Penises, Girls and Lollipops, General Weirdness: A Chatroulette Primer

I’m no longer a Chatroulette virgin. And truth be told, I waited for my wife to leave the house before I logged on. Don’t know if that makes me an official creep, but I had no idea what to expect.

I should have known better.

While I still marvel at how far technology has come in my lifetime, I also marvel at how sick and perverted so many Internet users are.

Ripe for the sexual deviants who peruse the classifieds at the back of the Village Voice or the trolls on Craigslist, Chatroulette puts a face, or a penis, on the conversation.

What is Chatroulette?

With no login or registration, Chatroulette pairs up random strangers to have a Webcam chat. If you don’t like what you see or where the conversation is going, you can “NEXT” a person with the click of a button. This will initiate a new session with another stranger. Aside from video, paired folks can text chat too.

Chatroulette was founded by Andrey Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old Moscow-based high school student, who is currently traveling the world and entertaining 7-digit offers for the site and/or future plans.

The site generates revenue thanks to a partnership with online dating Websites.

What to expect.

This site is not for the faint of heart. Roulette in Vegas gives you a 1 in 38 chance to land on your number, with Chatroulette, the number of possibilities are endless. In other words, there is no way to predict what you will see. And that’s the appeal. There have been mainstream bands who are streaming music on the site, and random celebrity drop-bys. (Nicole Richie, Ashton Kutcher, Jessica Alba, Kate Moss, to name a few).

But your odds of seeing a private body part in motion is much greater than spotting a star.

The first 10 people I viewed went like this:

– 25-year-old man in ski goggles
– Monstrous penis being stoked
– Two 18-year-old boys in a dimly-it room
– An eight-year old boy!?
– An attractive thirty-ish woman sitting in front of a Buddha poster
– Tiny uncircumcised penis being stroked
– Creepy Freddy Mercury lookalike
– More penis
– 17-year-old girl sucking on lollipop
– Creepy 20ish guy sitting too close to camera

For those of you playing at home, that’s a 30% chance of seeing a penis. I don’t understand what these guys are thinking. Do they actually think someone is going to stop and fall in love?

If you come across someone abusing the system you can report them with the click of a button. And if they get reported three times, they are frozen out of the system for 10 minutes. During my session, I didn’t bother to flag anyone, and I’m guessing most others won’t either. That would be like skipping a ring at the circus.

The future.

The high rate of pornography is sure to turn off a lot of users. But despite all of the skin showings, the future of Chatroulette is bright. Even though I’m turned off by the creeps, I’m turned on by the possibilities. Beta testing of “custom roulettes” is currently underway; this would lead to a more controlled experience. For example, if you want to talk about politics you can go to a subdomain like politics.chatroulette or obama.chatroulette. There are no guarantees you won’t see a schlong or two, but the goal is to make things a bit more structured.

Site traffic is over 1 million hits a day and growing. Add that in with some celeb love, and you’ll likely log on too – if you haven’t already.

How long until someone streams the first wedding or commits the first murder on Chatroulette? I won’t say that Chatroulette is the new Twitter but it definitely has a high ceiling. Very high. And it’s oddly addictive. And twisted.   Did I mention this thing is going to be big? Long Dong Silver big.   Whether or not it has staying power remains to be seen.