The Battle Of The Free Dating Sites

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Ladies and gentlemen, the match is about to begin.

In this corner we have POF, a popular free dating site since 2003 that claimed 40,000,000 members as of February 2012.

And in this corner we have OkCupid, a free dating and social networking legend that The Boston Globe once called "The Google of online dating."

This fight is gonna be a tough one, folks.

Looking at it by the numbers, POF comes out on top. Its many millions of members dwarf the member base of OkCupid, which gives its users access to many more potential dates. On the other hand, OkCupid offers more ways to find a match who meets your dating requirements. OkCupid's features include a greater variety of search options and a range of other fun tools, like quizzes, to assess compatibility.

At the end of round one, it looks like POF wins the battle for quantity and OkCupid wins the battle for quality.

Round two requires you to think seriously about what you're looking for in your online dating experience. Is it simplicity? Go for POF. Is it an aesthetically pleasing site? Go for OkCupid. Is it older singles? Try POF, which has a higher number of users in the 35-49 age range. Is it hip younger singles? Try OkCupid, which targets the 25-35 audience.

At the end of round two we've got another even split, depending on what kind of date you're looking for.

It all comes down to round three. This is the make or break moment for OkCupid and POF. How do you want to be matched with potential partners? And what kind of relationship are you looking for?

POF determines compatibility using the Chemistry Test and the Relationship Needs Assessment, which matches you with dates who think and act the same way you do in relationships. Outside of that, POF primarily matches users based on age range and area, which doesn't provide a very accurate picture of whether or not they'll click romantically.

OkCupid has a few more tricks up its sleeve. There are its famous member quizzes, a whole bunch of funny and weird questions, and also the additional option of creating unique profile questions that are tailored to your exact personality. Not only are they entertaining, but OkCupids matching features are more effective at judging real compatibility.

So, although it was a close one, at the end of round three I'm going to have to call this one in favor of OkCupid.

To find out more about these 2 free dating sites you can read our Plenty of fish review and our Okcupid review. For more related services you can check our the free dating sites category.

eHarmony offers Free Communication Tuesday Evenings (Jan 2013)

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eHarmony first offered free communication on Tuesdays in December and it must have gone well since the dating site is now offering it again today and for the next 2 Tuesdays in the United States. On January 22nd, January 29th and February 5th at 3:00pm to 11:59pm (PST) eHarmony members will be able to communicate with their matches for free. This is a great way to get members excited about online dating and a great lead up to Valentine's Day, which is one of the busiest weeks in the online dating industry.

To participate in free communication at all you need to do is signup as a member and create a profile. This process does not require a credit card and should take you no more than an hour to complete. Most of this time is taken up by the questions you will be answering about yourself which eHarmony will use in their matching system to determine the best matches for you. Once completed you will receive your first set of matches and from their you can communicate with any of them for free. During this promotion members will not be able to, Skip to Email (of the guided communication process), use Secure Call (a phone service) or view photos.

The last free eHarmony communication event was held at the beginning of this month (see Story). To find out more about this matchmaking service designed to help form long-term relationships you can read our review of

Fish Personality Definitions for POF

POF (Plenty of Fish)
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Here's something I bet you haven't thought about before: your Fish Personality.

Are you an Angelfish? A Dolphin? A Lobster? A Whale? If you had to sum up your dating life using a sea creature, which one would you choose?

Sure, it's a silly question, but it's the question Plenty of Fish asks all its users. It's up to you to decide which water dweller best describes your dating habits. You have a choice of 30, and if that task doesn't already sound challenging enough, here's the only guidance POF gives you: "There is no specific meaning to the fish types - they're just for fun, so pick the one that you think best describes you!"

Not very helpful, POF! SO let's put our heads together and brainstorm...what does a Fish Personality say about you or your date?

  1. No Personality: If you describe yourself as "No Personality," you clearly need to go back to Online Dating 101. I don't need to tell you why it's not a good idea.

  2. Angelfish: The name speaks for itself, here. This one's for the good boys and girls of online dating who think a halo belongs in their profile pictures. Just make sure you don't go so far you're in obnoxious good-two-shoes territory.

  3. Barnacle: Can you say clingy? A barnacle attaches itself to something for life, never moving and never leaving its shell. A Barnacle dater could easily become too dependent and afraid to take risks or strike out on his or her own.

  4. Barracuda: These guys are known for their large size, fearsome appearance, and opportunistic predatory style. Barracudas are the pickup artists of the dating world, prepared to use well-practiced tactics to snap up their targets.

  5. Big Mouth Bass: Remember Big Mouth Billy Bass? It may be the most annoying toy ever made, yet no redneck's house would be complete without one. If you're into that Southern, good ol' boy charm, look out for a Big Mouth Bass.

  6. BlowFish: If the name is anything to go by, I suspect the BlowFish is only looking for one thing. If low-key hookups and adult dating are your game, the BlowFish is definitely your best bet. Just be careful...they can be poisonous if not handled correctly.

  7. Bottom Dweller: You'll find these fish in the deepest depths of the ocean, living amongst mud, sand, gravel, and rocks, and feeding on whatever sinks to the bottom. On POF, the Bottom Dwellers are online dating's worst nightmare: the ones who still live in their parents' basements.

  8. Catfish: By now you've definitely heard of Catfish, the 2010 documentary film and current MTV show. The Catfish are scammers, online con artists who are masters of appearing to be someone they're not.

  9. Clam: The clam appears twice in popular culture: first as "Clam up" and second as "Happy as a clam." If you're a Clam of the first type, you're not likely to be communicative or openly emotional in a relationship. If you're the second, you're a "Glass half full" kind of person who always looks on the bright side of life.

  10. Clownfish: Everybody wants to date someone who can make them laugh, so it's good to be a Clownfish. Clownfish have a unique ability to enter tricky situations - like life in a stinging anemone - and come out unscathed. Besides, who doesn't think Finding Nemo was adorable?

  11. Crab: A Crab may be tough to get to know at first, but the payoff is worth it in the end. Breaking your way through that thick exoskeleton can take time, but once you've peeled back the layers, you'll find that the Crab is soft and sweet inside.

  12. Damselfish: If you're the knight in shining armor type, the Damselfish is your perfect match. They're frequently kept as pets, so if you're looking to spoil your dates and give them a taste of what it's like to be totally taken care of, a Damselfish would love to meet you.

  13. Dolphin: Dolphins are some of the smartest creatures around, but it's not just about their brains. They're also friendly, playful, and social animals who are always up for a good time. In other words, a Dolphin is the complete package.

  14. Eel: Eels are primarily nocturnal creatures, and many live together in holes called "eel pits." Sounds a bit scandalous to me. Dating an Eel means taking a walk on the wild side, and enjoying all the fun those early morning hours have to offer.

  15. Hammerhead: Unlike most sharks, who are typically solitary creatures, the hammerhead is known to form schools during the day - sometimes in groups of over 100! The Hammerhead knows how to play both sides well: social when he needs to be, and aloof when he needs to retain a little bit of mystery.

  16. Jellyfish: The Jellyfish are the cougars of the dating world. There's something irresistibly captivating about them. Perhaps it's their beauty, or the fluidity of their movement. Or maybe it's their age and experience: they've roamed the seas for at least 500 million years.

  17. Lobster: Everybody wants a piece of these guys. They're one of the most highly sought-after commodities in the food world, and they're equally highly prized in the dating world. You're lucky if you get your hands on one, so hold on tight!

  18. Octopus: The Octopus is a real catch. They're athletic, highly intelligent, and good at adapting to whatever environment they find themselves in. They also have three hearts, so expect a lot of romance if you're dating an Octopus.

  19. Piranha: The world's most famous marine maneater needs no introduction. The Piranha is likely to hop from date to date to date, constantly searching for something (or someone) to satisfy their voracious appetite.

  20. Sea Horse: The Sea horse makes for a kind, steady partner in a long-term relationship. Expect a long and romantic courtship process, commitment to monogamy, and strong parenting skills.

  21. Sea Urchin: They may look a little scary on the outside, but don't judge a book by its cover. Once you take the time to get to know a Sea Urchin, you'll find there's so much more beneath that sharp, tough exterior.

  22. Shark: Assertive, motivated, dangerous, sexy...those are just a few of the words that come to mind. Dating a Shark is guaranteed to be an intense, sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of experience. A Shark knows what he/she wants and isn't afraid to go after it, whatever the cost.

  23. Shrimp: The shrimp is a jack of all trades. The many variations look completely different, communicate differently, and perform different functions. Dating a Shrimp means never getting bored - the Shrimp can be anything and everything you want them to be (and may like to play dress-up in the bedroom).

  24. Starfish: A Starfish is the "All eyes on me" kind of date. If you're looking for a little bit of candy to carry around on your arm, try a colorful, eye-catching Starfish. A star loves the spotlight, so this is a good choice if you're looking for an envy-inducing trophy spouse.

  25. Sucker Fish: Beware of dating a Sucker Fish. In the wild, sucker fish attach themselves to larger marine animals and use their hosts, who get nothing in return, for food and transportation. Can you say "gold digger?"

  26. Sunfish: The sunfish is, to describe it in one word, impressive. It's the largest bony fish in the world (the average adult weight is 2,200 lb!). It feeds on jellyfish. Females can produce more eggs than any other known vertebrate. A Sunfish will never accept second best and will do anything to stay at the top of their game.

  27. Swordfish: The swordfish is a bit of a loner (it's rare that you'll find them with other swordfish, and even then it's only a loose aggregation and never a tight school). Swordfish may seem like solitary creatures at first, but don't write them off as bad dates. The swordfish also has almost no enemies, making a Swordfish date extremely popular and likeable once you actually get to know them.

  28. Tuna: You can't go wrong dating a Tuna. They may not be the flashiest, most exciting dates, but they are steady, caring partners that will always be attentive to the relationship and make sure your needs are met.

  29. Turtle: Is there anyone who doesn't love a turtle? They're so cute you just want to squeeze them! A Turtle may be a little shy at first, but they'll make a great date once you coax them out of their shell. Just be patient with them.

  30. Whale: Whales are some of the most intelligent, social creatures in the sea. A Whale makes for a smart, friendly date with good communication skills (and as a bonus, they'll also be a great parent one day). Who doesn't want their dating life to be a whale of a good time?

All that and still no mermaid option?? I'm so disappointed!

For more information on this dating site you can read our updated Plenty of Fish review.

Forecast: Online Dating Market Boom

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The online dating boom began in 2000, when around 100,000 early adopters braved uncharted Internet territory and dial-up connections to find love on the World Wide Web. Now, according to a Metaflake study, that number has reached 9.1 million in Britian and shows no signs of stopping. Some market players have estimated that in India this number will hit 115 million in three years.

Globally, the online dating market is estimated to be worth $4 billion USD. Two nations in particular, the UK and India, have seen especially steep rises in the popularity of online dating. In India, 6 million singles have joined dating sites and created a market worth over $130 million USD. In the UK, the online dating market jumped 6% to £170 million.

Metaflake credits the success of online dating in the UK to a few factors:

  • Meeting partners online has been most successful in secular, well-to-do countries.
  • Advertising strategies from rival dating sites have become increasingly aggressive.
  • The British are open-minded and willing to take a chance on online dating.
  • The UK has a "colourful dating landscape" that caters to all needs and interests.

Adam Sachs, co-founder and CEO of Indian dating site, sees similar changes happening in India. "Dating culture in India is evolving rapidly. Changing cultural dynamics like the increase in average marriage age... are shifting the dating paradigm significantly," he says.

These changing dynamics have made online dating a more socially acceptable option for Indian singles. Dating is now seen as a way to develop a close connection with someone before taking a step as serious as marriage. Internet dating services are valued for the convenience and accessibility they provide.

Despite positive predictions, however, it won't be completely smooth sailing for online dating sites. The marketplace is crowded and competitive, and the landscape is constantly changing. Social media sites like Facebook threaten to replace online dating services as they expand.

The growing use of smartphones is also changing the dating industry. Apps with location-based functionality are capturing more and more of the market, and mobile dating services that are simplified, cheaper versions of their online counterparts are increasingly prevalent.

Though the road may have a bump or two, experts predict that the only way is up for online dating. Metaflake's chief executive, Henning Wiechers, estimates that the UK's online dating market will have expanded by another 5% in 2012, and Indian dating site QuackQuack expects the online dating industry to see an annual growth rate of 20%.

For more current statistics on this industry you can read our Online Dating Facts page. To find out more on where some of these statistics come from for this article you can read IBNLive and the Guardian. Made A Stir In 2012

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2012 saw some big changes for Most notable among those was the introduction of Stir, Match's events service.

Stir launched in May 2012 to bring singles together in an environment that is both fresh and familiar. On one hand, it's online dating. But on the other, it's meeting people, in person, in a way that feels welcoming and comfortable. It's the perfect win-win.

Singles definitely took notice of Match's latest innovation:

  • Stir held just over 1,600 events in 2012
  • Over 150,000 attendees came to those events
  • Each month, Stir hosted over 300 events in more than 80 cities across the US
  • Stir forged partnerships with over 800 different venues of all kinds to host singles events

And that's definitely not all that Stir accomplished in 2012.

Match celebrated National Singles Week by hosting over 8,000 singles at 79 events in 48 different cities around the country. On October 25, Stir reached a major milestone - 1000 events! - and celebrated with a Moulin Rouge-themed party called "Cirque de l'Amour" at San Francisco's trendy Supperclub. Guests enjoyed an evening of games, circus performances, gourmet bites, DJ-spun beats, and extravagant costumes.

During the busy holiday season, Match teamed up with Charity: water to participate in #givingtuesday, a day designed to raise awareness and funds for charities around the world. Charity: water donates 100% of their efforts to providing fresh, clean water wells to cities in Ethiopia. Stir events raise well over their goal of $10,000 and plans to partner with more charities in the coming year.

Stir even branched out from its initial mission to introduce eligible singles by hosting a women-only event at the Rebecca Taylor store in NYC. Attendees learned all about the latest trends and first date fashion. Style for Hire, a national network of personal stylists assembled by Stacy London of What Not To Wear, helped the ladies choose items that showed them off at their best.

If you're looking for a venue near you, keep an eye out for Stir-branded stickers in the window. The bright black, blue, and white stickers name the establishment a 2012 Top Stir Venue and declare "Love Happens Here."

If you'd like to know more about what events are scheduled in your neighborhood, sign into your account. Match s constantly adding new events to the list, so click the "Events" tab to find the latest happenings in your area.

Here's to more mingling in 2013!

For more on this dating site and their live meeting events you should take a look at our review.

Google Zeitgeist on Dating for 2012

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Say what you want about Google (and believe me, I have), but I can think of no one better to gather the biggest stories of the past 12 months and determine exactly what defined the year 2012.

And they did. It's called Zeitgeist, and it's an annual tradition that analyzes over one trillion search queries in almost 150 languages to showcase what the world searched for. Using data from multiple sources, including Google Trends and other internal data tools, Google has turned the year's searches into a report that reflects 2012.

The report is divided into two sections: Trending and Most Searched. The "trending" queries are the searches that had the highest amount of traffic over a sustained period in 2012 as compared to 2011. The "most searched" queries are the most popular terms for 2012, ranked in order of the queries with the largest volume of searches.

Here's what Zeitgeist has to say about the most searched dating services of 2012:

  1. PlentyOfFish: POF - the site formerly known as PlentyOfFish - is one of the most popular free dating services on the Web. Since its launch in 2003, POF has appeared in music videos, launched mobile apps, and conducted a contest with Lady Gaga. For a review of this service see our Plenty of Fish page.
  2. Match: may be the most famous dating site in the world. Match has helped millions of singles look for love in 24 countries and redefined the way modern singles meet. Most recently, the company announced Stir, local events by For a review of this service see our page.
  3. OkCupid: OkCupid is famous for its lighthearted and affordable approach to online dating. The site is free to use, and features fun quizzes and multiple-choice questions designed to bring out users' personalities and encourage community interaction. For a review of this service see our OkCupid page.
  4. eHarmony: eHarmony is where it's at for singles looking for long-term relationships. Its famous matching questionnaire, developed by eHarmony Labs, takes a scientific approach to love that promises to find a deeper level of compatibility. For a review of this service see our eHarmony page.
  5. DateHookup: Online daters really like free stuff. DateHookup is another no-cost service for singles that made it into the Zeitgeist top 10. This year it hit the big times after being bought by and OKCupid owner, IAC/InterActiveCorp. For a review of this service see our page.
  6. Zoosk: Zoosk distinguishes itself from traditional dating sites by putting the focus on its social networking capabilities. It's currently available in 25 languages and more than 70 countries, and shows no signs of stopping in 2013. For a review of this service see our Zoosk page.
  7. ChristianMingle: "Find God's Match For You," says ChristianMingle, a faith-based site created to bring Christian singles together for friendship, dating, and marriage. With over 8 million members, the largest and fastest growing online Christian community. For a review of this service see our page.
  8. AdultFriendFinder: AdultFriendFinder is an online sex and swinger personals site that helps members meet new friends and sex partners. What started as a small niche site quickly grew in popularity - it even debuted the music video for Flo Rida's "Touch Me."
  9. JDate: JDate is one of a number of demographically focused online match-making websites operated by Spark Networks. JDate offers both free and premium plans to Jewish singles looking to date within their faith. For a review of this service see our JDate page.
  10. SinglesNet: SinglesNet offers singles a feature-rich environment with free online dating tools like online chat, personals, and dating forums. IAC added the site to its ever-expanding dating services roster back in 2010. For a review of this service see our page.

So what do you think...did the Zeitgeist report accurately capture the spirit of online dating in 2012?