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Online Dating Services - Match.com Review
Review by Joe Tracy, Publisher of Online Dating Magazine

Dating Site: Match.com
Slogan: Connecting People
Review Date: November 28, 2003
Online Dating Magazine Rating: 8/10
Browse for Free? Yes

Cost Structure
1 Month = $19.95 (first 3 days "free")
3 Months = $39.95 (first 3 days "free")
6 Months = $59.95 (first 3 days "free")

Best Feature:
Keyword search. Match.com is the only online dating site to offer a keyword search for users. Type in a word and Match.com will search all of the profiles and return results that match the keyword. It's like having a search engine just for profiles and is one of the best advancements for an online dating service in awhile!

Most Annoying Feature:
Match.com is the only online dating service I know that puts annoying ads throughout its site that even sometimes block your ability to read what you want. Match.com makes a bundle off of subscriptions. Do they really need to throw annoying ads at their users too?


Review

Match.com is one of the oldest (and most popular) dating sites online. And throughout the years, Match.com has continued to improve its service, versus remaining stagnant like its sister site, Udate.

Match.com is extremely rich in features, although many of those features will cost you extra money beyond your subscription.

The results Match.com provides are very clean and well organized. When you search, there are 10 results returned on each page, each in its own frame, allowing you to see the person's username, age, location, age of who they are seeking, subject header, and description. In addition, you have the option to send an email, chat (if the person is online), wink at the person, leave a voicemail for the person, or add the person to your favorites.

One of the best things about the search results is that Match.com allows users to state the age range of who they are seeking. This is prominently displayed in the search results. So hopefully this helps filter out a 23 year old female (seeking someone 20-29) from getting messages from 55 year old men. More sites need to use this feature.

I really like how Match.com handles the communication phase. When you go to send an email to someone, a very user friendly email screen pops up that shows the picture of the person and what they said about themselves (so you can refer to it as you write). But the big winner on this screen is the "What to say: seven terrific tips" that gives the writer insight into making a stronger impact with an opening email message.

Another interesting thing about Match.com is that after you send an email to a member, Match.com shows you a list of other members whose profiles were like the one of the person you just emailed. This reminds me of Amazon.com, which gives you a list of similar books to the one you just ordered. My first time seeing this, I had mixed feelings. My interest was in the person I was emailing and suddenly I'm shown other "similar" ones. It's a nice feature, although I personally like to just communicate with just a few people at a time.

The keyword search really sets Match.com apart from other services. I love this feature. The way it works is you type in a word or interest and the system searches matches where the other person has mentioned that in their profile. Here's a tip, though. When typing in more than one word, use quotes. For example, when I searched "roller coaster" (and didn't use quotes), it returned results about roller skating and roller blading. But when you use quotes around your search term then it searches for that specific match. Match.com takes this feature further by allowing you to designate and age range, location range, and whether to only return results with photos. This is a perfect way to find people near you who share a major passion. For example, let's say you love swing dancing. Type in "swing dancing" as your keyword, set your other parameters and soon you'll be presented with profiles of people near you who have specifically mentioned swing dancing.

Match.com also includes a personality survey and quizlets that help you get to know yourself better. Called "self-discovery," these quizlets are easy to take and the results are fun to view. And there are dozens of quizlets - everything from "are you snob?" to "is your honey high maintenance?"


My Experience
I've been on and off Match.com for about 14 months and I've found it to be not as effective (for me) as other services. While I've communicated with a few people, I have yet to meet any in person from Match.com (compare that to eHarmony where I've already met 6 people in person while using it for a shorter period of time than Match.com).


A Word of Warning
Some people use the Match.com service (and other dating services) as a way to SPAM you. Here's an example of an email I received from someone at Match.com:

"Dear soon-to-be man of my dreams,

Ok, so I may be jumping to conclusions, but what can I say, Im an optimist! Im on my way to Vegas (yeah me!!) so I have to make this short (sorry!). I know that they dont let you reply for free here (&*$%), so heres my email address.

(email address removed)

Id looove to hear from you, and that way I can send you a photo since they havent posted mine yet (I'm 5'5" slim with long hair and pretty darn cute, I think!). Check out my measly profile in the meantime (if they've approved it yet...i just joined today!) & Ill drop a quarter in the slots for you!!"

If you get a message like this, you'll probably want to delete it immediately. If you look up their username you'll find you can't view their profile (because it's hidden). If you email the person then they now have your email address and can start spamming your email address with messages disguised to get you to pay into another service.

To Match.com's credit, they include a disclaimer to those receiving email messages to immediately forward advertisements or abusive emails to their abuse depart. This allows Match.com to immediately address the problem.


Recommendations to Match.com
Match.com is a mixture of blessings and frustrations. Here are a few suggestions on how Match.com can improve its service:

1) Get rid of the ads. Good Online dating sites, like Match.com, make millions of dollars in subscriptions alone. Throwing ads into the picture makes the service appear greedy and only serves to annoy those using the site. Particularly annoying are the ads that sometimes pop up over text. But it doesn't stop there. Match.com also builds ads into it's site that looks like content. Here's an example:

Notice just above and to the right of the headline you can barely read (must look carefully), "This is an Advertisement." Because it's made so light, people don't generally see it and since the ad is returned as a "profile", it looks like a profile link. But when you click, it goes to a full page ad for Johnson & Johnson Clean Burst Dental Floss!

2) Match.com charges you to view another person's video even if you are subscribed to the service. Perhaps Match.com would be better off promoting the benefits of having a video on your profile then charging those who add a video. This allows everyone else to see it for free and thus adds benefit to those who have a video with their profile. But this might also be costly in bandwidth usage, which may be why Match.com chose the route they did. My recommendation - charge to post a video, but allowed paid members to view videos for free. Those not paid can be sold on viewing the videos as being one of the benefits to subscribing.

3) Allow users to manage Winks. As it is now, you can send a wink, but you can't ever delete it (only the person receiving it can delete it at will). Match.com also doesn't gray out the wink option once you've sent it. So you may find yourself trying to wink at the person again at a later time (Match.com does tell you that you've already winked at them after you try and wink again, though).

4) Deliver Winks quicker! When you wink at a person, it may be a day (or two or three) before the other person is notified you have winked at them. A wink should be instant and this is definitely an area that Match.com can improve.

5) Match.com is becoming a menu selection for charged services, which is decreasing the overall value of subscribing. Even after you pay to subscribe you'll find that you need to pay $4.95 more a month to see other members video introductions. Want to leave them a voice mail? You can have 15 minutes of overall voice mail time a month for another $4.95. Want advice from a Match.com advisor? Sure, for up to $1.79 per minute via your phone. Want to allow a person to text message you on your mobile phone? That's an additional $5 a month. On top of all these extra costs, Match.com also has ads throughout their site. It takes away from the simplicity of the experience and just makes the everything seem to "crowded". Yes, the additional services are great, but perhaps Match.com can create "packages" or restructure it's service to provide more benefit to regular Match.com subscribers.

Conclusion
Match.com has more features than any other online dating service. Also, I can't say enough about its keyword search. In many ways, Match.com is setting the standard for other online dating services to follow. But success sometimes comes with a price. With Match.com that price is that there are too many people. And when you have so many people, the physically attractive ones seem to get all the attention - and quite a bit! So for someone who keeps in shape and has an awesome personality, but doesn't look like a model, finding results may be a little more difficult.

Match.com is definitely the best of the "see 'em and pick 'em" type online dating services, but it has a little ways to go to present other forms of strongly matching people, like eHarmony presents. But then again, that may not be their goal, just as it isn't the goal of eHarmony to allow you to see all users signed up on its service - only ones that match you in great detail.

Pros Cons
well known too many ads
a lot of people too many people
real life events lots of charges for extras
nice personality matching must sign up to respond
quizlets  
keyword search  

Online Dating Magazine gives Match.com a score of 8 out of 10.

--

Click here to submit your review of Match.com.


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