Holed up in dusty libraries (or more recently childhood bedrooms), a little socially awkward and excessively dependent on the anonymity afforded by Oxlove, Oxford students are frequently characterised by their enduring loneliness.

Whether this is a fair judgement or not, the sheer volume of online matching services that have come and gone in Oxford suggests that the market for social connection is an attractive one for many. Loneliness is big business. 

Hoping to make their mark in this (rather saturated) market is OxMatch, who describe themselves as “a student initiative aimed at bringing students closer together”. Their survey, which has been floating about Facebook feeds for a few weeks now, asks questions on subjects ranging from “crewdates to ethical dilemmas” to provide you with a “stable match”. With so many of these services out there, we decided to ask some questions of our own so that you can decide whether OxMatch is a match for you. 

What makes the OxMatch survey so different to those which have come before it?

OxMatch attempts to solve the stable marriage problem. The stable marriage problem is essentially that if there is a group of individuals and that they are paired, that their pairing is the ‘most compatible’ one available, and that they would not want to swap them with anyone else. OxMatch uses a Nobel-Prize winning algorithm to take into account respondents’ answers and match them with someone that is determined to be their best match. The beauty of OxMatch is that what happens after you get your match is entirely up to you. We aren’t promising you a relationship. We are promising to give you someone that we know you have something in common with and hope that you at least send them a message! In a time that is marked by loneliness and longing for a return to normalcy, we hope that OxMatch can help you find a new friend or something more! 

Our survey probably isn’t all that different conceptually from others that have been released except that we have considerably more questions than other surveys, are using algorithmic matching and we already have over 700 matches so the chance of meeting someone completely new is high!

Is OxMatch primarily targeted at those seeking romantic love or those simply wanting to build ‘meaningful connections’ ?

OxMatch is primarily geared towards those finding romantic love, although you can specify if you want just a friend or ‘something more’. Roughly 80% of respondents so far want a romantic connection so that tends to be the primary need. But! We can’t promise that you and your match will end up falling in love and that isn’t entirely the intention! We hope you at least talk to them, become friends…or maybe something more.

From your website, it’s clear that the survey prides itself on its eclectic range of questions. How did you go about developing them and ensuring their efficacy?

We really wanted to cover as wide a net as possible in the types of questions we ask. People are hard to figure out. That’s why we tried to ask a variety of questions aimed at different aspects of Oxford life to try to craft a ‘profile’ of each respondent to get a quick and simple sense of what they are like and their general ‘vibe’. We started off with a list of well over a hundred or so questions, ranging from fairly simple compatibility based questions to much more Oxford specific ones. We made a decision early on to focus much more on Oxford life then you’d normally find in projects like this as we really wanted the survey to be fun in and of itself. 

Many students thinking of completing the survey will be concerned about how their data will be used and potentially profited from. Just how secure is participants’ data? 

 The specific details are all in our privacy policy (here), but the basic facts are this:

  • We aren’t going to give your personal data to third parties (except when we send your name to your match)
  • You can email us at any time to ask to have your data removed (but if you do you won’t get an oxmatch)
  • The data is being stored on a secure Google Drive
  • The questions about dating apps are purely to help us with the dating app we’re making, which will also be free for Oxford students to use

If anyone has any more specific questions, they are of course welcome to get in touch with us at any time at [email protected] .

Is OxMatch a profit making initiative and how is it currently being supported?

We don’t intend to make any profit from the Oxmatch survey: we’re just curious to see what happens, how far we can get, and whether Oxford students are interested in what we’re offering. So far, by the way, we’ve been blown away by how enthusiastic everyone has been. We are looking into a way of incentivising sign ups through a charity drive but this idea is still in development. 

All the members of our team are interested in start up projects, and the easiest way to get experience in them is just to attempt to do it yourself. Incidentally, if you’re reading this and you’re interested in getting involved, we’d love to hear from you. 

The survey is not OxMatch’s only or first project. What can students expect from the Oxford based dating app you’ve been developing?

OxMatch’s primary initiative is a dating app coming out in Michaelmas 2020. We started this project because from our own personal experiences and understanding of others, we felt that dating apps tended to be incredibly superficial and that many rarely met their matches. In Oxford, it is easy to get into a routine. The terms are incredibly short and those 8 weeks go by incredibly fast. We felt we wanted a way to meet new people and make the most of the opportunities around us. In Oxford we are surrounded by incredible people and places. So we wanted to combine the two. We created an app that is geared towards finding you people that like the same places you do, so that when you match, you already have something in common. and have a starting point to go and meet them.

We hope to release more detailed information about the app after OxMatch is completed, and as we approach the proposed launch date in Michaelmas 2020.

Breeha Mazhar

Breeha Mazhar is a third year English Language and Literature student at Lady Margaret Hall. Formerly Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Blue and Senior Lifestyle and Columns Editor, she now covers food, consumer culture and literary fiction and non-fiction writing.