2012 Harvard Humanists of the Year: The Founders of OkCupid

The Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard is taking a different turn with their choice for the annual Humanist of the Year award. Last year, they chose Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. In the past, they have chosen non-theistic Congressperson Pete Stark (D-CA), Steven Pinker, Taslima Nasrin, and E.O. Wilson.

This year, they’re going with four people you’ve probably never heard of before… but their impact on our community has been tremendous: The founders of the free online dating website OkCupid: Max Krohn, Sam Yagan, Chris Coyne, and Christian Rudder. (Rudder and Krohn will accept the award in person.)

OkCupid founders (from left to right) Max Krohn, Sam Yagan, Chris Coyne, and Christian Rudder (Michael Falco – New York Times)

OkCupid has hosted nearly 10 million users since its 2004 launch, and site founders Christian Rudder and Maxwell Krohn will join us for a first-ever public discussion of how they created arguably the most welcoming and positive environment ever for atheists, Humanists, and agnostics — online or anywhere else.

I can’t believe they didn’t go with the eHarmony guy

I love the choice. I don’t think it’s hyperbole to suggest that OkCupid has been one of the most important websites for atheists looking to meet other atheists. It’s not that other sites don’t allow atheists to “match,” but none cater to atheists and agnostics quite like OkCupid does.

Rudder is the guy behind OkTrends, the *amazing* (though long defunct) blog that displays interesting statistics behind OkCupid users. He recently signed a sweet book deal, too.

Krohn mostly works on the tech side of things, and he’s also responsible for SparkNotes (so you can all thank him for that).

The presentation of the award takes place on Sunday, November 4th at the Harvard Science Center. More information on the event can be found here.

I would still love to see Rachel Maddow accept this award at some point, but I guess that’s a two-way street. In the meantime, these guys are well-deserving of the accolade.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    No women?  I sure hope the staff of OkCupid has some women in management.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    … and Christian Rudder

    You missed the obvious headline: “Humanist award goes to Christian”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1430445395 Mark McCoy

    My wife and I met on OKCupid about 14 months ago (we just got married last week).  I think it is the best dating site out there, simply because they don’t go to great lengths to pretend that everyone fits the same mold, like eHarmony, Match, and the rest all do.  Atheists and LGBT and polyamorous people are just as welcome as Christians/Jews, and their questions system really lets you see past the labels and get a sense for what type of personality the other person has.

    They also don’t pretend that sex doesn’t exist.  People can be as free or as closed off about their sexual desires as they choose to be.

  • TheG

    From reading Hemant’s post, I can tell you they were the founders of the company.  It has nothing to do with their hiring practices or the typical “atheism has a misogyny problem” debate.  Anytime a man is receives an award it isn’t automatically a slight on women.  Let’s not soil their honor and achievements by devolving the thread.

  • Nena

    I met my girlfriend on OKC, and I’ve made several good friends there as well. It really is a fantastic site and very welcoming to a hugely diverse audience.

  • CelticWhisper

    Did you release 99 red balloons in OKCupid’s honor?

    (Just gonna hide behind this couch here as the inevitable onslaught of rotten tomatoes commences…)

  • Tom_Nightingale

    I love this choice!  I’ve been using OkCupid for some time, and I’ve been able to meet more like-minded individuals through it then I ever would have thought in my small town.  I’m still waiting for that special someone, but I just met a wonderful girl yesterday who shares my skepticism towards religion :)  Feels good to connect like that!

  • Jason

    I met my fiance on OkCupid. One of the things that I remember being meaningful was the choice to out myself as an atheist. That way I knew going into things that whoever was interested in me would be okay with that. (That is, if the person read my profile.)

  • Hayden

    I was looking through the OkCupid blog just yesterday. I was looking for a post they did correlating writing proficiency and religion, but I couldn’t find it. It turns out that it is still there, but hidden.


    If you view the source of that post, you can see a few paragraphs that are hidden. If you get rid of the “display=none” property, the text will show up in your browser again.

    I wonder why they decided to take that part of the post down. I expect they were getting a lot of angry emails.

  • CC

    Interesting.  My atheist husband and I met through eharmony 8 years ago.  I remember there being some screening questions about how important your religion was to you.  I was wide open at the time and didn’t care whether someone was religious or not.  I might have listed myself as a Christian or maybe a freethinker.  When I found out that I had been matched with an atheist, I was intrigued and wanted to know more about it.  I don’t remember him feeling that eharmony wasn’t welcoming to the non-religious, but then, it was more or less the only matching dating site available at the time, so we took what we could get.