In this review I’ll be looking at the largest free dating site on our planet, and it goes by the name: Plenty of Fish (POF).
Free dating has always been very controversial, with many saying it’s a magnet for people looking for casual sex and scammers trying to rip people off. Whereas on paid dating sites the use of credit card authentication helps to weed out the less serious daters, and also prevents some (but not all) of the scammers slipping through.
What do I say? I think it’s great.
Yes, the percentage of members on free sites looking for casual encounters is a lot higher, but it’s still within the boundaries of reasonable. Their scam filters are also very good, and when combined with a little common sense, there is no reason at all why you can’t find you soul mate on a free site like Plenty of Fish.
About Plenty of Fish
Founded in 2003 by Markus Frind from Canada, Plenty of Fish (POF) has rapidly grown to become the largest dating site in the world. Most members are located in America, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia.
With a dating site of this magnitude, you are bound to find some very impressive figures, like the 32 million members, the 15 million messages that are sent per day and 30,000 new signups per day.
The site appears to be much more attractive to younger daters, with the highest percentage of members aged from 18 years to 35 years old. You will find older daters too, just in smaller numbers.
It would be wrong to call this a causal dating site, but it would also be wrong to call it a serious dating website. I think it lies somewhere in between. Half of the members are looking for fun, and the other half looking for commitment.
POF Dating Guide on Youtube
Creating Your Profile
Signing up is painless, and can be completed in a little less than 90 seconds by filling out the form shown below.
Once you have completed the form you are presented with a questionnaire to fill out. This is basically your profile, and until it’s filled out, you will be unable to do any kind of fishing. But it’s very straightforward, and certainly nothing like the length of the eHarmony.com questionnaire.
Basic questions are included like: your height, hair color, body type, religion and are you a smoker etc. You are then asked to provide a headline and description, do your best to make both of these irresistible. Their video guide above provides some helpful tips on creating a great profile.
Once complete, you can now upload a photo or two and get started.
Features You’ll Find
When you first get your hands on the Plenty of Fish interface you’ll find that despite it being free, this most definitely does not mean it’s lacking in the features department. In fact, it’s a little like walking into a fishing shop and finding everything you will ever need to land a little carp, or a killer shark.
The cool Meet Me feature shows you photos of local members then asks the simple question: “Want to Meet Her/Him?”. You can answer with: yes, no or maybe. It’s practically identical to the famous website Hot or Not, actually, it’s a blatant copy! Still, it’s a nice feature, and if you judge people based on looks only, it’s a really easy way to look through hundreds of members photos in no time at all.
Hottest Girls is an exclusive feature for men only. This is a list of the hottest girls in your area, and the ones most likely to reply to you. But I’m afraid this feature is only available to those with an upgraded (paid) membership. I’m not a big fan of discriminating against people based on their looks only, so personally this feature leaves a sour taste in my mouth. And why not a “hottest guys” option for the girls?
Then there’s the My Matches feature. Here you will find a whole selection of members that have been matched to you by the system. It’s influenced by a combination of search settings and your actions on the site, and the system evolves based on your usage of the site. If you are always search for short blond girls, then you will find a lot more blondes in your matches. But a match here certainly does not mean that you guaranteed to have much in common; as if you only have one similar interest in your profile like rock music, then you are deemed a match. You can see a screen shot below (I’ve blacked out the recognisable faces).
Ultra Match is their advanced Behavioral Matchmaking System, similar to what you will find on sites like eHarmony.com. But this exclusive feature is only available to those with an upgraded (paid) membership.
Each day that you log in to your POF account, you will receive 30 points. These points can be used to purchase inbox gifts that can be sent to other users on the site. But please don’t use them to send virtual roses, or any other virtual gift; they are so tacky and are unlikely to land you a date. A personalised message is always the best way to go.
POF is also mobile friendly with apps for the iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 7.
The Traffic Test
Since it holds the status of the world’s largest dating site, you would expect there to be no shortage of potential dates to choose from. Well, providing you are between the ages of 18 and 35, that is most definitely the case.
My local town with a population of 55,000 has just over 100 members in the age range of 25 to 33. And if I add an additional 10 miles to the search radius, this number soon doubles.
I expect the numbers will be similar for most small to medium sized towns, and in the cities the numbers will sky rocket. The same search in New York for example returns 600+ results.
The Scam Test
If you leave you profile description empty for a week, and also avoid uploading any photos, you’ll soon get a good idea to the amount of spammers active on any particular dating site. Real members very rarely contact other members without photos and with a blank description, but spammers will.
Being a free dating site I really expected to see a lot of scams floating around in my inbox. But surprisingly in over 2 years of being a member, I’ve not received a single scam email. I think this is testament to the great scam/spam filters that they have in place. They are even putting many paid dating sites to shame.
But it’s a free dating site? Yes it is free, you can create your profile and send and receive messages completely free of charge. But there is an upgrade available that provides some additional benefits like: show up first on Meet Me, access to Ultra Match, see if your emails were read or deleted, hottest girls, experience POF ad-free and use themes on your profile.
The 2013 upgraded membership prices for Plenty of Fish are as follows:
$81.40 for a 12 month membership
$51.00 for a 6 month membership
$35.40 for a 3 month membership
And just like most paid dating sites, Plenty of Fish will automatically continue your subscription for the same period and amount as your current upgrade. So cancel this early on to avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.
I’ve never paid for the upgrade myself, and the cost of a few additional features is overpriced in my opinion. You really don’t need to upgrade to find someone here.
Good and Bad Points
The world’s largest dating site
100% free to send and receive messages
iPhone, Android and Windows mobile support
Pretty amazing set of features
Membership numbers decline from ages 35 and up
Only around 50% of members are seeking a relationship
Adverts, but these can be removed if you upgrade
Free dating used to mean one thing, lots of fake profiles and more people looking for one night stands than serious relationships. But thanks to Plenty of Fish this is no longer the case.
Markus Frind has managed to develop a site that is free, but more importantly also free from scammers and fakers.
Unfortunately being free does mean that you have to put up with the adverts. But after a while you develop ad blindness and won’t even notice them. If they do really bug you, you can always upgrade and the ads will be removed.
The number of people on the site looking for casual relationships is significantly higher than on paid sites like match.com. But with millions of members you will still find plenty of daters looking for long term commitment.
As the majority of users on the site are aged 18-35, if you fall outside of this age group you may find that the number of potential dates for you is limited.
To summarize, it’s the largest dating site in the world, and it’s also FREE. Do you really need to look any further than: www.plentyoffish.com