An important, controversial issue!

Sean Egan seanegan at
Thu Apr 26 05:13:39 EDT 2007

On 4/25/07, DennisR <dennisr-gaimdevel at> wrote:
>  I agree with this as well..
>  A clock has something to do with time. People could potentially get
> confused about this being idle.

"potentially" is an important word. There are a lot of things that can
potentially happen.

I notice that the people from whom "clock" means "idle," i.e. Luke,
Nathan, Mark, and Dennis, are the four longest-term Gaim users here,
whereas shorter term Gaim developers (and non-developers, but users
interested enough on this list), such as Richard and Steven Garrity
prefer the clock. Of course, Hylke and Richard use MSN... Steven's
Canadian, so he maybe he does too.

Anyway, it's been mentioned here already that *any* icons will have to
be learned, which everyone agrees with.

I say that, because MSN and Yahoo! both use a clock icon for away, and
a plurality of IM users use either MSN or Yahoo! (which, assuming Gaim
users are evenly distributed amongst all these protocols---which they
probably aren't---implies a plurality of Gaim users), then a clock is
the best metaphor for us to use. It's by far the most familiar "away"
icon other than "paper" for existing Gaim users, and would be more
familiar to most new Pidgin users than anything else.

Luke et al argue that actual, existing, Gaim users are far more
important to worry about than hypothetical future Pidgin users, and
that developers are the most important group to worry about. I agree
with this. Existing Gaim users have "yellow paper" ingrained in their
head as "away," not a clock. This will cause existing Gaim users and
developers to see the clock and revert to its more natural metaphor,

My position has been that, yes, these icons have to be learned, but it
should take no longer than a week or so. Luke disagrees; these icons
still confuse him when he looks at them.

So, my question for Nathan and Dennis (and I guess Mark, even though
he apparently doesn't use Pidgin :-P ) is: does your belief (which I
share) that "clock" is a stronger metaphor for "idle" than it is for
"away," hurt your ability to use Pidgin? Does it legitimately confuse
you? Is it important enough to come up with some other icon without
any existing metaphor?

More information about the Devel mailing list