Online dating services also differ widely in their revenue streams.
Some sites are completely free and depend on advertising for revenue.
Under this metaphor, members of a given service can both "shop" for potential relationship partners and "sell" themselves in hopes of finding a successful match.
At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38% increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc.
Age typically is their second filer; a photo is the first. It’s called Stich which has been in existence for one and a half years and now has 65,000 members in the US, Australia, the UK and Canada.
Among the popular ones are Match.com, E-harmony, Zoosk, Elitesingles and Ourtimeto name a few.
Such companies offer a wide variety of unmoderated matchmaking services, most of which are profile-based.
I am in my early 70’s, divorced and looking for good male company. Everybody needs company, no matter what their age is.” Stitch does not filter according to age; it filters according to the type of companionship one is seeking such as romantic or non-romantic. Marcie Rogo, co-founder says, “The reason we don’t allow filtering on age is because we found that age is so fluid for this generation.
I avoided the more popular dating sites thinking that I would find a better match with someone who would make personalized introductions. When I told the match maker my age she said finding a few men in my age category would take several months. No one feels their ‘age’ so everyone lies about their age. Are you less mobile and want someone who is OK hanging out at home or going to the movies? It’s what you want and like to do at your age that matters.
Opinions and usage of online dating services also differ widely.
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 number of tasks, and less likely to use such a service if they are trusting of others.