Researchers at MIT and Harvard have found that "people who had had a chance to interact with each other (by computer only) on a virtual tour of a museum subsequently had more successful face-to-face meetings than people who had viewed only profiles." Video dating is a form of virtual dating that allows users to use live dating services with actual reality that stimulates a real dating experience.
Sites offering video dating allow 3-5 minute webcam interviews with online matches.
Other sites depend on advertising for their revenue.
Many sites are broad-based, with members coming from a variety of backgrounds looking for different types of relationships.
Online dating services generally require a prospective member to provide personal information, before they can search the service provider's database for other individuals using criteria they set, such as age range, gender and location.
Most sites allow members to upload photos of themselves and browse the photos of others.
Ease of payment is also generally higher, with such sites accepting a variety of online currencies, letting users charge the payment to their cellular phones, etc.
The 20 most popular dating sites this year as ranked by Hitwise include JDate (for Jewish singles), Christian Mingle, Christian Cafe and JCMATCH, Manhunt (for gay men), Love From India, Black Christian People Meet, Amigos (for Latino singles), Asian People Meet, My Town Date.com, Shaadi (for Indian singles) and (for Africans).
The highest scoring dating service was Facebook, which uses the personal homepage genre, the message board genre, the weblog and directory genre, as well as utilizing the Circle of Friends.
The second highest scoring, Second Life utilizes virtual worlds, message boards, chat groups and profile pages to allow people to contact in a three-dimensional environment.
US government regulation of dating services began with the International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) which took effect in March 2007 after a federal judge in Georgia upheld a challenge from the dating site European Connections.
The law requires internationally oriented dating services to conduct, among other procedures, sex offender checks on US customers before communication can occur with a foreigner.