17 April 2013

A visit to Fling: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

As Chewie and I have mentioned in previous posts here on the blog, there are a wide variety of social sites on the Internet that cater to wide swaths of the population. In terms of dating sites though, we've for the most part used  our experiences with people on the "freemium" sites (most notably OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, and DateHookup).

Today though, I've decided to write on a known (but little-discussed) sector of the dating market: that of the "adult personals." By "adult personals," we are referring to sites whose open intention is to facilitate sexual liaisons.

Recently, I decided to pay a visit and look through Fling, which is one of the more well-known (and for a "sex site" is often considered one of the more respectable ones out there). Like all dating websites, it has "the good, the bad, and the ugly." Thus you could say that here lies this blog's fair review of the site.

So with that in mind, let's start out with some of the good things about the site:

  • There's quite a variety of women from different backgrounds and locales. 
  • In spite of it being a "sex site," not everyone's focused on sex and it is plausible to try to find a woman who's not just looking to 'get her rocks off.' (Mind you, we don't advise this as there are better sites for relationships, but at least this possibility does reduce the stereotypical "seedy" view many of these sites inherently carry in the public consciousness)
  • The site's design is actually rather intuitive, is modern, and appears to embrace technology. 
  • There's a built-in way to functionally use video-chatting within the site, which we believe is by and large a good idea as it encourages people to use the "trusted" in-house system with another user prior to giving out their information on other sites and services.  
  • The structure on who can access what is not just for making money, but to at least try to ensure that users and depictions are actually adults. 

Then, there's "The Bad," many of which we suspect are true for most any site in the "adult personals" genre:

  • There's more of an incentive for users to hide their true intentions or any negative things about them (e.g. if they have an STD or a criminal history) when compared to a "general" or "mainstream" dating site. 
  • Often there's not a very good way to vet people or see that what they say can and should be (at least initially) taken at face value. 
  • Searching and browsing can be a little rough at times; for example it's a little shaky to try to search or browse by city. 
  • It appears that removing pictures (particularly ones posted to the photo gallery) is difficult or impossible. Unfortunately, I do not know if this is mere oversight or a decision by the site's owners.

And finally, like every other site out there, we have "The Ugly:"

  • You have to be extremely vigilant on who you interact with, particularly with the prospect of fake profiles. For example, a lot of profiles that feature topless or nude photos have ones that show up quite often on Google's reverse-image search. From the profiles I've viewed that fit this, I'd say roughly half were either obvious porn stars or otherwise found in the image search. 
  • This being primarily a "sex site," it is therefore safe to assume that the majority of the women have moderate to high SMV, a high number of partners (N-count), and below-average MMV--in short, this really isn't the place for the guy who's looking for a future wife who will have a low partner-count.  
  • It's clear many profiles were established when the user was underage, in violation of site policy and possibly state and federal laws. One woman even admitted "point-blank" to me that she did this and signed up when she was 16, went out with guys from the site at 17, but that her nudes were taken when she was 18. To be fair, the site does have the usual 18 USC 2257 statement and without knowing specifically a given user is (or was underage), one could reasonably argue that they assumed in good faith that the women they were looking at and talking to were at least 18 and therefore legal.  
  • The women I've talked to appeared to really lack any sort of inhibitions or social filter (more on this one in an upcoming post).

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