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Bonny Albo

Are There No 'Real' Dating Sites Left?

By October 10, 2011

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LJ posted a comment in the "Are There Any Legitimate Adult Dating Sites Left" blog post saying that "there are NO real dating sites left," and then discussed DatingSiteBuilder.com, which creates a site from scratch for anyone willing to pay their $29.95+ fee. I started to reply in the comments, but then thought this conversation deserved a blog post all its own. Especially since the original post about adult dating sites spoke more toward the difficulty in meeting real people as opposed to fake bots, whereas this discussion focuses more on the databases dating sites use to show they have a large membership.

Here's the thing: there are, literally, hundreds of companies providing similar services to DatingSiteBuilder.com. Anyone can buy a template dating site or dating site script. All it takes is some money (ranging from $20-several thousand, depending), a URL, and somewhere to host the site if the fee doesn't already cover web hosting space. That isn't to say that *all* dating sites use this tactic; most of the bigger players don't, i.e. PlentyOfFish, Match.com, OkCupid, eHarmony, etc.

To confuse matters even more, many of the larger dating sites buy up smaller sites, or start new dating sites that look different, but share the same database of singles or members. Case in point: an email from a reader earlier this week, who wanted to tell me that Fling.com, Adult Friend Finder and Friend Finder all share the same member list. How did she find out? She paid for one of the more adult dating sites and unknowingly emailed Friend Finder subscribers, who had no idea their profiles were being shown on the casual sex sister-sites. I have to admit the reader was a tad lucky; she didn't accidentally contact anyone from BigChurch, which is also owned by the same parent site, Penthouse.com. I'm not making fun of this reader, or anyone else who doesn't know it's common practice to "co-mingle" users from different sites. I'd be appalled if in the same situation, especially if I had moral convictions against BDSM (Alt.com, another Penthouse site) or casual sex (NoStringsAttached.com).

So what's a single person to do? One who wants to know the dating site they signed up for doesn't share databases with other companies they might not agree with, or want their information shared with? And, do any 'real' dating sites really exist anymore?

To answer the second question, first: yes, there are lots of 'real' dating sites, you just need to know how to look to find out - which answers the first question as well. The easiest way to find out if the site belongs to another, larger parent company? Scroll down to the very bottom of the dating site's main/home page, and look for either a copyright notice (usually by the parent company) or a link for a Privacy Policy and/or Terms of Service. Any one of these three items will show who owns the dating site, and therefore who they probably share a database - or at the very least, drew their site layout from.

Let me use an example to show you. Match.com is a well-known dating site that owns many, many other dating sites. Most of the dating sites owned entirely by Match.com on their "Network" share a database. How can you tell? When you scroll down to the very bottom at Match.com, you'll see the company is owned by "People Media." Okay, so who are they? A quick Google search shows they are the parent company of Match.com, and others like BlackPeopleMeet.com. So I went to look at BlackPeopleMeet.com, and found out via their privacy page that, "Members of the Network Websites are part of the same online community and profiles on any Network Website are viewable on the other Network Websites and paying subscribers will be able to communicate with other paying subscribers on all Network Websites." There are only a few exceptions to this network sharing dealio, such as OkCupid (who was bought out by Match.com earlier this year, but last I heard, still keeps all of its management, layout and membership base separate from Match.com.)

If I haven't confused you entirely, I'd love to know: is it a problem for you if the dating site you use shares a database with other dating sites, even if those dating sites aren't something you'd normally want an association with? Do you think there aren't any 'real' dating sites left because of all this sharing, or...?

October 13, 2011 at 2:17 am
(1) Arby says:

It’s all about trust. If you look like you’re hiding things, for obvious money-making reasons, that puts me off. You are either principled or you’re not. If you’re willing to do little (‘legal’, which doesn’t necessarily mean not morally criminal) things in order to make money, Where does it end?

Is there no way to make money in this world that doesn’t involved mere marketing (lying) or manipulation or outright deception or using muscle in some way (a site that you get into and is so hard to get out of that you just give up, for example [True])? How about giving people something ‘they’ might want and/or need? Of course, That would require investing rather than cost cutting and shortcut taking, something today’s brand of capitalists are loathe to do.

October 14, 2011 at 6:30 am
(2) Jenia says:

Personally, I don’t like the idea of sharing the database of singles profiles with all other dating sites. I myself will register in a site, if I am interested in that dating site. An individual will do check the credibility of an online dating site through research and reviews. As there are numerous options for online dating with many dating websites mushrooming on the web, the authenticity is really a matter of question. Sure that most of the companies will be in the market with monetary objectives but there will be also good dating websites which offer quality services for its customers. The facts that you have mentioned here like looking up the privacy policy or terms of use are really worth to know the parent company of the website.

October 16, 2011 at 2:25 pm
(3) Lisa says:

Since I’m a committed Christian, I have a big problem with this. I’m trying to avoid the bar scene and this sounds like just a step above that.

Privacy is very limited on the Internet, though, and you have to get used to that. But pumping up your numbers and pimping out members without your permission shouldn’t be allowed. I prefer to be asked which sites to be on first.

For instance, I was on Plentyoffish for a while and found plenty of trash there. People with incomplete profiles and, as most of us know, 40 percent or so of dating site members are married and looking for adultery.

October 14, 2011 at 6:09 pm
(4) Mz Parker says:

The problem with all these sites no matter what their genre is the ratio — simply put too many guys. Girls get spammed and hit the hills running, guys get frustrated because they’re competing with a ton of other fellas. A few of the sites, like adultswithbenefits.com and a few others, try to make it ratio balanced by controlling how many guys can sign up — but most see a 5-to-1 to 10-to-1 ratio and become a, pardon my french, “sausage fest”.

October 16, 2011 at 3:14 pm
(5) seeking single men says:

There are some who are scared to put personal info on online dating sites or just hate this platform for dating. There are many ways to find a date or partner, this is just way to make it a little easier for those who don’t have a lot of time for the regular way of meeting people. I’ll tell you this, i’ll do the online dating website anyday, before I do a blind date again. It’s sucks!

October 22, 2011 at 11:00 am
(6) Amanda says:

I actually am a member of aPOF and while I find it ok…I have a very hard time getting across my personality via email…so I CREATED my own web site about 3 weeks ago! It’s called TrueDub.com and it’s perfect for someone like me because I can upload videos to show who I am, plus there’s a video chat option. It’s free and has some social media aspects to it (there’s a wall, status, groups, events, etc) so it’s a different spin on the usual.

Anyway, I thought this was great blog post about how many of these dating sites make you pay for all this stuff and you don’t get exactly what you want. Thanks!

August 21, 2013 at 9:38 am
(7) Joseph says:

The fact is except for a couple of large sites that advertise on TV almost all of these other sites are all computer generated profiles design to lure guys in and pay money. They should be sued and shut down. Buyer beware yes but they know most people are slow in the brain and they use clever tactics to lure guys in believing its real. i have seen many of them and tested them with different tricks of my own and found most are almost completely run by computer programs even in things like their live support. What a joke. You sign up and instantly all these hot 20 something babes are emailing you but you can read the email or respond until you are a paid member hahaha. Yea right. then you pay and you never hear from someone again. Hang them all I say.

August 27, 2013 at 5:59 pm
(8) Ken says:

Once you built your dating site with <a href=”http://www.datingsitebuilder.com”>datingsitebuilder.com</a>. I believe you can share the profiles in the beginning and then stop it when you have enough members. Otherwise, it would be hard to get started if you don’t have (or have not many) members on your dating site.

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