Valentine's Day is possibly the worst day of the year for the lonely hearts out there. Chances are if you're reading this site you have some idea of how to use online dating to your advantage, but not like this guy does. For anonymity's sake, we'll call him Eros, and what he has created is nothing short of god-like: a way for the tech savvy to exploit loopholes in the dating site RSVP to get more dates with people you actually like. This is how to hack a dating site to your advantage.
This story was published last Valentine's Day, but we've brought it back up today for a bit more V-Day reading.
For the uninitiated, RSVP.com.au is one of Australia's largest dating sites with over 450,000 members logging on every month to try to find their true love, someone to have a drink with or even just someone to spend the night with. Over 1200 new members are signing up every day, and it claims to be the first online dating site in Australia.
Communicating on RSVP works in two ways. It's free to make initial contact with a member via what's known as a "Kiss" message. It's a flirty way of letting users know that you're interested in them. The responding user can then send a Kiss back letting you know that they want to take things further — in which case you send an email which costs money — or they can let you know they're not interested.
Emails cost a certain amount of money per message, and improved analytics and search rankings can come from being a premium — or RSViP — member.
When our friend Eros — an IT security guy by trade — wanted a date, his friend showed him RSVP. After a bit of study, Eros worked out that he could actually exploit certain loopholes in RSVP to his advantage, and set about building a Perl script to make it happen. What he built was a script that would automate his first point of contact with a network of various women that would then let him respond appropriately based on their response.
The script sought out and contacted members with a specific Kiss message when they met the criteria Eros was looking for, and paired with his RSViP subscription, he was able to message thousands of users a day.
"At one point I had sent about 30,000 Kiss messages to female members in one 24 hour period," he confessed to us.
Without an RSViP subscription, he would have been limited to sending around 20 Kiss messages per day.
The script wasn't just about automating the first point of contact though. If the girls responded in the negative, the script would automatically delete that message from the Mailbox leaving only the actionable responses for Eros to deal with.
From there, Eros took over manually, but not without some help with the right things to say.
After the script was complete and had begun working its magic, he set about studying relationship surveys from other dating sites. OKCupid proved the most useful with its toolkit, advising the right things to say, do and wear to impress a date. He uploaded 30 pictures to both OKCupid and HotOrNot.com to figure out which ones would get him the most replies from members (he's not a bad looking guy in the first place, mind), and combined it all together to create his own special brand of automated matchmaking.
At the height of Eros's popularity he was getting around four dates per week from various women he had contacted on RSVP, and continued dating various girls for over six months. All this attention saw the RSViP search algorithm promote him to the top of all Sydney search results. He was ranked #1 out of the Top 100 guys in Sydney, which brought on even more attention.
The only reason Eros gave up on his dating efforts six months after the endeavour began was because he still couldn't find someone he really liked out of all the women he had met online.
Eros finally turned off his script a few months ago and was ready to quit RSVP to go celibate, but not before a young lady contacted him and wanted to go out. They have been seeing each other ever since.
Despite the fact that Eros found love without the use of his god-like combo of super script and dating tips, what he did is still in flagrant breach of RSVP's terms of service. It specifically mentions on the site that users can't automate their actions using scripts.
Section 7.2 of RSVP's terms of service deal explicitly with what our friend achieved:
Use of the RSVP sites and prohibited activities
7.2You also agree not to: a) use any robot, spider, or other device or process to retrieve, index, or in any way reproduce or circumvent the navigational structure or presentation of the RSVP Sites; "frame" or "mirror" any part of the RSVP Sites without our prior written authorization;
b) use code or other devices containing any reference to the RSVP Sites to direct other persons to any other web page;
c) except and only to the extent permitted by law, modify, adapt, sublicense, translate, sell, reverse engineer, decipher, decompile or otherwise disassemble any portion of the RSVP Sites or cause any other person to do so.
Against the ToS or not, Eros is happy with what he got out of it. Happy hunting, readers.
Disclosure: Gizmodo Australia, its parent Allure Media and RSVP are part of the Fairfax Media Group.