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Chatrou-What?

In this morning's daily editorial meeting, John, Sue and Neal were excitedly stumbling over a word I'd never heard before: Chatroulette. There was a lot of hand waving and volume, but not a lot of clarity on what it is — or how to pronounce it — before our frenetic meeting moved on. So I'm digging in...

1. What the heck is Chatroulette? Per the New York Times, "The social Web site... drops you into an unnerving world where you are connected through webcams to a random, fathomless succession of strangers from across the globe. You see them, they see you. You talk to them, they talk to you. Or not."

2. Why the buzz now? Probably in part because of the above Times article, but also because it's been three months since it launched, and has been gaining users at a steady clip.

3. Why is it so popular? To answer this, I turn to Wired's Katie Baker, who identifies herself as "Wired's resident Chatroulette expert," there are five good reasons. My favorite? The "Next" button — "If your Chatroulette partner is droning on about his pet ferret or his fancy hat collection, Next him! Warning: at some point you will, too, be Nexted. It happens to the best of us. It may hurt your feelings."

4. And how the heck do you pronounce Chatroulette? Like my boss, I kept trying to make it a French word, but it seems it's really very simple: Chat roulette. You never know what you're going to get!

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