Chatroulette Founder Wants to Ditch Text Chats, Focus on Telepresence

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Chatroulette’s current interface could soon make way for a new system that focuses entirely on telepresence and comes without any text chat, according to the site’s founder Andrey Ternowsky. Chatroulette recently launched two new sites dubbed Channelroulette and Localroulette, and Ternowsky told me today via email that these are early experiments for an entirely revamped Chatroulette experience. “Right now,” he said, “we are carefully testing it and slowly launching some of its future features,” with the goal to get feedback from users. He added: “Someday we will replace the main page with the new system.”

The site’s new Channelroulette and Localroulette offerings were briefly unavailable yesterday, and are now simply called Local and Channels. Both are based on the same interface, which puts video front and center with a much bigger Flash player, but comes without any text chat. People have been using the text chat option of the original Chatroulette site quite a bit, Ternowsky told me, but he’s determined to get rid of it anyway. “There are lots of text chats out there. Nothing new about it,” he said. Chatroulette on the other hand was trying to create a new kind of telepresence. “It is certainly something awkward and unusual, which is good,” he said.

Part of that awkwardness has been due to the fact that Chatroulette has become popular amongst exhibitionists who want to show off their private parts. Chatroulette’s new Channel system could help to solve this issue by offering themed channels to users interested in adult-themed chats, and thus keeping them away from others. In fact, the sex channel has consistently been the most popular channel, ever since the new offering launched two weeks ago. Ternowsky hopes that the channel model will be the “holy grail” to solve all of the site’s current challenges.

Other challenges include an increasing number of spammers that blast users with fake videos, automated chat messages and banners. Some of them advertise competing offerings while others simply try to get traffic for traditional adult webcam sites. Ternowsky said that spammers are just another technical challenge for the site that would eventually be tackled, and didn’t seem to worried that it will harm its user base. “For users, it’s a part of a game,” he said. “Since it’s a roulette, sometimes you can lose the game.”

Related content on GigaOm Pro (sub req’d): Report: The Consumer Video Chat Market, 2010–2015

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