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Romance.ucam.org has been making waves! Quite a lot has been written/said about us. We haven't got all of it, but here is a selection.

You can help out too....by putting up some of the latest RUO posters. Thanks a lot in advance!

"The need for speed (dating)" - The Cambridge Student 30 October 2003.

[picture] - "Fancy a quickie? Cambridge students have the chance to enjoy several dates in one evening.

HIGH ON the success of Oxford University's Speed Dating event, which brought together two students who are now engaged, Cambridge's very own Romance Society is to host their version which promises to be the solution to every student's romantic woes.

Richard Neill, organiser of this Monday's event at The Anchor pub, described his evening as "musical chairs with chemistry". it brings together 30 male and 30 female students for up to thirty dates in less than two hours by giving each person a 3 minute slot to woo a speed dater of the opposite sex. Neill explains. "After meeting every potential love, you choose one you like, and if they have chosen you too, it's a match!"

Neill, who also runs www.romance.ucam.org, an online matchmaking website for students, explained that Speed Dating will prove to be a hit in Cambridge because "it's become a countrywide phenomenon and is the perfect solution here where the collegiate system often prevents people from meeting members of the opposite sex outside their own college."

Katie Wellham, a New Hall student who took part in a pilot speed dating evening held last year, told TCS "I went along for a bit of fun considering the lack of available talent around the University and I found the entire evening surprisingly fantastic."

Depending on Monday night's success, the organisers are hoping to make Speed Dating a regular event with the possibility of an evening for gay students if the demand is there. Whether next week will witness unprecedented matches remains to be seen, but when Wellham pointed out her most romantic experience was a gentleman handing her a business card, it might take more than Speed Dating to solve the romance problems of Cambridge. - Sophie Davies and Lucy Phillips

This article was written for The Cambridge Student in Valentine's Week - February 2003.

Once upon a time, long long ago, there lived a Christian priest named Valentinus who was mercilessly imprisoned and later beheaded for refusing to surrender his religious beliefs. Or perhaps it was for performing a miracle to restore the sight of a young maiden against the will of the gods. Or perhaps it was for marrying couples against the emperor's commands.

Okay so admittedly the details are a bit sketchy but the point is that on February 14th, potential wars on Iraq aside, love will again prevail and at least Clinton Cards, Cadburys and Interflora live happily ever after.

What about the rest of us? Have you been eagerly counting the days until you can count your cards, secretly dreading the day of reckoning or rising above the hype? Perhaps we are all being reminded that Cambridge is not the most fertile ground for relationships to blossom or even take root. With any whiff of college-based intimacy diffusing through the gossip grapevine faster than a fart in a lift, there's little hope of the privacy necessary for anything meaningful to develop. Divided by our residences, our subjects and our social interests, Cindy's emerges as the sole remaining forum for adult interaction, and let's face it, if it's something more than a drunken grope in the public gaze to the curious sounds of the Cheeky Girls that you're after, this hardly fits the bill.

This is where www.romance.ucam.org steps in, Cambridge's online dating service, brought to you by a Trinitarian and a Glenfidditch-guzzling compsci. If you are brave enough to admit that university has not been the promised land of fancy-free flirting and frolicking, that you are no Casanova or Cleopatra and that you could use some help, this is the website for you. It's accessible to all Cambridge students with 684 members at present (straight, gay and bi), is quick, easy and free to join, promises discretion and one recent entry received 7 messages in her first 2 days. For those of us who have already spotted our dream partner but are lusting in anonymity, there is a mystery invitation service to the site so we can lull him/her into submission by the powers of witty webspeak, and there's even a flirtation register to reveal the partialities of potentials. For the gold-diggers amongst us, with one hopeful seeking a guest for Churchill's Spring Ball, who knows what the run-up to May Week will bring. This is a great opportunity to meet new people, success stories are certainly not unheard of, and, if all else fails, at least the tales of Migraineboy, the 4ft4 self-confessed hairy old minger, will keep you entertained.

So take a deep breath, swallow the pride and get writing.

- Hardeep Sandhu

We were cited by Mandrake and also by Postgresql in November 2002:

Romance.ucam.org (http://romance.ucam.org) is the highly successful society for single members of Cambridge University - it's fun, free, and very popular. There is also a sister society in Oxford (OxfordRomance.org.uk) which runs the same code, on the same server (a Dual PIII, 1GHz with 1.5GB RAM) located in Cambridge. To date, we have had several thousand members and over 1.4 million messages have been exchanged. We know of at least 3 engagements and one marriage!

The site was initially implemented on M$ IIS, using ASP and the Access "database" on Windows 2k. When I took over, we had outgrown this "toy" solution, and it was crashing weekly, and the database was always corrupted. After a brief dalliance with Sun's buggy Chilisoft ASP on Linux, I rewrote the site to use PHP. (Thanks a lot to asp2php for doing much of the conversion). We use PostgreSQL, Apache, and Mandrake Linux 8.2. PHP is a joy to work with, and I was amazed by the extent to which it all "just worked" out of the box. Nice one, Mandrake! Since then, the site has almost run itself - the only interruptions we get are due to power outages! An additional benefit is that we saved £1100 by not paying for Micro$oft's inferior, unstable bugware!

The "Free Software" approach is one we like - our society is very much a community based one, for which we do not charge. We are intending to expand to other Universities soon, and are currently looking for local contacts.

- Richard Neill, UK, November 2002

Varsity, 9th February, 2001, page 27 ('Outlook'), from an article entitled "No Love Lost"

14th February is the day when we commemorate the martyrdom of a third-century saint by giving each other slushy cards, and six-foot chocolate teddy bears...

...The Cambridge student-run match-making website, romance.ucam.org, was recommended to me for researching this article. I must confess to having some misgivings about the idea. I mean, when people catch me surfing the personal ads, what are the chances of them believing I am just gathering vital information for Varsity? So, I was grateful for the 'stealth mode,' which removes the telltale pink banners and other trimmings symptomatic of the wonderfully named default 'fluffy mode'. I found plenty of heart-warming headlines on there, like "Forrest Gump seeking Jenny", "Elvis seeking Priscilla", and an "entire corridor seeking eight loose females " for a "multiple/experimental" relationship. All together, aaah. At least the members of romance.ucam.org are original - there's a refreshing lack of N/S's and GSOH's or CEOs with BMWs and VCRs, probably because the people running it have provided plenty of space for each ad, rather than demanding that people tell you their life history at 50p a word...

- Rachael Luckett

This article was featured in Travisty, the Trinity student newspaper, on 15th November 2000:

Courtship in the modern age:
A Trinity Gentleman should, it is assumed, know how to court a Lady. The methods and manners of such a courtship have been laid down over centuries, and being at Trinity, one is assumed to be skilled in the Ars Amatoria. Not these days: in this modern age, one is more likely to invite the object of one's affections to Gardies, than to Midsummer Common. This simply will not do. Romance in Cambridge is Dead, and everyone knows that, when it comes to Love, Cambridge is as much a desert as anywhere in the world. Varsity bewail this so often it hurts, but they aren't the only ones, and for once, they are right.

So, what to do? How should one improve the chances of meeting one's true love, add some fun, excitement, and a little mystery back into Romance, and do it all without resorting to the Rag Blind date in desperation...

Well, two undergraduates, Richard and John, in an unlikely alliance between Trinity and St John's (!) have the answer. It is called Romance.ucam.org, and we believe that it is the best chance to meet a partner in Cambridge. It is anonymous (until you want to reveal your identity), and easy to use. It's only open to Cambridge students, and it is FREE. How do we do that, I hear you ask? We don't charge, nor do we take advertising. It's simple - we believe in what we are doing, for the general happiness of many people in Cambridge. So, we are paying for it ourselves. It's worth it - we have already made 2 new couples very happy.

Here's how it works. New members go to the site, and sign up. They then create a short ad for themselves. After that, anyone who reads the ad can log in and exchange messages. After that, it is up to them. It's as simple as that.
STOP PRESS!! New feature...
After much cajoling, and 2 bottles of Glenfiddich, the RUO compsci has come up with something really exciting. Think about that incredibly handsome/gorgeous boy/girl you've fancied for ages, but been too afraid to ask. Well, now you can. Thanks to RUO, you can send them love letters, and find out whether they are interested/available, even correspond, before you reveal your identity. This has to be the answer to the too-frequent situation of "A and B both fancy each other madly since Freshers' week, but are too shy to ask. They finally get together in the May Week before graduation." Only in Cambridge, but it does happen!

Visit the site at http://romance.ucam.org today. You won't regret it! If you're quick, ladies, you may even catch our free chocolates promotion.
Good luck, have fun, and maybe, just maybe......

- Richard Neill, Trinity, 25/10/2000

RUO founder, Richard Neill was interviewed live on CUR on Saturday 11th November 2000, by Richard Straffon.
[At the moment, these files have been "misplaced" Sorry]

"As heard on Midnight Straffon, CUR's premier love, sex and relationships show - Saturday midnight - 2am Sunday."
Listen to Cambridge University Radio on the web !

This is in Real audio format. If you need a player, you can get it here.

The following should have made it into The Cambridge Student on 9th November 2000. But, apparently "we were less newsworthy" than their other items, so they removed it at the last minute, and ran an article on other internet dating sites instead.

Two Cambridge undergraduates have launched a web site in an attempt to breathe life back into romance at the University. Richard Neill and John Surcombe created 'romance.ucam.org' to provide a messaging service unique to Cambridge students. New members can create an advertisement for themselves and anyone who then reads it can then send a message. Anonymity is provided by the site and it is up to the individuals concerned if or when they choose to reveal their identity. According to Richard Neill, "it is amazing what people say about themselves. There are some interesting social dynamics of such a system in which almost all people are totally honest about at least some aspects of their character". Use of the service is free and there is not even any advertising on the site - the two founders have been paying for it themselves but should soon be able to sell the code to other universities. The most recent addition to the site is an anonymous 'invite' system that overcomes the limits of Valentine's day cards in that it is possible to reply to a mystery message. This new feature can be used by a member of the site to contact anyone at Cambridge. Despite a lack of publicity to date, the site has been used by about 130 people already this term and there have been two reported success stories. Currently there is an offer of free chocolates for new free female members - interestingly, many more men than women have placed personal advertisements so far.

This article was written for May Week Varsity in June 2000. The original is here

No chance of romance in the 'Bridge

Romance in Cambridge is remarkably hard to pull off. Maybe it's something about the way you feel like a cliché every time you kiss on a bridge with a backdrop of weeping willows, or have a picnic by the river. More often, though, it's down to the other people who are being irritatingly soppy as they wander hand in hand among the lawns and flowers of their college garden.

These stereotyped patterns of behaviour are hard to avoid, and you quite often see people committing the ultimate sins - being complete w*****s and pillars of coupledom simultaneously. The bloke in the three-piece suit punting his girlfriend down the river with bowls of strawberries is the perfect example of this. The fact that he never falls in is one of the tragedies of life, although presumably his girlfriend will realise sooner or later what a mistake she's making. Others fail to make a rather dubious impression, due to those little difficulties attendant on student life - like those little two-ring Baby Belling and trying to cook an amazing gourmet meal.

Even if these flawed attempts at seduction do meet with success, they may hit snags when it comes to that steamy night in each other's arms. Student beds come mostly of the extra lumpy and narrow variety. The aged college mattresses usually have a valley in the middle, sending both partners crashing into each other every time they turn over. Not good.

It is more than likely that this is all part of a ploy on the part of our colleges to ensure that we spend as little time in our beds as possible and that little that we do alone. The student from Trinity who had a double bed installed in his room, only to be informed that it would have to be removed, is a demonstration of this fact.

People come to Cambridge in the expectation that they will almost immediately discover a witty, intelligent and caring soulmate. The reality of drunken and half-blind encounters in Cindy's on Saturday night is somewhat different. The Fresher's Week syndrome of pulling everyone in sight in the hope that one of them will turn pout to be the love of your life means that you spend the rest of the year avoiding a large number of people. Some people surmount this problem by spending the whole year drunkenly pulling their fellow students almost at random, thus meaning that the whole embarrassed needing to avoid people situation never happens, while still filled with the warm friendly glow of drunkenness. Lots of bottles of cheap bar wine become indispensable. If your college bar doesn't do ridiculously cheap wine, find one that does. Or invest in a case of Aftershock and see how many bottles you can get through in an evening. There are a thousand ways to get drunk, and no ways to undo the consequences. This can be a blissful state of affairs for those whose livers and wallets will stand the strain indefinitely (or at least until they graduate), but it leaves the rest of us out in the cold. A friend of mine, who until recently was drunk more often than there are nights in the week, confided to me the other day that being drunk no longer seemed attractive, as those around her merely retreated into semi-conscious joining of lips and torsos, and finally complete unconsciousness. Unfortunately, most of us are programmed to believe that the eight weeks at a time we spend here should be a non-stop whirl of work, extra-curricular activities and having an enormous circle of friends. Whether this is the case or not, even if you do fall into bed with someone you might contemplate wanting to see again, there isn't a great deal of time to build a loving and stable relationship. Thousands of budding relationships have been killed off by six-weeks or three months vacations.

It is not hard to see why a website has been set up to allow Cambridge students to meet each other and find love. It seems that the fact that virtually all of them live within a square mile doesn't make a difference: we still need the world wide web to match lonely hearts. The website, romance.ucam.org, has had around 250 logins so far. Most of these are men, it must be said. "The women who log in will do very well - they'll find someone easily," said Richard Neill, one of the organisers. The organisers say that logins have dropped over recent weeks, presumably during the exams period, but are seeing a resurgence of interest as people worry about who they will take to balls and parties in May Week. There seems to be something a little paradoxical about using the internet to find "romance," and to meet people who live within walking distance anyway - it seems like a tool for Compscis, not those with social skills.

May Week is the final mating frenzy, a moth-like dash into the flame of unlimited sex and brain damage before the long blank of the vacation. For some, it is the last time that you can bring a complete stranger back to their bed without worrying about what mummy or daddy will think. And at least you don't have to see any of your contemporaries for another three months. But for those who haven't made a dash for the nearest mouth at their May Week celebrations, the sea of coupledom is very isolating: the music slows, bodies meld together, and the only thing to be done is cradle your bottle of vodka. But at least you won't wake up with a stranger in your bed. May Week relationships are like mayflies - rarely living more than a day, never more than a week.

Perhaps it is symbolic of our dysfunctional social skills that we need a website to enable us to meet up with each other. Although surely we do not lack the opportunities to meet other people. It will take more than a website to make romance happen.

- "Thalia Ruimtevuller"

If you want to write an article about us, or to assist with publicity, let us know !