Welcome to the HOF. This is your resident sergeant at arms, Masterchat. Welcome to what I hope will serve as the ultimate landing page for chatroulette. I have quite an extensive history with the service, leading the original packs of Hunters on their quest for internet fame when Andrey was just a 17 year old hacker from Russia. The original remain standing proud and perhaps a bit more knowledgeable than the rest of you out there in the digital void.
There are a number of secrets and tidbits of information about our favorite little “dissociated social network” that Andrey would much prefer to sweep under the rug. Much of the original style and novelty of the platform has given way to the late night machinations of Andrey and the presumed team now working under him. Today maybe chatroulette.com might feature a telephone #, or some other experimental test. Nothing major, nothing minor...
But I always wondered who actually called that number. Probably some very distressed souls.
Fakes. Fakes. Fakes. Do I need to say it? This game of Russian roulette has odds that, if you find a hot girl, it’s probably a guy sitting behind a webcam video using ManyCam. The game has changed so dramatically. It used to be, people were scoring hard, real beautiful women, just by using SIGNS. It was insane. Some guy would set his webcam image to a dumb picture with something obnoxious and girls were really responding.
That lasted about a month.
All of a sudden, there was an exponential increase in hot and bothered chicks on chatroulette. How could this be? Had Andrey hired escorts to boost male audience on the site? No, my friends, the truth is that these videos had been ripped from cam sites like Stickam and Cam4. The Hunters found incredible success by changing the output of their ManyCam software to a pre-recorded video. Generally, these videos were of average looking girls. Read between the lines there and you’ll see the ultimate truth: most of the experiences were really just some poor women living out their respective lesbian fantasies. Only the reality is that they were really just giving up an intimate and free live show to the rest of the world.
Soon, females had wisened up to the videos of other women and were demanding things like a wave on cue, or for the fake video to blow a kiss. Obviously, this was not always possible.
But, like Moore’s law, technology kept getting better. Next, elite member captain of the Hunter community had released “Virtual Cam Girls” which immediately smoothened things out. This was a program that took one solid video, looped it seamlessly, and then allowed you to chop in a “wave” or “kiss” on cue from a pre-recorded action. The program allowed Hunters precision control over the chat environment.
While many men pretended to be women to seduce a woman, still many more relied on trending tech of their time, latching onto viral videos that had proven themselves in the videochat underground. Mostly, these videos were clever and exploitative in a humorous, rather than insidious way. They tended to work miracles for short bursts, until the whole populace had already “saved the chicken” or “donated to Haiti” and wasn’t willing to disrobe for it again. The best and most notorious of these videos was the Snake vs. Chicken scene, where unsuspecting chat partners were shown a scene of a snake about to pounce on a chicken in real-time. The Hunted is then given the choice to save the chicken. Will she bare a little skin to save little TookTook from being a McNugget snack? The answer was a resounding yes, for at least a fair time.
And this is how the chatroulette x beast operated, for a very long time. The platform was being overrun by fakes, sex offenders, and weirdos. Not to mention spam. At one point, an estimated 20% of users on the site were simply spambots, broadcasting their advertisements for free, tucked away beneath every “Next!” The overall spirit of the service suffered a blow when it was made public how dangerous the platform would be to a middle-man type of attack. Because the website was public and required no login credentials of any kind, it was exposing itself to all sorts of lecherous foe.
As Andrey realized how exposed his service was to the degenerates of the Internet, he quickly moved to patch his service. Originally, chatroulette only banned through a simple cookie, stored on your machine. After you had been reported three times, your computer updated this cookie to say you were “banned” and you you’d be unable to access the site for 45 minutes. Hackers quickly figured out you could simply set the cookie file to “read-only” and then the service would be powerless to update the cookie and set it to ban, no matter how many times you were reported. Many legends developed out of this early scene, including one demi-god known as nbuzard. When chat roulette banned fake webcams, NBUZARD had a solution prepared in mere hours.
The renaissance reached its climax when Andrey implemented algorithmic screening of chatroulette feeds. This new 2.0 style ban was incredibly effective. The service would quickly scan your webcam feed, and if you were doing anything it algorithmically decided was “inappropriate” you would be banned on the server side. No more cookies, no more shenanigans. Things got serious. But, little did we know, that the service was not the anonymous and fun Russian game anymore. Things had gotten corporate. In fact, Chatroulette was collecting a lot more information on its users than it was letting on. How many people know that every time you use chatroulette, a photo is taken of your camera stream every 120 seconds? This photo is saved to the Russian’s servers for an indeterminate amount of time.
Chatroulette Beta includes a text-only chat, similar to the original Omegle
I believe that the Hunters will always be entertained, and there will always be some fair game to go around. But beyond that, there really is no saying what Ternovskiy will do going forward. What could possibly be done to take the platform to the next level? There must be some next level. Perhaps a way for people to maintain relationships from within the program. I think that those who will stick with CR long term will be those who fall addiction to its socially dissociative traits.