Thursday, August 13, 2020

An experiment to find the best dating app

January 14, 2020
Karly Graham
Karly Graham —

Last week, millions of people tuned in for the three hour premiere of "The Bachelor" to get a first look into Pilot Pete's quest for love.

While the remaining 19 contestants are battling to win his heart, college students are battling their way through DMs in various dating apps.

Dating apps, am I right? There are a lot of them. It's hard choosing which one is right for you, which is why I did this little experiment.

Five apps. 10 swipes each. One girl.

For this experiment I downloaded Tinder, Bumble, Hinge, Plenty of Fish and Clover.

So, first came setting up my accounts. I immediately decided that I wanted to be consistent throughout the multiple apps so I could fully evaluate individuals on the apps based on if they were funny, if they have taste (because honestly, who wouldn't want to match with me? I'm a catch!), and if they have boundaries.

I used the same six photos on each app, and similar bios and answers to questions, depending on what was asked. I also made it so all the individuals I could match with were 18-to-22-year-olds and within 5 miles (ish, some apps had different numbers).

In order, I used the following six photos. I decided to use the first three because I thought they were "cute" and "proved I had friends," which I felt was important. Where I shine, however, is in comedy, which brings me to the bottom three photos.

I used the photo of me climbing a tree for laughs, the crab picture for laughs, but also a reference to Hot Mulligan's "Feal Like Crab", and finally, a picture of my face Photoshopped onto a dried fruit, a date.

Since my bios had to be consistent, I used "The last picture is what I look like on a date," for Tinder, Bumble and Clover. Hinge doesn't let you have bios, so instead I put a prompt on the photo that says "Dating me will look like." Plenty of Fish declined my date photo (which I'll get into a bit later) so the bio on that app is "I will make you listen to Taylor Swift."

Since a multitude of the apps allow you to answer questions and prompts, I made the executive decision to make all of my answers related to something and someone that has meant a lot to me for the past 13 years — Taylor Swift.

Since I have to send the first message on Bumble because I am a girl, I decided to send everyone on all of the apps the first message. I wanted to be subtle and nice, so I asked each contender, "How many fourth graders could you take in a fight?"

Five apps, worst to best. Here are the results:

5. Plenty of Fish

Plenty of Fish and I were not friends. The process to set up an account was long and a little bit painful. It made me answer questions I didn't have answers to, including "What is your intent?" Science, was my answer, but that was not an option.

It also asked me what my personality type was, and my only take away was that the app doesn't know what a personality type is. Having tattoos and piercings isn't a personality type, it's just a body modification thing people might like! Not personality! They are different things. Other weird options included were vegetarian and vegan, which I also don't necessarily consider to be personality types.


When the lengthy setup process was over, I realized how much I hated the app. First, I got a message from the Plenty of Fish Team (who, by the way, is 41 years old and from Vancouver) saying that my photo was declined. Needless to say, I was heartbroken. My date photo is clever, but a 41 year old that doesn't appreciate comedy declined the photo.


What made them declining my photo even worse? Immediately seeing a profile with a photo of a guy's truck.

The app also just asked some super inappropriate questions, including asking for my body type and if I would date "BBW or a few extra pounds body types," which was super weird and made me super uncomfortable.


Another thing that I didn't like was that you didn't have to match with people before they could message you. My phone got so many notifications for a few days that I thought I was going to go crazy.

I also didn't like that even after I changed my settings to only show me people between the ages 18 and 22, 28-year-olds were sending me messages.

Despite all of this, I mutually matched with four of the 10 people I tried to match with, and all of their responses were impressive. Strategy was definitely something that was considered, so that was cool on them.

Overall, I'd give this app a 2/10. I did not enjoy it, and was quite frankly afraid of it. I'm super happy to have deleted the account and app off of my phone.

4. Clover

Similarly to Plenty of Fish, Clover was a little bit of a nightmare. Setting it up wasn't too bad, but I had never heard of this app prior to this experiment, and I assume most college students haven't either.

Clover doesn't require you to match with someone before sending messages, which again, I didn't like. I also didn't find the app to be all that user-friendly, which helps it solidify its place in fourth.

Because I didn't need to match with people before messaging them, and I didn't know how to match with people, I just sent my opening line to the first 10 people that came up on the app.

I was less than impressed by their answers. Of the 10 people I messaged, seven answered. With answers like, "What kind of question is that," and "Probably all of them," I was able to see that the men on this app truly just don't have a game plan in case a swarm of fourth graders on a mission came to attack them.


One of the seven made me laugh, which made this app just a bit better than Plenty of Fish. Also, it didn't delete the photo of me on a date. Overall, I'd call this app a 3/10.

3. Hinge

Now, I was not expecting such a lengthy setup process when I downloaded Hinge. It asked a lot of questions, but it was different from Plenty of Fish because there wasn't a requirement that all questions had to be answered to move onto the next section.

I didn't mind having to go through all the questions either, because the app brands itself as being the dating app designed to be deleted. I think the app is also more popular, especially considering former South Bend Mayor and presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg met his husband Chasten on the app.

What I didn't like about the app was that I couldn't write a bio, I could only answer prompts. That meant I had to be creative with my date picture because there was no way I was letting two whole dating apps live without seeing my comedic genius. I had to find something that would work.

You can add captions based on prompts with each photo, so I found a prompt that seemed fitting, and then proceeded to not answer it. "Dating me will look like," seemed like the perfect alternative to a bio.


Hinge was another app that I didn't fully understand at first, but after giving it a couple minutes, I got the hang of it. Unfortunately, I did have to change the rules for this app, which let me mess around with it a teeny bit.

The first person who showed up on the app was my cousin, and I was unwilling to send any messages to him — even if it was for science.

After immediately hitting the little "X" at the bottom left hand corner on him, I scrolled through and sent my question about fourth graders to the next ten people.

Again, I didn't need to match with people to send a message, but for some reason that didn't bother me a whole lot with this app. The previous two felt like hellscapes, quite frankly, whereas this one is pretty calm and didn't make me hate myself.

Of the ten messages I sent, I received seven replies. These definitely were some of the best responses. None of the men questioned why I needed fourth graders fought, they were just prepared to go into battle, no questions asked.

That's loyalty.

Hinge was not my favorite of the apps, but it definitely wasn't the worst. If you're looking for something serious, it might be the best option. There aren't a surplus of people on the app, but it's definitely a starting point.

Hinge earns a solid 6/10.

2. Tinder

The first dating app most college students probably have earned its place in second by being super user-friendly.

Right when you download the app, it walks you through how to like people, with the classic right swipe, and how to say no to someone, with an even more classic left swipe.

It's a bit more superficial than the others, but it also has a lot of room for personalization.

You can connect your Spotify, so you can compare music tastes and connect your Instagram without sharing your username, so you can show off your best posts without strangers finding and following your account.

Tinder also has an option called Tinder U, which is exclusively for users in college. All you need to do is connect it to your .edu email and verify your account.

The app is super popular on college campuses, which makes your options plentiful. That said, because there are so many options, there are more hits and more misses.

The process on Tinder requires you to match with someone in order to send a message, which I prefer. I wasn't a big fan of the random messages I was getting from people whose profiles I hadn't even seen prior. It was a little bit weird to me.

That said, I do think people were more motivated to answer me when I sent them a message, whether it was out of a place of genuine interest or of confusion doesn't matter to me though. I matched with four of my 10 swipes, and all of them answered. Some were impressive, and some were less so.

Either way, this app remains in second because of its simplicity, rather than responses.

I rate Tinder 7/10.

1. Bumble

Now, this is endgame. Bumble checks all the boxes.

One of Bumble's requirements is that women have to message first, which means you don't get bad openers from anyone.

You can have a bio AND answer prompts.

It has a similar, swipe right if you like someone and swipe left if you don't, system. You can add things like your height, your zodiac sign, your political views and more if you're interested in doing that.

It also works the same way as Tinder, where you can only message someone after you've matched. The app is more than just dating, as well.

Are you having trouble finding friends on campus? Try Bumble BFF! Do you want LinkedIn, but weirder? Try Bumble Bizz!

Bumble to me was the perfect medium. It's not as popular as Tinder, but there are still plenty of people on the app without being too overwhelming.

I struck out the most on that app. Within the week I had the app downloaded, I matched with three of the 10 I swiped on. When asked how many fourth graders they could fight, the three men that I matched with all gave me different answers. One gave me an answer with no questions asked, one asked for logistics and one said they just wouldn't fight fourth graders.

There are tons of people on the app and it provides a unique opportunity for women to send the first message, which is super cool.

My overall rating leaves Bumble at a 9/10, because nothing is a perfect 10.


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