It is unclear to me why the College would want to advertise the existence of EphMatch on its home page, but advertise it does, with a link to the Record article on the topic. Of course, dating “problems” at Williams have been a topic of conversation for almost 30 years, at least intra-Eph. It is hard to believe that, even with the latest wonders of modern technology, young Ephs won’t be complaining about the dating scene 30 years from now.

For those not on-campus, the basic story is a simple one.

The website computes compatibility percentages between Williams students based on answers to a wide range of over three-dozen multiple-choice questions. The questions ask the user about personal preferences on topics such as musical tastes, drug usage, sexual orientation, romantic inclination and partying style.

The Record trumpets that a majority of students on campus have “signed up” for the service, but this is almost certainly more of a Winter Study lark than anything else.

The Boston Globe has an article, “For Dateless on Campus Idea Clicks,” on EphMatch here.

In all his time on this elite campus, Williams College senior Drew Newman had never had a girlfriend. He and most everyone he knew complained constantly that no one here actually dates. So Newman, an earnest 22-year-old concentrating in leadership studies, went trolling for ideas on how to spice up the social scene. He stumbled on a website designed to match up compatible students, created as a lark by two undergraduates in Connecticut.

Of course, the Globe goes on to note that almost no actual dates seem to have been generated by the service.

The system, powered by a sophisticated computer algorithm, has begun to attract attention from other schools. Its creators, two students at Wesleyan University, are in licensing talks with student groups at other schools ranging from Boston College to the University of Southern California.

But Newman and the campus entertainment group he heads, which is paying $1,000 to license the website for a semester, still have a problem: Nobody at Williams seems to be actually dating.

Comments:

1) Having seen these sorts of algorithms designed from the inside, I would bet that it is probably trivial, no more than a weighted measure of Euclidean distances on the different questions.

2) $1,000 seem a bit much for something that WSO could put together pretty quickly, much less for something that is turning out to be little more than a parlor game. How big is ACE’s budget, anyway?

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