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A ‘Universal Harvard Experience’: Students Seek Love and Laughter Through Datamatch

Following Datamatch's annual re-launch Wednesday, thousands of Harvard students began to upload information into the student-run online matchmaking service.
Following Datamatch's annual re-launch Wednesday, thousands of Harvard students began to upload information into the student-run online matchmaking service. By Jade Xiao
By Natalie K Bandura and Azusa M. Lippit, Crimson Staff Writers

As Tyler J. Shelton ’26 edited his Datamatch profile during a break while working out, he felt a mixture of unease about the possibility of being seen on the website and excitement about receiving his matches.

“I’m just having fun, why the hell not?” Shelton said. “I think that's kind of everyone's vibe, where it’s like, ‘Oh, no, I just want to do it because it's funny,’ but secretly it’s like that Steve Harvey meme where you’re laughing but then inside you’re like, ‘But what if?’”

Following Datamatch’s annual re-launch Wednesday, thousands of Harvard students began to upload photos and input their zodiac signs and Myers-Briggs personality types into the student-run online matchmaking service.

Founded by Harvard students in 1994, Datamatch — which 4,300 Harvard undergraduates used last year — matches compatible students together through a “top secret” algorithm based on a multiple-choice survey. The organization subsequently sponsors free dates at Harvard Square businesses such as Amorino Gelato, Playa Bowls, and Kung Fu Tea.

Students can create their profiles during the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, when matches are released.

“Something that really excites me about Datamatch is its potential to connect people, and also bring people together in a way that might have been difficult in the past or might give people courage to reach out to others,” said Nadine Han ’25, a co-president of Datamatch. “So I’m really hoping that that kind of magic still applies this year when people use the website.”

This year, new features were added to the website, including the ability to add up to three profile photos, a preference option that lets users restrict the House and age group of their matches, and a “search match” feature, where users can search for additional matches following survey results, and have their identities revealed only if the search is reciprocated.

The comically written survey — which is different every year — featured questions including what your “Roman Empire” is, what you would consider the most accurate sign of the current state of the economy, and your crush’s beige flag.

The Datamatch web team also updated their theme to introduce more color and lean into the pixelated video game concept from last year’s website. Several students responded positively to the thematic redesign.

“They had this kind of cool pixelated effect, like little clouds and there were little cupids that were bouncing around,” said Arielle C. Frommer ’25, a Crimson Arts editor. “I just thought it was really cute and creative and better than last year’s.”

Although the questions may seem random, Robyn M. Boyland ’26 feels that the results of the algorithm have been accurate in the past.

“I got matched with someone who’s pretty much exactly like me, and then I realized I did not like that,” Boyland said.

Some students expressed skepticism about the algorithm’s ability to match compatible students together.

Maranatha Paul ’26-27 said the survey questions “feel extremely arbitrary” and may prevent students from taking their matches seriously.

“I feel like if the app took itself more seriously, then people on the app would be like, ‘Oh, this is an actual match that could happen, this person actually seems pretty cool,’ more than just a funny little bit,” Paul said.

Lillian J. Krcmar ’25-26 said she has “never really interacted” with Datamatch because she is not looking for a relationship and feels that it would not be an authentic way to find new friends.

“I think most of the questions seem geared towards finding one person that you really connect with, and I’ve always associated that with dating people,” Krcmar said. “I guess it can apply to friendships, too, but when I think of friendships, I think of more of a community or a group of people.”

“I think Datamatch is cool, but I don’t use it,” Krcmar added.

Maya I. Peña-Lobel ’24, however, said she appreciates the humor of Datamatch and feels that filling it out is a “really fun universal Harvard experience.”

“It’s really fun to fill out the survey with your friends and come up with your bio and your profile with your friends’ help,” Peña-Lobel said. “It’s super low stakes, and it’s pretty much agreed that you just get free food out of it.”

“Although, I actually do know some people who started dating from Datamatch — that’s real,” she added.

One particularly popular Datamatch feature is Crush Roulette, through which users can submit two names in order to increase their chances of being matched together.

Last year, five of Fraz Javed ’26’s friends all entered him into the Crush Roulette with the same girl that he had a crush on at the time, but he was not matched with her.

“Maybe it was insanely incompatible, but the questionnaire is random. I didn’t take it seriously,” Javed said.

“Maybe I got blocked by the girl,” he added.

Han said she encourages students to take advantage of Datamatch as a casual, low-pressure way to step out of their social comfort zone.

“In the worst-case scenario, nothing happens, and hopefully you just forget about it. In the best-case scenario, some people really make lasting connections,” Han said. “So I think it’s really worth a shot.”

—Staff writer Natalie K Bandura can be reached at natalie.bandura@thecrimson.com.

—Staff writer Azusa M. Lippit can be reached at azusa.lippit@thecrimson.com. Follow her on X @azusalippit or on Threads @azusalippit.

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