Hot or Not

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Hot or Not
Web address
Owner Or Not Limited
Created by James Hong (entrepreneur) and Jim Young
Launched October 2000
Alexa rank
positive decrease 50,650 (April 2014)[1]

Hot or Not began as a rating site that allowed users to rate the attractiveness of photos submitted voluntarily by others. The site offers a matchmaking engine called 'Meet Me' and an extended profile feature called "Hotlists". It is owned by Or Not Limited,[2] and was previously owned by Avid Life Media. 'Hot or Not' was a significant influence on the people who went on to create the social media sites Facebook and YouTube.[citation needed]


The purpose of the app 'Hot or Not' is to rate pictures of other people. When you rate somebody as hot, and they rate you as hot, then you become connections. When you're connected, you get to chat with each other.[3] Users also receive a hotness rating out of 10 based on the number of people who rate you as hot, vs. those who don't.[3]

Hot or Not describes itself in the iTunes store as:

"Hot or Not. Get in. Get seen. Get fans! Check out if you are Hot, find interesting people around you and chat with them. The hottest online community with over 190 million members!".[4]


The site was founded in October 2000 by James Hong and Jim Young, two friends and Silicon Valley-based engineers. Both graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in electrical engineering, with Young pursuing a Ph.D at the time.

The site was a technical solution to a disagreement they made one day over a passing woman's attractiveness. The site was originally called "Am I Hot or Not". Within a week of launching, it had reached almost two million page views per day. Within a few months, the site was immediately behind CNET and NBCi on NetNielsen Rating's Top 25 advertising domains. To keep up with rising costs Hong and Young added a matchmaking component to their website called "Meet Me at Hot or Not", i.e. a system of range voting.[5] The matchmaking service has been especially successful and the site continues to generate most of its revenue through subscriptions. In the December 2006 issue of Time magazine, the founders of YouTube stated that they originally set out to make a version of Hot or Not with Video before developing their more inclusive site. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook similarly got his start by creating a Hot or Not type site called FaceMash, where he posted photos from Harvard's Facebook for the university's community to rate.[6]

Hot or Not was sold for a rumored $20 million on February 8, 2008 to Avid Life Media, owners of Ashley Madison.[7] Annual revenue reached $7.5 million, with net profits of $5.5 million. They initially started off $60,000 in debt due to tuition fees James paid for his MBA.[8] On July 31, 2008, Hot or Not launched Hot or Not Gossip and a Baresi rate box (a "hot meter") – a subdivision to expand their market, run by former radio DJ turned celebrity blogger Zack Taylor.

Predecessors and spin-offs[edit]

Hot or Not was preceded by the rating sites RateMyFace, which was registered a year earlier in the summer of 1999, and, which was registered in January 2000 by MIT freshman Daniel Roy. Regardless, despite any head starts of its predecessors, Hot or Not quickly became the most popular. Since's launch, the concept has spawned many imitators. The concept always remained the same, but the subject matter varied greatly. The concept has also been integrated with a wide variety of dating and matchmaking systems. In 2007 launched and deleted anyone with a rating below 7 after a voting audit or the first 50 votes (whichever is first).

Variations on the Hot or Not concept include voting via a Condorcet method where a candidate is compared with other candidates in a series of pairwise comparisons in order to gauge their popularity.[citation needed] Another variation used a four-way comparison of candidates to gauge their popularity and show a 'type' match for candidates who most closely match the average preferences shown by the user making the choices.


Composite images of female faces, grouped by differing "hotness" levels, as rated on

In 1883, Francis Galton, cousin of Charles Darwin, devised a technique called composite photography, described in detail in Inquiries in Human Faculty and its Development, which he believed could be used to identify 'types' by appearance, which he hoped would aid medical diagnosis, and even criminology, through the identification of typical criminal faces. In short, he wondered if certain groups of people had certain facial characteristics. To find this answer, he created photographic composite images of the faces of vegetarians and criminals to see if there was a typical facial appearance for each. Galton overlaid multiple images of faces onto a single photographic plate so that each individual face contributed roughly equally to a final composite face. While the resultant “averaged” faces did little to allow the a priori identification of either criminals or vegetarians, Galton observed that the composite image was more attractive than the component faces. Similar observations were made in 1886 by J T Stoddard, who created composite faces of members of the National Academy of Sciences and graduating seniors of Smith College.[9] This phenomenon is now known as the averageness-effect, that is that those regarded as highly physically attractive tend to reflect the average traits of the population.

In 2005, as an example of using image morphing methods to study the effects of averageness, imaging researcher Pierre Tourigny created a composite of about 30 faces to find out the current standard of good looks on the Internet (as shown above). On the Hot or Not web site, people rate others' attractiveness on a scale of 1 to 10. An average score based on hundreds or even thousands of individual ratings takes only a few days to emerge. To make this hot or not palette of morphed images, photos from the site were sorted by rank and used SquirlzMorph to create multi-morph composites from them. Unlike projects like Face of Tomorrow,[10] where the subjects are posed for the purpose, the portraits are blurry because the source images are low resolution with differences in posture, hair styles, glasses, etc., so that here images could use only 36 control points for the morphs.[11] A similar study was done with Miss Universe contestants, as shown in the averageness article, as well as one for age, as shown in youthfulness article.

A 2006 "hot" or "not" style study, involving 264 women and 18 men, at the Washington University School of Medicine, as published online in the journal Brain Research, indicates that a person's brain determines whether an image is erotic long before the viewer is even aware they are seeing the picture. Moreover, according to these researchers, one of the basic functions of the brain is to classify images into a hot or not type categorization. The study's researchers also discovered that sexy shots induce a uniquely powerful reaction in the brain, equal in effect for both men and women, and that erotic images produced a strong reaction in the hypothalamus.[12][13]


  1. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ "Hot or Not Terms and Conditions of Use". Hot Ot Not. Retrieved 9 January 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Creighton, Joey. "Digging Into The "Hot or Not" App: What’s It All About?". Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  4. ^ "iTunes". 
  5. ^ Levy, Steven. "The 'Hot or Not' Solution". Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  6. ^, Home of Zuckerberg's Facebook Predecessor, For Sale TechCrunch, October 5, 2010. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
  7. ^ HotOrNot Apparently Very Hot: Acquired For $20 Million TechCrunch
  8. ^ "HotOrNot: From Nothing to $20M in 7 years!". YouTube. 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2011-07-27. 
  9. ^ Rhodes, Gillian; Zebrowitz, Leslie, A. (2002). Facial Attractiveness – Evolutionary, Cognitive, and Social Perspectives. Ablex. ISBN 1-56750-636-4. 
  10. ^ "". [dead link]
  11. ^ Manitou (2006). Hot or Not – Attractiveness Face Scale (composite images), Flicker, May 4.
  12. ^ Wittlin, Maggie, "Hot or Not – Women’s brains respond to erotic images as quickly and strongly as men’s". Seed Magazine – Brain & Behavior, July, 13.
  13. ^ Anokhin, A.P. et al. (2006). "Rapid discrimination of visual scene content in the human brain". Brain Research 1093 (1): 167–177. doi:10.1016/j.brainres.2006.03.108. PMC 2174912. PMID 16712815. 

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