Tech wiz Sam Giagtzoglou ’16, known by friends as Scam or Sam G, is this year’s organizer of the beloved WeScam, which launched Friday, April 17. According to his housemates, if Giagtzoglou, a varsity rower, gained 50 more pounds and a mustache, he would resemble Ron Jeremy. Giagtzoglou himself likes to say he runs an online platform for “facilitating social interaction.” But unfortunately for all the self-identifying females responsible for the 69 unread emails in his inbox, he is still dating his girlfriend of six years. The Argus sat down with Giagtzoglou to talk about the website’s recent launch, how it compares to Tinder, and its place in the Wesleyan dating scene.
The Argus: How long did you work on WeScam this year? Did the constant anticipation on Yik Yak frustrate or encourage you?
Sam Giagtzoglou: I started in January, and every now and then I would put a few hours in, then a lot more right before and after [the] launch. I spent a decent amount of time redoing the [user interface] a little bit and making it a little nicer, and I updated the code base some, but it still has a lot of the code from previous years. At first, the Yaks were encouraging, but once I launched it, they got a little meaner and more judgmental.
A: There has been public support for the development of a WeScam app in the future. Would that even be possible?
SG: Yeah, of course it’s possible. But developing an app is considerably more time-consuming than developing a website, and native iOS apps aren’t easily updated. I would have to send it to the App Store two weeks before I wanted to launch, and then, if there was any issue with it, I wouldn’t necessarily have enough time to fix it and then resubmit it for approval.
I’ve been looking at the website traffic in terms of mobile versus computer use. During the day it’s pretty much half and half, and then at night, especially on the weekends, mobile goes up a lot. I’ll think about working on an app for next year, but no promises—it requires much more time. About 90 percent of mobile traffic to the site is coming from iPhones, so an iOS app would be more important than any other platform.
A: What do you think separates the appeal of WeScam from that of Tinder?
SG: It’s Tinder with the ability to target specific people and anonymous messaging. On Tinder you can find people whose names you don’t know, while WeScam’s search function enables you to seek out specific individuals. On Tinder, when you see someone you like, you swipe right, and it doesn’t necessarily change anything about that relationship. The appeal of WeScam, on the other hand, is that it gives seniors the opportunity to make up on connections that might have otherwise been missed. In many ways, it functions as a last-ditch effort to change the nature of a relationship. Another distinguishing feature of WeScam is that it is only available for a limited time. This creates a unique sense of urgency and resolve that year-round services like Tinder can’t provide.
A: The biggest stereotype about WeScam is that it’s just a vehicle for casual hookups. In other words, its main purpose is to facilitate no-strings-attached sex. Do you agree?
SG: I’m not really sure it’s my place to speculate on the value of WeScam, but I know relationships have sparked over WeScam. There might even be a WeScam marriage out there somewhere. Actually, one of my roommates is currently in a relationship that started over WeScam.
A: Another criticism of WeScam might be that it relies completely on judgments of physical attractiveness. Do you think this is true or do you think people WeScam others for less superficial reasons?
SG: People definitely WeScam people because they’re friends—you know, “friendscams.” I don’t think people would WeScam someone they don’t know at all or have never interacted with for a reason other than physical attractiveness, but I’m sure users also add people for non-superficial reasons too.
A: Part of WeScam’s appeal is that is minimizes outright rejection. Do you think this fear of emotional vulnerability is a reflection of our demographic—young college students—or the present dating culture as a whole?
SG: Probably dating culture as a whole. No one likes being rejected, and WeScam lets you say, “Well I’d be interested, but would only risk trying it if they were interested too.” It softens the potential blow of rejection because there’s always a hope that they’ll eventually add you back.
A: Did you encounter any major problems in the development of WeScam?
SG: This is going to be a bit technical, but basically when the site first launched, there was such a high rate of people signing up and sending out WeScams that the service-handling emails got backed up. It never got too bad, but some people had to wait half an hour for their confirmation email. That’s resolved now; don’t worry. Also, the server is getting overloaded right now, so I’m about to sit down and upgrade it and do some optimizations.
A: Someone on YikYak suggested that “the guy in charge of WeScam should start an Indiegogo to pay for better servers. I guarantee you’d [get] hundreds [of dollars] in an hour and then we could all WeScam 24/7 as God intended.” How do you respond?
SG: I was going to introduce ads that would hopefully cover the cost of the server, and I’m getting around to that, but it’s nice to give people some uninterrupted viewing experience for their “tier one” matches, as I think they’re called….There are tiers apparently now. Funding the site using a service like Indiegogo would probably take too long.