A little more than four months ago, I joined plentyoffish.com (POF) in hopes of meeting someone new. My marriage had just ended and no prospect of reconciliation was on the horizon.
So I figured what the hell, why not. It’s free. So I put up a profile. Being separated, I specified that I was only looking to date and make new friendships.
I checked out the profiles of many interesting women. And e-mailed them. Ended up getting one date with someone who turned out to be incompatible. So I went back to the drawing board and e-mailed more women.
All that I have had to show for my efforts despite dozens of e-mails is a whole lot of… nothing. I upgraded the photos and edited my profile in hopes of getting more dates. Sent out more e-mails to women whose profiles looked interesting. Only to be ignored, have my e-mails read and deleted without so much as even a ‘thanks’ for showing some interest. Or worse, to be put down for even having the temerity to show any interest at all.
As if that weren’t enough, I found many women wouldn’t even look at my profile unless I had looked at theirs first or e-mailed them. As usual they would just check out my profile and move on without comment.
Plenty of Fish is interesting in that it offers users facilities other online dating sites (paid or otherwise) don’t. Things like comment forums, the ability to rate user photos, identify and comment about favourite users you’ve encountered on the site as well as maintain and publish a personal list of favourites.
All that capability seems inviting. The downside, of course is that ratings and favourites lists can quickly deteriorate into the juvenile, high-school kind of popularity contesting and exclusionism that underpins reality-TV shows like Survivor and infects North American culture generally these days. Sadly, even POF seems to have succumbed to this.
However, prospective users beware. There is an even darker side.
Earlier today started a thread in the dating experiences forum about how I was unhappy with my lack of success on the site. I noted that it seemed that a lot of women on the site were attention junkies – basically people who put up profiles for the sake of seeing how much attention they can get from men and nothing else. I also noted that this is why I was taking down my profile and ceasing use of Plenty of Fish. While women who are teases have been around forever and are nothing new, they seem to be shockingly common on POF.
My original post was filled with intemperate comments. But I felt that the ‘attention junkies’ portion of my comment was reasonable. So when I checked back later to see if anyone had responded, I discovered the thread had been deleted. No explanation, no warning, nothing.
Then I discovered that Plenty Of Fish uses volunteer moderators to patrol comment forums and basically delete any posts they don’t like. For any reason, or no reason at all. Users they don’t like or who they feel aren’t following the rules can be banned – for either a short period of time or an eternity.
So I went back in and created a similar post, this time using much milder language. That got deleted too, and a nasty message from someone whose profile name was “MsTaken”. Again, no real explanation was given for the removal of the thread. Then I was accused of being the one who was the ‘attention junkie.’
Attempts to locate MsTaken’s profile came to naught. I posted a reply to her reply to the thread. Seconds later the entire thread was deleted. Then I got an e-mail at the POF site telling me the thread was deleted ‘by the POF community’. Funny how so few people could vote to remove the thread and have it removed in so little time. Some ‘community’.
I drew the conclusion that MsTaken is likely one of the site moderators. More like ‘feminazi’, if you ask me. Among other things, one of the downsides of Plenty of Fish is that you can’t contact the moderators directly. But they can contact you. The excuse that they give you for not being accessible is that “(POF) has millions of users and we just don’t have the time to answer each and every e-mail.” But they seem to have no difficulty tracking down posts or users they feel are politically incorrect!
A cursory search on the web using “plentyoffish sucks” as a search term yielded many hits. Most of the sites I found offer comment forums where POF users can talk about the negative experiences they’ve had there. The few that I checked out were almost overwhelmingly populated by cheesed-off men. Virtually all of them complained of arbitrary and heavy-handed moderators. Some even intimated that POF moderators actually read the supposedly private e-mails that users send other users.
Many also noted how some POF users seemed to be able to post anything they liked, with no consequences. One poster even talked about how online dating is ‘good for women but bad for men’. Was his post censored? Nope. Clearly, the concepts of ‘fair comment’ and freedom of speech are alien to the owners of POF.
In short order I came to the conclusion that POF moderators tread lightly on the women who frequent the site. They are basically allowed to misbehave while men are censured heavily for having the temerity to speak up about it. Or for saying anything that could be construed as criticizing the female sex.
The reason POF panders to women this way is simple. Women as a rule do not join online dating sites unless they are free. The few who join paid sites typically expect a lot for their money and often have unrealistic demands of the men they wish to meet. Strangely enough, it’s no different on POF, which is free. The women there are just as excessively picky, perfectionistic and demanding.
Without women, there won’t be any men on the site and ergo no advertising revenues. Advertising revenues depend heavily on site traffic. That is what POF is really in the business of selling – eyeballs to advertisers.
To sum up, POF is worth about what you paid for it. And it’s sometimes said that there are some things that not even a Scotsman should take for free.