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.
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.
In Germany government financed NGOs like "Verbraucherschutzzentrale" sometimes help to sue online dating sites.
This problem is referred to as "catfishing" in pop-culture and has been made famous by a popular MTV program called "Catfish the TV show".
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.
As online dating's population becomes larger, sites with specific demographics are becoming more popular as a way to narrow the pool of potential matches.
The 20 most popular dating sites in 2006 as ranked by Hitwise include j (for Jewish singles), Christian Mingle.com, Christian Cafe.com, Man (same sex introductions), Love From India.ini, Black Christian People Meet.com, (for Latino singles), Asian People Meet.com, and (for Indian singles).
A German documentary analyzed the market and uncovered multiple problems of online dating sites.
Amongst them are "romance-scamming" (persons registering on the sites to get money from people falling in virtual love with them), using controllers or animators registered with multiple fake accounts, using unexpected and sometimes unlawful conditions in the terms and conditions leading to longer contracts a client intended to sign.
More recently, the impact of social networking on online dating has been featured on the Questia online research website peer reviewed article ""I Luv U : )!