Some have a broad membership base of diverse users looking for many different types of relationships.
Other sites target highly specific demographics based on features like shared interests, location, religion, sexual orientation or relationship type.
Once a profile has been created, members can view the profiles of other members of the service, using the visible profile information to decide whether or not to initiate contact.
Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.
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Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables people to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.
Online dating services also differ widely in their revenue streams.
Such companies offer a wide variety of unmoderated matchmaking services, most of which are profile-based.
It is possible that the mode of online dating resonates with some participants' conceptual orientation towards the process of finding a romantic partner.
That is, online dating sites use the conceptual framework of a "marketplace metaphor" to help people find potential matches, with layouts and functionalities that make it easy to quickly browse and select profiles in a manner similar to how one might browse an online store.
Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.
A great diversity of online dating services currently exists (see Comparison of online dating services).