BlurryPeople Goes Right Where Chatroulette Went Wrong [Interview]

Chatroulette has come under fire in recent months as the site has become more and more of a hub for adult entertainment and less and less of the creative, fun meeting place many had hoped it would be. Chatroulette’s recent upgrade to Version 2, after a longer-than-anticipated down time, was disappointing to say the least, as the site didn’t seem to make any significant changes or improvements. Well, hey Chatroulette! There’s a new random chat contender in town called BlurryPeople, and they’re offering users all the features that you should have thought about for Chatroulette V.2.

BlurryPeople is a Chatroulette clone, only much more engaging and effective at wiping out some of the issues that go along with random online video chat (most notably, the penises). When you chat with random strangers on BlurryPeople they start out totally blurred out and over the first two full minutes of chatting they gradually unblur, giving you time to decide if you want to continue the conversation until you and your random stranger are revealed to one another. I should note that Chatroulette recently added a blurry feature to their site as well, but strangers are revealed within the first few seconds, barely giving you enough time to click the “Next” button before your chat companion is revealed.

In addition to the blurry feature, BlurryPeople also adds social features to the chat experience, allowing users to keep track of people that they like so that they can see if they are online and chat with them again in the future. I had the opportunity to ask Jelmer Feenstra, co-founder of BlurryPeople, a few questions about the site. See what he had to say in the interview below:

Social Times: When did BlurryPeople launch and what was the inspiration behind it? Were you looking to make a new and improved Chatroulette?

Jelmer Feenstra: We launched approximately three weeks ago (after some limited alpha-testing). And yes, we thought a better (and more decent) version of Chatroulette would probably have a lot of potential. Additionally, we have experience connecting strangers (using text-only chat) and run a dating site called Paiq in the Netherlands. These factors combined inspired and convinced us to create BlurryPeople.

ST: How does your gradual blurring over a few minutes compare to Chatroulette’s few seconds of blurring?

JF: We are of the opinion that it’s better to have the video blurred for a little longer than merely a few seconds. A few minutes of blur allows people to get to know each other just a little bit, before appearances come into play. Ultimately this results in longer, and more pleasant conversation on the site.

ST: Unlike Chatroulette, BlurryPeople users have the option to sign in to the site. Does signing in give users any extra features?

JF: You have the ability to ‘like’ the people that you meet on the site. When someone ‘likes’ you, it will allow you to see when he/she is online (and to request to connect). This way you can keep track of the people you’d like to speak to more than once. If you do not register you will lose these contacts the next time you visit.

And of course, there’s the concept of trying to increase your ‘awesomeness’. If you’ve managed to obtain positive rankings from other users, you would do well to register if you don’t want to start from score 0 again.

ST: Can you explain how the ratings work?

JF: After a conversation the site asks both participants to rate each other on the following areas: friendly, interesting and good looking. The points you’ve acquired on these areas are displayed below your video-feed; the addition of these makes up your total ‘awesomeness’ score. When you receive a positive rating a message is displayed that shows, for example, “+2 you are awesome!”

And finally: the acquired awesomeness allows you to filter out certain people when searching (based on gender, age or minimal score on any of the areas). If you have enough awesomeness you’ll even be able to give negative ratings to others.

ST: What kind of feedback have you gotten from users? Can you share any statistics about the growth of the site?

JF: People are very excited about the site! Mostly because it actually allows them to have nice conversations with strangers all over the world, without requiring them to work their way through a bunch of perverts first ;)

Growth is pretty good! People are starting to tweet and write about our site, which helps a lot. We might also at some point decide to allow users to invite their friends directly on the site; but we haven’t yet finalized our plans for that.

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