Datamatch at CMU

Datamatch is returning to Carnegie Mellon University this week to connect students on Valentine's Day.

The annual dating survey, which started at Harvard University in 1994, is back for its second year at Carnegie Mellon. Starting on Feb. 7, students can fill out a questionnaire written by other Carnegie Mellon students. When the survey closes on Valentine's Day, Datamatch's algorithm will recommend several other Carnegie Mellon students to connect with based on their survey responses. Students can then "match" with each other in search of romance or friendship for Valentine's Day.

In a Zoom interview, Matías Jonsson, senior and question-writer for Datamatch at Carnegie Mellon, said, "The types of questions are humorous, like light-hearted, but sometimes also a little bit profound." Jonsson added, "You'll see lots of references to things that only people who go to CMU would understand." According to the Washington Post, one question from a Datamatch survey in 2018 asked students what they would do for money; possible choices included "marry Donald Trump" and "get back in touch with my deadbeat millionaire father."

Datamatch's main purpose is to be funny, according to its website. In Jonsson's words, a lot of people sign up for Datamatch "for the meme." Still, some users have found relationships through Datamatch. Jonsson could not refer to anyone at Carnegie Mellon who met a partner through Datamatch, but, in an emailed statement, the Datamatch team referred to a couple that met through Datamatch at Brown University.

With the COVID-19 pandemic scattering Carnegie Mellon students across the world, Jonsson said starting a relationship through Datamatch seems unlikely. "I think a lot of people probably are pretty realistic about the fact you don't really expect this is going to necessarily work," Jonsson admitted. He added, "More importantly, it's going to be a fun way to meet people."

Including Harvard and Carnegie Mellon, over 30 schools are participating in Datamatch this year, according to the program's website. In the same statement, the Datamatch team said that over 40,000 students took part across the 26 universities that participated last year.

Jonsson acknowledged that Datamatch at Carnegie Mellon was small last year. He is hoping to improve upon the 342 students that participated in order to establish Datamatch as a tradition at Carnegie Mellon. He said, "If it becomes like a multi-year tradition the way it is at some of the other schools that are participating, it can become a fun thing that people look forward to."

Jonsson also organized virtual speed dating on Valentine's Day through his Facebook group, subtle CMU dating. Despite his own efforts to help students get together, he was pessimistic about Carnegie Mellon's dating scene.

"I have discovered that dating culture at CMU really sucks," Jonsson said. He pleaded, "Don't waste prime time for finding people who are going places!"