UC-Exclusive Chat Site Goes Live

While nudity is an integral part of the Chatroulette experience, UCMeTalk is taking a classier approach to the website’s concept.

Developed by a group of University of California students and one student from Purdue University, the newly launched site is available exclusively to UC students and gives users the option of filtering their matches by major or campus. And there is zero tolerance for raunchy.

The idea for the website came from Nazir Katbi, a California native who graduated from Purdue University in 2012 with a major in building construction management. He wanted create a system for like-minded individuals to come together and connect with one another.

“My friends and I were just chatting over a Google Hangout. We were just talking about chatting with other college students,” Katbi, who has many friends who are students in the UC system, said. “‘What if we designed a website where you can chat with students in your own university? What if you could filter by major, and by campus?’”

Katbi approached his friend Anthony Liu, an informatics major at UC Irvine, to develop the software. Liu spent the next four months developing the site.

After signing up with a UC email address, a user can register with his or her campus, major and a brief biography. Users are matched with other students in the UC system who match their selected criteria. The site also has a “shout-out” feature which functions much like a Facebook status, except that each user is allowed only one shout-out every 24 hours, and shout-outs will be broadcast to everyone on the website. Most importantly, Liu took extra care to develop a “rating” system.

“We want to create a good experience that’s not like Chatroulette, where people can do creepy stuff,” Liu said.

UCMeTalk’s rating system enables users to rate the people they talk to. A low rating system would indicate that a user has been behaving inappropriately.

During an online launch party on Monday, Oct. 22, the UCMeTalk website received over 200 visitors. The developers are already contacting departments and organizations around the UC campuses that might consider using the website as an academic resource. Katbi predicts that UCMeTalk might serve as a survey tool for psychology students looking to interview random peers, or as a way for students to discuss and share research. One of the shout-outs on the website during the launch party was from a student looking for help with math homework.

“We’re thinking, later on, once we develop the software a little more, we want to figure out ways to group all the people who need tutoring in a specific group, or people who just want to be matched and have conversations,” Liu said.

Katbi said that the developers aren’t looking to profit from the project.

“I feel personally that, as students, we’ve been really neglected by certain administrations and agencies,” Katbi said. “My personal goal, and the goal of the project, is to give students a way to network themselves, advertise their projects online and provide a tool for students to make things easier for themselves.”

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