This Valentine’s Day, Yalies will have no shortage of options when it comes to looking for love. The creators of YPost, a messaging platform that became popular over winter break, have created Ship, Yale’s own throwback to middle school “ship” accounts.
Ship allows users to select up to five pairs, or ships, of Yalies. From there, an email is sent to each member of the couple, notifying them of their ship and displaying information about the other person, which is optional for users to fill out when signing up. Users who do not sign up will not have personal information on the site, though their email will be provided to their match. The pair is also unable to see who shipped them. The couple is placed on a leaderboard, where other users will be able to vote on and support certain matches, moving them up the leaderboard. The site launched on Thursday night.
Kevin Zhang ’24, one of the creators of Ship, clarified that the leaderboard was not created for the purpose of competition, as he does not want to facilitate any toxicity. He said it was created to allow users to check up on what matches their friends have.
“This is kind of our first official project together as a team,” Zhang told the News. “The thesis around our club or products-to-do is that we want to create … fun social consumer products. But then we always want the product to have some sort of deeper meaning.”
Alicia Kacharia ’22, another one of the creators, explained that having added an interactive element of a third person makes the platform more entertaining, which was the goal of the project. She hopes the Ship “will create conversation and happiness across the Yale community.” Kacharia and Zhang also confirmed that users are able to ship themselves with other Yalies anonymously.
The club, now called Opus, consists of Zhang and Kacharia, along with Max Yuan ’23, Julia Zheng ’23 and Annie Yan ’24. Zhang, Yuan and Zheng worked together in the past to develop YPost. Yan is also a production and design editor at the News. After the success of their last project, the team looked toward the next holiday, which was Valentine’s Day.
“In our brainstorming process, we were really looking for creative ideas focused on connection and, perhaps, brought a bit of fun and chaos to Valentine’s Day,” Zheng wrote to the News. “Eventually, we settled on Ship.”
After about a month of brainstorming, the team began to work on Ship at the end of January and after about two weeks, it was released to the Yale community.
Although it is being released at a similar time as the annual Datamatch, Ship stands out by putting the power of matchmaking in the user’s hands. In addition to a lack of an algorithm pairing people up, interactions across the platform go beyond just the couple in question as it introduces the idea of a “shipper” who matches people together and votes on the leaderboard.
“To be honest, I don’t really believe in … whatever algorithm they have,” Zhang said. “I know, there’s a ‘36 Questions of Love,’ famously put in The New York Times … UChicago has studies on these things … I know algorithms are super, super good, but I’m not sure if that actually applies to personal chemistry.”
Ship captured the attention of many Yalies through its engaging Instagram posts, which students like Abhi Srinivas ’21 and Hank Graham ’24 found funny.
Colorful graphics with cheeky messages, like “I ship Kate Krier and my weekend plans,” caught their attention, and Srinivas even began tagging his friends in the comment sections.
“I … saw their Instagram posts. They’re kind of funny, and so I tagged my suitemate who is in destitute sadness most of the day out of loneliness,” Srinivas said. “I want to get my suitemate a girlfriend.”
While Graham was excited to use it as an opportunity to bond with friends like he had done with YPost before, Srinivas noted that Ship’s connection to YPost might be a concern for some.
After launching YPost in December, the team did face some backlash when it came to privacy. Daniel Zhao ’21, who is also a digital editor at the News, took to Twitter to point out the platform’s biggest flaw. Zhao tweeted about how the anonymity and lack of authentication meant that users could “send harmful or threatening messages” with possibly no consequences, and how the platform’s autofill textbox could be used “to essentially extract a list of all Yale students.”
Because of this, the Ship team included increased privacy measures, including a CAS login to authenticate all users before they are able to access the platform and ship other Yalies. They also included a privacy mode which removes users from the leaderboard and limits some of the platform’s features should a user choose to remain private.
“There’s a global privacy toggle,” Zhang said. “If you change yourself to private setting … you’ll still be able to vote on [ships], but all your ships on the global feed will disappear, so other couples that have you in it will disappear. We thought it would also be fair to also disable your ability to send ships.”
As of 10 p.m. Thursday night, the site has around 2,000 users.
Adam Levine | email@example.com