At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38% increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc. By 2007, many prominent studies show that Baby Boomer interest in online dating have soared.
Online dating or Internet dating is a personal introductory system where individuals can find and contact each other over the Internet to arrange a date, usually with the objective of developing a personal, romantic, or sexual relationship.
Online dating services usually provide unmoderated matchmaking over the Internet, through the use of personal computers or cell phones.
Users of an online dating service would usually provide personal information, to enable them to search the service provider's database for other individuals.
Members use criteria other members set, such as age range, gender and location.
Online dating sites use market metaphors to match people.
Match metaphors are conceptual frameworks that allow individuals to make sense of new concepts by drawing upon familiar experiences and frame-works.
This metaphor of the marketplace – a place where people go to "shop" for potential romantic partners and to "sell" themselves in hopes of creating a successful romantic relationship – is highlighted by the layout and functionality of online dating websites.
The marketplace metaphor may also resonate with participants' conceptual orientation towards the process of ﬁnding a romantic partner.
Most sites allow members to upload photos or videos of themselves and browse the photos and videos of others.
Sites may offer additional services, such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.
Some sites provide free registration, but may offer services which require a monthly fee.