I thought I'd opine a little about the somewhat new phenomenon that is called online dating. I have (or have had) accounts on a wide variety of websites, though I mostly use Okcupid and Plenty of Fish. Both of which I have used off and on since 2007.
I got my first online dating account towards the end of my freshman year in college. It's weird because most people assume that college is a nonstop barrage of orgies or people looking for a marriage partner. It's not, or at least it wasn't at the place I went to school. In any case, I wasn't meeting any women at my school and I wanted to start dating (many of my friends had started getting girlfriends). I didn't know much about online dating at all so at first I just posted an account and waited for the girls to start messaging me. Never happened obviously, so I took the initiative. I exchanged messages with one girl who I never met and who eventually stopped responding to me before I had to delete my account when my mom found out I had one (she was concerned that I'd meet a serial killer or something). So that was my first fumbling attempt at the online dating minefield.
Two and a half years later I rejoined Okcupid. I was 22 and it was the summer before my last year of college. I had enough of trying to meet girls in real life. Between shyness and being rejected by the women I did have the courage of approaching I figured I'd use online dating to get some dates and maybe by getting some experience I'd build my confidence so if I didn't meet the girl of my dreams online I'd be able to go out and find her offline. Boy was I wrong about that.
That summer and early fall were horrible. I sent so many messages out but only received one in return. That girl lived really nearby but she was big into recreational drugs (which while I think should be legal, I'm just not into) so that was never going to work.
Later in the fall I finally broke out with responses from what seemed to be two really cool girls. One was a college student about 40 miles away (kind of long distance but I'd be ok with that for the right person) and the other was a young working professional who lived only 20 minutes from me and right near my college campus. After exchanging messages with the first girl a couple of times, she finally revealed to me that while she liked talking to me and all, she was only interested in dating a guy from her own culture and race (Middle Eastern, Muslim). That was fine and I respect that, I just wish she would have made that more clear on her profile or in her communications.
The second girl gave me her email, but then never responded when I wrote her an email. Months later I messaged her on the site (instead of the email address she gave me) and she responded and we arranged to meet up. After having to reschedule due to weather, we finally met up. I wrote on here that I thought the date went horribly, but apparently not too horribly because she agreed to meet up again. We agreed to a third date that she ended up canceling. I called to reschedule, but she never returned any of my calls or text messages. Them's the breaks I guess.
About 8 months later I messaged another girl on Okcupid. She seemed receptive to meeting up, but whenever I'd ask her I'd receive another excuse (she's sick, she has to visit a friend far away, etc.). And then she stopped responding to my messages. By the end of 2011 I had enough of this aggravation and deactivated my account.
About three months later I was back. I seriously thought about ignoring women, but I couldn't. And I wasn't meeting anyone out in the real world so I figured I had to try meeting some online. In that entire time I have had one woman agree to meet up, but when I messaged her saying when and where (and if she was free) she ignored me. And that pretty much sums up my experience using dating sites.
Now that you have some background let me list some of the problems I have with it:
1. There's a huge disconnect between what women say they experience and what men say they experience.
Most women complain about online dating because they receive a copious amount of messages from men who clearly haven't read their profiles or who post half naked pictures of themselves (or pictures of their privates) or write overly sexual messages (like "yo dat ass" or "hey sexy", etc.).
Men on the other hand complain that their heart felt, genuine messages and sincere reading of a woman's profile almost always goes unnoticed. Spending half an hour writing a perfectly crafted first message that gets immediately deleted after being barely read isn't appealing after the first dozen or so times you do it.
2. The aforementioned problem with people not telling you about any disqualifiers. If you join a site like POF or Okcupid or something like that you should expect that a wide variety of people are going to send you messages. If you are only interested in people of your faith or ethnic background you should either make that clear in your profile (which in the case of Okcupid you can do that with your questions) or make it clear to the person who sent you the message by either a) telling them or b) not messaging back. Nothing is more annoying than someone who pulls the rug out from under you halfway into the messaging process.
3. If you are not getting any responses within the first 3 weeks to a month just get off the dating sites. It's not going to get better, and you are only going to end up in a pit of despair if you continue to message women unsuccessfully.
4. This is related to point 3, but I have found that my continued lack of success, and in particular the repeatedly ignored messages are starting to make me resent women. I don't feel good enough for them, and the fact that they deem me not even worthy of meeting up for a simple cup of coffee (or even responding to a friendly first message) tells me something. I don't want to resent women but I honestly can't help but feel that way.
5. A big, big problem with online dating is the lack of feedback. In the real world you can interact with someone and figure out what they responded to and why. It's also easier to get your foot in the door despite having some aspect of yourself turning them off and them refusing to communicate with you. With online dating you have no idea why someone refused to respond to your message. Perhaps they didn't like how you looked, or perhaps they didn't like the quality of your photos. Maybe they didn't like the books you put in your "favorite books" list. They could have just thought your message was lame and uninspiring, who knows.
I wish I knew more about computers or website design or website construction, because I'd love to make my own dating site where I could fix some of the problems I listed here. As it is though I've decided to walk away from online dating sites, though I imagine I'll get desperate again sometime soon and try them again. For now though, this is my take on them.