This HackBushwick project makes missed connections much better - Technical.ly Brooklyn

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Dec. 11, 2014 7:33 am

This HackBushwick project makes missed connections much better

A new site — Oh Hey, Bushwick — challenges Craigslist in the realm of connecting would-be lovers.

The "Oh Hey, Bushwick" team at work on the website that would win the Audience Favorite nod at HackBushwick.

(Photo by Brady Dale)

We checked out HackBushwick on Saturday. One of the most interesting projects to come out of it — and the one that won the day’s audience favorite award — was a site that will probably soon simply be known as “Oh Hey.”

It updates a longtime internet staple: the missed connection.

Check it out

Oh Hey offers two major improvements to the user experience of those missing their connections:

  • It puts the incident of failed romance on a map (which, to be fair, Craigslist can also do).
  • It screens people who reply. In order to respond to a post, you have to get a verification question right. Such as “Did I have a mustache?” or “What flavor cappuccino did I ask for?”

At the end of the hackathon, the team behind the site told us they were eager for people to use it. So we reached out to the team and asked some follow-up questions.

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Jennifer Spriggs, one of the team members, said she had always had a soft spot for missed connections, but wished they were more visually pleasing. She said they were like passing an anonymous note in school.

"On Craigslist there's a certain creep-fest that happens when you post something, and you get blasted with a lot of messages you didn't want."
Jennifer Spriggs

Jackie Quartner, another member of the Oh Hey team, said, “I wanted to work on something that we could actually get up and running within the 6 hours. It was a simple idea that we could have a lot of fun with. In New York City in particular you connect with people all the time, and then never see them again.”

We asked the team if they were worried that the verification could keep people apart who might have otherwise connected. For example, what if the verification question was “What band’s T-shirt was I wearing?” and the right person found the post but couldn’t remember?

Spriggs said that could happen, but, “I think it’s a really cute way to control whoever is going to message you back,” she said. “On Craigslist there’s a certain creep-fest that happens when you post something, and you get blasted with a lot of messages you didn’t want.”

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Quartner said they discussed some other option, but this was the best way to get to a minimum viable product within six hours. “Going forward, cleaning up the logic to process a user’s answer will definitely be something we focus on,” she wrote.

Another user experience element in the site may also be a hurdle: To use it, you have to join the site.

This allows users to use the private messaging system once they connect, rather than simply connecting people over their personal email, as Craigslist does. Some people are loathe to join new sites, but, on the other hand, it also allows a user to ease into communicating with someone, without giving them their full contact information right off.

The site is not limited to Bushwick. In fact, two missed connections are pinned in Manhattan: “The only onesie for me” and “Miss you, Paul.” (One is mistakenly pinned in small-town Michigan: “Girl on the tracks.” (Editor’s note: It’s a good one.)) Are they for you?

The team has some improvements they want to make. Spriggs is eager to let users pick different pins to drop into Google Maps.

This crew behind Oh Hey, Bushwick is not alone in taking on this corner of the web. NYU-Poly code artist R. Luke Dubois actually has a script running that scrapes missed connections in New York and emails two users when they each seem to be posting about the same instance of ships passing in the night.

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Brady Dale

Brady Dale is a tech reporter, comedian and storyteller. In July 2015 he joined the New York Observer. Brady was Technical.ly Brooklyn's lead reporter from August 2013 till June 2015. A native of Pittsburg, Kansas, he went to Cornell and worked as a progressive community organizer for over a decade before quitting his job to pursue writing.

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