Match.com can be summed up in one word: big. Match.com is just about the biggest online dating site out there. It's not every website these days that has a one word URL, let alone a real word and not one later added to the dictionary (I've got my eye on you, Google). If Match.com had a spirit animal, it'd be the giant squid, or the blue whale.
But what does that mean for you, the potential single person looking for a date? Well, simply put, if you decide to use Match.com, you are going to have a lot of people to choose from. And Match.com has carefully constructed ways for you to search through this huge mess of people for just the kind of person you're looking for.
Signing up with Match.com is simple and very easy. After setting up a username and password, you'll be prompted to answer sets of questions about your physical and mental make up that are mostly multiple choice, and that you don't even have to answer. There are only two sections where you are required to type in answers: a headline and a description of yourself.
In addition to using your answers to the multiple choice questions to find matches for you, Match.com also suggests taking a "Like at First Sight" quiz to enhance its site's algorithms. Again, you are asked a series of multiple choice questions. These focus even more explicitly on your personality and the personality of your ideal match. But here's the nifty part: all of the choices are pictures. You don't click the option that says "I enjoy reading," you click the stock photo of a person reading a book. I can't imagine this is more effective than using words, especially when the actions in some of the photos are ambiguous ("Is that person swimming or bathing?"), but there is definitely a hokey charm to it.
As soon as you've registered and begin looking at matches, you get a sense of the site's "bigness" in how your matches are laid out. The basic search will yield a 3x6 grid of photos with some very basic information (username, age, the number of photos he/she has, and when he/she was last online). All these faces, squeezed together on screen, staring back at you gives it the feel of standing in a crowd.
Now, here's where Match.com really starts to get interesting -- that's just the basic search. If Match.com has one strength, it's the ease with which you can customize your search to specify just about anything. The custom search lets you look under sex, age, and distance from your zip code (the basics most people need if they plan on meeting anyone), but you can also set your search to find matches based on any of the multiple choice questions people answered in their profile. If religion is an important part of your life, you can search by that. Are you a teetotaler? Then set the custom search to find people that don't smoke or drink. Or if you love rocking it on the party scene, set the search to find people who smoke and drink a lot! You can search for people who like playing cards, if you want to. Yes, that is really an option. A GREAT option.
You also have the option to sort matches by a number of physical characteristics, including height (assuming the person isn't lying), body type (assuming the person isn't lying), eye color, and hair color. Although not listed as a physical characteristic, Match.com also lets you sort by ethnicity. But seriously everyone, don't be racist.
Match.com is a big site. Sure, it has a ton of users, but breaking down profiles of user interests and physical traits into discreet parts allows users to pinpoint searches and navigate the crowd. If you spend too much time thinking about it, it can be a little unnerving judging people by their component parts (and knowing that someone out there is doing the same to you). But hey, why over-analyze it? Especially if it works.
The Signup Process: 10 minutes to create a basic profile, plus however long it will take you to write the headline and self-description.
Match Quality: The site offers you new matches daily, and uses its collated data to learn who to recommend based on who you say you are interested in.
Quality of People: There are too many people to judge! The average quality of people on Match.com is comparable to the average quality of humanity, in all likelihood.
Cost: $41.99 per month, or $23.99 per month if you sign up for 3 months, or $20.99 if you sign up for 6 months.
Legitimacy: This is the big Kahuna of dating sites. If this one's not legitimate, I don't know what is.
Overall Rating: 9.9 out of 10