Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Meeting people online - part I

The name change of my blog brought people with new queries like "meeting people online" or "how to meet people online". I though I'd write a bit on the topic.

Meeting people is one of the easiest things to do online, it's even some people's favorite online activity. In fact when it comes to meeting people online, the most valuable information is not the how-to but rather the what-to-avoid. To the younger readers I recommend this article about online meetings, read it before you read the rest of this post.

If you want to find a person to exchange emails with I will recommend Penpalnet.com, it's a completely free service, you are able to search people and contact them or be contacted by them for free.

They have a very large database and if you log regularly on the site your profile will appear on top of other user's searches provided they are looking for a person with your profile, and thus you will be contacted by a certain number of people. Keep in mind that it's a free service, there are a few limitations, you can only search people by age and/or sex and/or location. Typically the top results will be that of other users who've logged in the most recently -they do not say this explicitly-. The age range of members is very wide. They do not give you information on the last login time of the users, which would be convenient at least you would know who has been active lately. There are no photos on profiles (but that shouldn't be a problem...). A friend told me there is a limit to the number of messages you may send on a single day. When you write a reply to a message you don't have the possibility to view the original message unless you've copied it on a text editor or opened it in another window/tab. Be careful if you log in everyday you might want to make your profile invisible otherwise you might have a few new people contacting you weekly. Of course you might be one of those fortunate who do not mind starting (and keeping) new e-friendships on a weekly basis. I know I’m not one of those.

Penpalnet.com is completely free, it's simple and easy to use, and they have a very large number of users. With a little patience and persistence you might just find the type of person you are looking for.

If you are mostly interested in meeting people from Asia and are willing to pay a little I will recommend another service I've used for a while, it's called Teletextfriends (it's based in Singapore), or rather I would recommend the clone service Worldfriends (with the same user data base but with the added option to send smiles to people you are interested in contacting, actually it seems Teletextfriends is Worldfriend’s clone).

A large number of members do take the time to fill out their detailed profile and to add a picture, they also provide and indication of whether another member is compatible with you based on the information provided on both of your profiles regarding what each other is looking for. But, in order to send messages to people you must be a premium member. A non-premium member may contact you only if you have purchased an open membership, which is different from regular membership. A premium member is not necessarily an open club member. The advantage of open club is that it allows other members who "find" you to initiate contact. The system tells you when other members view your profile, you always know who's looking at you. If you use these services I recommend you take the necessary time to fill out your profile as completely as possible.

If you want a meeting method that's faster than the two I've mentioned so far consider using Instant Messaging (IM) programs.

Yahoo! Messenger allows the users who are over 18 to access public chat rooms. The chat rooms are grouped by theme. Once you are inside a room you may join or initiate a conversation with others inside the room or even exchange instant messages with those that I've enabled that feature -by default you are not able to receive IMs from people who are not on your contact list you have to enable the feature in your preferences- . Depending on your profile or on whether you are chatting inside the room and depending on the population of that room other users might receive [too] many IMs. Be aware of the presents of "bots" in practically all the Yahoo! chat rooms. Bots? Yes, programs that are conceived to masquerade as people, most of them have female IDs, sometimes they might even come in pairs chatting inside the room etc... They will send you IM, most of the time, it's a link DO NOT CLICK the link. Ignore the user. A real person will (should) be decent enough to say "hi" (or some equivalent) first.

You can also search for people to chat with in Yahoo!'s members directory. I recommend filling out your Yahoo! profile with at least the basic information i.e. age and sex, no need to put your home address or anything like that. You might also consider putting a picture. Keep in mind that if you are a woman, and you put a picture on your profile with your age and location then any given time your status is "online" you are likely to receive IMs from people (men) in your area -at least that's what happens to me-. Try using advance search for better results.

ICQ is also another IM program you can use, it allows you to search for online users based on their profile (age, sex, interests, location etc..). It's pretty efficient, though it's critical that you fill your profile so the other users can know you are a real person otherwise they might think you are a bot and not accept your messages.

As long as you have the possibility to write/chat with another person on the web whether is because he/she put his/her contact information on a web page or whether you are both a member of a certain web community, there is the possibility to start an e-relationship that might lead to a lasting friendship.

As for meeting your future spouse online, yes it might happen but this is not what this post was all about. Right?