Privacy Rewrite GSoC Project

Florian Quèze florian at
Tue Jun 2 17:10:08 EDT 2009

elb asked me to comment about Instantbird and desires for purple
privacy behaviors so here are some thoughts on the topic:

>From my point of view, there is a confusion between two different set
of features:
 - privacy features, with the meaning of not leaking anything private,
like presence information.
 - blocking of annoyances (unwanted IMs, file transfer, ...). Nothing
private here, more trying to avoid wasting time.

I understand that the confusion doesn't come from libpurple but from
some protocols that have a single block or allow list used for the 2
sets of features.

On one hand privacy features need to be handled at the protocol level,
because it needs to be done on the server to be effective.
On the other hand, blocking unwanted stuff is very easy to fake
(either by libpurple, by UIs or even by plugins). Protocol specific
code is required only to store the list of 'blocked' users on the
server (if the server has such a list).

I see blocking of IMs a bit like a spam filter for an email inbox, so
I suppose users may want to check sometimes that nothing useful was
accidentally blocked. This means that blocked messages should not be
silently dropped by libpurple, but still need to be handed to the UI
so that they can be presented later to the user.

Regarding how presence information is handled for buddies not in the
buddy list, I think in the UI we will want to have a global
preference. Having a way to indicate which protocols/accounts won't be
able to take into account the setting the user has chosen would be
useful. Being able to control this setting on a per account basis too
would be nice plus for people who like being able to tweak everything
but I'm not sure we need it in the default UI (this may be a plugin).

When blocking a specific buddy (from the buddy list, or the
conversation window, or whatever), it would be nice to provide
feedback in the UI about what this action exactly means. "Blocked" is
not explicit. In detailed tooltips, I think we would like to have
messages like "Cannot see when you are online." and/or "Cannot send
you messages."

This information should also be provided when blocking a contact
grouping buddies from various protocols. In this case, it's probably
better to show the less restrictive action taken.

Florian Quèze

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