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Omegle and Chatroulette: a comparison of world famous video chats

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We don’t have enough fingers to list all the current formats for online communication. But there are some particularly interesting ones among them. We’re talking about anonymous video chats — special web services and applications that connect completely random users, allowing you to converse on almost any topic.

Today there are a huge number of video chat sites — some are very popular and others almost unknown to anyone. We’d like to remember the very first two anonymous web chat services, which originally gave life to this format of communication on the web. These are Omegle and Chatroulette — they were the true pioneers in this area. So what are these video chat sites and why are they still quite popular, despite the abundance of alternatives?

Omegle: history, functions and interesting features

Omegle is usually referred to as the first video chat in history, but this is not entirely true. Yes, the site was first launched on March 25, 2009 by eighteen-year-old American Leif K-Brooks, and until that moment nothing like this existed on the web. But there’s one slight nuance: at the time of launch, the site’s video chat function didn’t exist. It was purely a random text chat. The video call function appeared a little later — after the launch of Chatroulette.

Nevertheless, despite all the limitations at the time of launch, in just one month the number of visits to the site reached 150,000. Omegle’s video chat mode was introduced in 2010. At the same time, a separate window for entering text also remained — it was possible to simultaneously communicate via video and send text messages. A year later, the developer introduced a so-called “Spy mode”, but later it was removed. 

The site went through several more major changes after that: 

  1. In 2013 a video chat tracking function appeared, with the help of which the system filters inappropriate content. However, it still doesn’t work perfectly.
  2. In 2015, Omegle began using ReCaptcha — a simple but generally effective bot-fighting scheme.
  3. In 2019-2020, Omegle administration criticized the Chinese Communist Party, and in 2019-2020 expressed support for protesters in Hong Kong. At the present moment, access to the site in China is blocked.

But overall, despite some radical changes, Omegle hasn’t changed much in the past decade. Whether this is an advantage or a disadvantage is another question.

Chatroulette: past, present and changes in recent years

The history of Chatroulette video chat is no less interesting. This site was created by an ordinary schoolboy from Moscow, Andrei Ternovsky. It is amazing that Ternovsky took only two days to complete the work. As the developer himself said, the idea of ​​creating an anonymous video chat was shown to him by the video conferencing function in Skype. The only difference was that, according to his plan, the site would connect completely random users by video link. The young developer started looking for something similar on the Internet, but never found it. So in a couple of days he created Chatroulette. Unlike Omegle, Andrey Ternovsky’s website started off with a video link function.

At the time of launch, the site was quite primitive, had terrible moderation and minimal functionality. But nevertheless, exclusivity did its job — already in 2010, Chatroulette traffic often exceeded one and a half million people.

FRim then on, the Chatroulette site only consolidated its success:

  • Chatroulette was featured in Good Morning America, The New York Times and New York Magazine
  • The site was mentioned in an episode of South Park called You Have 0 Friends
  • At the Soundwave Festival in Australia, the band Faith No More band broadcast their performance via Chatroulette.

It was an overwhelming success, which even Andrei Ternovsky himself did not expect. Perhaps this influenced the sluggish further development of the resource. The chat audience was very active and the developer was in no hurry to change anything on the site. But moderation remained terrible, and the number of problem users was growing. At the same time, various Chatroulette alternatives began to emerge that were much more functional, secure and well moderated.

The fall of Chatroulette was as rapid as its rise in popularity. By the end of 2010, the audience had begun rapidly leaving the site. Especially girls who were tired of the constant harassment, trolling and exhibitionist antics. Eventually the Chatroulette audience began to look like 71%  men, 15% girls, 14% exhibitionists. The picture, to put it mildly, was disappointing.

It was only in 2020 that the developers finally took moderation seriously, implemented artificial intelligence and significantly improved the situation for users. But the audience by this point had dispersed onto other video chats and was in no hurry to return.

Omegle and Chatroulette functionality and settings

As mentioned above, both sites haven’t developed very actively over the past ten years. But if you compare their functionality today, there are still differences between them, as shown in this convenient table:

FUNCTIONS/SETTINGS/TOOLSOMEGLECHATROULETTE
Text chat++
Video chat++
Unmoderated section+
Manual country selection+
Search by interests++
Student chat++
Video conferencing service+
Face detection+
Access for persons under 18 years of age+
Smartphone apps
Website adaptation for mobile devices++

Here you may ask a logical question: “What’s better — Omegle or Chatroulette?” We don’t have a definite answer. The Chatroulette developers have done a really great job and improved their moderation. For example, now you can’t communicate with someone if your face is not in the frame. This is a good method of protecting against bots, but at the same time it’s inconvenient for ordinary users.

Omegle gives you more freedom. The site, for example, can even be used by teenagers over 13 years old. True, this is only with the permission of the parents and under their supervision. It’s also not very convenient, but in general such opportunities are welcome.

But perhaps the main disadvantage of both chat roulettes for a modern user is the absence of even the simplest mobile applications. Using the site from a smartphone is not very convenient. despite decent quality mobile browser versions. So let’s hope that sooner or later the developers will pay attention to this issue and in the future we will see Omegle and Chatroulette applications for smartphones and tablets.

There are always other options

While Omegle and Chatroulette are the true pioneers in the area of anonymous video chats, they have too many powerful competitors these days. There are a lot of sites with very flexible settings for finding chat partners, and numerous useful features: chat rooms themed by interests, AR filters and masks, user karma rating, online mini-games and much more. 

Should you choose Omegle and Chatroulette now, when there are so many alternatives on the web? It’s up to you to decide which alternative to Omegle and Chatroulette is best for you. We can only advise you not to focus only on these services. Try something new, open up additional opportunities for communication, find interesting acquaintances, new friends, or even your soulmate. Thanks to anonymous video chat, today that’s becoming easier than ever before.

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