See, I'm interested in people. I want to meet random people and see what makes them tick. I'm also interested in people that are interested about people - most of these sites have dramatically different ways to match up pairs and I've been vastly curious about who comes *up* with these, and which ones work.
Match.com is conventional. Horribly, horribly conventional. If you want distilled cliche power you go to match.com. Despite that, it's possible to find cool people on it (hi maggie!) but, to be honest, it's not really *because* of match.com . . . it's more *in spite of* match.com.
The Onion's personals is part of a big conglomorate. There's basically a company that's decided to be "The Anti-Match.com" and they go sign up other popular sites. All I can remember offhand is The Onion and fark.com, but I'm about 99% sure there are more. This group tries very hard to not be match.com, and it succeeds, brilliantly, in being a company that's trying very hard not to be match.com. It doesn't succeed in much else. Instead of being cliche relationship, it's more . . . cliche goth. It's not even *good* cliche goth. "What famous person do you look like." Jesus, people. Go rewrite those questions.
Craig's List is freeform. I'm actually having a lot of fun with Craig's List because you can write completely crazy stuff and get responses. I'm planning on writing a entry that's solely about how I made a lot of cookies and want to meet someone who likes peanut butter cookies. I'm planning to write an entry talking about how I am a god, in human form, and perfect in every conceivable way, and also looking for a date. These things are actually doable. Craig's List is kinda fun.
Orkut sucks. I may as well admit this. It's got some potential but it's still unusable, and everyone knows it - they just can't scale it fast enough. I haven't had much luck with Friendster either, though I keep meaning to go give it another try. In both of those cases nobody's quite sure what they want the site to do - I have the feeling that whatever the key to a networking site is, it's yet to be discovered.
The one I was trying lately is eHarmony.com. eHarmony.com is absurd. It's like Match.com on steroids, with multiple PhD's, and no sense of fun. Seriously, they have an hour-long quiz and it's supposed to give them enough information to match you with people you really like. Which it almost did. It gave me a match with someone who, to be honest, I thought was really interesting. But it's expensive, so I decided to wait and see who else it would bring up, since I didn't want to fork over the absurd $50/mo or whatever it is for one person, and I wasn't even sure I wanted to fork it over for multiple people. That's just pricing yourself entirely out of my market.
So I waited, and it gave me a few more matches. Curiously, almost every match it gives me is a preschool teacher. Like, half of them. I don't get this. Is it an artifact of the people who use eHarmony.com, or is it just what they think is best for me? (And if that's what they think I need, what does it say about my mental state? Don't answer that.) And a few people looked moderately interesting, and then they sent me a "We're willing to give you a 50% discount!" email, which means I could get 6 months for only $100, which is still a hell of a lot but is at least vaguely plausible . . .
And I checked again and the person I'd been interested in was gone.
See, eHarmony.com doesn't let *you* go out and look. It just gives you people it thinks you're interested in. And previously unknown to me, it'll only display five at a time, and kick out the old ones. You can put one on "hold" to keep it in the list, but I hadn't done that, not knowing it was necessary. And so the one really interesting person I'd met is now eliminated.
BAD DESIGN DECISION, GUYS.
So much for that.
(The one cool thing about eHarmony is that it doesn't *let* you see the other person's picture before talking with them. I think this is good. Too many people just instantly click "reject" if the other person isn't Cleopatra or Brad Pitt. Even better - I want a "computer-arranged blind date". Seriously. I think it's a great idea.)