your ideal match’s answers and how much they actually matter you, and
    2. superior personality analysis;
  5. We use smart automated processes, like picture cropping, flagging, etc;
  6. We accept user-contributed match questions.*
  7. We use our OWN web server software (The OKWS)
  8. We are constantly improving the site

* In our system, a bad question doesn’t hurt matches, it only wastes time. So we wish to collect as many questions as possible, independent of quality. They’re then auto-sorted by quality. More on that below.

Back to Top 1.8. What is your long-term strategy?

To maintain the best matching service on the Internet.

Back to Top 1.9. Will you sell my data or e-mail address???

No. We hate spam. You should read our Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions for the legal specifics, which cover how we collect data and what we do with it. Basically, we use your info to target ads, but we don’t sell your info or e-mail address.

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2.0. Are my test results used for matching?

No. The fact that you scored “The Hornivore” or whatever does not affect your match results. This is why it doesn’t matter if you take the test to join or not.

Back to Top 2.1. Are my test questions used for matching?

Sweet Jesus, yes. But only at first. We perform all manner of sincere mathematical analysis on pretty much everything you do on HookupSite. We track how many messages you send, whether you get responses (and what size they are), how often and when you login, what pictures you like and dislike (normalized against the population), and so on... all to find you other people you’d really like. We analyze almost all input you give us. At the beginning, all of this is used to find you matches.

But eventually—and here’s what we’re proud of—that stuff is used mostly to generate colorful commentary. Once you’ve visited the “Improve Matches” tab and answered enough questions for yourself and your ideal match, and stated the importance of the questions, we use that data instead. A subtle and gradual tradeoff happens. (We have some other tricks up our sleeves, too.)

Back to Top 2.2. How are my match percentages calculated?

This is a complicated question and deserves its own FAQ. Or FAAAQ, actually. Read the FAAAQ.

Back to Top 2.3. What does it mean to have an X% match?

If you and a person P are an X% match, that means that we are 99.0% sure you match at least X% of each other’s desires. Huh? Once again, here’s the FAAAQ. The important thing to notice is that unlike most “matching” services, we don’t give high matches off the bat — this is because we don’t know enough information. A strong match means two things: (1) we have a LOT of information about both of you and your desires, and (2) it all lines up.

Back to Top 2.4. Why don’t I have better matches?

Your matches will improve dramatically as you use HookupSite. The more we learn about you, the more confident we can be you’ll like the people we pick for you, and the higher your match percentages get. Answering questions on the Answer Questions page is the fastest, most accurate way to build up your profile and get better matches.

Back to Top 2.5. Why’s so-and-so (whom I match!) not in my match results?

Every time you click for a match or new friends, we show you two lists. (1) a batch of fresh people chosen randomly, and (2) the best 50 people you’ve seen recently. (We “cache” them*, and you can see the cache in the right-hand column.)

If someone isn’t on either of your lists, it’s because of one of 3 reasons. Reason 1 — they don’t satisfy your search criteria or settings restrictions. Reason 2 — they weren’t chosen randomly in the recent batch. Reason 3 — they don’t qualify for your cache because they haven’t been in any batches recently, or they were nudged out.

*We keep 6 caches for you: local matches, local friends, world matches, world friends, connected matches, and connected friends. You can reset any of these caches whenever you want.

Back to Top 2.6. How do you calculate my personality traits?

The numbers are calculated by something we call the “UberAlgorithm”. We’re all Spanish speakers here. The UberAlgorithm periodically runs across your account, studying everything you’ve ever told us, and then sorts through it to calculate reasonable ranges for each axis. For example, you might’ve been exposed to 12 questions affecting ambition, which isn’t a lot, so we only know you’re between 30% and 90% ambitious. By the way, those percentages are actually percentiles; meaning we’re very sure 30% of the population is less ambitious than you and 10% is more ambitious than you, but we’re unsure about the remaining 60%. Oh, and actually, by “population” when calculating percentiles, we strictly mean people your age, gender, and sex-preference. Got it? Just the fact that you’re reading the FAQ tells us you’re not in the bottom 10%. Probably.

Back to Top 2.7. What personality traits do you track?

We currently track 55 different measures (was 51, just added 4) of what makes you you, and we only comment on around 30 of them. Many, like how “needy” or “desperate” you are, or how much you “remind us of Harvard girls”, are best kept secret. We might change our minds on this, though. And the number that we track is always subject to change.

Back to Top 2.8. Why do I only match myself X%?

There are 2 main reasons for this. The first is what we call “reflexive incompatibilities” — there are certain things about yourself you wouldn’t want in a match. For examples, &ldauo;Would your ideal match hold the door for you?” and “Have you ever pierced your ear?” are the kinds of questions you might answer differently from your ideal match.

Second, we don’t publish your expected match percentage; rather, we publish your minimum match percentage, based on a margin of error. If you match someone 98% and we only have +-5% confidence in that, we’ll publish 93%. This is the formula, whether you’re matching yourself or someone else.

Back to Top 2.9. What is this “Friend %” all about?

We’re experimenting with another way of matching people up. In theory it should measure similarities between you and another person, with of course a margin of error subtracted. As we tweak it (or redefine it), we’ll let you know here.

Back to Top 2.10. Why don’t I always get the same people when I search for matches with the same settings?

We don’t perform a comprehensive search on all queries, and sometimes you’ll only get a subset of the people who satisfy you. Play around and you’ll eventually get everyone.

Back to Top 2.11. What does hide/show offline mean?

Okay, so maybe your favorite matches do have lives. Hide your favorites when they are not here for you.

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User Questions (The “Answer Questions” Tab)

3.0. Who writes them?

People just like you: Users. Once you’ve answered 500 questions, a link to submit your own will show up on the “Answer Questions” page. Also, we write a lot of them ourselves, for fun.

The reason you need to answer so many before you’re allowed to submit more? We really don’t want repeats, and we’d like you to get a good idea of what’s already been asked.

Back to Top 3.1. How do my answers affect matching?

Ho hum. Read the FAAAQ.

Back to Top 3.2. Who decides what a good question is?

It’s auto-calculated. Our system ranks a question’s quality by a (surprisingly subtle) combination of how high people place importance on it, and how diverse the answers are. “Have you ever murdered someone?” is a bad question, even though everyone ranks it as important... and our system realizes that.

We also track “genre” and “raciness” for each question. Some people don’t want to hear racy questions, and we try to figure that out and stop asking. Genre is used to make sure the questions we ask are diverse enough.

Typically, though, you’re asked the “best” question you haven’t answered yet.

Back to Top 3.3. What if I think a question is lame or inappropriate?

If it’s lame, ambiguous, offensive, or you’d just not like it to affect matching, skip it.

You could also answer it, but mark the importance as “Irrelevant” — which means your answer would affect match scores, but your matches’ answers wouldn’t.

Back to Top 3.4. Are my answers public or private?

Both, really. Your answers are private in the sense that they say something very specific and personal about you, and that in many instances they reveal a part of you that only those closest to you should know. Your answers are public in the sense that we put them on our website.

Back to Top 3.5. What is the difference between a question and a test question?

Profile potential mates with your own set of test questions or tell us a tough one that will seperate the men from the boys.

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How Do I ... ? / What the Heck?!

4.0. How do I delete my account?

Easy! Visit the Settings Page. Please note that while this will free up your e-mail address, it will not free up your screen name. We don’t want someone else (including you) registering a new account under that name and causing confusion.

Back to Top 4.1. How do I keep someone from messaging me?

Easy! Click the “Block Messages from this User” button when reading a message from them.

Back to Top 4.2. How do I edit my profile?

Minus 2 intelligence for you. Visit the Profile Edit Page. Or click the “Edit My Profile” link in the blue navbox.

Back to Top 4.3. I saw someone I liked, then lost them. How do I find them?

We try to make remembering people as easy as possible. For example, there’s a “Save” button on profile pages, which creates a permanent profile link to them on your sidebar. There’s also the automatic “Recent” list also on the sidebar, which shows you the last 6 profiles you viewed from the computer you’re currently sitting at. However, if you forgot the user’s screen name and they’re not on either of those lists, you might’ve lost them. If they’re a good match, you’ll see them again, though.

Back to Top 4.4. How do I donate money to HookupSite?

We’d prefer you donated friends.

Back to Top 4.5. How do I change my username?

Sorry, you can’t. There are a couple reasons for this, one of which involves confusing other users. If you absolutely hate your username, you should delete your account on the settings page, which will free up your e-mail address. You can then start over and choose a new name.

Back to Top 4.6. How do I unblock a blocked user?

View their profile. There will be a button to unblock them.

Back to Top 4.7. What the heck is a wink? Can I stop them?

A wink is a friendly way of saying, “Sup, I want you.” You can send up to 3 a day (this is subject to change). IF you have no interest in winks you may declare yourself totally impervious on your settings page.

Back to Top 4.8. How do I change my answers or start fresh?

If you’d like to change a specific answer, or if you’d like to answer a question that you previously skipped, you should visit the Question Review page.

To delete all your questions and start fresh, please visit the bottom of the Question Review page.

Back to Top 4.9. What the heck is “radcliffy” [or other word]?

Hah, what isn’t it.

Back to Top 4.10. How do I keep someone from requesting me as a friend?

Just block them using the block tool. This will also keep them from messaging you or winking at you, too.

Back to Top 4.11. What happens to inactive accounts?

If you don’t log in for 30 days, we pull your data from our matching machines and archive it for later future retrieval. At that point, you won’t show up on people’s matches, and you can’t get mail, but your account will still exist.

If you log back in, We’ll retrieve the data and your account will be reactivated. We will not delete the account at any point.

Back to Top 4.12. Why can’t I login all of a sudden?

First off make sure that your computer’s clock is correct. This is by far the most common cause of login problems. Make sure that your clock is correct and try logging in again.

Another problem sometimes occurs if many different people log into their accounts from a single machine. In these cases clearing your web browsers cookie cache for may remedy the problem.

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Friends and Favorites

5.0. Why should I invite real friends?

There are a whole bunch of reasons. At the very least, you can use HookupSite to compare test scores and evaluate each other’s personalities. And HookupSite’s match and friendship measuring tools will show you who of your friends are best for you and whom should be dumped.

But the real power comes from the networking aspects of knowing people. By combining our tools and toys with your extended group of friends, you can search through and analyze people you know, people they know, and so on.

Back to Top 5.1. How do I remove someone from my favorite’s list?
  1. Go to that person’s profile (click their name in your favorites list)
  2. Click “Remove from Favorites” on the right, under “Compare Profile”
  3. Cackle with glee, as they’ll no longer be one of your favorites.
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Psych Tests (The Virgin Game, for example)

6.0. You use REAL HookupSite users on the Virgin [whatever] Test — is that fair?

We think so. We don’t publish which questions you got right on the test, so simply playing the Virgin Game doesn’t give anything away. Further, we show a different set of subjects every time you play. Given that we wanted to make the Virgin Game — because we think it’s loads of fun — we took lots of steps to protect everyone’s privacy.

Nothing’s guaranteed, of course. The spirit of HookupSite is that you play on it, then we summarize your personality accurately for the world to see. If you’re afraid people will learn something about you, you might not want to be here.

Back to Top 6.1. How do I exclude myself?

On your settings page you can specify never to be used as a psych test subject.

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7.0. What is HookupSite programmed in?

Currently we have over 200,000 lines of C++ code. That’s pretty much everything, except our picture upload scripts, which are in PHP. Offline, we use both perl and python for some little maintenance programs.

Back to Top 7.1. Why don’t you use Java/Perl/Python/PHP/(whatever)?

We really like C++! And our programming model requires it. Those languages are great for other purposes, but just not for ours.

Back to Top 7.2. What is your database solution?

Data are divided across multiple machines using a popular, free database package.

Back to Top 7.3. How do you scale?

Linearly, hopefully.

Back to Top 7.4. How many servers do you have?

Fewer than you’d think.

Back to Top 7.5. How many full-time developers do you have?

We are a very small development team and have bios listed on our About Us page.

Back to Top 7.6. I am a developer. Can I join the project?

Please visit our Contact Us page to see if we’re hiring.

Back to Top 7.7. Is HookupSite open source?

No. But the Ok Webserver (OKWS) is. Good luck, though. Unless you’re making a website that’s to be computationally intensive and high-trafficked, we recommend something else.

If you’re really interested, check

Back to Top 7.8. Do you use any other interesting software?

We built our load balancers using software called “Click!” which we’ve been very happy with. Check it out at

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Technology: The OK Web Server

8.0. You run Apache, right?

No, we run OKWS.

Back to Top 8.1. What is OKWS?

It is our own web server. It’s asynchronous, powerful, and fast. It is a very specific tool designed for us, however. It does have some interesting tricks.

Back to Top 8.2. Who programmed it?

Max Krohn, who was also a co-founder of TheSpark and SparkNotes. He maintains and improves OKWS. He’s currently at MIT, working on a PhD.

Back to Top 8.3. May I use it?


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9.0. Can I advertise on HookupSite?

Sure. Please check out our Contact Us page, to request rates.

Back to Top 9.1. Can I target ads by demographics?


Back to Top 9.2. Can I target ads by a specific test question?

Sure. But it’ll cost you. A note to users: advertisers give us the ads, and we serve them. We don’t hand over your information.

Back to Top 9.3. Are you interested in a “strategic partnership”?

Not if it involves us paying you.

Back to Top 9.4. I have an idea. May I tell you?

Sure! But you won’t get anything for it, and we’ll keep it to ourselves, and we’ll use it to make millions. Possibly. You might want to keep your ideas to yourself.

Back to Top 9.5. I want to buy your company.

That isn’t a question.

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