Chatroulette Review: Little More Than Exhibitionists' Playground

Not Safe for Work, Nor Lots of Other Places

While may not appear very lively, the people broadcasting behind their web cams make it one colorful if not obscene web site.

The theme is simple enough: sign in, click a button and randomly connect with new people around the world using your webcam. But, while you might visit ​ to meet a total stranger, what appears on your screen may be more than you bargained for.

Despite decent video quality and a large community of users, Chatroulette is very often a foray into the pornographic or the sophomoric and not a community conducive to meeting new people.

Chatroulette's Dirty Details

Upon first glance, the site leaves much to be desired aesthetically. A white website, two webcam windows, and a simple chatroom interface grace this free video chat site.

Yet, beyond the index page lies an often seedy world of hormone-charged exhibitionists awaits upon pressing the "Start" button.

After trying to give Chatroulette the benefit of the doubt with more than a week of visits, I am convinced that the site's users are not reporting the myriad of flashers who flock to the site, despite warnings against broadcasting sexually explicit content. Chatroulette has said they have image recognition monitoring to help cut down on explicit content, but it is not completely effective.

Without being too graphic, I’d say one out of every six people I was connected with on Chatroulette was willing to flash their private parts at all hours of the day, making it extremely unfriendly for underage internet users who might stumble upon the site.

When I wasn’t given an unforeseen peep show by a large number of primarily male users, the selection ranged from high school students flashing the bird to people publicly eating Cheetos.

In short, the site generally attracts a large number of people with baser desires and interests that run counter to meeting new people for the chance to develop serendipitous friendships.

Great Video Quality, Few Real Connections

I talked at some length with two people out of probably 200 total connections during my testing. Factor in the considerable average length of time between these connections and the success rate for real connections dwindles.

In my personal tests, most Chatroulette users will connect with a user and disconnect in a matter of two or three seconds. The sheer volume of connections in a single time spent on Chatroulette that results in no meaningful interaction at all must remove this site from any list of valuable social networking sites.

What are Chatroulette users looking for? I theorize that many of the people on the site are simply looking for sexual gratification, though I'm sure there are users who venture in that are not looking for this; however, it is highly unlikely those users remain for long, which further reduces one's chances at making a connection that does not involve sex.

Chatroulette’s only notable area of distinction is its clear, high-quality video and audio connections, whether I was being screamed at, sexed up on webcam or shown streaming video of an anime film.

Now, if only they had content and people worth broadcasting.