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 Chat to meet a total stranger, what appears on your screen may be more than you bargained for.
A white website, two webcam windows, and a simple chatroom interface grace this free video chat site.
After trying to give Chat Roulette 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.
Chat Roulette has said they have image recognition monitoring to help cut down on explicit content, but it is not completely effective.
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.
I talked at some length with two people out of probably 200 total connections during my testing.
One informal study published in March 2010 shows that nearly half of all Chatroulette "spins" connected a user with someone in the USA, while the next most likely country was France with 15%.
On average, in sessions showing a single person 89% of these were male and 11% were female.
The sheer volume of connections in a single time spent on Chat Roulette that results in no meaningful interaction at all must remove this site from any list of valuable social networking sites. 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.
Chat Roulette’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.
Despite decent video quality and a large community of users, Chat Roulette is very often a foray into the pornographic or the sophomoric and not a community conducive to meeting new people.
Upon first glance, the site leaves much to be desired aesthetically.
A user was twice as likely to encounter a sign requesting female nudity than to encounter actual female nudity.