As websites continue strides toward being more social, we’re seeing a crop of new ventures that all hope to assist. The latest that we’ve seen, and one with surprising potential, is a service called VisitorsCafe. You can think of VisitorsCafe as nothing more than a chat widget on your website, but its integration of demographics in pairing up chatting visitors is what sets it apart.
It works something like this: Say you’re visiting a website and you’d like to talk to other people who might be on it as well. All you’ll need to do is enter a bit of information into the VisitorsCafe widget and it will find a single match for you.
Granted, this isn’t a new idea. Plugins and programs (think EverywhereChat and Yaplet) have allowed people using the same website to chat with one another for quite some time. Where VisitorsCafe differs is in what information it asks. Instead of just a username, VisitorsCafe wants to know your age, gender, location and in some cases even your educational background.
Think all this is a bit too in-depth for a quick chat? I was somewhat skeptical myself, until I had a chance to sit and talk with Morgan Hermand-Waiche, the developer behind VisitorsCafe. Morgan envisions VisitorsCafe as more of an eHarmony meets ChatRoulette scenario. Instead of just having a random conversation, he wants to see users actually engage with like-minded people.
Building on two simple ideas of “do good” and “be sustainable”, VisitorsCafe is looking to fill the space that’s missing between random chats and talks with people you already know. It’s a controlled environment, heavily policed by the VisitorsCafe staff, where reports of misbehavior are taken care of swiftly. So, while this will likely cut down on the “random naked guy” chats, it should also help to keep the network of VisitorsCafe clean.
At present, VisitorsCafe is open only by invitation. You can head there via this link to be accepted into the invitation process, but even visiting this is no assurance that your site will be immediately invited. Morgan tells me that there is a curation process for sites and that the VisitorsCafe team is working extremely hard to choose only the brightest lights to join the network.
The idea is that there will always be a free version of VisitorsCafe. The money comes into play for paid models. If you want customized installations, a dedicated moderator staff or other deeper features, VisitorsCafe is willing to work with individual sites to make that happen…for a price.
For now, it’s well worth a look, and it’s an interesting concept that should prove to be far less of an “experiment” than its predecessors.