It took him three days to construct a basic version.

A few months later, it was one of the most talked-about social-networking sites in the world. When you log on to, you see a sparse white window with two boxes.

There’s also something liberating in the protection that the “Next” button provides.

Striking up a conversation with the person next to you on the subway is risky, and potentially time-consuming.

He would talk and joke with the tourists, but he didn’t push them to buy anything.

If someone asked for a discount, he happily obliged.

But by combining video-chatting technology and randomization Ternovskiy has bucked a decade-long trend that has made the Internet feel progressively more organized, pleasant, and safe.

More than a million people, most of them from the United States, clog Chatroulette’s servers daily.

To “next” someone has become a common transitive verb.

This rankled his uncle, but Ternovskiy didn’t see the problem.

“I couldn’t just make people pay the money,” he says, laughing.

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Ternovskiy, an eighteen-year-old high-school dropout from Moscow, has a variety of explanations for why he created the Web site

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