An important, controversial issue!

Sean Egan seanegan at
Tue Apr 24 20:53:10 EDT 2007

On 4/24/07, Steven Garrity <stevelist at> wrote:
> OFFLINE - the person isn't connected to the internet (or isn't running
> their IM client, or their computer is off)
> AVAILABLE - the person is there and available to chat

Both right.

> UNAVAILABLE - the person is there, but has (manually, I assume)
> indicated that they are not available for chat

UNAVAILABLE is really just a poor name for it. We use this for "the
person is there, but has manually set that he is 'busy'." It's an API
identifier only. In the UI this shows up as "Busy" or "Do not
disturb." We use a "do-not-enter" sign for this state.

> I guess I'm asking what the difference between AWAY and EXTENDED AWAY
> actually is. Is Away sometimes set automatically be a lack of activity
> on the computer? Is Extended Away the same, or always manual? How does
> this map to each of the protocols statuses?

"Away" is the default "away" state. We use extended away only for a
few protocols: XMPP has a status called "extended away" which is
defined as: "The entity or resource is away for an extended period"
contrasted to away which is "The entity or resource is temporarily

The Google Talk clients use "away" as an idle status, does not allow
the user to set it, and does not use extended away at all. Most
clients allow the user to set yourself to either state.

ICQ uses "extended away" for its "not available" state. It also uses
it for "do not disturb," but I suspect the latter should be changed to
the above-mentioned unavailable state.

Yahoo! uses it for its "On vacation" status.

QQ references Extended Away, but doesn't seem to actually use it anywhere.

> More questions than answers, but that's not always bad,

Sure. The real question I want to answer, though, is whether a clock
is appropriate for *any* type of away status.


> Steven Garrity
> Sean Egan wrote:
> > 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
> > icon.
> >
> > 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"?
> >
> > -s.
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> > Devel at
> >

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