Datamatch, the self-proclaimed “Bucky’s go-to” matchmaking service, returned for its fifth year on campus with new events and fun survey questions for students looking for love or friendship. The organization hosted a prom for the first time as a way to end off the week-long festivities.
Datamatch is a worldwide student-run online matchmaking service that started at Harvard University in 1994 as a side project of the university’s Computer Society. There are now over 50 colleges and universities participating in the platform, with over 35,000 users in total and 208,297 matches across all participating schools.
Using artificial intelligence algorithms, Datamatch matches users based on a survey composed of questions designed specifically for each school’s unique student experience and population. The algorithm takes into account other preferences indicated by users, including whether they are looking for love or friendship, according to their website.
Datamatch Cupid Annabelle Griffith-Topps emphasized Datamatch’s role in connecting students.
“Datamatch is a great, fun way to put technology to good use and foster connections,” said Griffith-Topps. “It is so fun to hear success stories, help put on events for Badgers and be able to see what goes into making and marketing an online service.”
This year’s survey was sent out on Feb. 7, and students had one week to complete it. The questions were mostly humorous and satirical in nature, with topics related to campus life such as “Who’s inside the Bucky costume?” and “What should replace the Statue of Liberty head on Mendota?”
According to Datamatch’s Head Cupid at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Caelan Kleinhans, over 7,700 students signed up for the survey — more than one in 10 Badgers signing up to participate.
“They fill out a survey and then they can also add in some preferences on what types of people they want to be matched with and how serious they are about looking for someone to get to know, whether it’s just friends or if they’re looking for something more than friends,” Kleinhans said.
On Valentine’s Day, the survey closed and users opened the website to find around 10 other users who the algorithm matched them with. If both users were interested in meeting or getting to know the other, they hit the “Match” button to express interest. Mutual matches could then start chatting and set up a date with each other.
Matches can take advantage of the deals Datamatch sponsors offered during the week. FreshFin Poke had a buy one, get one free poke bowl offer on Feb. 16 for those who scheduled a date with their match. In addition, the Datamatch team gave away free Ian’s Pizza gift cards, coupons and exclusive Datamatch merchandise throughout the week.
The Datamatch team also offered various events to all UW-Madison students, including a Game Night with the Wisconsin Union Directorate Games, free skating at the Shell and a show by Manhole Sketch Comedy. Their final event was Datamatch Prom, where students came together with their friends and matches to dance and enjoy free snacks and drinks at Memorial Union.
Event Coordinator and Cupid Johanna Mejias said the idea for prom stemmed from their goal of providing more fun activities for matches and friends.
“The goal was to create more spaces for people to go out and do things even if it’s not a date,” Mejias said.
“The core mission of Datamatch is to just try to get college kids to meet and interact with each other and have a good time. So we think hosting these big events that are open to all students is a really great way to do that on top of just having them get matched with people,” Kleinhans added.