Chatroulette Tallies Grins, Frowns for Obama

An unexpected use for the popular site: straw polls

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It's been suggested that if Democrats can't produce a compelling narrative going into the 2010 elections, their Congressional majority will be in peril. But it's hard to get a clear sense of what the public is actually thinking, when even a seemingly straightforward poll result can turn out to have five or six different shades of meaning.

Enter Chatroulette, a social-networking site that randomly connects webcam users to one another. The site has been called everything from "brutal" to "the holy grail of all internet fun," and (in Adam Frucci's memorable formulation) "the best place on the internet to see a random naked fat man having intercourse with a piece of fruit or a stuffed animal." It's also, in a limited way, an unexpectedly useful instantaneous polling tool.

The Chatroulette Experience blog demonstrates how. Using a sign, the site prompts Chatroulette users to give a smile or frown in reaction to the word "Obama." Taken with a large grain of salt, the results are nonetheless intriguing: photographic evidence that the president inspires all sorts of feelings in Americans, from delight to ambivalence to what can only be described as nauseated horror.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.