The New York Times Studies Dating Studies

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You know you've made it when the New York Times writes a feature about you.

As anyone who has followed my writing knows, I love nothing more than dating studies. I don't know what it is about them, but I'm incapable of ignoring a new study, survey, or experiment about love, romance, relationships, sex, dating, and everything in between. Maybe it's the idea of trying to quantify something that seems so unquantifiable, of explaining something that seems impossible to explain. Maybe it makes me feel like I'm putting my psychology degree to good use. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for a colorful infographic.

Whatever it is, the New York Times has caught the bug too. "There are millions of Americans seeking love on the Internet," begins a Times article called Love, Lies and What They Learned. "Little do they know that teams of scientists are eagerly watching them trying to find it." Studies of online dating habits have covered just about everything, from what triggers attraction to the role that politics plays in choosing a potential mate. The explosion of online dating sites has opened up a brave new world for researchers trying to understand the mechanics of love and connection, and they've made some very interesting discoveries:

  • Do people lie on dating sites? Absolutely. According to a study led by Catalina L. Toma, an assistant professor in the department of communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about 81% of daters misrepresent themselves online, but usually only by telling lies of the little and white variety. "Daters lie to meet the expectations of what they think their audience is," Toma explained, but their lies can't be too grand because they will eventually meet their date in person.

  • Despite the variety available online, most people "stick to their own kind" when it comes to dating sites. "We are nowhere near the post-racial age," said Gerald A. Mendelsohn, a professor in the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. His study found that even daters who stated that they were willing to date outside of their ethnicity didn't actually do it. Instead, he found that "white more than black, women more than men, and old more than young prefer a same-race partner."

  • Politics are on almost everyone's mind as we approach the 2012 elections, but not on the minds of online daters. Rose McDermott, a professor of political science at Brown University, found that few singles are willing to express a political preference online for fear of attracting fewer dates. "I was personally really shocked," she said. "People were much more likely to say 'I'm fat' than 'I'm a conservative.'"

Are online dating studies the way of the scientific future? Yes, says Andrew T. Fiore, a former visiting assistant professor at Michigan State University. "Online dating provides an ecologically valid or true-to-life context for examining the risks, uncertainties and rewards of initiating real relationships with real people at an unprecedented scale," he told the Times. "As more and more of life happens online, it's less and less the case that online is a vacuum. It is life."

The Biggest Online Dating Success Story Of 2011: Badoo.com

Badoo
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As of November 2011, Badoo had:

  • 130,000,000+ current users
  • Members in 180 countries
  • 127,503 new users per day
  • 1,411,665 photos and videos uploaded daily

Add all that together and what do you get? The biggest online dating success story of 2011.

Badoo is taking the world by storm according to TechCrunch. It's a truly global, multi-lingual phenomenon, with location-based social networking functionality that is bringing people together to chat and flirt all around the world. In fact, if Badoo was just a site for social networking, it would be the 4th largest in the world. But Badoo is so much more.

Knowing that each user's needs are different, Badoo takes on different roles in different countries. In the UK, it's primarily used for casual dating. In the Czech Republic, it's a marriage site. In Indonesia, it's a safe space for burqa-clad women to explore self-expression. The site has been used for everything from making friends to throwing parties. Thanks to that ability to be so many different things to so many different people, Badoo now brings in $100 million per year in revenue.

Their success story began in 2006 when, rather than seeing Facebook as competition, Badoo set out to fill a gap that Facebook had left in the market: helping strangers connect. Badoo then offered all of it's core functionality for free, giving users a full experience without the big price tag that comes along with many traditional dating sites. For those who want even more out of the site, paid subscriptions are available that unlock special features like the ability to see who has viewed your profile. A system of micropayments is also in place to help users improve their search rankings and become more visible.

Jessica Powell, Chief Marketing Officer of Badoo, believes that the site's success stems from its flexibility. Unlike sites that are specifically designed for dating, Badoo creates a space in which users can connect in any way they want. It's more like real life, she says, when "meeting new people" can be anything from being introduced to a friend of a friend, to saying "hi" to a stranger at a bar, to flirting, to going on a date. Badoo reflects the offline world because people want to meet real people, not pages of meaningless data.

The site's strategy of "real world meets cyberspace" seems to be working - Powell says that 50% of the conversations on Badoo now lead to an offline meetup, and at the rate Badoo is going, that number is only going to increase.

For even more information about this dating service you can read our Badoo.com review.

Chemistry's FREE this October Weekend - 2011

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Chemistry.com is have a free weekend promotion starting tomorrow. From Friday, October 15 to the end of day on Sunday, October 17 all members of Chemistry will be able to flirt, communicate and connect for free.

Chemistry will be advertising this promotion on TV so you can expect this dating service to have many new singles online actively looking for love. All you need to do is sign up as a free member and take the personality test to join in on the fun.

June was when the last free communication weekend was held by Chemistry (see Story). To find out more about this online dating site, please read our review of Chemistry.

2011 Dating Sites Reviews Choice Awards

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It is the beginning of October which means it is time for us to open voting for the Single's Choice Award poll of 2011. This poll is the start of our annual Dating Sites Reviews Choice Awards which recognizes the best dating sites and services of the year in a number of different categories. The first year we honored dating sites with awards was 5 years ago in 2007.

The Single Choice Awards is a category which visitors can cast their vote on which paid and free dating service is their favorite. The poll allows you to choose from a list of the top 8 paid dating sites and the top 7 free dating sites. These lists where determined by the editors of Dating Sites Reviews but only the people who vote get to voice their opinion on who should earn the Single's Choice Award. If you have not already, please cast your vote now:

Compare Dating Sites

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We have had our compare dating site feature up and running for a few weeks now. Our dating sites compare tool is integrated right into our dating site search tool. Once you select the criteria for a dating site and perform a search, you now have the ability to check off any dating site in the search results and compare them.

You can compare as many dating sites as you wish but we only show up to 4 on any one page. Dating sites when compared are displayed top to bottom (side by side) to make it easy to look across the page and compare each feature of all the services. A list of features are displayed on the left with the name of the dating sites across the top and bottom. A checkmark will be visible in the feature row if the service supports the feature. If the feature is not supported then a minus sign or a blank will be present. Compare results can be sorted and you can remove any dating site from the results once you have disqualified it to make comparing the other services easier.

We keep track of many features dating sites offer. This includes things like if there is a guarantee or coupons offered, to what regions and languages the site is available in. We also list if the dating site is designed for a particular person in mind like seniors or someone from a specific faith. Mobile applications are also listed along with the type of relationships the site is designed to create (i.e. casual, long-term, marriage, etc.). Using our new compare tool now makes it much easier for singles to see a side by side comparison of any dating site we have reviewed.

Check out the following page for examples of some of the more popular dating sites being compared with each other.

PlentyOfFish New Paid Membership

POF (Plenty of Fish)
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Over the last few years PlentyOfFish has tried several different ways to monetize their members. They first offered paid virtual gifts back in December of 2008. It didn't last long though and was pulled after about a month. In March of 2009 PlentyOfFish then offered the "Paid Profile Upgrade". This upgrade called the "Serious Member Badge" was designed to showcase that the member was serious about online dating by displaying icons on your images and highlighting your profile. Prices ranged from $5.95 to $9.80 a month. By mid-2010 the Serious Member Badge also offered a few additional features including having their profile appear above others in search results.

Early this month PlentyOfFish started to offer a new regular membership. As far as we can tell this membership has replaced the Serious Membership along with the “privilege of upgrading” assessment which was supposed to weed out all those who were not serious about maintaining a long-term relationship. The new membership offers:

  • The new and improved Ultra Match matching system
  • Improved visibility on PlentyOfFish including higher placement in search results
  • Find out if your emails were read or just deleted
  • The use of profile themes
  • Who has viewed your profile
  • Unlimited virtual gifts through email
  • Additional credits for placing gifts on profiles

Membership costs have increased slightly and range from $6.78 a month for a year to $11.80 a month for a 3 month term. There is no auto rebilling but memberships are also non-refundable. With these new membership changes the only thing that differentiates PlentyOfFish with most other popular paid dating sites is that they still allow all members to email and message each other for free.

With the new membership comes a new statistic. If you upgrade to the new membership it will improve your chances by 530% according to PlentyOfFish (I assume this is when compared to a free membership on the site). With the Serious Membership upgrade your chance of a relationship only increased by 230% 😉 (See Story).

I also notice the other week that the domain Plentyoffish.com now forwards to POF.com, this use to be the other way around. The URLs in the emails I receive from PlentyOfFish for matches etc. also use the POF.com domain though the email is still sent from customercare@plentyoffish.com. The site is still obviously called PlentyOfFish so I am not sure why they changed the primary domain at this point to just the initials. Maybe it will be easier to remember for the average user, or maybe there will be a name change in the future? (I really doubt this will happen)

The last thing that has changed is that the forums link is now back at the top of the PlentyOfFish dating site. We notice that this link first disappeared sometime last summer (See Story). The upgrade link in the forums though still points to the old “SERIOUS UPGRADE” page and not the new membership upgrade page.

To find out more about this dating service you can read our POF review.