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Chatroulette

Chatroulette was not the first site to come up with the “random chat” concept, that was Omegle, but it was the first random chat site to add video into the mix, which was really a massive difference. The addition of live webcam streams gave the random chatting category a new luster, making it far more intriguing due to what users could stumble upon, both good and bad. I guess being able to see the other person goes a long way versus simply being able to talk them via text-only. After reaching about 100 users online, Chatroulette started getting media attention and went viral. After it peaked, many people thought it would be a fad and just disappear, but it has held strong, albeit at a lower level of monthly visitors than at its peak. The level has held steady with a continuous flow of millions of users a month.

If you aren’t all that familiar with the roulette cam chat format, basically it involves a one-on-one video chat session with another random person, and you get the ability to click “next” to skip to the next random connection. The downside, of course, is that the other user can skip you as well. The plus side is you never know who or what you will see, which adds a sort of excitement that goes above and beyond your usual chat room. There is some debate about whether or not this concept is really that novel nowadays, because of instant messengers such as AIM or IRC that may have had some sort of random connection feature you could use back in the day, but I think the website-based format really reinvented the concept, even if it did sort of exist previously. Anyway, you can visit the site at www.chatroulette.com.