By Alaya Ayala
The Independent attempts to figure out which matchmaking site is preferred by Harvard students for solving those Valentine’s Day woes.
By ALAYA AYALA
This year, in honor of all things having to do with free food, hookups, and Valentine’s Day, the Indy put out a survey asking Harvard Undergraduate Students their opinions on how Tinder and Datamatch compare. The survey was created by the Independent, and attempted to compare two common online applications, before taking a step back to speak with those who refrain from both.
The results of the survey were as follows:
Of all respondents, 51.5% were sophomores, 15.2% were juniors, and 33.3% were seniors; interviews with a distinct group of sophomores (class of 2020) revealed that a large majority of them had not tried Datamatch their freshman year; the heavy interest seemed to derive from curiosity regarding the service.
Furthermore, based on the responses, it seems that most of the time, Datamatch matches don’t result in dates at all. Inconvenient timing, matches that just don’t seem right, awkwardness, or general apathy oftentimes seem to get in the way.
Some respondents anonymously provided their thoughts on why this might be the case.
It seems like much of the time, at least for this group of people, the reason dates on Datamatch don’t work out is because the website matches them with friends or acquaintances, making the experience awkward. A member of the class of 2020 stated, “I got my friend that I already knew, it never went anywhere.” A similar response was provided by another sophomore who said, “there are like 10 gay people at Harvard, so I already knew all my matches.” Finding acquaintances was a common theme through Datamatch; informally, it was often mentioned that entryway-mates were common pairings.
Several of the responses had to do with one’s chance at getting free food using Datamatch. As one respondent, 2019, put it, the reason they chose to participate was “the free food; I think the expectation is that it’s nothing serious. Even people who are dating people use it.” For some, the free food made using Datamatch a good experience. One respondent, a member of the class of 2018, said as much with their response: “I have #1-matched with one of my close friends two years in a row already, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the food both times.” This, perhaps, offers a far better solution when paired with a friend than not participating at all.
It would seem though, that the promise of free food, if not love, doesn’t always end up making a Datamatch date worth the effort. One senior replied with: “…was excited to get a waffle (obviously not for the date because they paired me with a straight man). The man agreed. THEN the man asked to go to PINKBERRY INSTEAD OF ZINNEKENS?? I said yes because I had no spine, but it was cold, unpleasant, and not a waffle. sad.”
We at the Independent would like to critical note of potential bias in the results above. Oftentimes, those who respond to such surveys are those with a story to tell: oftentimes a negative or funny one. The great experiences, on the other hand, tend to get lost among contentment. We do not aim to draw any conclusions regarding Datamatch itself, its matching algorithm, or its creators, and instead highlight one of the more “hyped” and exciting trends to sweep Harvard’s campus.
The results for Tinder dates were less conclusive, with the average rating for a date with someone on the app came out to a 5.2 out of 10, with the most people choosing between an average of a 3 and a 7.
When asked whether they would like to share some of their Tinder experiences, respondents provided the Indy with some interesting responses.
“more options but more randos too” – C.O. 2020
“Found my boyfriend on Tinder; he’s the best.” – C.O. 2018
“ 😉 ” – C.O. 2018 (For context, this person did give Tinder dates a rating of 8/10)
“The most boring person in the world told me during our date that actually, her life is pretty interesting. and then I paid.” – C.O. 2018
“I previously dated someone from Harvard for several months after meeting him on Tinder, so that was a positive!” – C.O. 2018
“No please I’d rather not.” – C.O. 2019
“Met a great summer fling on Tinder in Paris.” – C.O. 2020
“I use Bumble. I’m currently dating someone I met from Bumble.” – C.O. 2019
“One time I met a guy who claimed to be a Russian orphan spy. Another time I went on an excellent date with a close friend and I’ve matched with two others sooo…” – C.O. 2020
“I went on a few dates with different men but didn’t have connections with them.” – C.O. 2020
When it came down to it, for hookups, an overwhelming 90.9% of respondents would prefer to use Tinder.
As for finding “the one,” respondents were surprisingly divided, with 53.1% of them preferring to use Datamatch over Tinder to find their soulmate. However, the same sample interviewed above responded that had “neither” been an option, it would have taken the overwhelming majority of voting share.
With new Datamatch results already out, love (possibly just of food) is in the air on Harvard’s campus, as well as on the campuses of Columbia, Barnard, Wellesley and Brown: four additional schools that were added to the platform in what was apparently a competitive process.
According to Sam Goldman, 2019, one of the co-business leads for Datamatch, the addition of the other four schools was one of the main changes to Datamatch this year. “It’s actually surprising how many schools have contacted us each year. It’s always been something on the to-do list, and this year Russel and I took on the roles to put it in motion. It’s been a bit of a process.”
Another big change to the match-making service has a lot to do with something that the respondents to our survey took note of the fact that Datamatch “seems mostly for heterosexuals,” (respondent from the class of 2018). In previous years, Datamatch has not had a gender neutral-option for respondents that don’t identify with the female/male binary.
Goldman commented on this, stating that “previously there was no option: there were checkboxes to choose between male or female, with a box a bit further down to further explain your gender identity if you wanted to. It was definitely the result of Datamatch being an older platform and was a bit of an oversight on the behalf of the team previously. We’ve changed it this year so that users aren’t limited to the binary. Now there’s a nonbinary checkbox with the option to further explain underneath it. We’re super stoked to see how it turns out this year.”
Who knows, maybe with these changes, some of the answers to our survey will change.
Alaya Ayala firstname.lastname@example.org is looking forward to using Datamatch this year.