Use case for per-protocol icons

Luke Schierer lschiere at
Mon Aug 6 16:16:09 EDT 2007

On Mon, Aug 06, 2007 at 02:27:16PM -0400, Andrew Roeder wrote:
> On the purpose of secure connections, I don't think Pidgin should be giving 
> users the idea they are under a secure connection if it is not end-to-end. 
> Giving users the option to say something is secure when clearly it is not 
> seems rather bad.
> >On 8/4/07, Luke Schierer <lschiere at> wrote:
> >I am arguing in my last 2 emails that you are wrong in saying you need
> >to know the difference.  If my emails are beside the point, then so is
> >your claim that you have lost functionality.
> >
> >And if no functionality has been lost, then the change doesn't matter.
> >
> >luke
> It is more of a case of (for myself) having lost at-a-glance information, 
> which is important in some aspect at some point it time while you are using 
> a multiple protocol messenger.
> As I said previously on this subject, currently you must mouseover to find 
> the protocol of a buddy in the buddy list, even if I have their "aliases" 
> expanded or not together, when you want to rightclick on a buddy to use a 
> feature, you may find that many options are not present, or that you can 
> invite some buddies to a chat while others you can not(because they are on 
> a different protocol.)  Having the icons clearly displayed constantly in 
> the buddy list on a per-buddy-account basis alleviates that, allowing you 
> to immediately know who is on what protocol, so you immediately know which 
> buddies you may invite to chat on a protocol, and what features you may use 
> for that buddy(s).

What if the buddy *is* on msn, but that is not the top buddy?  You would
think, according to your logic, that they could not be invited.  

> The patch adding the option of displaying protocols in the buddy list would 
> be a good move, but I find it much more of an eye sore to extend my buddy 
> list window to accommodate them, instead of overlay those icons ontop of 
> the online icons like the old fashion.
> I would suppose most of the users wanting the icons already were content 
> with the previous placement, so adding a checkbox in options with the old 
> style would be acceptable to most.
> Really this issue isn't going to stop arising in the devel mailing list 
> until the issues are regarded better than with "Resistance is futile, we 
> are Borg."  Arguing that we "Don't need it." or "Your arguments are 
> ridiculous, because myself and the other developers believe it so." isn't 
> going to make anyone feel better about the change, I really fail to see how 
> showing "additional information that isn't currently displayed at-a-glance" 
> is a bad thing.

So basically, you think that all technical considerations, all usability
testing, so on and so forth, are always useless.  You think that once a
decision has been made, it can never be reconsidered, it can never be
changed.  At best, that behavior can only ever become optional.

I'm sorry, at that point, we are not looking at a project I would want
to work on.  I believe very strongly that we in open source have a real
chance to make mistakes, and to correct them.  I believe that we have a
real oportunity to realize that there is a better way to do things now
and then.

I suspect that the reasons will vary from developer to developer, but
that most of us would not want to work on pidgin if we felt chained to
every past UI idea we had ever implemented. 

> Saying these icons "confused" someone is simply nonlogical, if a user knows 
> well enough how to set up an account for different protocols, they will at 
> least know what icons represent which protocol.

This is really the reverse.  Last paragraph you argued that logic is
irrelevent, because users are so illogically attached to their
environments.  Now you claim that users are logical.  You cannot have it
both ways.

The reality is that you are correct, some users will never accept this
change, and our arguments will not sway them.  But that reality persists
in other ways.  Some users really *don't* have a strong grasp of what
protocol they are using.  They really *do* come to us asking how to
contact a friend on msn without having an msn account, or how to make
"the pidgin server" do this or that, when there *is* no pidgin server in
that sense. (there is one, but it does jabber only, and only those with accounts connect to it).

> Saying that they are "ugly" or "messy" is a personal opinion, of which 
> yours is no better than mine, so the visual aspect of the argument is moot.

Except that you want me to work on it.  

> Mostly I fail to see what people's problems with these icons were, they did 
> not interfere with any usability of the program, they simply showed you 
> information that -You personally- may have not cared to know, which still, 
> did not hinder you from using the program.

They also hid information.  They also obscured ideas. People formed
impressions from these icons that they won't form without them.


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