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Others utilize the freemium revenue model, offering free registration and use, with optional, paid, premium services.
Still others rely solely on paid membership subscriptions.
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.
Since advertising revenues are modest compared to membership fees, this model requires a large number of page views to achieve profitability.
However, Sam Yagan describes dating sites as ideal advertising platforms because of the wealth of demographic data made available by users.
There are mixed opinions regarding the safety of online dating.
Over 50% of research participants in a 2011 study did not view online dating as a dangerous activity, whereas 43% thought that online dating involved risk.
Niche sites cater to people with special interests, such as sports fans, racing and automotive fans, medical or other professionals, people with political or religious preferences (e.g., Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc.), people with medical conditions (e.g., HIV , obese), or those living in rural farm communities.
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.
The stigma associated with online dating dropped over the years and people view online dating more positively.
The 2016 Pew Research Center's survey reveals that the usage of online dating sites by American adults increased from 9% in 2013, to 12% in 2015.
Opinions and usage of online dating services also differ widely.