A year after its initial launch at McMaster, the Aphrodite Project returns with updated changes
In 2021, an initiative known as the Aphrodite Project was introduced to McMaster University as a way of fostering community by helping students match with a potential romantic partner or platonic friend. Students would answer a number of questions and an algorithm would match them based on their responses.
The project has returned to McMaster on Jan. 24, 2022.
Maya Bozzo-Rey, the lead project manager at McMaster who is also a second-year honours biology student, explained that the project has become rather well known within the McMaster community. Many students have inquired about its return on Reddit and other similar platforms and Bozzo-Rey believes that the project adds a layer of community.
“It just adds a sense of community, especially now, because we’re all at home and online and it’s hard to meet new people, so it’s just nice to even find a friend,” said Bozzo-Rey.
Last year, the algorithm that is claimed to be used has been critiqued heavily by many as the type to heavily favour one sex as opposed to the other.
However, Bozzo-Rey said that the project has come quite far since last year. Even if last year had not turned out how one would’ve wanted, this year could go better.
Angelina Zhang, a second-year honours sensory-motors student, shared her own experiences with the Aphrodite Project. She participated last year and was paired with someone who she is now friends with. She had gone in hoping to have a romantic match, but explained that the friendship she gained was just as nice.
Zhang shared that the project’s questionnaire section about what personal beliefs mattered to her the most made her need to step back and evaluate. She shared how these kinds of questions aren’t as common on more popular dating apps that have traditionally prioritized physical attributes.
“There are a lot of questions that ask you about your values, like what aspects of life you value the most. I think that’s a pretty interesting choice of questions because I feel like when we actually assess our relationships in real life, we don’t always think about that a lot,” said Zhang.
Between the previous and current year there have been updates to the Aphrodite project interface. One key change is the profile section on the page. Students can now add a profile photo and information that would be emailed to matches can now all be seen on their profile page.
Jessica Cui, a member of the marketing and communications team for the project and second-year student at Waterloo University, explained that this was meant to make the site a little more interactive.
“I think overall, we want to make it more interactive and so you can know a little bit more about your match before you speak with them. So, like adding a picture, I think it shows more personality and then maybe even a conversation starter,” said Cui.
As someone who opted to participate once again in the Aphrodite project, Zhang talked about her thoughts regarding the new additions to the interface.
She isn’t sure if the addition of a profile picture is absolutely necessary, considering that to her the main strength of this project was the questions themselves. She wonders if biases may present themselves because of this, stopping a potentially great match from occurring.
Finally, she discussed that, to her, it’s hard to really say if the McMaster community is brought together for the best when looking at this project. She says that, at the end of the day, it is simply more dependent on who one is matched with.
“I would say it depends on who you are matched up with, I guess . . . I think it’s pretty cool if you get matched up with someone that you kind of vibe with . . . It’s like even if you don’t end up dating them, you feel like you gained a new friend. However, I know that some people did not have a super great experience with their match for different reasons,” said Zhang.
Overall, students at McMaster, like Zhang, find themselves with the option to try and see if this project is what they need to form connections. As the years continue, it will be interesting to see how projects like the Aphrodite Project pan out and if they will continue to garner the same level of student interest annually.