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Hi, I am thinking about getting out of my comfort zone and checking out some of the dating sites.  I wonder if there is any information available on which of these sites are the most reputable and really try to provide a good service.  How should I conduct a search?
Thanks

asked 11/16/2011 06:41

camtz's gravatar image

camtz ♦♦


10 Answers:
Camtz,

I'd start by reading the Wikipedia article on the topic: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_dating_service - it covers a lot of the issues.

Not being in the dating world myself, I don't have personal experience with various sites. I would next look for reputable reviews (something like Consumer Reports or similar) and magazine articles on online dating, etc. Anywhere that you can get an actual review of a site, including cost, approach, typical users, and useful stats.

Searching for "Best online dating sites" is likely to bring you to a lot of sites that are really search engine spam. Try searching for "articles online dating sites" and see what comes up.

Best of luck to you!

Cheers,
LHerrou
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answered

lherrou's gravatar image

lherrou

I have many friends that have had great success with match.com.  

Even a couple marriages came from it!
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answered 2011-11-17 at 06:59:24

Rogiee's gravatar image

Rogiee

most popular ones are match.com and eharmony.com however there are various others which offer the same thing.

remember most of the time its free to register and browse but i you want to take it further then you have to pay a monthly fee.. be sure to read the fine print about fees and cancellations.
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answered 2011-11-17 at 07:09:56

wshark83's gravatar image

wshark83

Hi camtz

Like the others here I have no direct experience of Dating sites.  I also live in the UK, so any suggestions I might be able to make would involve Trans-Atlantic commuting at the weekend!!

However, having seen a work colleague nearly being stung by scammers looking for money and/or "green cards" on free dating sites, it is my considered opinion that you are far less likely to end up with a bogus date if you pay for membership.

OK, so we don't have "green cards" here in the UK (actually a photocopy of anything probably gets you in here and allows you to claim benefits!), but "Russian Brides" masquerade in various guises and target many countries.  I use the term "Russian Brides" quite loosely, because there are evil scammers and also generally honest but desperate people all over the world waiting to take your money or get a life in a "free" country.

It is probably fairly accurate to say that the more you pay for membership of a dating site the better it will be in terms of verifying members' identities and following up reports of potentially suspicious profiles, and additionally you will likely have more tools to engage in unlimited communications with other members.

Free sites will always delimit the functionality of the site, such as only allowing 3 instant messages per day, preventing you from fully exploring the details or photos of another person's profile, or even limiting how accurate your potential "match" suggestions are.  They usually prompt you to subscribe and "upgrade" your profile, but in my opinion a site that is up-front from the outset and just charges for full membership and features would probably be the better choice as long as it is a site that has been well reviewed and rated.

Free = Skanks, Scammers and low-lives mingling with decent people who are embarking on the world of online dating on a limited or zero budget.

Less than a decade ago men would have been embarrassed to admit to male friends and colleagues that they had joined a dating company, but life has changed drastically even in the past 5 years where I have heard male work colleagues talk openly about seeking partnerships through online dating.  I don't know why, but we no longer meet women in places like the gym, the library, the supermarket, etc and engage in meaningful conversations that lead to dates.  People these days are more likely (and quite readily do so) to give their Facebook profile details.  Strange world it's become!

Of course the male "locker room boasting" enters into a few of the conversations I have heard, but in general I would say that the free exchange of Dating Site URLs between the guys has been less boastful of conquests and more in a romantic vein.  Unfortunately I know of only one of these male work colleagues who has actually formed a full "offline" relationship with a woman from a dating site, but the others seem to have at least had some enjoyable and fun dates that got them out and about.

You might think I'm being shallow when I mentioned that free dating sites often don't allow you to explore a user's photos, and may be thinking the old cliché "beauty is only skin deep".  Oh Yeah?

The reason I mentioned this is because people who join dating sites often use the same photos across more than one dating site in which the profile descriptions tell differing stories.  I'm not sure if you are aware, but the site http://www.tineye.com allows you to upload an image file or point it to the URL of one, and it will try to find other images that match.

It relies on a cache of freely accessible websites and therefore would not normally be able to find images behind a password controlled profile, but it's a great way to find dating site scammers because others who have been stung will often upload images of the scammer to sites like http://www.romancescam.com and http://www.stop-scammers.com

Additionally, "dishonest" daters (low self-esteem, obvious disfigurements, etc) may use images of somebody else they found in a google image search, and a tineye.com image search can reveal the sources of the images used.

A tineye.com search result URL is saved for 72 hours.

In a similar vein people who join dating sites seem to quite often use small variations of the same profile name across various different dating sites, eg.
xx~Sexy_Susan~xx
xxx~Sexy_Susan~xxx
xxx~Sexy_Susan69~xxx

Regarding the last one, I was quite amazed to have seen (through looking at one of my work colleague's match suggestions - in his presence) how many naiive women out there portray the entirely wrong image of themselves through a terrible choice of user name.  With an open mind we probably all know what that last name tends to imply, but it's not necessarily an indicator of a woman looking for sex - just one who didn't think how the name would be perceived.

A web search of the user name MAY provide some results that point to facebook pages or other dating sites, although some of the results may only be old google cached pages.

I am not suggesting that you become a mad stalker, I'm just suggesting that you be aware that online dating sites cannot physically vet users to the same extent  as you would be vetted if applying for a job involving children or vulnerable people.  To be honest I don't know how they purport to "verify" members other than perhaps reverse phone number lookups, credit card verification, electoral registers, or other paid-for background checks.  I would say though, that a reputable dating site should be transparent in their pages before you sign up ("Privacy Policy" or dedicated page on the matter) describing how members are verified.

I don't know what else to suggest, but hopefully my thoughts will be useful to you as you decide what to do and hopefully haven't scared you off the idea.

Bill
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answered 2011-11-17 at 08:13:49

BillDL's gravatar image

BillDL

I got out of my comfort zone and found exactly what I was looking for with PlentyOfFish.com (POF). Like every other site, you set up your profile, be honest about yourself, explain exactly what you are looking for and begin your search.

*TIP* Look for a best friend

I found my fish within the first week. I didn't actually get to meet him until a month later (schedules), so I kept searching in the meantime. I went on 4 or 5 dates and knew right away if they were better friends or nothing at all. Most of them are now on my Facebook and serve as a good friend and nothing more. I met my fish one month later. We are now married and have a wonderful life together. I found him in the first week.... (amazing, but true!) I know of 6 friends who are now happily married couples, met on POF and have been together for more than 10 years.

The best thing? Plenty of Fish is FREE.

Be conscious of how and where you meet. There are risks involved with online dating, but they can be minimized. ALWAYS have your initial meeting in a public space. Don't spend tons of money on the date, but be prepared to pay the first tab.



 
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answered 2011-11-17 at 08:29:23

cityqat's gravatar image

cityqat

correction: They've been together since 2003... so that's 9 years, not 10.
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answered 2011-11-19 at 11:24:45

cityqat's gravatar image

cityqat

I am NOT criticising cityqat's decision nor choice of site, because it worked for her and I'm happy about that, BUT when I mentioned in my earlier comment:
"having seen a work colleague nearly being stung by scammers..."
PlentyOfFish.com was actually the free dating site in question.

I would urge you to keep your eyes WIDE open and be a bit paranoid using ANY dating site, particularly free ones.

In that particular case (and I have to be careful here for the sake of anonymity), my UK-based colleague who works nightshift had been chatting and exchanging emails with a woman purporting to be English for about two months when he began to notice little issues about the times that she was online.  Things didn't quite tie up with either her supposedly being at her lunch break from work, or her supposedly "working late", etc.  He asked me what I thought and showed me the woman's profile.

Now, I'm not saying that he is particularly unattractive (in real life that is - his profile photo was a poor choice), uninteresting, or not a good "catch", but the woman's profile was for what I would have expected to be a very solvent woman in a pretty comfortable way of life working as a medical professional.  OK, so I'm very suspicious and cynical of everything by nature and past experiences, and I had to wonder what would attract a very well salaried woman to a manual worker on a mediocre wage scale - a fact clearly indicated in his profile and in communications thus far.

By that stage they had exchanged a LOT of personal information that had taken them "offline" from the dating site as well as using it, but she apparently had kept making various excuses for not having a webcam and instead kept posting a variety of "recent" photos of her and her friends, sister, at her work, etc,

I asked him whether there had ever been mention of money, bank accounts, and any other information that could identify him personally.  He admitted that she had suggested "flying up to Scotland from England" to meet up, and that he had offered to pay for the tickets and accommodation.  Uh, Oh!!  I voiced my suspicions and began to demonstrate the reasons for them to him.

In a photo supposedly of her in a named park with her sister showed a strange monument or bridge in the background, and when I asked him to pull up google maps and find it he couldn't.  The models of the cars visible in the background of another photo differed slightly from the UK equivalents, and one clearly had the steering wheel on the opposite side, even though the photo was named so as to suggest it was taken locally.  The power socket on the wall of the medical practice where she was supposedly a partner was not the UK type.  Her spelling did not always conform to British English (ie. "z" instead of "s" eg. "criticize" instead of "criticise").  I have a keen eye for this type of thing - look at my profile.

A quick search using specific phrases and sentences from her profile revealed very close matches with profiles on on other dating sites that used different, although sometimes similar, user names.  The profession mentioned in a couple of them matched, while others were similar.

Of particular note was that the same monument/bridge structure appeared in a photograph of one other profile in which there were not as many similarities.  I saved the images, cropped them to that feature, then did a tineye.com search which matched it to a landmark in an East European city and "dating scammers" sites.  Lastly, from the emails received, I showed him that they did not appear to be coming from England.  The emails received more recently seemed to me to have been written by somebody else, judging by some changes in grammar.

I have to admit that, had I been lonely, more naiive, and desperately looking for a match, I too may have been flattered by the attentions of a beautiful and successful woman who clearly stated "I don't care about material things, I take people for who they are and what's inside them".  The attempted scam and the length of dialog towards that end were very convincing but did have holes if my work colleague had had his eyes more open and was the suspicious type.  Sadly he is fairly naiive and a bit gullible when being flattered and told by a pretty womn what a sensitive and caring person he seems to be.

This is a tale of caution and NOT an outright condemnation of free dating sites such as PlentyOfFish.com.

Bill
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answered 2011-11-19 at 11:28:24

BillDL's gravatar image

BillDL

I am most certainly not in defense of POF - there ARE very real risks. However, so long as you travel in groups, tell people where you are going, and don't offer money or large gifts of monetary value - things should be fine. Don't examine language too closely - you might learn that the woman was born in Canada, travels or knows more than 1 language.

Be cautious, go slow and take precautions. If you keep your wits about you, you just might find your match :)
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answered 2011-11-19 at 16:53:03

cityqat's gravatar image

cityqat

Plenty Of Fish.  Some eat others for breakfast ;-)
http://www.qa.downappz.com/Q_25015375.html

Seriously though, cityqat raised something that I think is quite significant in saying (amongst other good suggestions): "... so long as you travel in groups, tell people where you are going, ..."

Not wishing to bring sexism (hmmm is that "sexizm" in US English?) into it, I believe that there are differences in the way males and females perceive; use; have expectations of; and handle potential relationships developed on dating sites.

I would say that a woman is probably more likely to share the details of contacts being made on dating sites with close friends, whereas a man is probably less likely to do so.  Good friends are (or should be if they are decent friends) protective of each other, especially if one has been hurt in the past or is at some vulnerable stage, and I'm sure it happens very often that online acquaintances will be "checked out" by well meaning friends as they develop.  It's probably too generic an assumption to suggest that women are more cautious in this respect than men, but sharing feelings and information with close friends can add an extra level of safety that many men may not have.

So yes, good advice by cityqat.  Discuss your developing relationship(s) with somebody close.  Sometimes another person may spot something that enfatuation or "out of comfort zone" awkwardness may be preventing you from detecting.

Perhaps setting a first date with an online date AND another couple you are friendly with might seem like a good idea, but I have mixed feelings about this because of the fact that this could easily make your date feel as though she is being studied with curiosity or judged.  This wold be especially so if you were formerly married and the other couple were mutual friends.  Nobody likes to be judged, qualified, or observed like a curiosity, especially a person of the age where the very concept of online dating (and perhaps also computing) is very new and unnerving.  So, if hooking up with friends for a first date with an online match you would have to select them with great care and also listen for signs of discomfort if suggesting such a date.

Remember also that YOUR profile and communications are probably being vetted by your potential date's(s') best friends, so the more honest you are about how you feel about certain things is likely to either:
(a) terminate the relationship for the best at an early stage when certain conflicting beliefs, feelings, or conceptions begin to show,
OR
(b) allow a relationship to flourish in the more comfortable knowledge that no dark and insurmountable skeletons are likely to cause an impediment at a later stage.

That said, however, if you spill out every emotion right at the start, will you still have enough things left to find out about each other on subsequent dates when you do meet?

I hope you find your new adventure fulfilling and rewarding.
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answered 2011-11-19 at 17:04:46

BillDL's gravatar image

BillDL

Thank you camtz
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answered 2011-11-19 at 20:05:12

BillDL's gravatar image

BillDL

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Asked: 11/16/2011 06:41

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Last updated: 11/20/2011 03:33