An important, controversial issue!

Sean Egan seanegan at
Tue Apr 24 17:37:18 EDT 2007

Pidgin currently understands 5 primitive presence types from our
buddies: offline, available, unavailable (or busy), away, and extended
away. They're all represented by what everyone agrees are very
excellent new Tango-styled icons. They're really well done.

What not everyone agrees on is how appropriate the metaphors used by
these icons are to the statuses they represent. I've heard no
objection to offline, available, or unavailable. "extended away,"
itself isn't hotly contested, except for how it relates to this highly
important, controversial issue: the away icon.

In previous, Gaim builds, the "away" status was represented as a
yellow notepad note, like a
post-it: This icon
originally came from our AIM roots, where it was used to represent an
away message. Within Gaim, it has come to represent a note you might
leave on your door or desk when you leave for a while.

Importantly, this is the icon that has represented "away" in Gaim for
as long as it's existed.

The current "away" icon in Pidgin is
or, larger:

This comes from MSN and Yahoo!, primarily, which use a "clock" to
represent their 'away' status. My claim is that this is a suitable
icon as it might remind one of the clock signs on storefronts that say
"We'll be back in 15 minutes!" like this guy: whereas
extended away would be like a storefront sign that says "Closed for
the Winter," and thus a note.

Our current "extended away" icon is based on Gaim's old "away" icon:

I have been adamant in my defense of the clock icon, but other
developers are of the belief that a clock indicates "idle," rather
than "away," and is thus confusing to existing Gaim users (most
importantly themselves) who are not used to seeing a clock mean
anything at all. They think we should find something else to represent
away, although there's certainly no consensus of what a good "Away"
icon would be.

I certainly do see the connection between "idle" and "clock," and if
this is going to confuse a significant bunch of people (or an
insignificant bunch of significant people), we should find a better

So, this isn't a poll or anything, but a solicitation of opinion. Does
"clock" mean "away" to you? Does it mean something else? Does it mean
nothing at all? If a clock isn't the best icon for "away," what is?
What's "extended away"?


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