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Online Match-Up Service Gets Dates for Students

By Tiffany Kosolcharoen

STAFF REPORTER

As of Feb. 14, the MIT-Harvard-Wellesley Valentine’s Match-up <http://www.mit.edu/matchup/> had attracted more than 1,553 MIT undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni to sign up in the free, non-commercial online matchmaking service.

With more than 15 percent of current MIT students registered, the site has become the largest matchmaking service ever at any of the three universities. Students entered data such as height, age, major, body build, hobbies, and even their definitions of “romantic” in exchange for an e-mail listing of their top twenty matches.

Because of the success of the program, the site is holding a second match-up for all who submit their profiles by midnight on Feb. 20.

Better selection criteria preferred

“Overall, the service was good because it was free, but a good number of the girls I was matched with were way older than me,” said Adam C. Powell ’06. “I got matched with 25-year-olds. ... Age should definitely play a higher role in the matchmaking program.”

Powell also recommended that users be given the ability to enter their instant messaging screennames.

Ajit Dash G said, “I thought they did a really good job in matching people on pen and paper. I would like to see photographs of the people I was matched with, especially for people who have reservations about age and ethnicity.”

“What if I wanted to meet a woman who doesn’t like Moulin Rouge?” said another graduate student. “It would be more realistic if the criteria were vague, and I could select both Citizen Kane and Forest Gump as movies I liked. The form should allow [users] to specify the age range and preferences they look for” in their match.

MIT alum founded site

“I created the site for the MIT community, especially the graduate students,” said MIT alumnus Jonathan G. Monsarrat ’89. “They tend to stick to their one department, are older, and may need more help.”

Monsarrat, who holds a Course IV (Architecture) degree and received an MBA from Sloan in 2000, spent 30 hours coding the Perl script to create the algorithm for the site and an additional 100 hours advertising and providing customer support for the site.

“I mailed flyers, walked through the halls of the MIT Sloan School of Business, Harvard School of Business, and the Wellesley campus, and contacted 20 student groups to hang posters,” Monsarrat said.

Matchmaking service safe

The site is intended for people over the age of 18 and carries the disclaimer, “Use at your own risk,” Monsarrat said. “There is a stigma about online dating that it is scary because stalkers work on the Internet. This site is only open to people with MIT, Harvard, or Wellesley e-mail addresses, so you are making contact with people who really are from these colleges.”

Obstacles overcome in match-up

“You can’t tell much from a profile that answers the question, ‘What’s your favorite soda?’” said Monsarrat, noting that the computerized algorithm primarily pairs up people with the same ages, drug use preferences, and religion.

“People need to make an effort to meet their contacts,” Monsarrat added. “What shocks me is that a student receives a list of twenty e-mails, and doesn’t e-mail any of them. Don’t be lame.”

Match-up service a success

“I feel incredibly lucky for the success of the Web site, because I never expected that it would impact 20 percent of the MIT community. I just like making people happy,” Monsarrat said. “I personally found some interesting matches online, too.”

Dash said he looks forward to meeting one of his new contacts, and added, “I probably wouldn’t fire twenty shots at once. I want to take it slowly, and to get to know the woman beyond a superficial level.”