I figure now that I'm dating someone, it's as good a time as any to delete all those online dating profiles I hate anyway, and I figured now was as good a time as any for a gloves-off review of each site. This is basically going to try to be the comprehensive review I was looking for when I started online dating and I couldn't really find anywhere. [Update hehe as I was writing this I see gawker has done a cursory overview of the same sites... http://gawker.com/5320419/after-craigslist-and-manhunt-here-is-where-gays-will-get-their-clicks]
So in past posts I might have sounded a little down on online dating, but in all honesty I think it's great. A lot of my friends who don't drink and hate the "circuit" scene in general find it to be a really reasonable alternative, and it is embraced by the gay community in a way that is really unparalleled in the straight dating world. If I were in a more philosophical mood I might wax on about how the very stigmatized nature of our sexuality makes us de-stigmatize other practices that other people might find distasteful...
When I started I was a little shocked at how ruthlessly efficient the whole process could be, and that was probably the part I was a little less forthcoming with my straight friends when I described the process.
So Manhunt is the 800 pound gorilla in the gay online dating scene. Wait, that metaphor sucks- because everyone talks about it. While some people complain alot about Manhunt, due to its limited free functions, creepy ownership details, and the perceived destructions of gay social interactions, but I'm a pretty tech-happy guy, and I kind of see Manhunt as a very efficient system that people like to use, even in its free form, and it's really kind of easy to use and fun, if you don't take it too seriously.
Pros: NUMBERS- at least in my area, MH has the widest userbase by far
Cons: Seriously crippled free accounts- you can only send a certain number of mails per day and you can't view full resolution pics, which is almost a dealbreaker really.
Statistics: I conversed with over 10 guys on this site, and met up in person with 4.
After Manhunt, A4A seems to be the next most recognized and popular system in my area, and the best thing about it is it's free to use. Also, it seemed like the user base was a little more diverse than manhunt.
Pros: Probably the best non-pay services, including full res picture viewing and unlimited messaging.
Cons: Limited to 3 photos per profile, which is probably not a terrible thing really.
Statistics: I conversed with over 10 guys on this site, and met up in person with 3.
- Gay Romeo
So I joined GR at the recommendation of my European friends; apparently in Europe it is a very good system. However, my experience with it was pretty bad; maybe it's the relative immaturity of the site in the US but many of the profiles are clearly fake (like they use photos of famous actors and models) and there doesn't seem to be any attempt to clean up these fake profiles. Furthermore, every single time I got contacted on that site I felt like I was getting some kind of phishing scam. I didn't really find anything worthwhile there.
Pros: Ummm, it's good in Europe from what I hear.
Cons: It's unusable in the US.
Statistics: I didn't have any real conversations on this site, or meat up with anyone.
- OK Cupid
So OK Cupid is not exclusively gay, but I found that they do have an active gay community. It is more oriented toward dating than hooking up, and some of my friends reported having great success with that site. I found the quizzes and profiles to be a little too limited, and to be honest, I think it was a little too wholesome for what I happened to be looking for at the time as a guy who just came out.
Pros: Very nice interface, good userbase.
Cons: High barriers to actually meeting people.
Statistics: I conversed with about 5 guys, but it never really went anywhere.
I don't really know what to make of this site- as I only used it for about a week. I saw a lot of ads for it and it seemed like it had a cool interface, but when I got on I found that it has some kind of reputation system, and until you get enough reputation you can only send one mail a day or something. Also, the userbase just seemed really small.
Pros: Very clean, oriented at a wholesome audience.
Cons: Weird point system; small userbase
Statistics: I conversed with one guy on here, but it never went anywhere.
So gay.com is another big player in the online dating market, but compared to manhunt and a4a I found the crippled features of the free account to be the worst. You can't even view the thumbnails of the non main profile pics, and I just didn't understand the search functions.
Pros: Large userbase
Cons: Crippled free account
Statistics: I conversed with about five guys on here, but it never went anywhere.
So Realjock is not really a dating site, but it's a gay men's health and fitness forum that has profiles like a dating site. I actually found their workouts and stuff to be really good, but their forum is a little toxic- people are a little too forward with their prejudices and insecurities right off the bat, but it's not too bad if you know what your'e getting into. I would just read the forums with a grain of salt, and then it's actually a pretty good resource for health and fitness issues, particularly ones pertaining to gay men. I'm not actually cancelling my account there since I still use the forums for stuff like half marathon training suggestions and what not.
Hehe, as silly as it is, of all the dating sites/apps, I will miss Grindr the most probably. It's pretty new, but grindr is a free application for the iPhone or iPod touch that is basically a super condensed version of adam4adam. You just pick one photo (usually taken arms length with the iPhone camera) and you can write one or two lines about yourself and that's it. Then people can browse profiles near them (using the iPhone's GPS) and you can chat people. It's not really a good system, but it is great fun, especially when your'e bored.
So Dlist is also a bit of an enigma to me. When you join it, it definitely does seem like some of the other dating sites, except most of the profiles have public face pics, and it's definitely more of a social sharing platform than necessarily a dating site. In fact, it's like the gay myspace. I don't actually think many people are using it to hook up like mh and a4a but I dunno, maybe I'm wrong. Like RJ, I am not cancelling this account actually, since I've found it to be useful for non-dating stuff; I'm on a group there for a local DJ that I like, as well as a party promoter with some good events.
Gay men may complain about the shallowness of the online dating community but I have to say it is unparalleled in the straight world for its efficiency and directness. If you know what you're getting into, it can be a lot of fun. And stay safe out there, kids.