Wednesday, June 25, 2008

IYS - The International Youth Service is closing

Here is the statement you'll find on IYS' homepage:

IYS will be closing down this summer, by 30th June 2008

The International Youth Service (IYS) has been operating since 1952, over 56 years now. We have arranged foreign pen friends for school children and students aged 10 - 20 years in over 100 different countries.

The internet has lead to a situation where sending ordinary letters is old-fashioned. Letter writing, once very popular, is now a hobby of a few.

We have come to the end of a certain period. As we can not find enough young people interested in penfriendship any more, we have decided to close down this firm by 30th June 2008.

We thank all our customers, both children and teachers, in past years and wish you happy times. Don’t stop learning different languages and cultures and keep up those penfriendships you have managed to build up.


This is very unfortunate. I have made quite a few friends around the world, in Europe, Asia and Africa, thanks to IYS. I can't even remember who introduced me to their service but I do remember having my friends, siblings and classmates signing up to find penfriends abroad.

It was a great experience for me. Even though I don't write to any of my penfriends anymore, I have very good memories of them. Some of them I've written for five to six years from the time I was in secondary school to my university years. Most of my penfriends were girls but I also had a few boy-penfriends. Bahadir was one of them. We lost touch because of address problems, my letters did not get to him they were returned but I found him on Facebook and we are in contact again.

It is unfortunate that the rise of the Internet has forced the IYS to close. As I was going through my letters, showing them to my younger brother, along with a few of the presents and postcards my penfriends sent me, he asked me how he could have penfriends too. I was no longer in contact with IYS but I remembered they had a site and I was hoping to find out, from the site, how I could register my brother with them. Alas!

I understand that it probably costs less to have friends over the internet than to have postal-mail friends but those are two very different experiences. I have a few people online I met online who wanted to be my (snailmail)penfriends and I'm not even counting those who wanted me to send them postcards.

When the Internet became mainstream, IYS decided it did not want to encourage students to make friends through this new media. It kept offering solely services via postal mail. I believe that it's where they went wrong. Yes, they don't want to encourage emailfriends but they could have used their website to offer the same services to students and teachers. Using the internet would have helped them keep the kids interested while cutting costs for the students. At least the fees would be lower and no postage would be necessary to get addresses. They would simply send you the other persons' information online. The problem with the Internet is identity verification and an overabundance of predators. So they would probably have issues with adults posing as children and requesting penfriends...

The closing of IYS is very unfortunate, did I say that already? I always wondered what the IYS headquarters looked like? How they organized their work, what their equipment looked like? Who the employees were? I guess I'll never know any of all this. Their site looked nearly empty with simply the announcement on the main page.

I still wanted to see more of IYS. So I went on Google and search the site and found out most of their pages (like the fees page) are still online. I was unpleasantly surprised to see that Haiti was not included in the counties listed... I went to the United-States page and found out the service was not expensive at all, US $2.00 per address. Knowing that they guaranteed a response, it was really a great value. I kept searching and finally found Haiti on one of their older method of payment pages. Yay!

Now the only alternative for my brother to find a penfriend is to join a penpal site, penpalnet for example is free but they don't give any guarantees and you have to search for your penpal by yourself. Additionally the people you find online usually prefer email correspondence.

Why I might be using Facebook more often

I recently found a long lost penpal on Facebook. When I say penfriend, I mean the traditional snail mail penfriend. Bahadir and I used to write letters to each other until the day when my letter was sent back to me. It's been nearly 10 years, and thanks to Facebook we are able to be in touch again. It's really amazing.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Meet local Singles for free at Meeta

You know by now that I've joined quite a few dating sites already, yet I couldn't resist joining one more,

I came across Meeta a few times before and it always surprises me that people actually take the time to put together Free Dating sites even though there are so many out there already. I joined hoping to find something really different or at least as good as the best free dating sites I've tried so far. I'm going to tell you about the registration process and my very first experience with

Meeta has a very clean and simple look. I like the light colours and the whole ambiance of the site. There are three steps that you need to go through to join Meeta.

Step 1 : enter your basic information
You need to provide your name, birth date, sexual orientation, what you're looking for, your city, your email, your surname and password.

Step 2 : create your profile
You need to provide more detailed information about yourself, your appearance, habits and preferences.

You are asked for your relationship status, hair color, eye color, whether you have children, whether you want have children, whether you drink and smoke. All those questions are mandatory. Then you are asked optional questions about your religion, race or ethnicity, interests, and occupation.

Step 3 : add a picture
You are invited to add a picture to your profile to boost your chances of success. Meeta claims that with a photo you are 10 times more likely to succeed in your online dating experience. Photos are not mandatory therefore you may simply proceed without adding one, click "Submit" and your profile will be created without a photo. In case you decide to add a picture you should be aware of the fact that Meeta has picture rules. They are quite simple and short so I copied them here:

We suggest that you go solo in your MAIN profile picture after all, people are here to meet YOU. All pictures must be property of the user and contain none of the following:
  • Nudity
  • Racist or hateful behavior
  • Obscene gestures or lewd behavior
  • Copyrighted material or licensed material
  • Celebrity pictures

Now that I had my profile I decided it was time for me to find people because that's why I joined Meeta after all.

Meeta has the typical look of free online dating sites i.e. covered with ads for paid dating sites. But unlike many free dating sites Meeta offers matching. You have matches pages with a list of your potential matches based on your match preferences. Unfortunately for me I had 0 matches.... They tried to cheer me up telling me not to worry and encouraged me to search for people on the site while they find me some matches. They also suggested that I refine my match preferences?

I decided not to let the lack of matches discourage me and continued to explore the site. Meeta has Forums and Groups. I tried the groups first and of course there were no groups in my city and since I wasn't interested in creating one I went on to look at "All Groups" and saw all those that were created. Unfortunately they had very few members and not a single topic.

I thought maybe I would be luckier with Forums. Indeed they were a little less empty than the groups, a few threads had been started but not many replies.

Yet I decided to go ahead and simply browse members' profiles. By default you are restricted to profiles of people near your city. If you want to see more people go ahead and click the "All Members" option in the sidebar. If you're in a city with few or no members on the site the city restrictions might bother you.

Meeta does not have an overwhelming number of members, you are certainly not going to spend hours browsing profiles but you might find a topic or two to which you can reply in the forums.

I find the search feature very unpractical, it's one of the worst search experience I've ever had on a dating site.

I wanted to try specific searches for people of a certain age range and in specific areas but it just wasn't going to happen. As far as the location is concerned, you can only search for people near a certain city, not a country, not a state but a city and they don't even provide a drop down list or any aid of any sort to look up city names so beware of typos. Since Meeta allows approximate ages like 20's and 30's, in profiles, most of the time you won't know the person's exact age. A person in his 20's can be anywhere from 20 to 29. So good luck finding the exact person you're looking for.

The most annoying aspect of Meeta is the fact that the site feels like it's still in Beta, with the occasional 404 error popping when you click a link. I hope they find the time to look around the site and clean up a bit, removing those errors.

Meeta really needs to improve their search feature. On a dating site I want to be able to search for the exact person I'm looking for and Meeta does not allow that with ease, they should try and make their search more specific. Because after all you're here to fine your match.

I like Meeta's look, it's a nice site but unfortunately I don't see why I would spend my time there. I hope they send matches by email, I believe that would be their only chance to have users come back because there isn't a whole lot for me to do while on Who knows, maybe one day I'll find a Meeta message in my inbox telling me someone is interested in me, it might happen.

This post has been a sponsor post.

Saturday, June 21, 2008 or Yahoo Personals

Is Yahoo Personals Dead? Has Match killed it?

I was checking my mail today, on Yahoo! mail and noticed banner ads for I'm used to seeing ads for Yahoo! personals in my Yahoo! mailbox but today I only saw Match ads and other ads that I can't remember.

The Match ads were quite effective because they have a black background that contrasts with the white background of the mail page. They also look interactive, with search fields and flash animation, inviting you to click. Yahoo! even showed many versions of the ads, horizontal banner, wide square banners, whether I was at the mail homepage on checking my inbox, they were there. I didn't click on any of the ads since I'm not interested in joining Match but I couldn't help but wonder, why would Yahoo! run ads for a dating site who is a competitor to their own Personals site? It seems to be related with geographical location. Yahoo! personals is not an international site apparently is.

After further investigation I've discovered that in some locations Yahoo! offers personals services using or Meetic. So Yahoo! personals is not dead it's just not available in every location. But I really find the Match ads to be more attractive than the Yahoo! personals ads.

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Hi5 friend requests never expire

If you don't accept friend requests from people you don't know on hi5, it means to do take the time to look at who's sending you those requests.

I currently have over 20 friend requests pending. Many of those requests were sent to me in 2005! Yes, I'm not kidding. Even though it's written at the bottom of the request list that hi5 will expire friend requests automatically after 60 days it turns out that they never actually do it. Since I have not changed my mind about those people in three years I might as well let those requests hang in there until something happens, or not. It doesn't really bother me since the most recent requests are placed on top of the list.

I wonder why they took the time to say that they expire requests after 60 days when they actually don't?

Friendster, Hi5 and Orkut
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Hi5 applications suck
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