Online dating sites use market metaphors to match people.Match metaphors are conceptual frameworks that allow individuals to make sense of new concepts by drawing upon familiar experiences and frame-works.
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Users of an online dating service would usually provide personal information, to enable them to search the service provider's database for other individuals.
Members use criteria other members set, such as age range, gender and location.
Other sites are more specific, based on the type of members, interests, location, or relationship desired.
A 2005 study of data collected by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that individuals are more likely to use an online dating service if they use the internet for a greater amount of tasks and less likely to use such a service if they are trusting of others.
As online dating's population becomes larger, sites with specific demographics are becoming more popular as a way to narrow the pool of potential matches.
The 20 most popular dating sites in 2006 as ranked by Hitwise include j (for Jewish singles), Christian Mingle.com, Christian Cafe.com, Man (same sex introductions), Love From India.ini, Black Christian People Meet.com, (for Latino singles), Asian People Meet.com, and (for Indian singles).
Research about social networking reveals that the online dating services driven by subscriptions offer the least amount of social networking opportunities.
The dating services modeled on the free-at-the-point-of-use model scored much higher as many of them utilized the Circle of Friends social networking method and a wider number of online community genres.
Most sites allow members to upload photos or videos of themselves and browse the photos and videos of others.