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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.

At the end of November 2004, there were 844 lifestyle and dating sites, a 38% increase since the start of the year, according to Hitwise Inc.

There were also apparently other video dating services like Teledate and Introvision, but it's nearly impossible to find anything about them online. A bulletin board system for romance started by Jon Boede and Scott Smith.

Matchmaker grew to 14 local BBSs throughout the US.

Further, during this period, the usage among 18- to 24-year-olds tripled, while that among 55- to 65-year-olds doubled.

Niche sites cater to people with special interests, such as sports fans, racing and automotive fans, medical or other professionals, people with political or religious preferences (e.g., Hindu, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, etc.), people with medical conditions (e.g., HIV , obese), or those living in rural farm communities.

Further, the 2016 Pew Research Center's survey reveals that the usage of online dating sites by American adults increased from 9% in 2013, to 12% in 2015.

Eventually people lost interest as BBSs lost out to the World Wide Web, and Matchmaker was superseded by

Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables strangers to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.

In 2008, a variation of the online dating model emerged in the form of introduction sites, where members have to search and contact other members, who introduce them to other members whom they deem compatible.

Introduction sites differ from the traditional online dating model, and attracted a large number of users and significant investor interest.