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January 16, 2013

OKCupid releases app for 'Crazy Blind Dates'

(Continued)

"It helps build anticipation that the date is going to go well, because they're from Boston, and I'm also from Boston," Wexler said. "If all you know about somebody is they're single, you're probably go into it with more realistic expectations."

The concept — spending less time online to meet new people offline — has already propelled other dating sites. HowAboutWe lets users post an idea for an activity to do on a date, then find another person who is interested in joining them. Grouper sends groups of three men and three women to meet at the same bar.

Yagan knows Crazy Blind Date will draw criticism. Without a chance to talk to the person before the date, there's no natural filter for dangerous people, except reviews people give to OKCupid after the fact. And anyone can use the app, not just OKCupid users, so the company won't have much information on some daters. As a safeguard, the app uses Foursquare Labs's options for local bars and coffee shops nearby, "so you can't meet in someone's house, or an alleyway, or a car," Yagan said.

Yagan's dreams for Crazy Blind Date to generate profits depend on people grading their dates honestly. People who go on a good date may be tempted to say it was bad, just for free use of the service. That would cause problems for the matching algorithm.

If people are honest, Yagan says, the ratings should mostly be positive — even if their dates don't end in romance. "I know the first day somebody's going to be like, 'You set me up with my sister! You set me up with my boss!' " he said. "But even bad dates can make for good stories."

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