What do I think about personal ads on the internet? My first caveat is that my dating days are behind me. I'm happily engaged. I did do some Internet dating a learned a bit from it. Personal ads can be a great way to meet new people, or they can be the beginning of a nightmare.
On the pro side, the internet is wide-open. You can reach a variety of people that you could never hope to reach via friends, work, or even the newspapers.
On the con side, you also miss out on the normal filtering mechanisms that are out there via friends, work, etc. Your buds are unlikely to introduce you to a psycho rapist. They also might not know the lonely billionaire that would be perfect for you.
So, the summary kind of goes like this. Traditional, long-term relationships are very hard and require as much of a good, solid base of commonality, support from friends, etc. that can be mustered. That would mean that the internet route is not a particularily great way to go about finding the love of your life. It is not impossible, but realistically it would be unlikely. (Even if there are thousands of folks that have met and happily married based on internet encounters, there are over a billion people on the internet.)
But, if you're just someone to chat with, do activities, etc. then go for it!
Just be careful!
You should rent the movie, "Strangeland," and watch it a couple of times before taking the leap.
Here is a site for UK dating: UK Best Date Site.
Now, I've met most of my gaming and social group here in Northern VA via the WWW. So, here are some tried and true steps I take.
First, I have a couple of aliases that I use to make initial contact with folks. I never work directly from my "real" identity when making initial contact. You can easily get an "extra" ID from hotmail and some other places. Put some generally correct personal information in it, e.g., age range, sex, weight range, but use an assumed name. Don't switch to your real e-mail until you are pretty dang comfortable with this person.
Second, take things slowly. Chat on the internet for a bit via e-mail. Ask some basic questions. After a couple of weeks, slip in some of the same questions again. See if the answers match. For example, if they have kids one time and they don't the next then you know something is up.
Third, talk on the phone before meeting the person. Can you hear them sharpening the axe while they chat with you? Do you hear gun fire in the background? Are they yelling at their kids and wife while trying to hook-up with you? You get the idea. But, don't be fooled by a suave voice!
Fourth, the first time you meet, meet in a public place where you can approach in a crowd and potentially flee if you see a total loser. Yes, this puts some stock in outward appearance, but do you really want to hook-up with a guy wearing shorts under a urine stained trench coat? I don't want to know if you do!
Do a couple of public dates before allowing someone to come to your house or you to visit theirs. You don't want to end up in the trunk of a car somewhere.
The steps above might sound a little too cautious, but I've met lots of nice people over the internet. Still, I've probably filtered out about 4/5ths of initial contacts. I'm not in the dating game, but those are the steps I use. I don't want someone coming to my house that I don't trust to be around the kids.
Hope that helps!