News Release

Update: September 2004

Yale College Council Bestows Upon WesMatch Sincerest Form of Flattery

Student Government Confuses Wit, Creativity With Copying-and-Pasting

March 30, 2004 — In a bold demonstration of originality, common decency and respect for federal copyright law, Yale College Council members have copied a substantial portion of WesMatch without permission and released it to the Yale community as their own creation. WesMatch, a compatibility matching service created at Wesleyan University in April, 2002, has served over 5,300 students at Wesleyan and Williams College and will soon be launching licensed member sites at Colby, Bowdoin and Oberlin Colleges.

Side-by-side Comparison The YaleStation Degrees website, which launched under the name YaleStation Blue Room Dating on Friday, February 13, 2004, features 16 multiple-choice questions copied nearly or literally verbatim from WesMatch as well as 10 others with modified answers, numerous similar site features, HTML and JavaScript code lifted directly from WesMatch, and an identical questionnaire design.

A week earlier, WesMatch creators had provided a demo login for to Yale College Council President Elliott Mogul ’05, an Ethics, Politics, and Economics major, who had suggested that the YCC was potentially interested in partnering with WesMatch on a compatibility site for Yale. The WesMatch creators did not hear back from Mogul.

“Plans for a campus-wide survey have been discussed for the past few years, but it was only last week that those plans came to fruition,” said YaleStation creator Alexander Clark ’04 in the Feb. 16 Yale Daily News.

WesMatch site programmer Dan Stillman ’04 expressed relief that the Yale site so closely mirrored his own work: “I had always been a little unsure about the color scheme I chose for the questionnaire, but when I saw that they didn't even bother to change the colors when they copied over the code, it really set me at ease.”

YCC members did make a number of valuable contributions of their own to the site, changing the “Leadership” answer “Doug Bennet calls me for favors” to “Levin calls me for favors,” the phrase “Slow down, tiger” to “Not so fast there, tiger,” and the question title “Tolerance for Fools” to “Tolerance of Fools.” They also improved the accuracy of the site by adding a number of questions relevant to compatibility, including “Celebrity Promiscuity,” “Super Bowl Moment,” and a question asking users to select their favorite Ninja Turtle.

“[The YCC and Yale Student Activities Committee members all] pitched in and created something I think is really great,” said Mogul in the Feb. 16 Yale Daily News. While the WesMatch team agreed that most of the site is really great, they attributed the site's success instead to the two years of work they had put into WesMatch before the YCC stole it and passed it off as its own.

“I don't think this is something that will easily go away,” said Mogul in the Feb. 27 Yale Daily News. The WesMatch creators were slightly less sure about the site's staying power, suggesting that the cease and desist letter on its way to Yale officials might result in a somewhat different outcome.


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Update: In September 2004, the WesMatch creators settled out-of-court with former YCC President Elliott Mogul and YaleStation Degrees programmer Alexander Clark in a “settlement of undisputed claims.”