Watson wrote:... people could meet online the same as anywhere else, and get to know each other starting with a common interest...
BINGO not knowing anything about it I nevertheless want to agree!
If you are isolated by logistic restrictions, time, place, etc. so that you want to use the internet, then maybe you could develop online ACTIVITIES, where you pursue common interests
if you like river-rafting, start an online river-rafting magazine and get other people to contribute photos and text.
if you like Gothic Novels about vampires, start an online vampire magazine and get other people to contribute photos and text, find old pictures of vampires, dress up as vampires and so on
In my case it would be working Cryptic Crossword puzzles by email. It is easy to do via email. What did you get for 17-down? I like doing that. I don't go for either river-rafting or vampires.
You set up moderately challenging situations and interact with people and get to know them by how they act in a mildly challenging situation.
My brother in law found a very good wife by taking up English Country Dancing. She's wonderful. The ACTIVITY brought them together. Scottish Country Dancing is much harder, you have to be really smart to remember all the moves. My other sister-in-law was in a SCD community, members kept marrying and sometimes the kids would even take up SCD. It was very ingrown, in a nice way. A challenging activity where you learn something about what stuff the other person is made of. Is he dependable? Is she a good sport? etc. Can he remember the next 10 moves of the dance? I did not like those people all that much but I had to respect them.
I like singing, where you stand still, rather than jumping around. But whatever works for you :-D
I can't think of any ONLINE activity that, for meeting and courtship, is as good as country dancing. Or Sierra Club hikes. But there might be. Regional discussion boards? Do they exist? Like a discussion board that is ONLY for people living in Northern Idaho? Talk about Northern Idaho issues news and gossip.
Then if you liked somebody you could arrange to drive over and meet them in person. Could a regional discussion board be INTERESTING enough, with only a limited population to draw on, limited pool of talent.