An important, controversial issue!

Steven Garrity stevelist at
Tue Apr 24 21:05:37 EDT 2007

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

Thanks for the explanations. I think the clock does indeed make sense 
one two levels. First, it can imply a period (time) of inactivity, and 
it the person is elsewhere (calendar/appointment aspect of the clock).

Incidentally, the way the colors get more bold as the status is more 
'severe' is very nice. The softest green is available, the soft blue, a 
bit stronger, is away. Strong still is the yellow extended away, and the 
red DnD is the strongest. It's a nice rainbow thermostat of statuses.

A hard-core usability geek might argue that the icons should have 
distinct shapes (Gossip does this well, with a circle, triangle, and 
square), but the mostly circular icons seems to work pretty well here 
and are easily scan-able, even if you eliminate color.

Steven Garrity

Sean Egan wrote:
> 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
> away."
> 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.
> -s.
>> 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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