OkTrends, the Greatest Brand Blog Ever, Is Back. Here’s Why It Went Away
Three years ago, OkCupid’s wildly popular blog, OkTrends, mysteriously stopped publishing. And for a long time, no one knew why.
The return of OKTrends
Yesterday, it returned. OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder published a new post, “We Experiment on Human Beings!” that opened by mocking the outrage over Facebook’s psychological experiment while revealing the fascinating things that happen when you don’t let online daters view photos or profile text. (Spoiler: We’re all really shallow.) It’s an awesome piece of data-driven content marketing ripe with self-deprecation.
So where exactly has this been for the past 40 months?
OkTrends originally stopped publishing in April 2011, shortly after IAC—the owner of Match.com—bought OkCupid. That led some to wonder if IAC killed the risque content-marketing play, which led me to bug Christian Rudder until he agreed to an interview about what happened to the blog last fall.
Why did you stop publishing? I asked.
“I was the person who wrote all the posts and there was just other stuff I had to do here,” he responded. “There were just other priorities.”
Then why not get a talented writer to pick it up for you? I volleyed back, hoping he’d realize I was the perfect person to write the blog.
“This is just going to sound very self-serving, but I just don’t know if that’s possible,” he said. “I’m in the unique position of being a founder of the site. I just know it so incredibly well. … I just don’t know how you find someone out there that can do it without a shit-load of handholding, and I just didn’t have time for that.”
He framed the dilemma like this: A data scientist might do the analysis well, but may not be a skilled writer. A skilled writer might bring the right energy to the posts, but may not be able to handle the analysis. “That’s just very, very hard position to look for,” he added.
It seemed—and still seems—insane that Rudder and OkCupid would abandon a blog that averaged 32,500 Facebook likes, 4,222 tweets, and around a million unique views per post from August 2010 to April 2011, but something did come out of it: Rudder’s new book, Dataclysm: Who We Are, which he described to me as a “superset of all the stuff I did on OkTrends.”
With Dataclysm set for release on September 9, it makes sense for Rudder to make his triumphant comeback to OkTrends and remind everyone how much they love his posts. But can OkCupid win back their audience after so long? The early results look promising. “We experiment on human beings!” has been tweeted over 1,500 times and shared on Facebook 4,600 times thus far.
Christian, if you’re reading, I’m still free to pinch-hit.Image by Shutterstock