Dating site links students, but ‘flirts’ fall short of dates

According to the photos uploaded on YaleStation’s Dating Web site, Yale students are drunk people, people wearing silly hats, humorous animals, babies, or celebrities ranging from Lucy Liu to Bing Crosby.

Since the Web site’s debut on Feb. 12, over two-thirds of Yale undergraduates have registered on the site, far exceeding expectations. Many users have posted photos and taken the time to craft thorough profiles. But most students — even those who have used the site to find dates — say they do not take it seriously.

Yale College Council President Elliott Mogul ’05 said even he was surprised by the level of interest, and attributed the Web site’s success to its constant updates and additions of new features. Mogul said he was especially impressed by the campus response to the newest feature, “flirts.” Mogul said students sent 1,000 flirts the same day the feature debuted.

“Wherever I go, people are just talking about it independently,” Mogul said.

While it is fun to check compatibility with friends and roommates, the profiles are the most interesting aspect of the site for many students. But the YCC was originally concerned about the success of the profiles.

“We were afraid that people wouldn’t want to reveal too much about themselves,” Mogul said.

But many students practically publish autobiographies in 5,000 characters or less. More than 50 percent of respondents have uploaded photos, YaleStation founder Alexander Clark ’04 said. Clark said the students’ dedication to their profiles has been “amusing.”

“It has been surprising that a lot of people have really gotten into this, but I think that’s great.” Clark said. “It shows there has been a desire to have a service like this at Yale.”

Many students said they did not design their profiles for YaleStation. Alexander Remington ’06 said he created his for Friendster originally, and then simply copied and pasted. Angelique Pillar ’07 said she did not know what to put on her profile, so she copied and pasted her responses to an e-mail survey. And Noah Cooper ’05 — whose profile includes his height, weight, nationality, hobbies, likes and yet more information — said he copied and pasted the information from the “About Me” section of his Web site, the link for which is also provided.

Even these three students, whose profiles are more extensive than most, said they do not take YaleStation seriously. Pillar called it the “in” thing to do, and Cooper said he found it a good way to “waste a little time,” but did not expect anything from it. Remington said his profile was largely a joke.

“I wouldn’t say that any of it is completely untrue, but I was certainly being facetious,” Remington said. “I don’t really expect that many people will actually read it.”

Spencer DeSanto ’06, who posted a baby photo of himself, said he has enjoyed toying with his profile. But other jokes of his have not worked out as well. When he first signed up for the site, the heterosexual DeSanto said he chose “interested in both men and women” just to see who came up on his matches. Soon, though, he received e-mails from two gay men he knew inquiring if he was available.

Even students who do use the site for actual dating purposes still see it largely as an amusement. Al Jiwa ’06, who said the photo of he posted himself at the Model UN Conference was the only photo on his computer, jokingly asked in his profile, “Can it be so hard to find a nice girl on this campus?”

Evidently not. Jiwa had a crush match — he put her on his crush list and she put him on hers — with a girl he already knew, and the two have since gone out once. Jiwa insisted he does not take the dating network seriously.

“It’s been more fun than anything else at this point,” Jiwa said. “YaleStation is just a fun thing.”

The YCC plans to continually update the site in an effort to keep it new and interesting. Clark said he was excited about the site’s latest development, a visualization of the social networks students have registered. A party invite feature is also in the works, Clark said.

One thing the YCC does not plan on changing is the site’s method of judging compatibility, which YCC members insist is absolutely unbiased and fair. Confronted with the rumors that he has arranged the Web site to up his compatibility with Yale females, Mogul — who, incidentally, is listed as single — denied any wrongdoing.

“I’m just a very compatible person, I get a long very well with people,” Mogul said. “I absolutely, vehemently deny that anything is fixed.”

Clark — “not available” — said he hopes students continued to use the site to meet new people.

“Yale College as a whole doen’t really date, and it’s perhaps just because we haven’t had a mechanism to make it easy enough,” Clark said.

With spring break coming up, the YCC expects a lull in usage of the site, but is happy with the impact the site has made so far.

“I don’t think this is something that will easily go away,” Mogul said. “But it might cool down a bit — hopefully, for academics’ sake.”

The creators and users of YaleStation’s Dating Web site hope the service be able to utilize the latest Internet technology to bring students together. The service made its debut on Feb. 12.
Yusef Syed
The creators and users of YaleStation’s Dating Web site hope the service be able to utilize the latest Internet technology to bring students together. The service made its debut on Feb. 12.

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