Plenty of Fish is swabbing the deck. On Monday, POF founder, Markus Frind, announced to members that the site will be undergoing some major changes. “POF is all about relationships, I’m going to make a bunch of changes to ensure it stays a relationship-focused site, ” Frind said. However, as an online dating coach, I question whether the site was ever one that attracted relationship-seekers to begin with.
PlentyOfFish.com, which holds the #1 dating site stats ranking in multiple countries including the U.S., is one of the only top-ranked sites that allows members to not only register, but also to search and message for free, deriving more of its revenue from advertisers. Due to the low barrier for entry this leads them to attract more casual daters. However, it also allows them to focus on retention of customers rather than constantly having to attract new singles.
Plenty of Fish also has led the pack on innovation for many years offering many options for communication to serve the varied interests of users. One of theses features, Intimate Encounters (IE), was a subset of Plenty of Fish for those explicitly seeking sexual partners without having to shoulder the burden of a relationship.
To make a dating site work, the site must first have viable options for people to date. In the case of Intimate Encounters, Frind said, “There are 3.3 million people who use the site every day, of those there are only 6,041 single women looking for Intimate Encounters. Of those 6,041 women, the ones with hot pictures are mostly men pretending to be women. Intimate Encounters on POF can be summed up as a bunch of horny men talking to a bunch of horny men pretending to be women.”
In other changes he has curtailed users from contacting members where there are age gaps of 14 or more years. “There is no reason for a 50 year old man to contact 18-year-old women. The majority of messages sent outside those age ranges are all about hook-ups,” he wrote.
He added that an estimated two per cent of male members had “started to use POF as more of a hook-up site mostly due to the casual nature of mobile phone use,” following the increasing popularity of smart phone apps among the site’s users.
With over 55 million members world-wide and some 24 million messages sent every day, Plenty of Fish’s free-to-use membership has made it the most popular internet dating website in the UK and the US since it was founded in 2003. Mr Frind also recently boasted an estimated one million babies will have been born because of people connecting through his website.
One 21-year-old female user told The Independent she joined PoF because she was intrigued after a number of her friends had been using it. She started dating online with the hope of eventually beginning a relationship.
Instead, she was bombarded with sexually explicit photos and messages: “I used to get all sorts emailing me, asking to be my slave and asking for sex. I met my boyfriend on there and we have been dating since August, so my general impressions are mixed. You can meet some decent people but I wouldn’t use it again, it seems people just want casual fun.”