Once again, we award river2u's "1st in Class" award to CliquePals Penpals, the most straightforward, simplest, cleanest "Penpals" sites we reviewed in the category.

Certainly, is not the largest penpal and personal ad site around -- the "ad factories" boast hundreds of thousands of listings. But CliquePals is growing fast. From nowhere on May 19th, 2002, they had soared in under 30 days to over 650 new listings of people from around the world (most notably the US, England, and Australia). Since then, they have consistently maintained a current list of members at around 1000.

"Current" -- not total numbers -- is what this business is all about. With people changing email addresses faster than most change their underwear, listings go stale quickly...sometimes as quickly as a week or two, if not sooner. Our 2001 Editors' Study on direct email listings concluded that "with the ease of creating new email accounts, if an email address drawn from a personal/entertainment source hasn't been verified in the last 30 days, there's a 50-50 chance that it is no longer in use." For sites whose basic purpose is linking people through email, stale listings is a big problem.

With its constant pruning of its listing (a member must send at least one note through the system every 30 days or else they are removed), CliquePals has a list that ranks among the top of all sites -- regardless of size. To keep the list current, CliquePals attracts about 15-20 new listings a day through space advertising, search engines, and link exchanges.

Other excellent aspects of the implementation are (1) the fact that the site is free (many of their competitors have a free posting policy but it costs to contact the posters) and (2) by concealing email addresses so that users can use their primary email address without disclosing it to others (makes it easier for users to keep up on mail).

Recently, they have integrated their famous CliqueChat technology chat room. This makes a great way to turn an email-based friendship into a true, real-time chat...reason enough to join CliquePals.

When things around here get slow and we're looking to meet new friends, is the place we head to, and we encourage you to follow us there.

Updated Octorber 3, 2003 - go to our home or entertainment page