An important, controversial issue!

DennisR dennisr-gaimdevel at
Thu Apr 26 11:26:10 EDT 2007

Sean Egan wrote:
> 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,
> "idle."
> 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?

Clock signifies Time, in any facet of life. Period. If you're going to 
be away for an extended period of *time*, it should be signified by a clock.

Best way to signify extended away should be the piece of paper, *with* 
the clock on it.

Away == Paper
Idle == Grayed out
Extended Away == Paper with Clock

Would everyone agree that this makes the most common sense?

Dennis Ristuccia
dennisr at

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