I decided to give the "Plenty Of Fish" dating site a try. Here's my initial impressions, after about 2 weeks, in case anyone else is thinking of trying it:
First- it seems like Tinder (which I've never been on, only read about) only with fewer nude pics. When I first signed up, I felt like a guy walking into a single's bar for the first time. I had so many notifications of people checking my profile that it was ridiculous. At first, I had set my email to give me notifications from the site, but it's so unselective as to be useless. The site doesn't categorize between emails about messages, emails about other notifications, general site notifications... now I dump everything in my spam folder.
Second- it's a very clumsy site to navigate. It took me days to work out how to set requirements on my profile as to who could email me at all. Now at least I'm not getting messages from across the country.
Third- it's not at all selective as to who it presents as matches, although it claims to be. At least 75 percent of the women it's tried to match me with are shown as Christian in one way or another (it shows denominations, which is a nice touch, I suppose, IF you're an Xian and worry about that sort of thing). I can't find any sort of filter that says "I'm looking for non-religious matches". "Atheist" and "Agnostic" aren't even categories.
There's also an optional personality test through which one can tell others that religion either is or is not important to you. I've seen many "non-religious" people who also rate religion as important... someone's confused. Unless they're trying to say, it's important to be an atheist, and that's as close as the site lets them get to expressing that?
Fourth- SO MANY FAKE PROFILES that it's ridiculous. I gave up trying to report them after the third day. I can only guess that it's in the hundreds by now, that I've personally been messaged by. All the profiles nearly identical, all claiming to be near my age, with pictures of women in their 20s or 30s, some of which are just lingerie shots and in one case a topless pic (not that I have a problem with that); one of three or four identical "about me" paragraphs (and they aren't the ones supplied by the site, especially not the one that goes, "when I'm not at work I'm at home m@sturb@ting" ); hair color description that doesn't come close to the picture; and high school education, with a career like "engineer", "pilot", or "surgeon". I've decided that leaving them alone is contributing to natural selection; any man stupid enough to reply to them beyond a facetious response (which I sometimes give the best ones) deserves to learn a lesson.
Slightly more subtle was the woman who seemed to be genuine, but who evaded my question about how long she had lived in her town quite near me and instead changed the subject to setting up a video chat through POF; for which she needed my email address to send the site admin. Friends and neighbors, there is no video chat service on POF. A quick search confirmed this is a known scam, with a fake service that uses POF's logos but is a completely different company. I reported her. Sad to say, it looks like they took her profile down, but she came back with the same name and no picture yet. Obviously the admins are either swamped with fraudulent users, or they just don't care enough to watch for the fakes who come back again and again.
It bears repeating here: NEVER give personal identifying information like your email to someone on a dating site, and especially don't give financial information.
Fifth- there are some nice and genuine people on there, who can hold a very good conversation. I had an extremely good one my first week, almost agreed to meet for coffee, when it turned out she hadn't realized that "non-religious" on my profile didn't just mean "doesn't go to church", but meant "atheist". She said it was a deal breaker and meant it; our first phone conversation turned out to be our last, about 65 seconds later. But I'm currently having another very nice conversation with someone that may or may not go anyplace.
So, it's a very mixed bag. You will get a ton of messages, but have to sift through a lot of gravel to find the tiny gleam of gold. And that gold will often as not turn out to be pyrite. But just like any dating site, you're playing the odds. I'm going to keep playing until my subscription runs out, and then I'll either have met someone through it, or I'll give up on it. Either way I'll have seen a lot of interesting lingerie pics.