Online dating (OD) or Internet dating is a dating experience that allows individuals to contact and communicate with one another over the Internet. This experience is usually with the objective of developing a personal, romantic, or sexual relationship. Online dating services usually provide unmoderated matchmaking over the Internet, through the use of personal computers or cell phones.
Online dating services require a member to provide personal information, before they can search the service provider’s database for other individuals. Members use criteria other members set, such as age range, gender and location.
Online dating sites use market metaphors to match people up. Match Metaphors are conceptual frameworks that allow individuals to make sense of new concepts by drawing upon familiar experiences and frame-works. This metaphor of the marketplace – a place where people go to “shop” for potential romantic partners and to “sell” themselves in hopes of creating a successful romantic relationship – is highlighted by the layout and functionality of online dating websites. The marketplace metaphor may also resonate with participants’ conceptual orientation towards the process of ﬁnding a romantic partner. Most sites allow members to upload photos or videos of themselves and browse the photos and videos of others. Sites may offer additional services, such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards. Some sites provide free registration, but may offer services which require a monthly fee. Other sites depend on advertising for their revenue. Some sites such as OKCupid, Plenty of Fish and Badoo are free and offer additional paid services in a freemium revenue model.
Some sites are broad-based, with members coming from a variety of backgrounds looking for different types of relationships. 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.