Review of Plenty Of Fish: Put On Your HazMat Suit!
Where to begin with Plenty Of Fish online dating site?
From time to time we re-visit dating sites we reviewed earlier, to see if there are any substantial changes to report. Not surprisingly, POF has largely remained the hotbed of shirtless bathroom selfies..spelling atrocities, and baby-mommas that we recall from our days as actual card-carrying members. True Confession: One of The Dating Gurus joined the site after her best friend's 20 year-old daughter (should have been the tip-off) lauded the free site, and urged her to try it.
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.
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 $6.78 and $12.90 a month. You get some enhancements: featured on "Meet Me" up on the top of the page when you meet search criteria, the ability to use themes in your profile; send free gifts in messages; see if your ads were read or deleted, and post up to 16 pictures (which we highly suggest you do not, lest you look some some narcissistic crazy person).
Things to consider:
- Before upgrading to a paid premium membership, you must first pass a 25-question test designed to measure your relationship skills.
- Upgrading to a premium membership gives you the added benefit of having your profile and messages stand out with a gold star. According to Plenty of Fish, this doubles your chance of finding a match.
Some upgrade claims are dubious: "Access to the best looking local dates who reply to messages." Really? Can you substantiate that claim, POF?
In short, though it is cheap, the upgrade isn't worth it. For our dime, we'd highly recommend the free or upgraded version of OkCupid in a heartbeat.
The better dating sites have sophisticated algorithms that attempt to match up compatible people. PlentyOfFish does not do this. You're out there on your own, trolling by age, zip code, ethnicity, eye color. 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. While every dating site has its fair share of men's bathroom selfies of their ripped "washboard" abs with requisite baseball cap on backwards, Plenty of Fish tilts the scales.
Got a shortage of duckface in your life? Missing out on pictures of women with facial piercing and gangsta tats below their waistband, or obese 18–30 year olds in skimpy clothes, pulling provocative, pouting poses and stating they need a real man to handle a real woman? You know where to go.
On the other side of the gender fence, there is the Clueless Man, who will write an earnest 500 word essay 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!”
POF Scrubs Behind its Ears
To his credit, in response to criticism that POF is "the trailer park of the online dating world," founder Markus Frind sent out an unusual e-mail to all members in 2013, stating that the following changes would be made, in part:
- Its "Intimate Encounters" section is going away.
- 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.
- 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 even this will be enough.
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 we 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-- 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.