Badoo is a social networking, or rather dating site, which has earned it's popularity partly for the easy and clear interface and huge number of users, but also for controversies regarding the scammer and fake profiles presence.
Badoo evolved from the extremely popular Hot or Not site, that gave people the opportunity to do what most love doing in real life anyway – compare peoples’ appearance, praise the pretty and criticize the ugly. Badoo offers the same thing, but with an additional possibility to find out a bit about the photo owner, and contact them.
Badoo is often described as a ‘social networking’ site but it’s missing some of the important elements. The profiles are poor, and just feature some information about appearance, marital status and a bit about interests, and there’s no way of creating a friends network – you can only have one to one conversations. Also, the extremely popular functionality of updatable statuses is not there. So, the user can just create a profile and hope that his or her pic will catch some attention – because there isn’t enough space in the profile to make it intriguing.
There are several ways to get in touch with people – one, post a sexy female profile, not necessarily yours and wait for messages. The number of complaints about Badoo being infested with fake profiles suggests it’s a popular strategy. The other way is to look at the strip with pics of users at the top of the page and choose someone who looks appealing. There’s also a ‘near me’ section showing online users in the vicinity and the search engine. The search is, again, focused on the appearance, and basic facts, you can look for people of certain height, weight, family status and drinking habits – but not for people with similar interests or tastes.
So, the search possibilities are very superficial – perfect for a person who is looking for ‘a single, non-smoking woman aged 24-31’ but not satisfying for a person who wants to talk to someone with interesting hobbies.
The messenger is a major part of the site, it’s not just a tiny window in the corner, but a big one, that covers the whole page. You can see which users are online, and have the history of previous conversations. There are some technical issues, however, sometimes the user appears online, when he no longer is, which might create some confusion, and people feeling hurt when they don’t get responses from someone who appears online.
Another feature inspired by the Hot or Not site is the ‘Encounters’ game. Users’ photos show up, and we have to choose whether we would like to meet this person or not (or maybe). The counter shows each users how many users would like to meet him or her, but doesn’t show who exactly would it be – until the user pays for the ‘superpower account’.
The most basic features are free, but the advanced search, information about who visited or liked the profile, and some profile access options have to be paid for.
The site might be a bit confusing for a non-paying user – many links require purchasing superpowers. Apart from those parts, the rest is pretty clear, the messenger easy to use, and the users’ photos well displayed. New information is highlighted and a colourful ‘popularity meter’ shows if the profile is often visited of completely forgotten. Until recently, the messenger opened in a separate widows that could easily get lost on a desktop of a multitasking person, now it’s glued to the main page, which is a better solution in my opinion
Badoo is quite an effective site when it comes to random chatting, but the possibilities of ‘finding the right person’ whether for friendship or romance are not that big. Limited search options and focus on popularity and hot appearance make it nearly impossible to see past the photos. Attractive people, who would probably not have problems with finding a date anyway, are promoted (the more popular you are, the more your profile appears on the site, makes you even more popular) while those who could really use some help with finding friends, are hidden.
There is a big disproportion between male and female users, making the site a perfect place for scammers with fake profiles who prey on lonely and desperate men. Some of the complaints stated that ‘there are no real women’ on this site, which is an exaggeration, but shows the scale of the problem.
Badoo has been also criticized for spamming mailboxes and causing trouble with deleting the profile, or even harvesting data from Facebook, or letting fake profiles stay online despite of complaints from the photo owners.
It seems like it’s a good place for a random chat, or even a date if you’re very lucky and attractive, but not at all effective for finding friends with more than just a pretty photo.