Arts, On Campus

‘The New England Classic’ Revives Datamatch

The annual commencement of Valentine’s Day brings with it a resurgence of The New England Classic’s Datamatch survey, a 20-minute poll rife with BC-specific witticisms that will generate a list of matches for love-searching test takers. 

“The results are based on how funny you are or how funny you think you are,” Peter Zogby, editor-in-chief of The Classic and MCAS ’21, said. “And that is already the best way to meet people and is obviously a great way to have a connection with somebody.”

Zogby has been involved with the Datamatch project since 2019, when the satirical newspaper met its match: the Harvard Computer Society (HCS), armed with its trademarked “Algorithm.” After the HCS invited The Classic to design and market the service, the pairing launched the first Datamatch survey for BC students that February, a questionnaire brimming with 20 questions that were designed to match students based on their sense of humor. During its first year, 1,572 BC students completed the survey

Although The Classic is rooted in nonsensical humor, Zogby said his team approaches creating the Datamatch survey with the goal of bringing BC students together. The Classic puts its own twist on matchmaking questions, constructing them as “hyper-BC-specific” and an extension of The Classic’s comedy brand—which Zogby classifies as “purposefully absurd.”

“It’s very much about speaking to the entire BC experience,” Zogby said. “So it’s not just Father Leahy and grass and the Plex. It’s about the way students treat each other, the way students interact with each other. The strange, sort of, fads and fantasies and myths and legends that make up being a Boston College student.”

Although this year there were other matchmaking surveys on the BC market—including The BC Marriage Pact and the Campus Activity Board’s Valentine’s Day Matchmaker— Zogby said The Classic’s approach to matchmaking is designed to foster genuine connections since people are paired based on their sense of humor. 

This year, Datamatch has expanded its reach to 33 colleges across the U.S., including other Boston-area colleges like Harvard University, Boston University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. When setting up a profile, users can personalize their bios by linking their Spotify accounts, along with their Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat handles to easily connect with their matches.

A new feature Datamatch offers this year is Crush Roulette. After signing up, users can play cupid by submitting the emails of two students who signed up for the service. The Algorithm will then boost the names of these students to the top of their matches, pairing them as romantic interests or friends. 

“You can only do it one time so you have to pick very carefully. But, if there are two kids you’ve had your eyes on or two kids that you hate very much, you can ask Datamatch to put them together,” Zogby said. 

While the COVID-19 pandemic has forced students to narrow their social circles, Zogby said their Datamatch quiz is an essential tool for students to feel connected to the BC community. 

“People really just want connection right now, and they want friends, and they want a reason to be outside their bubble which is exactly what this offers,” Zogby said.

Thomas Flanagan, copy editor for The Classic and MCAS ’22, said Datamatch is one of the newspaper’s biggest projects of the year. Although many students opt in to the Datamatch for its entertaining questions, Flanagan said, users should be open to the relationships the survey fosters.

“You might be skeptical of it at first, but just reading the questions you’re gonna have a good time,” Flanagan said. “And perhaps on the day of, you might get matched with someone, or a few people that you really like. …. And, you know in view of how kind of diminished our interactions have been, it’s a way of connecting with people and getting back to that.”

Behind the survey design process, 28 members of The Classic composed the list of questions that reaches over a thousand BC students. Last year, 1,480 BC students participated in the questionnaire, according to the Datamatch team—the eighth highest participation rate out of 29 schools. Zogby said, they’re on track to match or even break those numbers this year by the time the survey closes on Feb. 14. 

“We’re always proud of the response we get genuinely, and we’re proud of the engagement that it stimulates. And we’re also proud of the, hopefully, physical affection that it stimulates,” Zogby said.

Graphic Courtesy of The New England Classic

February 13, 2021

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