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March 30, 2010

Chatroulette isn't going away - at least not yet

Posted: 01:10 PM ET

Chatroulette - a Web site that pairs-up strangers for live video chats - became a cult hit with blogs, magazines and news sites in January and February.

Some lauded the site's randomness. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, Chatroulette reaches across social networks, often setting users up with people on the other side of the globe.

But what's happened since that initial buzz? Is Chatroulette just a fad, or will it stick around?

While the site seems to be in a period of limbo, there are indications it's not going anywhere, at least not soon.

Here's why:

1. Chatroulette is growing

Despite complaints about pornographic content, since a fair number of people you randomly meet on Chatroulette happen to be randomly naked, Chatroulette's traffic has continued to grow, according to an analysis released in mid-March by the Internet traffic monitor comScore.

In a blog post, comScore says:

The trend is beginning to catch on like wildfire with a recent growth trajectory far surpassing what we usually see with hot new sites. Chatroulette actually first registered on our radar in the month of January with 109,000 U.S. unique visitors, so this is a very recent phenomenon. When we released our February data last week, I was somewhat taken aback to see that the number of U.S. visitors to Chatroulette had exploded to 960,000 in a single month.

2. Chatroulette memes continue to emerge

A new Chatroulette user could get the impression that five minutes on the site is enough time to see everything there is to see. That's definitely enough time to get creeped out by the world of Web strangers. But, beyond the scary man in the leopard suit, new Chatroulette memes keep emerging. Among them: The viral video of a piano player who sings improv songs about his random Chatroulette partners. YouTube pulled that video down, upsetting many of the piano player's fans. Ben Folds, who plays the piano for money in real life, even filmed a tribute to the Chatroulette player at a live concert.

3. Chatroulette is becoming more social

This may be a fallout of Chatroulette's creep factor, but it seems like groups are becoming more inclined to give the site a whirl. It's strength in numbers. Visiting Chatroulette with friends makes it more tolerable - and more fun.

Urlesque has a fun guide to throwing a Chatroulette party of your own. They held one in Brooklyn, New York with a roomful of people. Among the tips: Get good lighting and get used to nudity. Wired also has this list of five reasons you should give Chatroulette a try. The best is the last one: It's fun.

What do you think? Is Chatroulette here to stay?

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Filed under: Chatroulette • Internet • social-networking sites


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