Datamatch: A match made with data could be your match made in heaven

Against a hot pink background are purple hands typing on a pink laptop with a heart and two profiles connecting on the screen. Next to the laptop is a cup of coffee.
(Yasmin Elqutami • The Student Life)

Forget Tinder, Bumble, Grindr, Hinge or any other dating app. Come February, it’s all about Datamatch.

Created by Harvard University students in 1994, Datamatch is a matchmaking service for college students powered by a “top secret Algorithm™” that hopes to help you find true love. According to Harvard senior Ryan Lee, a “Supreme Cupid” who helped lead this year’s matchmaking effort, the matchmaking survey was first circulated on paper among Harvard students. Fast forward to 2020: Datamatch is now digital and on over 25 college campuses this year, including the 5Cs.

Following last year’s success, the Datamatch team at Harvard has once again partnered with 5C comedy darlings The Golden Antlers to bring the return of the love-making algorithm to Claremont. From now until 9:01 p.m. on Feb. 13, 5C students can sign up with their college email and fill out the survey that promises to “reveal things that you don’t even know about yourself.” 

From there, patiently wait for the Cupids to work their bows and arrows (aka wait for the algorithm to work its magic), and you’ll be able to see your coveted matches Valentine’s Day morning.

Not looking for romantic love? There’s also a platonic option you can select to find your star-crossed future friends.

The algorithm will match you with up to 15 matches, after which you’ll have the option to indicate if you’re interested. If you and a match both indicate that you’re interested in each other, well, the Cupids have done their job and it’s up to you to shoot your shot.

According to Teddy Liu, a Harvard senior who is the other “Supreme Cupid,” Datamatch has added a chat feature directly into the app itself this year. In past years, matches had to reach out through email in order to start talking or set up a date. 

“So [this new chat feature] will reduce the amount of friction to kind of make that reach first,” he said.

As of Feb. 12, more than 1500 Claremont students — 25 percent of all undergraduates — have signed up for Datamatch this year. Among other campuses, the 5Cs boast the sixth highest number of signups. Claremont students are also on track to beat last year’s signup total — about 1600 — according to Julia Foodman SC ’21, editor-in-chief of The Golden Antlers.

GA writer Rachel Alaynick CM ’20 helped develop this year’s questions, and thinks that Datamatch’s success is due to the survey’s humor and inherent fun. 

“I think people like it, not because they expect it to work, but because it’s fun to fill out,” she said. “People take BuzzFeed quizzes all the time, but I don’t think it really matters what type of french fry you are.”

Indeed, it’s difficult to think that questions like “Which campus building best personifies your sex life?” are going to redefine your ideas of love and dating. But Datamatch’s humor is distinctly campus-specific: “It’s very funny when we’re talking to [the Harvard team] on the phone,” Foodman said. “They would sit there and they would be like, ‘You know, we spent half an hour trying to figure out what Cube water means.’”

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Need more compelling reasons to sign up? Here’s one: Lee and his girlfriend are together because of last year’s Datamatch. 

“It’s October [2018]. I’m single and I think to myself, ‘You know what, I gotta find someone special by Valentine’s Day,’” he said. “I’m gonna make a dinner reservation for two on Valentine’s Day with nobody in mind and find that person by then.”

After the Datamatch results launched and he was still loveless, Lee decided to personally match with his crush. “We actually have a feature on Datamatch where you can search for somebody on the platform as long as you opt in,” he said. “So you can opt in and say, ‘Hey, I’d love for my profile to be searchable.’ You can search for your secret crush or something like that and hit ‘match.’”

If you’ve both opted to match with each other, it’s the same as if you clicked interested with your algorithm matches — you can connect. So on Valentine’s Day, Lee and his crush, now girlfriend, used that dinner reservation that he booked in October to go on their first date. As they say, the rest was history.

That’s a love lesson: Even if the algorithmic matches aren’t in your favor, you can also sneakily match with your crushes and see if they match with you, instead of waiting for them to pop up on Tinder.

While Datamatch is certainly based on humor, Foodman is also confident in the potential for the algorithm to blossom into long-standing romance.

“I would assume [the algorithm is] fundamentally based on your sense of humor, especially if you’re clicking that you’d like someone like you,” she said. “I think that’s one of the most important things that you can have in a relationship, is that you’re on that same level of understanding.”

Plus, if we’re looking at statistics, Alaynick is equally optimistic. “We have at least a comparable success rate to ‘The Bachelor,’” she said. “I feel like that’s pretty significant.”

In order to maximize your chances, Liu recommends answering honestly and not trying to crack the code.

“Really try and think carefully about which one you find funniest or one that resonates the most with you, and just go with that,” he said. “There’s no gamifying the system, trying to write the same answers as your friend. We can assure you that that won’t work. Answer as truthfully as possible and let the algorithm make the rest of the magic happen.”

What are you waiting for? Get ready to find your love at first match.

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Mabel Lui

Mabel Lui SC '21 is a media studies and art major from Hong Kong. She currently serves as TSL's managing editor and previously served as life and style editor, life and style associate and life and style writer.

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