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Since 2003, several free dating sites, operating on ad based-revenue rather than monthly subscriptions, have appeared and become increasingly popular.

Users of an online dating service would usually provide personal information, to enable them to search the service provider's database for other individuals.

Members use criteria other members set, such as age range, gender and location.

Online dating sites use market metaphors to match people.

Match metaphors are conceptual frameworks that allow individuals to make sense of new concepts by drawing upon familiar experiences and frame-works.

This metaphor of the marketplace – a place where people go to "shop" for potential romantic partners and to "sell" themselves in hopes of creating a successful romantic relationship – is highlighted by the layout and functionality of online dating websites.