The Grade is a new dating app available in the iTunes store. Based in New York, users are graded based on their profiles, messaging and grammar, so that prospective dates will know what they’re getting into. It’s a little creepy that someone can grade your emoji usage, but nice to have feedback from others about “appropriate” messaging, as anyone who’s dabbled in free dating apps can attest to. So far, the app has about 1,000 users and is free, though it may introduce premium, paid features down the road.
Cliff Lerner, CEO of The Grade, explained to me via email how it works:
SocialTimes: How does the grading work?
Cliff Lerner: Your Overall Grade is based on an algorithm that incorporates your profile quality grade, your response rate grade, and your message quality grade. The profile quality grade is based on an algorithm that analyzes the quality of your profile and includes several factors including the quantity and quality of your photos, how often your profile gets liked and the length and quality of your ‘about me.’
The response rate grade is based on how often you respond to messages and how often they respond back. Since users can only messages people you’ve matched, so there’s no reason for them to be unresponsive. The message quality grade is based on several factors, and analyzes messages for grammar/spelling mistakes, length of messages, inappropriate content, etc.
ST: How do you find matches?
CL: Dating on The Grade is similar to Tinder, as it has a similar interface with larger photos and two people must both “like” each other and become a “match” before they are able to message one another. Users are able to see another user’s overall grade as well as each specific grade (profile quality grade, message quality grade and response rate grad) all before even swiping left or right. This allows people to see that someone may have a high profile grade but a low message quality grade or vice versa, already telling us more about that person than other apps before having to make a decision on which way to swipe.
ST: There are a quite a few negative reviews on iTunes saying that the app is too superficial. What does your team think about those?
CL: While a dating app cannot entirely eliminate superficiality from human nature, The Grade aims to eliminate inappropriate users and hostile messages, creating a high-quality dating pool based on much more than looks.
Although the profile grade does include the rate at which a user’s profile gets liked, the algorithm doesn’t just grade perceived attractiveness of the user, but also looks at how many photos they upload, the quality of those photos and the quality of their “About Me” section. All of those factors are combined to make up the user’s profile grade, which is still only one-third of the factors that are combined to make up a user’s overall grade.
The other two factors analyzed by The Grade’s algorithm are response rate (how often a user respond to messages and gets responded to) and message quality (use of inappropriate words, misspellings, etc.). To get expelled from the app, the user must have a failing grade. Therefore, if a user has a failing profile grade, but a passing response grade and message quality grade, they will not be expelled.
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.