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Half-algorithm, half-man, Cupid.com’s new robot-dude is here to help.
Have you ever looked at your terrible love life and thought that only a human-robot dude-bro can help? Well, Cupid.com is here for you.
Wingman Barney is a part of Cupid.com’s revamped site and app design that launches today. Anastasiya Yarkova, head of marketing for the company, spoke to the Daily Dot and explained that there is a real, live-person component to Barney—an anonymous human writes his advice column and blog posts for the site, which includes tips on dating and stories on how to find love.
For example, “Do older men really want young girlfriends?” one member asks. “In most cases, the simple answer is yes,” replies Barney. Or “How can I tell if a guy likes me?” Barney’s answer: “Most of the time guys, I find, are pretty straight-forward creatures to understand the intentions of; if he likes you, he’ll make moves to let you know this.”
The robot part of Barney—whose avatar has a five-o’clock shadow and modern-guy black-rim glasses—is an algorithm that auto-generates messages to people you want to connect with. For example, if you are staring at someone’s profile, trying to figure out if and how to connect, Yarkova explains that you can click on Wingman Barney and he will scan both of your profiles and send a message to the other person, introducing you to them.
For now, the human part of Barney’s identity is a secret. But Yarkova did confirm that Barney is indeed a man and hinted that all will be revealed soon.
Screengrab via Cupid.com
Up until now, Barney has only been available to limited number of users (the site launched in 2002); but as of today, he is available sitewide. Yarkova says that early numbers reveal that “67 percent of people who got the messages from Wingman Barney said ‘yes.'”
The new app also has other highlights, including Q-Matching, which asks people lighthearted questions and attempts to match them with others based on their answers. There’s also Likebook, a Tinder-like feature where users can “like” the people who attract them and “skip” those who don’t.
Another new feature is Cupid’s anti-scam system, which Yarkova explains will work three ways. “First, we have our own team of 30 people who actively work to track down and block or delete the scammers,” she said. “Second, there is also the ability for users to block and report other users. Finally, there is a safe-mode feature, which paying users can turn on. In safe mode, only people who confirm their identity with the site can message you.”
Yarkova said that she personally goes through all reports of abuse or spam to make sure the site is safe—or at least it’s safe until more dude-bro-robot-human-hybrid wingmen take over.
Lyz Lenz is currently the managing editor of the Rumpus. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Jezebel, the Columbia Journalism Review, and Mashable.