OK Cupid is one of those sites I've used at various points in the last ten years or so. There's been times when I've gone out with people on there (though those relationships have been short lived), had hookups from there, and I'm reasonably familiar with some of the major changes on the site over the years.
One of the bigger transitions in recent years has been that more and more of the site has been hidden away behind a paywall. When I first used the site in 2014 or so, most of the site's major features were free to use. There were a few things that you had to buy a premium account for (stuff like being able to see who'd liked you account and so on), but enough of the site was free to use that it didn't really matter. A premium account might have more stuff, but the free accounts were easily used as well.
Ever since I think 2017-ish, the site has increasingly transitioned to being a more premium heavy service. This makes business sense for the company because they have to make their money somehow, and I guess it is a little difficult to be making money consistently when the service is optimally based around a revolving door of users. I'm not really sure it makes as much sense for consumers, because social media isn't a thing most people think of as being a thing you should pay for.
I think that's ultimately the story of a lot of the changes OK Cupid has made over the last three or four years. There's a lot of stuff that makes a lot of sense on a surface level, but the execution doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
The best example of this is the like feature. While five years ago, this was mostly just a premium thing that didn't necessarily affect the free user experience, now it's a central part of the site's design. Before you can message someone, you have to have liked their profile.
This makes sense on a surface level because that kind of easy proof that you liked each other's profiles can help with a match. It can also help cut down on some of the outright harassment you might expect to see on a site like this, given that there are people who would harass others if they didn't get a date. However, because you have to pay to see who's liked you, you end up missing out on a lot of potential matches if you're only using a free account.
The search function also leaves a lot to be desired. While once you could potentially search through all accounts, narrowing down the results based on your personal preferences, now you basically only get to see maybe five or ten accounts at a time, and you have to either like or pass on profiles if you want to see others. I think this is a silly design feature because it makes it more difficult to see how many people are currently active in your area, and how many people are just being recommended just because they happen to live in the same state as you.
You're also now unable to see who's viewed your profile and who hasn't. This used to be a fairly major feature of the site that was available with free accounts, but now it doesn't exist anymore. I think it'd make even more sense to have this kind of feature now that so much of the site is based around the like feature, because even if you didn't have a premium account, you might still be able to make an educated guess about who'd liked your profile and who hadn't.
The one good change OK Cupid has made has been to ask for text message verification when you sign up for a new account, similar to what you might go through to secure an email address. This can potentially limit the number of catfish overall on the site, especially over the long term, because less people will be willing to hand over their mobile phone number to an internet company just so they can screw around with other people for a little bit.
Still, overall, I feel like OK Cupid has gotten to the point where so much of the site's basic functions are hidden away behind a paywall for it to really be feasible to be using a free account anymore. I think the company would be better off just switching to a paid service at this point.