THE NEWS FACTOR -- JAN 26 -- Web sites specifically built to put people in touch with one another -- are booming in terms of participation and new services. Whether you are looking for social chatter, dating, gaming, or networking with other professionals, the Internet has the forum for it, and it has become both easy and fast to acquaint yourself with like-minded people. The communities are becoming so popular that some wonder whether they could fundamentally alter the way humans interact with each other. In addition to the networking behemoth MySpace, which currently has 47.3 million members, there's Friendster, The Well, Tribe Networks, and Bebo. Smaller sites that specialize in just a few topics are springing up, too, like Yelp, an online community devoted to chat about local watering holes and entertainment. Dating online seems even easier thanks to aggressive recruitment efforts by sites like eHarmony and Match.com; both claim eight million and credit for thousands of marriages.
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