I tried Match.com for a few months last year, and I did meet some interesting guys. I didn't meet Mr. Right, but I don't regret doing it because I learned a lot about what I want and what I don't want from the whole dating experience. My main complaint against Match, though, was that there were several guys who kept winking/e-mailing me even after I ignored their first attempt to contact me; I ended up with a very long blocked users list.
So I think your attitude towards going into online dating as a way to meet men, go on dates, and make new friends if it doesn't work out is a good one, and I'd recommend trying it for a few months at least.
I'd say that you get what you put into it. Be upfront in your profile about your likes, dislikes and only go out with people whom you are able to gel with online.
Also, no matter what dating site you go with, I'd recommend that you don't go out on Friday or Saturday night dates with dudes. A weekend day date or a weeknight date where both need to go to work the next day is best as there usually is less inclination for any sort of one night stand hook up. And remember, no matter what site you go with, you're going to run into jerks and morons -- but you can meet jerks and morons at bars and through friends too.
My friend met her current boyfriend on Match.com. They've been dating for over 3 years and things seem to be going really well for them. I know she was on Match for a while before she met him and she had some interesting stories about the guys she would meet. But I think you're just as likely to run into a freak or a guy just looking for a one night stand online as you are out at a bar or wherever else it is people meet these days.
I personally haven't tried it, but I know people who have tried dating sites like that one.
Hubby was on it for like a year while single and didn't really get any hits - if anything it was more of a blow to his self-esteem. I know my ex was on one for awhile after we dated, but it appears he never met up with anyone off those sites either the whole time he was on it.
I know a girl I went to high school with, she's shared a few times some of her "dates" from one of the sites... none of them turned out very well, although she did meet a guy at a coffee shop once and while the date didn't work out, she did end up getting the name and number of the cute barista! lol... she said she wasn't sure if that counted as the site actually working or not though, lol...
I dated a guy online prior to internet dating being a common thing. I met him on a message board and we chatted via IM and email... I'd say if you want to meet people online take that route - visit forums and sites of things you're interested in, you're bound to meet someone who's single and shares the same interests.
I tried it for a few months years ago in LA and it was totally worth it. I met so many interesting people. Ended up dating a very cool vegan photographer for a few months. What I liked about it is that it made me less nervous about dating. I viewed the experience as an adventure to meet new and interesting people.
When I was engaged I spent A LOT (maybe too much?) time on TheKnot.com and found quite a lot of women that met their fiances on Match. It seems like more and more people these days are meeting their mates online.
I used to be on HotorNot.com, which has a Meet Me feature, and I met a few guys off their, a couple that I even ended up dating. I think you have to just take any dating site with a grain of salt and realize that not every guy will be your future Mister but that you can meet some cool people doing it.
And hell, if you ended up marrying a guy that way it'd make a cute story.
I haven't tried Match.com because it cost money. I am currently on 2 free dating services, OKCupid and PlentyOfFish, I have met a few (stressing few), interesting females but those sites are literally full of Men. Women I've talked to said that they get like 20 messages a day, whereas I receive about 1 a week. I'm not saying I deserve more, but I feel like I present with a respectable profile.
I cannot vouch for the quality of men on the site, but the quantity is there. I have heard that many of the guys are creepers and are pretty disgusting in their chat/messages.
Worth a shot though, right? It's free and the worst that can happen is you wind up where you are now.