Looking to add a dash of comedy to your Valentine’s Day? Maybe with a side of frips? Get ready, because the New England Classic (NEC) is ready to make hearts melt like panini sandwiches with their Datamatch Valentine’s Day survey. Whether you are looking for your future partner or for new friends, the quiz results have something to offer every participant.
The survey was originally started by the Harvard Computer Society in 1994. Last year, Harvard reached out to the New England Classic asking if they would like to expand the survey to BC’s campus. In 2019, there were 14 colleges that took part in the survey, and now more than 20 colleges are writing their own Datamatch questions.
Datamatch was so successful at BC last year—bringing in 1,572 users—that NEC is continuing the survey this year complete with new features for participants to enjoy. Due to the high turnout last February, Harvard has given NEC much freedom in terms of how they compose their questions (although Harvard will still look over a final draft).
“I don’t think they were expecting the response to be as great as it was,” Ray Cai, MCAS ’22 and staff writer for the New England Classic, says.
Harvard provides the program’s algorithm, which aligns students based on their different responses to humorous and BC-specific questions written by members of the New England Classic; namely, Shea Rulon, CSOM ‘20 and NEC Marketing and Business Director, as well as Peter Zogby, MCAS ‘21 and NEC Managing Editor.
“[Harvard has] the framework done and the coding,” Zogby says, “and we write the questions and tailor [the survey] as much as we can and then pub it nonstop.”
In order to fill out the survey, one enters his or her BC email address in order to be matched with others on campus. Additional preliminary questions include where you live on campus, your gender, and the gender(s) you are interested in being matched with. Students can choose if they are looking for a romantic or platonic pairing. They also have the option of uploading a picture for their profile.
This year, Datamatch was released on February 7, and students will have until February 14 to register and answer questions. At 7 a.m. on February 14 the matches will be revealed. Each person receives ten matches, and the top three are mutual. For those who anticipated singlehood this Valentine’s Day, Datamatch provides something to look forward to.
When it comes to writing the actual questions for the survey, NEC approaches them in a similar way to their well-known satirical articles.
“We try to think of that thing in the back of your head about BC that you don’t realize is funny until you spin it the right way,” Rulon explains.
Zogby goes on to say they write the questions in a rhythmic way: “With the multiple-choice format there’s a new way to write jokes and it’s really fun because there is a lot of versatility in how we put different spins on them.”
Five different spins, to be exact––one for each of the five answers per question. They arranged the responses in a pattern, beginning with two somewhat reasonable answers, then a wacky response followed by one that dials the question back a notch, and ending with a silly answer again.
“You have to hit every way that people could read into the joke,” Zogby says, outlining the method.
While humorous, NEC also formulates answers in a way that allows them to be tied to personality traits.
“[The answers] are all funny in a different way. It’s a cool way to do it, through a humor magazine, because we know how to do things like this,” Rulon says.
The New England Classic has been writing jokes and producing articles for 12 years, so they are very well-versed in the art of comedic writing, making them a great group for Datamatch to reach out to.
“The headline is the big joke but we also put a lot of work into the content that goes into the body of the article,” Zogby says, describing the material that NEC regularly produces.
Datamatch has changed in several significant ways since its debut at BC. Last year, BC students could be matched with people from Wellesley, MIT, and other schools, but this year they decided to keep the matches within BC. Not only do the survey jokes resonate more among BC students, but participants are more likely to act on their matches if results are kept internal. The new chat feature of the survey is also aimed at encouraging students to reach out to their matches and strike up a conversation in order to connect students who responded to the survey in a similar way.
“It is a fun conversation starter because the survey itself is so funny,” Rulon states, adding, “this is the humor that’s been working for us. No one is taking it fully seriously.”
Rulon and Zogby say that their aim first and foremost is to make the survey entertaining and inclusive to the BC community. If people meet their future boyfriends or girlfriends through the survey, then that is an added bonus, but not the primary goal.
“I think that will make people more likely to do something [with their matches] even if it’s just sending them ‘lmao’ or something,” Rulon muses, “It makes it a little more fun so you can at least talk about the questions.”
The Datamatch survey is one way that NEC is working to incorporate more public events that allow them to engage with the public. Posting in Facebook groups, as they did for the survey, is very different from the way in which NEC typically conducts outreach because it means reaching out to people in order to gain participation as opposed to just posting their content. NEC’s Instagram posts usually engage a large audience, for example, but only their real fans click beyond the headlines to read articles.
“It’s fun for us too because it’s a way for us to knock down the barrier of anonymity between the Classic and everyone else,” Zogby expresses.
This year, the New England Classic’s Datamatch is partnering with Rubberhub and Students for Sexual Health. At the end of the Datamatch survey, students have the option of whether or not they want to sign up for Rubberhub.
“‘[The survey is] the kind of thing that has staying power more than a headline or article does,” Rulon reveals, “a headline can be really good and can be talked about for a week or something but Datamatch extends the whole joke even longer.”
To take part, visit the Datamatch website to sign up and complete the form. If you’ve yet to register on the waiting list for a Gasson wedding, have no fear––NEC’s Datamatch survey could help you find your way to the altar, or at least provide some good laughs in the process.