Jan. 15, 2013 at 4:08 PM ET
Setting up a date can be hard, even with online services doing a lot of the heavy lifting. You have to find a place you like, a time that works, and of course you need someone to go on the date with. A new app called Crazy Blind Date from OKCupid takes care of that last bit for you. Choose the time and place, and it picks the person.
Actually, it picks four people — and there's a twist: Their faces are scrambled, like one of those sliding-square puzzles. So you get a partial preview — nice eyes, dark hair — but not the whole picture. Pick one, show up, and presto, you're dating! Just pray none of the other options shows up at the same time.
The notion is that people often find themselves with a free evening, wishing they could meet someone new, but none of their prospects are coming through. So an app that gets you a date on short notice, with someone OK Cupid thinks you'll like, could easily fill that particular niche.
Short-notice-dating apps aren't new; some, in fact, have grown quite popular. Grindr, for instance, is aimed at single gay men and has become a bit notorious for its "hook-up culture." But unlike OKCupid's app, Grindr lets you see the people nearby clearly and choose according to your preference.
That's because of the ugly truth: That looks matter in these situations, and picky daters might turn up their noses at this appeal to their less superficial side. In fact, the website But a few lonely nights might convince them to take a chance. In the meantime, more adventurous users of OKCupid may find the whole experience thrilling.
But then it gets weird. After a date, you're asked (naturally enough) to rate how well the date went. If it went poorly, you say so, and if it went well, you award your date "kudos." People with more kudos show up more often as potential dates.
There are two problems here. First, if the date went well and you want to go on another one, it seems like you'd want to rate your date poorly so that they don't end up on other dates. Yes, it's dishonest, but all's fair in love and war.
Second, kudos cost money. In other words, you have to pay to give your date a good review — so they can go on more dates with other people!
The app's creator, Sam Yagan, admits in an interview with Businessweek that people may choose to give bad reviews in order to avoid paying money, and that this would upset the matching algorithm. Banking on the honesty and fiscal generosity of the internet at large seems like a monumentally risky proposition, but Yagan is optimistic: "Never before has a dating app allowed singles to pay on a per-date basis," he says triumphantly in the press release describing the new app. And depending on Crazy Blind Date's success, perhaps never again.
If you're curious, you can download the app for free on iOS or Android (be warned, the Android version is apparently a bit buggy at the moment). Sign in with your OKCupid account, or create a new one strictly for blind dates — all you need is a picture and some basic data, and you're good to go.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBCNews Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.