• Most features are free after sign-up
• Excellent search features and fun communication methods
• Huge number of users (over 32,000,000)
• Basic-looking interface
• Lots of advertising, some of which could be inappropriate
• More geared towards casual dating and intimate encounters
• Lots of fake profiles and scammers
Plentyoffish.com is a fun, free and simple to use dating site with a huge number of users and some nice features. However, it is hard to recommend for users looking for long term dating, and the more adult nature of parts of the site may put some users off.
Plenty of Fish (POF.com) is a hugely popular dating site that has the accolade of the Number One free dating site of 2011. It has over 32,000,000 members, so whichever area you live in you can almost guarantee finding matches near you. We took a look at the site to see how it matches up to the other top dating sites around today.
POF.com has a fairly detailed sign-up process, which was surprising as the site seems geared towards less serious dating. As well as entering some basic details (postcode, vital statistics etc.), there are some more probing questions about income, whether you want children or not etc. The more personal questions, for example regarding income, come with a disclosure that this information will not be made public, but is used to match profiles.
Following this you have to compose a minimum 100-character profile summary and upload a photo, which is a good way to filter out time-wasters, but can be challenging for some users, and could put some people off signing up. A better device is the Relationship Chemistry Predictor, which uses 73 multiple choice questions to assess your personality and helps to match your profile with like-minded users. You also receive fairly detailed results to this test, which break down your personality into five sections (Self Confidence, Family Orientation, Self-control, Easygoingness, Openess).
The search function on POF.com is very comprehensive, offering a wide range of parameters and options in the advanced search section. You can chose to search by location, online users, ethnicity, age etc. but also by the type of dating other users are looking for. These are divided into Anything, Hang Out, Long Term, Dating, Friends and Intimate Encounter. Changing these options really makes a difference to the results and the type of user you can find, although the majority of profiles on POF.com do seem to be looking for fun rather than long-term relationships. Searching the Intimate Encounters brings up a lot of fake profiles and also occasionally adult material, so it is disappointing that there are no age restrictions on this.
POF.com uses communication methods similar to those you would find on social networking sites. You can Instant Message with people that appear online, or send a ‘quick message’ or email to anyone that doesn’t offer that option.
There are a few nice features, such as the ability to send gifts bought with points gained by logging in. These really only serve as ice breakers, but it is a nice touch to be able to send a rose with your message.
For upgraded members, there are additional features such as ‘Meet Me’, where other users can choose if they are interested in you from your profile picture, and ‘Ultra Match’ (an advanced behavioural match system). For male users there is a ‘Hottest Girls’ section where you can view the most popular girls in the area that respond to messages frequently, and female users get the ‘Most Attracted’ feature which creates a list of the male users that are most likely to be attracted to you.
While POF.com claim it is for over 18s only, there is no verification process so it is easy for anyone to join. As this is also a free dating site, there are a large number of fake profiles and possible scammers on there, so extra care has to be taken when communicating or giving out details.
In the Help section there is a comprehensive security section which gives advice on keeping your account secure, how to report users and safe dating etc.
Ease of use
The user interface on POF.com is pretty basic to look at, but is very simple to navigate and has many similarities to modern social networking sites. The search functions use a combination of drop down boxes and simple boxes to fill in, and browsing other users is as simple as possible.
Communication will be elementary to anyone that has used social networking, and it is made very easy for those that aren’t so experienced (for example to send a quick message there is a huge ‘Send a Quick Message’ icon and text box below the users profile picture. The advertising is annoying, and although it is to be expected on a mainly free site, some of the adverts could be seen as inappropriate for some users.
Help & support
The Help/FAQ section is very nicely broken down and presented, with the main page being broken up into 10 sections (Getting Started, Features, Security etc) and are very comprehensive. However we couldn’t find any way of emailing or phoning for support, so if it is available it is certainly not easy to find.
POF.com is a great site for those that are looking for a fun dating experience with a large number of users, and the fact that the majority of the site is free is a huge plus. However, this isn’t a site we would recommend for people looking for serious relationships, as this is definitely geared more towards casual dating or more intimate encounters.
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