Online dating service
A Net dating service, also known as online dating or Internet dating, is an example of a dating system and allows individuals, couples and groups to meet online and possibly develop a romantic or sexual relationship. Net dating services provide un-moderated matchmaking through the use of personal computers, the Internet, or even cell phones.
Such services generally allow people to provide personal information, then search for other individuals using criteria such as age range, gender and location. Most sites allow members to upload photos of themselves and browse the photos of others. Sites may offer additional services, such as webcasts, online chat, and message boards. Sites sometimes allow people to register for free but may offer services which require a monthly fee.
Many sites are broad-based, with members from a variety of backgrounds looking for different types of relationships. Other sites are more specific, based on the type of members, interests, location, or relationship desired.
U.S. residents spent $469.5 million on online dating and personals in 2004, and over $500 million in 2005, the second largest segment of "paid content" on the web, according to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) and comScore Networks.
At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38 percent increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc. However, market share was increasingly being dominated by several large commercial services, including Yahoo! Personals, Match.com, and eHarmony. Former eHarmony CEO and son-in-law to founder Dr. Neil Clark Warren -the guy in the commercials, Greg Forgatch noted that despite the growing number of sites catering to specific niches, "to become a major player, it still takes a large number of people." By 2007, many prominent studies show that Baby Boomer interest in online dating had soared.
[SouthCoastToday.com: No need to whisper. Meeting online is OK]
In 2002, a Wired magazine article forecast that, "Twenty years from now, the idea that someone looking for love without looking for it online will be silly, akin to skipping the card catalog to instead wander the stacks because 'the right books are found only by accident.' Serendipity is the hallmark of inefficient markets, and the marketplace of love, like it or not, is becoming more efficient"
[Wired 10.11: VIEW].
Of late, it is common to see online dating websites providing webcam chats between members to make dating even more convenient than ever. In addition, as the online dating population becomes larger, sites with specific demographics are becoming more popular as a way to narrow the pool of potential matches.
According to Scientific American, Virtual Dating is "the next step in online dating" (Feb/March 2007, p.35)
[The Truth about Online Dating: Scientific American].
Virtual Dating combines online dating with online gaming. Through the use of avatars, singles interact in a virtual venue that resembles a real life dating environment. For example, individuals can meet and chat in a romantic virtual cafe in Paris or on a Caribbean resort.
A Time Magazine article entitled "Internet Dating 2.0" was published on January 19, 2007 citing current and upcoming technologies and explains how people can now connect in a virtual dating environment. Time describes how websites are allowing people to meet for an avatar based, graphically enabled virtual date without leaving their homes.
[Internet Dating 2.0 - TIME]
According to NBC
[Virtual Dating Is Catching On - News - Turnto10] and TIME [Internet Dating 2.0 - TIME], OmniDate is one example of virtual dating.
Researchers at MIT and Harvard have found that "people who had had a chance to interact with each other (by computer only) on a virtual tour of a museum subsequently had more successful face-to-face meetings than people who had viewed only profiles."
[The Truth about Online Dating: Scientific American]
Problems with Online Dating Services
There can be a variety of problems when utilizing online dating sites.
- Some sites expect members to sign up "blind," meaning that users have no preview of the profiles they will get to see. eHarmony is one example of this kind of site. On other services, some profiles are not actually real people, but "bait" that has been placed there by the site owners to attract new paying members. Both Yahoo Personals and Match.com have received several complaints of using this tactic. Some users spam sites with "fake" profiles that are in reality advertisements to other services, such as prostitution, multi-level marketing, or other personals websites. A majority of dating sites keep profiles online for months or even years since the last time the person has logged in, thereby making it seem as though they have more available members than they actually do. Many sites offer the option to sort search results based on activity, however.
- Most members are enticed to join dating websites with free or low-priced "trial" memberships advertised on many other websites. These trial memberships lack many of the features of the full membership, including the ability to contact other members or reply to e-mail from other members. On sites which require credit card information to join at all, these trial memberships may automatically become full memberships at the end of the trial period and charge the full monthly fee, without any additional action from the member, regardless of whether the member has actually used the services or not. For paying members, it is often unclear whether a potential contact has a full subscription and whether he or she will be able to reply at all. There are still, however, a few established free dating sites that allow users to reply to messages, among them: DateHookup.com and MatchDoctor.com. Niche sites cater to people with special interests (e.g. sports fans, nerds), professions, political preferences, conditions (e.g. HIV+, obese), religions (e.g. Jewish), or even logistics (e.g. rural farm communities such as FarmersOnly.com).
- Some members have expressed complaints about the billing practices of certain dating sites. In some cases, trial memberships that were canceled within the trial period were automatically re-billed even after canceling. To avoid these potential problems, some users have advised using a virtual credit card number which is offered by several credit card companies.
- Even when members' profiles are "real", there is still an inherent lack of trust with other members. Many members misrepresent themselves by telling flattering 'white lies' about their height, weight, age, or by using old and misleading photos. Members can, of course, ask for an up-to-date photograph before meeting others. Matrimonials Sites are a variant of online dating sites, and these are geared towards meeting people for the purpose of getting married. Gross misrepresentation is less likely on these sites than on 'casual dating' sites. Casual dating sites are often geared more towards short term (and implicitly sexual) relationships.
- Online predators find online dating sites especially attractive, because such sites give them an unending supply of new targets of opportunity for Internet fraud. A recent study, led by Dr. Paige Padgett from the University of Texas Health Science Center, found that there was a false degree of safety assumed by women looking for love on the internet, exposing them to stalking, fraud, and sexual violence. Some online dating sites conduct background checks on their members in an attempt to avoid problems of this nature.
- On any given dating site, the sex ratio is commonly unbalanced. For example, eHarmony's membership is about 58% female and 42% male, whereas the ratio at Match.com is about the reverse of that.
- Disreputable sites such as Quechup may harvest users' personal information and contacts for use in e-mail spam.
Gay rights groups have complained that certain websites that restrict their dating services to heterosexual couples are discriminating against homosexuals. This is most often taking place among Christian dating sites or sites run by Christians that do not support homosexual relationships.
eHarmony was sued in 2007 by a lesbian claiming that, "Such outright discrimination is hurtful and disappointing for a business open to the public in this day and age,"
[Woman sues eHarmony for discrimination - USATODAY.com]
Many sites require members specify themselves as "male" or "female", complicating matters for intersexed and transgendered individuals.
There have been some sites that have been created due to this discrimination like myPartner to service these type of individuals.
United States government regulation of online dating services
US government regulation of dating services began with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA)
which took effect in March 2007 after a federal judge in Georgia upheld a challenge from the dating site European Connections. The law requires internationally oriented dating services to conduct, among other procedures, sex offender checks on US customers before communication can occur with a foreigner.
New Jersey became the first state to enact a law requiring the sites to disclose whether they perform background checks.
- ''You've Got Mail'', a 1998 film in which the two protagonists conduct a relationship entirely over email before meeting each other.
- Napoleon Dynamite, a 2003 film in a which one subplot involves a central character's online (and later physical) relationship.
- Euro Trip, a 2004 film in which the central character has a relationship wholly via email with a girl from Berlin
- Must Love Dogs, a 2005 film about two people trying to find love through online dating.
- Another Gay Movie, a 2006 film where a student finds his high school English teacher online.
- "Because I Said So", a 2007 film in which a mother creates an online dating profile for her daughter.
- Jewtopia, a play which revolves around Jewish dating service, JDate.
- Pomme C, a 2007 song by Calogero, the title refers to the Apple keyboard shortcut (+)
Popular Online dating services
- FriendFinder and related sites such as Adult FriendFinder
- Dating Coach
- Internet fraud
- Matrimonials Sites
- Mobile dating
- Online predator
- Romance scam
- Yahoo! Personals
- AOL Personals
- Flass, Rebecca, Bloom off the rose: online dating services struggle to keep market share, Los Angeles Business Journal, Dec. 13, 2004.
- Griscom, Rufus: Why are Online Personals So Hot?: Maybe it's the lingerie models trolling for dates, Wired, Nov. 2002.
- Orr, Andrea, Meeting, Mating, and Cheating: Sex, Love, and the New World of Online Dating ISBN 0-13-141808-4.
- Sullivan, Bob: Online daters sue matchmaking sites for fraud, MSNBC, Nov 18, 2005.
- Boyd, Brian, No Need to Whisper, Dating online is OK, SouthCoastToday.com, September 16, 2007.
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This article is based on "Online dating service" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org). It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Online+dating+service&action=history