— Before there was Facebook, or YouTube, Twitter or Tinder, there was HOTorNOT, the website where (in the words of co-founder James Hong), “People uploaded their picture for others to rate on a scale of 1 to 10 based on hotness.”
To a generation of guys and gals in college dorms, this was an invention on a par with fire and the wheel: Hours upon hours could be wasted, happily, rating the hotness of fellow students, faculty, celebrities and European royalty.
“My wife recalls posting her picture to HOTorNOT her freshman year in college, years before we met,” Jim Young, HOTorNOT’s other founder, told ABC News recently. “She remembers her dorm mates thinking it was hilarious and shocking. She is also of the opinion that compared to the kind of content one finds routinely these days on Instagram, Twitter, etc., HOTorNOT seems almost wholesome.”
Hong and Young once told Newsweek that their inspired idea was born when the two University of California, Berkeley electrical engineers disagreed over the attractiveness of a passing woman. The site they launched in 2000 originally was called “Am I Hot Or Not.” But like “The Facebook,” its name quickly got pared down to its essence.
HOTorNOT had a strong influence on the birth of some of today’s biggest, most successful sites, Hong said, noting that YouTube started off as a video version of HOTorNOT’s dating service
“Monster hit” does not begin to describe HOTorNOT’s success: In its first week, it was getting close to 2 million page views a day.