Meanwhile, your self-description should be free of "long walks on the beach" tropes, and focus concisely on specific things you love, fun facts about yourself and hobbies -- not activities you do alone.

Avoid negative comments, especially about previous relationships.

The downsides are the high price and constant requests for more cash to see who visited your page, for example., free, is popular, but it sure ain't pretty.

The site will make design purists go cross-eyed, and it often serves up skeevy banner ads.

That gives you a good chance of finding a date, but according to , also makes it "an absolute hive of polyamorous kinksters, furries and others...

at the odd end of the dating pool."Our resident dating expert Tim Seppala prefers OKCupid, as do several other Engadget editors. "Well, it's free, and it doesn't feel gross -- unlike " The large number of users and messages is a plus, though Tim added that "the overall user population isn't the best in my area, and there are a lot of people who are 'very hesitant' to meet someone in person."Instead of making a long-term subscription commitment and regretting it, why not start with a free site?

Our Managing Editor Dana Wollman recalls meeting several nerdy dates online who, upon learning her job, proceeded to talk all evening about gadgets. When you work in tech all day, it's the last thing you want to discuss. However, there are plenty of deranged individuals out there who look at dating sites and see a trove of potential victims.

If you actually pay attention to the other person and read the signals, you'll avoid such . In some cases, the results can turn out tragically.

Eventually that site and others joined the internet, and today, dating sites in the US draw nearly 30 million unique visitors per month.

Some of those, including let you browse potential mates for free (supported by ads), while offering a paid premium option with more features -- advanced searches, message read receipts and so on.

The top 20 in terms of unique visitors (according to Alexa) are shown above.

They're ranked not only by size and type (romantic, friendly and sexual) but also reputation, as determined by rate "poor" and "very poor" in reputation, respectively.

Another well-known, mobile-only site is , aimed mostly at people looking purely for sex.