Challenge: Chat Roulette. "Going Where No Manly Man Has Gone Before." So reads the prompt from Manifesto, the menswear blog from UK clothing line French Connection for a contest in which participants are asked to document their
online flirting. Initially restricted to men, the opportunity to win 250 pounds for captured evidence of success or fail was opened up to women as well.
The first marketing ploy to use this popular but chaotic Web site, FCUK's efforts could easily go awry or be well rewarded. Chatroulette's simple design of pairing two strangers in video chat has made it extremely popular for the past few weeks since it made appearances in a number of US news sources, such as Good Morning America, New York Magazine, and The Daily Show. A button labeled "next" lets either user change the channel on whomever they have been paired with, a proto-Circuit from Logan's Run.
The pairing seems very appropriate - as ReadWriteWeb reports, Chatroulette's visitors are typically 71 percent male, 15 percent female, and 14 percent pervert. With a blog that defines its readers' manliness by how much meat they eat and how little gel they put in their hair, there is much potential user overlap between the two sites.
Realistically, associating with such a site - where the odds of meeting someone strange or seeing something disturbing are quite high - could be risky, but FCUK could be trying for just such a distinction. Since Chatroulette's inception in November 2009, much of the press as mentioned above has mainly covered that seedy, deer-head-wearing demographic of its user base.
As interviewed by the New York Times' Bits Blog, 17 year old Andrey Ternovskiy from Moscow says he created Chatroulette for himself and his friends. Tired of talking to each other on Skype, his idea to connect randomly with strangers manifested itself in the current phenomenon.