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article imageChat Site Drops Users Into Random, Live Webcam Conversations

By Erin Jackson     Feb 16, 2010 in Internet
The premise of is simple: turn on your webcam and start up a conversation with a randomly selected stranger.
No login information or registration is required, so in just a few seconds, users can be having anonymous (albeit face-to-face) conversations with other users from around the world.
The rudimentary design of the site includes two video feeds: one for your webcam and one for the stranger you've been connected to. Users can select "next" at any point to close a conversation and move on to the next user.
The website is the brainchild of Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old high school student from Moscow, who created the website for fun. He told the New York Times that he and his friends had grown bored with talking to each other via Skype and wanted to have random conversations with new people. According to the same article, the site gets about 20,000 users on a typical night. Ternovskiy does not have any specific plans to commercialize the site beyond a few Google AdSense buttons, but is planning to add more interesting and entertaining features to.
The appeal of Chatroulette is likely that it's completely unpredictable, sometimes shocking, and often entertaining. According to an article in Fast Company, you can expect to see anything from people dancing around in scary masks to a a backwards, naked somersault. Nudity is common, as are appeals from users encouraging it.
Chatroulette blends the unpredictable and often random connections of a chatroom with face-to-face contact: an element that is immediately jarring. Using the site is a lot like flipping through channels on a TV with premium cable: quick, 2 second glances into the lives of others. In some cases, you'll be lucky enough to stumble upon a user who is interacting with the website as an Internet-based public access station, where they can showcase their strange talents in aims of entertaining an audience, one person at a time.
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