Mystery Guest

Sep 28, 2018
Originally published on September 28, 2018 5:12 pm

Like the members of the Ask Me Another team, Bernadette Libonate's job involves a lot of questions. In this segment, Ophira and Jonathan turn the tables and ask her a lot of questions to find out what she does.

Heard on DeRay Mckesson: The Vest Is Yet To Come.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

OPHIRA EISENBERG, HOST:

While Tirosh and Susan get ready for the final round, it's time for us to play a game. This is Mystery Guest. A stranger is about to come onstage. Jonathan and I have no idea who this person is or what makes them special. Mystery Guest, please introduce yourself.

BERNADETTE LIBONATE: My name is Bernadette Libonate, and my job involves a lot of questions.

EISENBERG: OK, so does this game, well done.

JONATHAN COULTON: So does my job.

EISENBERG: That's right. OK, a lot of questions - are people asking you questions?

LIBONATE: No.

EISENBERG: No.

COULTON: Are you asking other people questions?

LIBONATE: Yes.

COULTON: Aha.

EISENBERG: OK, well done. You're on the road.

COULTON: Thanks.

EISENBERG: So you are asking people questions. Are you gathering data?

LIBONATE: Yes.

COULTON: Are you involved with polling?

LIBONATE: No.

EISENBERG: Are you asking questions face-to-face?

LIBONATE: No.

EISENBERG: Aha.

COULTON: Are you asking questions in real time - you're actually talking to people as opposed to writing to them or something like that?

LIBONATE: No.

COULTON: You are writing questions to people and receiving written responses.

LIBONATE: Correct.

EISENBERG: OK, is this taking place over the Internet?

LIBONATE: Yes.

EISENBERG: OK, very good. I just had to rule out letter writing, semophore, smoke signals - you know, a lot of things.

(LAUGHTER)

COULTON: That's right. OK, are you gathering data for Internet-related companies to use?

LIBONATE: No.

COULTON: Are you gathering data for the government to use?

LIBONATE: No.

EISENBERG: Are you part of the "Singularity"?

(LAUGHTER)

LIBONATE: No.

COULTON: Are you asking questions for robots to use to take over our planet?

LIBONATE: No.

COULTON: OK.

EISENBERG: OK, all right. Are you asking them questions to help them have better relationships with each other?

LIBONATE: Yes.

EISENBERG: OK, all right. Are you working for a particular dating website?

LIBONATE: Yes.

EISENBERG: OK.

COULTON: Is there a name of Ophira on it?

EISENBERG: OK.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Do you work for Coffee Meets Bagel?

LIBONATE: No.

EISENBERG: Do you work for Bumble?

LIBONATE: No.

EISENBERG: OkCupid.

LIBONATE: Yes.

EISENBERG: What?

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL, APPLAUSE)

EISENBERG: My producer Travis has handed this to me. So Bernadette Libonate works for a dating - the dating site OkCupid where her unofficial title is question czar. OK.

LIBONATE: I think it's technically czarina.

EISENBERG: Czarina.

LIBONATE: Czaritsky (ph). But, yeah, I also don't like the ending of how it goes for most czars, so I like to share responsibility.

EISENBERG: Sure, yeah.

LIBONATE: Can we change that?

EISENBERG: Sure. Yeah, yeah. Czar is not a happy ending.

LIBONATE: No, no, not typically.

EISENBERG: So you lead a small team that creates the questions users answer that then they use to match each other with prospective love interests.

LIBONATE: That's exactly right.

EISENBERG: OK, so asking their opinions on everything from politics to cilantro.

LIBONATE: That's right.

EISENBERG: OK, so how did you get into this job.

LIBONATE: Well, it turns out there's no grad school degree for writing questions for a dating app yet. My background is in branding and marketing, and I just really tap into social trends and working with kind of monitoring what OkCupid users are actually talking about. We noticed like Harry Potter gets mentioned a ton on certain profiles, so we decided to craft stories about what Hogwarts house are you.

EISENBERG: How many people say Slytherin?

LIBONATE: I think a lot of people, like, really aren't honest with themselves when it comes to that question because there's a surprising amount of Gryffindor answers.

(LAUGHTER)

LIBONATE: And it's like, all right, we all can't be there.

EISENBERG: You're a Hufflepuff.

LIBONATE: Yeah, we all can't.

EISENBERG: We all can't be...

LIBONATE: We want to. Just be honest.

EISENBERG: So what is the most important thing right now to people who are dating?

LIBONATE: Well, one of the things that we've noticed - a large trend since 2015 and 2017 - is we've had a 1,500 percent increase in people talking about political keywords in their dating profile. So dating and politics really aren't quite as separated as they once were. But we also have questions that you are - we allow people to tell us what's important to them. So if something is very important to you, you can mark it. And the most important marked question right now on OkCupid is, do you believe in dinosaurs? So I can't really - so it's everything from (unintelligible) to...

EISENBERG: Wow. That is a good weeder-outer (ph).

(LAUGHTER)

LIBONATE: ...Yeah, to dinosaurs.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Do you think men and women are looking for different things?

LIBONATE: I think so. We do see certain trends that will fluctuate with women, men and will answer a certain way. We asked if - do you think you're a great trivia partner? And 25 percent of men answered, you bet, exclamation point. Fifteen percent of women answered, you bet. I don't know if that means men just think they're better at trivia or are...

COULTON: Yeah, that's what it means.

LIBONATE: ...Better at trivia.

(LAUGHTER)

EISENBERG: Have you yourself ever used a dating site?

LIBONATE: I did. Yeah, I used OkCupid. Yeah.

EISENBERG: And how's...

LIBONATE: Well - OK, so I didn't...

(LAUGHTER)

LIBONATE: I didn't meet my partner technically on OkCupid. However, I met him and we created our connection at an OkCupid event, so I'm going to take that for the team. Like, I think it still happened through OkCupid.

EISENBERG: Super interesting. Fantastic. Thank you so much. Give it up for our mystery...

LIBONATE: Thanks.

EISENBERG: ...Guest, Bernadette Libonate.

LIBONATE: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.