Still others rely solely on paid membership subscriptions.Opinions and usage of online dating services also differ widely.

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Most services also encourage members to add photos or videos to their profile.

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.

That is, online dating sites use the conceptual framework of a "marketplace metaphor" to help people find potential matches, with layouts and functionalities that make it easy to quickly browse and select profiles in a manner similar to how one might browse an online store.

Under this metaphor, members of a given service can both "shop" for potential relationship partners and "sell" themselves in hopes of finding a successful match.

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.

Because online dating takes place in virtual space, it is possible for profile information to be misrepresented or falsified.

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.

Most free dating websites depend on advertising revenue, using tools such as Google Ad Sense and affiliate marketing.