Seems like everywhere we surf on the Internet nowadays we run across this little advertisement: 'Free online personals'. They are everywhere, they are dating sites, and more are opening up shop every day.
Welcome to the newest internet gold rush. More and more people are signing up to these new and "free" dating sites. What they are really getting is a place on the web where they can post their profile and let strangers contact them. As more and more dating sites pile up on the web, more people are ending up with very distasteful experiences because of this. Why? 99% of today's (and tomorrow's) dating sites do not screen their members at all. This means there are sex offenders, predators, scam artists mixed in with genuine people who are looking to find a match. Dating services need to be very discretionary and much safer, until that time comes here are some important things to consider when thinking about joining a dating site.
1). Examine the site's physical properties. Is it poorly constructed with missing graphics or jagged fonts, mis-aligned sections? If so, this indicates a lack of attention to detail in the construction and layout of the site. It may have been pre purchased and the owner does not have the skill to alter it correctly. Why would you care? Well, a site in a state like this gives a clue that the back end program probably is also in a state of disarray or disregard. If the webmaster cannot construct the face of the site, then it is likely they cannot also construct important safety features behind the site. A hacker then could easily penetrate it and get your personal information including your photo. If you eventually pay this site, your credit information could be stolen as well! A nicely designed site means careful construction and a better chance of good quality code running the site in the background.
2). Look at some sample profiles on the site before you sign up by running a quick search. Do the profiles look a little bogus? A lot of them are. Many sites (especially new ones that have just started up) pad their membership database with photos of models or random (usually good-looking people) to attract new members. Do the profiles have a lot of jibberish characters or nonsensical phrases in the descriptions? That means the dating site you are at does NOT screen the people who sign up. This welcomes people with ill-intent. You should get out of there immediately and go to one that does.
4). Does the site have a links page? If so click and examine. See who they are affiliated with. Usually, there will be graphical banners or icons next to the names of their associations. Are they sex-sites? Spam sites? Even a quick glance in this area could tell you what kind of a dating site you are at.
5). What is the copyright date at the bottom? This could indicate the age of the site. If it is very young, this could help you determine if the site has worked out all the kinks (program bugs) and how many members they have accumulated.
6). Be wary of statements like "You are the 4697th member to join today." and "Search through millions of profiles." these statements are usually false. Major sites, which have been running for YEARS usually can support these statements. look for a "whos online" link. If you are the only person (1 guest online means JUST you are there) then you know these claims are false. A site with millions or even thousands of members will always have a bunch of people currently online. If you detect this in a dating site, it is better to leave than to take a chance with a dishonest site.
This is just a short list of ideas to help keep you safe when dating online. Be leary, be safe. More information can be found at www.cupidsblackbook.com.
Leif Croonquist is 34 year old writer from Portland, Oregon. He currently writes for www.cupidsblackbook.com.