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Chatroulette relaunched today after a week’s absence, with a new design on the front end and the disappearance of some recently launched features. But the site’s biggest problem — the preponderance of men flashing themselves to the video camera in chats — still remains.
The chat service, which once placed the video feeds of chat partners on top of each other has now made the video screen of one’s chat partner bigger while de-emphasizing the user’s own video screen. The effect is reminiscent of other video chat services, like Skype or GTalk, which place a smaller window of the user’s video in view rather than alongside their partner’s video feed. Also changed is a big button underneath the video screen, which is no longer labeled “Next” but clearly meant for moving on to the next partner.
But with the relaunch comes the disappearance of some recently launched features. Chatroulette has been experimenting with different takes on its original concept in recent months. The site launched themed channels and local offerings in July, and founder Andrey Ternowsky told us around the same time that he wanted to ditch text chats altogether and instead focus on telepresence. The Localroulette and Channelroulette pages have disappeared, turning up 404s in their place.
Chatroulette has also been stepping up its fight against people who expose themselves on the service. Ternowsky published an open letter on the site in late July, threatening to give the IP addresses of such users to the police. The letter got ridiculed by some, and eventually disappeared from the site, only to be replaced by a generic warning message that Chatroulette was cooperating with law enforcement agencies. However, even this warning was taken off and recently, it seemed like the flashers had returned in droves to the site.
With the relaunch, the perverts that Chatroulette has become famous for have returned, and a quick review of the new site turned up a few members’ members in just a few short minutes. At the same time, there seemed to be a longer lag in between chat sessions, and it’s unclear if that is due to some changes on the back end that might be aimed at surfacing more popular users.
In a discussion at the Technonomy conference earlier this month, Napster co-founder and Chatroulette advisor Sean Parker said the site could work on separating out more interesting and engaging users from those that quickly get “nexted.” By having users who are quickly nexted wait longer in the queue to find a new chat partner, the site could discourage those who are there merely to show off their man parts from participating. It could also possibly help build traffic, by highlighting those who aren’t there for the same purpose.
Related content on GigaOM Pro: Report: The Consumer Video Chat Market, 2010-2015 (subscription required)