Thursday, September 07, 2006

Truth-in-dating Web site separates fact from phonies

Mandy Moreno thought she had found the guy, looking at his online dating profile. Especially the part where he said he wanted to "find just the right girl."

So they arranged to meet.

"I saw him coming across the street," Moreno said. "And I went, 'Whoa!' I don't know if he was in denial or if he was just effeminate. But he wasn't what I was looking for. … I thought maybe we should go guy-hunting together."

Moreno, and others who have been stung by misleading Web profiles, have been looking to a Web site that helps separate online fact from fiction.

People can post reviews of their dates on ( and also plug in a prospective date to see if anyone else has posted a comment about the person.

It's also about truth in dating advertising, not to malign people, said Jamie Diamond, a spokesman for the Los Angeles-based company.

"You review your date or review reviews of your date. It's not the Bible or the Koran, but it's something to help you out," he said.

Among the dating sites that can be accessed through TrueDater are: American Singles,, eHarmony, HotorNot, JDate,, MySpace,, Planet and Yahoo Personals.

All that's needed is the person's profile identification or name to see if they've been reviewed on a Web dating site.

More than a half-million people have used TrueDater since the site launched last year. "Reviewers" are encouraged to stick to the facts regarding a dater's actual height, weight, age and gender. There is space for comments, but site staffers monitor the remarks.

"We're strict about what goes into a review," Diamond said. "It's not an open forum to attack or defame someone. We did a lot of research to determine how we can respect everyone's personal information and personal space."


Mark Brooks, an independent analyst and consultant to the online personals industry, said he hasn't seen anything else like TrueDater.

"I think it answers a definite need in the online dating market," said Brooks, who also is editor of (an industry site for online personals) and has worked with the dating Web sites, Friendster and Friendfinder.

Brooks said Friendster allows people to write testimonials about a date, but the person being reviewed has to approve it, "so nothing negative gets in."

He said a planned Web site, "honestyonline," tried something similar to TrueDater but apparently went too far unearthing the truth. "They sent someone to your home to take a photo, check your weight and to literally draw blood (for a medical profile). It fell flat."

Brooks said TrueDater is the kind of site that makes people think more about their reputation, which is a new issue in online dating. He says a problem in the industry is that people tend to exaggerate, if they don't outright lie.

"They're a few pounds heavier (in real life), or they have a picture with their hair fuller," he said.

Marcus Frind, founder of, a free dating Web site, said both men and women are equally guilty when it comes to fudging profiles. "With women, it's weight; for men, it's height. A third party (giving an assessment) is the simplest way to go."


Cuban-born Celcilia Alegria of Avenutra, Fla., has been on scores of Internet dates since her husband died three years ago — both to find someone to date and to do research for a book on online dating. The 47-year-old also gives advice to couples on the Spanish language television network Telemundo.

Alegria felt compelled to do a TrueDater review of a guy from Tampa. She thought she had hit the jackpot when she saw his picture online.

But then she suggested they see each other via Webcam before meeting. At first, he had excuse after excuse for not agreeing. Alegria finally told him to get on the Webcam or forget about meeting her.

"He said, 'OK, but I'm going to look different because I have a toothache, and my face is bigger.' When I switched on the Webcam, he was so overweight — maybe 50 pounds heavier than his picture," Alegria said. "I asked what happened." He apologized and said the photo had been taken 10 years ago, and she told him he should update it.

"He told me, 'You are hurting my dignity and all you are looking for is good looks,' and I told him, 'No, I'm looking for honesty.' "

Another time, Alegria found three different men using a photograph of the same magazine model as their own. "More sites should ask for reviews," she said.

Most daters will accept a constructive critique, Diamond said. "If you say their pictures are 100 pounds ago and 10 years ago, most people take a 'golly, shucks' attitude and realize they should have been more accurate in their profile."

Eric Straus, president of, says TrueDater is a "good little niche," but he wasn't sure how much review sites could change the online dating industry.

"I don't think it adds all that much to the process," he said. "People tend to exaggerate, and I think that's the nature of the beast."

The Naked Bitch: An Honest Approach to Dating Women