ELO Scores were originally a way to rank chess players. Then gamers. Now online daters are rated with ELO scores, too.
On a swiping-based dating app, your ELO score determines the users you are shown as well as who will see you in their feeds. ELO scores go up or down to reflect your ‘desirability’ on Tinder compared to others. This is somewhat subjective (which is taken into account by ELO score).
Many factors are weighed up to rank you against other users, and you can improve your ELO score by improving things like your profile, your photos, the number of substantial interactions you have, as well as the number of matches you receive.
What does this mean in practice?
At their most basic level, ELO scores on dating apps go up and down depending on who you swipe right on, and who swipes right on you.
There are lots of other factors at play, but this is the core idea. Many people understand ELO scores to this extent and no further, but we’re going to do a deep dive.
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How Do Elo Scores Work?
Dating app ELO scores are a dynamic way of measuring how you stack up compared to other users on a given dating site. Every time you get a right swipe, you gain points. Every time you get a left swipe, you lose points. The number of points you gain or lose depends on the ELO score of the user who did the swiping. If their score is high, you lose or gain more points than if their score is low.
Dating apps originally decided to use ELO scores because they had to rank users.
In a large city, with hundreds of thousands of potential users to show, they needed to find a way to rank users to determine who would be at the top of any given person’s swipe deck.
They also needed to find a way to promote ‘correct’ use of their apps – not swiping right on everyone, for example. ELO scores aren’t perfect, neither are their rules totally clear to all users, but they are the best apps have so far come up with to show the best possible profiles to the right people.
Any ‘gaming’ of the ELO score means working out the ‘good’ behaviors that are rewarded (giving you a higher score overall) and the ‘bad’ ones that are penalized.
We know some and have theorized others, but the Bumble algorithm is different from say, the Tinder algorithm or Hinge’s algorithm and so the exact behaviors that are rewarded and penalized may not be the same.
What Is An Elo Score In Dating?
When physicist Arpad Elo came up with a way to rank chess players, he probably never imagined his ELO system would eventually be used in dating apps. To be fair, he probably never imagined dating apps existing either. Or smartphones. Or the internet. He died in 1992, after all.
In the world of chess rankings, ELO Scores are used to estimate how good a player is. Here’s an example:
You’re a high-rated chess player and you play someone with a low rating. If they beat you their rating will go dramatically up and yours will go dramatically down because they weren’t expected to beat you.
But if you beat them, then their rating will go slightly down and yours will go slightly up. If that same low-rated chess player wins against a player with a similar rating, their score will go up slightly and their opponent’s will go down slightly.
Got it? Good, now let’s talk about ELO Scores and dating.
On a dating app, your ELO Score is a dynamic rating sometimes called a “desirability” Score. Every like or swipe is equivalent to a game with a winner and a loser – every win (getting a like or a match) increases your ELO Score, and every loss (getting a left swipe) decreases your ELO Score.
This is ELO score at its basic level – as it was originally conceived by Arpad Elo – but things are more complicated on dating apps.
In order for you to have a good ELO score, you have to tick a bunch of boxes for that dating app algorithm.
This means your overall behavior on the app, plus your profile quality and pictures, plus how much you match and interact with matches, will all be taken into account. There’s no ‘easy fix’ for ELO scores; they’re complicated!
It’s worth mentioning that although many dating apps and sites deny using an ELO Score, they definitely use something similar. Let’s get into which apps use them exactly, and how to boost your own ELO Score on top dating apps.
First, what not to do.
What’s Bad For ELO Scores?
If chess is complicated, then modern dating knocks chess out of the park. No matter what app or site you are using, here are some basic things guaranteed to lower your ELO Score:
- Trigger happy swiping
The NYT reports that men right swipe 46% of the profiles they see, while women right swipe only 14% of the time. The thing is, if you’re swiping right on everyone you’re using the app wrong. And the algorithm doesn’t want that.
You’re supposed to swipe right on only profiles you like the look of, and you’re supposed to communicate with those matches. If you don’t do that, the algorithm can’t learn who you like and who likes you and the whole system breaks down. Plus, it’s not very nice, is it? Don’t be an asshole. Always solid advice.
- An old profile
Not updating your profile leads to a slowly declining ELO Score. You’re not doing anything on the app, so your ELO score falls away. Likewise, never swiping erodes your score. Tinder wants people active on the app, that’s their business model.
- An Empty Profile
An empty profile is not only unlikely to generate interest and right swipes, and therefore unlikely to get you the high-value swipes you need to up that ELO score, but it can also be a red flag for moderators (human or algorithmic) who may shadowban or block your account.
- App inactivity
This is more relevant to Tinder than Bumble, but the less you use the app – the lower your ELO Score. If you’re not using the app much, then you aren’t matching or messaging much. No matter how good your profile and pictures are, a specter who is never online isn’t ‘desirable’ to other users.
- A bad profile
Yes, I know this one is obvious, but it’s important. Bad photos, an empty bio, and little info about you mean your ELO Score is already on its way down. As a knock-on effect, you’ll probably get fewer right swipes so your ELO Score will continue to slip. Optimizing a dating profile is a bit of an art so, if you’re unsure, have a look and try this profile idea.
- Never messaging matches
Your profile may be attractive, but nothing will come of matches if there aren’t messages. You need to be active on the app to have a good ELO score, because, yes you got it! That’s their business model.
- Dead-end conversations
Dead-end conversations imply that you’re a lazy app user, or a terrible conversationalist (and therefore not ‘desirable’). The ELO score is trying to work out how likely you are to hit it off with, and actually date, other users. If you never get past ‘sup’ that won’t happen.
- Repeatedly deleting and reinstalling the app
ELO scores like consistency. The algorithm can predict your next move if you’re consistent and can work out whether or not you’re likely to actually talk to, get on with, and meet a match (which is the point, after all). Flakes who often delete and reinstall are anything but consistent.
If you never reply to matches or new messages, then the app thinks you’re not interested in finding a date so your ELO Score will drop. If you’re not interested in someone anymore, then just unmatch them, it’s kinder that way – to both them and your ELO Score.
What Is Good For ELO Scores?
ELO Scores can seem a bit bleak, but where there are things that damage your score, there are also plenty of ways to boost it.:
- Perfect profile
First and foremost – perfect your profile. I’m talking great pictures, an engaging bio, and good use of prompts. A great profile will get more right swipes because it contains more information, and an engaging bio and interesting photos will start conversations. All good for the old ELO score.
Fill out your profile as much as possible. More detail will lead to more right swipes and conversations, so better ELO Score, so more profile exposure.
- Updated profile
Keep your pics and bio up to date. As well as increasing your ELO Score – with dating profiles, there’s always room for improvement. An updated profile is also part of the ‘regular app use’ needed to boost your ELO score.
- Swipe selectively
Unless you’re Ryan Gosling, sending out hundreds of likes doesn’t necessarily increase the number of matches you get. If you’re swiping right on everyone, relatively few will swipe right back. On top of that, remember the algorithm likes it when you behave correctly (according to the expectations of the app), and rewards you with a higher ELO score.
Make sure you’re replying to any messages or likes you get. Remember, these apps are a business so you need regular, satisfied, customers. They also like longer conversations and solid interaction between matches.
Although there’s no way to find out your ELO Score, you can have an educated guess. Signs that your ELO score has dipped include:
- Not seeing attractive profiles when you used to see plenty
- A gradual decrease in likes – that nagging feeling that you used to get way more matches
- A sharp decrease in likes (which could also indicate a shadowban)
These aren’t definitive though. Maybe you have simply run out of profiles to swipe through! If you are in an area with a low population or you have very restrictive search settings, then there may be other factors at play.
I’ve covered the basics, now let’s look at how to specifically improve your Bumble and Tinder ELO Scores.
How Do ELO Scores Work On Bumble?
Bumble markets itself to the serious daters among us. You can like a profile with a right swipe, and if you are female then you then have 24 hours to respond with a match or pass. If you need more detail than that, you should read my guide to using Bumble before reading further here.
Unlike Tinder (who claims to have used ELO scores in the past), Bumble has never come out and admitted to using ELO Scores, but the Bumble algorithm sure does have a lot of similarities to the Tinder Algorithm. On Bumble:
- Your profile will be shown to other profiles who get a similar number of right swipes.
- Someone who’s right-swiped you will appear sooner on your browsing page.
- An incomplete profile is less desirable than a complete one. And that’s where the vicious cycle starts – your ELO score will remain low, your profile will get less exposure, the profiles you see won’t be good quality, and your overall likelihood of getting matches will reduce.
- Unlike Tinder, Bumble isn’t too bothered about how often you use the app. They have their 24-hour response window which keeps things moving along but, in general, your ELO Score doesn’t seem too affected if you take a break.
- I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: overenthusiastic swiping will lower your ELO Score. On Bumble too many right swipes could even lead to a ban, so swipe selectively and swipe realistically. Swiping selectively is ‘correct’ behavior while swiping at random is ‘bad’ behavior.
If you think your ELO Score has dipped on Bumble, you can begin to work your way out of it with these 3 steps:
- Improve your photos. Maybe try smiling?
- Reduce the number of right swipes you send out.
- Add more detail to your profile. Add photos, links to your Spotify and Instagram, prompts, and fill out the ‘More about me’ section.
How Do ELO Scores Work On Tinder?
It’s always a good idea to know as much as you can about a dating app before you start using it. I talk a lot about Tinder here on Dude Hack. After all, it is the daddy of modern dating apps.
If you are new to Tinder, or have been away for a while, then have a look at my article on the ins and outs of Tinder. If you’ve got a bit more time on your hands then download my free eBook Tinder Hacked for a deeper dive into the inner workings of the app, including how to maximize your profile (and ELO score).
For now, here are the key things you need to know about ELO Scores and Tinder:
- Ratios matter, ELO Scores on Tinder will decrease if you’re sending out more likes than you’re getting back.
- Fully-completed Tinder profiles with good pictures, linked Spotify/Instagram accounts, and completed bios get usually higher ELO Scores because they get more interest.
- New profiles are boosted to allow Tinder to guess at your ELO Score. If you’re new to Tinder make the most of this!
- More time spent on Tinder leads to a better ELO Score, as long as you’re taking into account all the advice on how to maximize your Tinder ELO score.
- ELO Scores will reduce over time if your profile isn’t updated semi-regularly.
You can boost your ELO Score on Tinder with these 5 steps:
- Improve your photos. First impressions count and photos are the best places to start.
- Limit your right swipes on Tinder to people in your league who you can see yourself dating.
- Log on to the app daily, let Tinder know you’re keen to get matches.
- Reply to any messages you get or matches you make. If you’ve changed your mind, then unmatch them.
- Consider Tinder gold. This will let you see all the people who’ve right-swiped you using ‘Likes Me’ – if you manage a 100% match rate then you’ll boost your ELO Score.
How to Reset Your ELO Score
If these tips don’t seem to be boosting your ELO Score, then you can try a total reset. For both Tinder and Bumble, this means deleting the app and your account and starting again.
How to Reset Bumble ELO Score
If you were unaware of ELO scores when you started online dating, but now know all the dating ELO tips and tricks, starting fresh isn’t a bad idea.
Be wary though.
Deleting the app and your account is fine and should restart your score, but deleting and starting over more than once runs the risk of a shadowban or even an outright ban.
My article on banning and shadowbanning on Bumble can give you some more info if you’re worried about this.
How to Reset Tinder ELO Score
It’s the same story over at Tinder.
You have to delete the app and your account to reset your ELO Score. Tinder keeps your data for 3 months after you delete your account, so wait until then to sign up again. After 3 months, Tinder will let you sign up with your usual phone number, as well as add your Spotify and Instagram accounts.
Starting all over again is a last resort. If you think the risk of a ban is worth it, then make sure you leave enough time between deleting and remaking the account to avoid a ban.
I can’t stress this enough: only do this if you’re sure your ELO score is ruined. I lay out the steps in my article, Tinder Deleted My Account. Follow them if you really need to.
As I mentioned earlier, new Tinder profiles are boosted while the Tinder algorithm works out your ELO Score.
Once you know how to play the game, ELO Scores can really help out your dating game. Not all apps use them, but most use some version of the rating system.
Of course, different dating apps and algorithms work for different people. Check out my dating app quiz to find the best dating app for you, and have fun!