Oh my.  Where to begin with the PlentyOfFish.com online dating service?  First of all, let’s drop the silly name and shorten it to POF for the purposes of this article, lest I go insane from typing it out repeatedly.

The male half of The Dating Gurus first became aware of POF many years ago, while still married but not looking (really).  POF achieved a small measure of fame in Internet Marketing circles because the founder, Markus Frind, basically threw this site together over the course of a few weeks.  It was bare-bones, ugly, and not very functional.

Yet Frind flipped the switch and within a few months he was making $20,000 a day.  Today, POF books over $10 million a year in advertising revenue.  Frind readily admits that he only works a few hours a week on this site.

Which leads us to our most important point:

PlentyOfFish Is Free, Really

POF latched onto one, simple idea:  create a totally free online dating site.  Nobody had done this as successfully before.

That’s the best thing about PlentyOfFish.  It’s a fully functional dating service without cost.

Now, don’t confuse this with other sites that say they are “free.”  Sure, they are free.  To a point.  Match.com may offer a free version, but it’s just an inducement to sign up for the pay version.

Totally Free Kinda

But POF knows that some people will fork over money for basically nothing; they’d be dumb not to take advantage of this human trait.  That’s why POF does offer an upgraded version for between $5.95 and $9.80 a month.  You get minor enhancements:  the ability to use themes in your profile; send free gifts in messages; see who viewed your profile.

Some upgrade claims are dubious:  “Access to the best looking local girls who reply to messages.”  Really?  Can you substantiate that claim, POF?  And what if I happen to be a girl myself?

In short, though it is cheap, the upgrade isn’t worth it.

Not Very Smart.  Pretty Dumb, In Fact

The better dating sites have sophisticated algorithms that try to match up compatible people.  PlentyOfFish does not do this.  Thus, it is not one of the “better” dating sites.

You’re out there on your own, trolling by age, zip code, ethnicity, eye color.  The better dating sites make an effort to match you, yet they give you the opportunity to troll.

PlentyOfFish does not do this.  And that’s why POF sometimes resembles a Seventies-era meat market singles bar.  Except without the ferns and blended margaritas.

Suit Up:  Get Ready to Enter the Sleaze Zone

This is the most controversial aspect to POF, and the most difficult to discuss in a politically correct way.  It has something to do with the quality of the people you will find on POF.  And no, we’re not talking race, religion, or gender.  Let’s just say that you’ll find a few bottom-dwellers.

POF is the MySpace of online dating sites.

Does your life have an absence of men taking pictures of their ripped “washboard” abs via smartphone in a mirror?

Go to PlentyOfFish!

Got a shortage of duckface in your life?  Missing out on pictures of women with gangsta tats below their waistband?

Go to PlentyOfFish!

The blog Outside the Box is on the target when it identifies the social strata of POF.  For example, you’ll always find

Obese 18 – 30 year olds in skimpy clothes, pulling provocative, pouting poses and stating they need a real man to handle a real woman.

On the other side of the gender fence, there is the Clueless Man:

He will write 500 words on what he does for a living, what he is looking for, how he believes others view him…and what sports he likes. He will then end by saying, “Hopefully I haven’t bored you!” The irony.

Update:  POF Tries to Clean Itself Up

On May 30, 2013, in response to criticisms that POF is “the trailer park of the online dating world,” founder Markus Frind sent out an unusual e-mail to all members, stating that the following changes would be made, in part:

  1. Its “Intimate Encounters” section is going away.
  2. You can only contact people 14 years older or younger than yourself.  He believes that dating beyond that age range is unacceptable, because there would only be one reason for the contact.
  3. Any first IM between users that contains questionable references or language will be deleted.

The Dating Gurus appreciates Frind’s attempts to clean up this wasteland, but we don’t think that dictatorial methods are the way to go about it.  Wethinks this is the beginning of the end for POF.

Grade:  D

Yes, POF can be a skanky, depressing place–the ghetto of the online dating world.  Because it’s free?

Well, it does help to have the money hurdle to keep out the riff-raff.  But I think it’s also because the profile-writing requirements are so low.  Add a few specifics about yourself, write a short narrative, and you’re ready to go.  Literacy is not a requirement on POF; you just need to be a warm body.

POF should not be your only dating service.  At best, it’s a supplement to other services.  Enter at your own risk.

Perhaps Mr. Frind should start putting in a few 9-to-5 days on his site.

 

 

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