You hear me right, A review of a friend website as I am working through a bunch of games that I will soon be posting for your pleasure. If you have been on the J-List website, which is basically all the people who are regular readers of any anime and manga blog, you will have seen the ads for J-List Friends.
They look a bit like this one:
Looks more like a dating site than a friends site, but it says friends, so it must be true.
The real question is, how good is it and is it worth joining?
Well, to use a cop-out, a service with lots of users really depends on the users. Like I would sugest nobody actually play DOTA or DOTA 2, as the vast majority of the players are there to make sure you have as miserable a time as possible when playing. While the game may be good, the players aren’t friendly people. I wouldn’t recommend that new shooter from Perfect World (they make Rusty Hearts, which is actually good) because while players may be okay, the only real way to do good is to pay to win.
Before I digress any further, let’s get back to Friends, as I am now calling it.
It has profiles where you can post one personal picture that gets used for your face, and others of you, things you like, etc to allow someone else to see what you are doing.You have the describe me sections and your interest sections, as well as what kind of person are you looking for. At this point, it could still be a Friends website. After all, as I don’t smoke, I wouldn’t exactly want to be friends with someone who is a pack-a-day smoker.
If someone seems interesting, you can send them a smile or an email message. That is, you can send them a smile, but you can’t send an email, unless you paid for VIP for that month. Prices range from about $30 for one month to less per month, but more months.
Yup, it’s a dating site officially and has given up all pretense of being a place to meet friends. The prices are what I would assume are typical, otherwise all the people would go to those mail-order bride places you hear about (those exist, right?)
The thing is, most every profile you see says ‘sorry I’m not a VIP, you will need to be if you want to talk to me.’ ‘I want to be friends, but VIP is expensive, so I can’t get it, so you will need it to talk to me.’ as well as many others along those lines.
Even better, I got VIP for one month to try it out, and while it let me send unlimited messages at a time, you can’t send messages as a free user, so they may as well have said ‘allows you to send messages’ and it would have been more accurate. Even better, while anyone can reply to a message sent by a VIP user, if your VIP expires, you can’t reply to messages you already sent.
Needless to say, I had been talking to some pretty neat people, and then the VIP expired. End of conversation, and the end of any potential friendship, unless I fork over another $30 or so. Ouch. At least let us reply to an ongoing conversation if the VIP expires. It’s called ‘Friends’, shouldn’t it not kill a budding friendship by requesting more money?
So, instead of harping on those issues, I am going to suggest a bunch of stuff. I do that because I think the idea of a site for people around the world who have similar interests can meet and be friends is a good idea. I just think that the combination of that and a dating site are not as good of an idea.
To start: remove the cost to send a message. Remove the message service form the servers, and instead one of those programs that makes the sender anonymous to the recipient, so they cannot see the email address of who sent a message. Have the email be sent from my email to theirs, with none of that ‘you have received a new message’ notices or having to log on to see who it was that is now talking to me. Have messages go from me to them and vice-versa, but through the servers so they can’t see my email address and I can’t see theirs.
Secondly, as an addition to that, allow me to select an option for someone if I have been communicating with them that will allow them to see my email address, as if you are talking with someone you rust enough, then anonymity isn’t necessary, and direct communication would be easiest.
Naturally, you stand to make less money, but I still have some more ideas. Allow a person to link their J-List account and to allow certain people (who they have at least sent a message to) to see selected items from their wishlist. This would be like those actual dating websites: you pay money to send someone a gift. It is billed to your account, but sent to their address. You never know where they live or any other specifics, apart from what you sent them. For people who are there for dating and marriage, around holidays and other events, J-List could stand to make plenty of money as people send gifts to the person they have been talking with. Talking is free, so people will be far more likely to meet someone, and thus more likely to meet someone they want to send gifts to. Extra money in the coffers, and happier people on the service.
In addition, allow those who are there specifically for marriage and dating to play a small monthly or even yearly fee to be listed as such. Plenty of places have arraigned marriages, so for the fee, allow them to be listed in the arranged date or arranged marriage section, as well as being able to browse those sections. It wouldn’t do much, but it would allow those interested in dating and not just friends to be able to find others just like them. In short, it would combine a dating website and a friends website together without all the issues that would normally be there. But, still allow users who have marriage/dating as things on their profile to keep them without paying the marriage/dating fee. Instead, they can’t browse or be listed in the marriage/dating ‘books’ but it will instead show that they are looking for friends, but are open to finding something more.
In the end, and mainly the end because my internet is flickering out so I want to hurry this up, the Friends service is a good idea that was essentially kneecapped by the inclusion of a dating service. Meeting new people is great, but I think there should be other ways to pay for the servers, not a way that prevents people from making friends without paying fairly large amounts of money. I tried to suggests some ideas that would allow friends and date to co-exist. Either way, J-List friends is free, so you may as well create a profile.. They have manga and anime groups where you can post for free, so it’s like a forum with all sorts of topics.