Pidigin sucks - is she right?

Crefelean Nicolae kneekoo at
Thu May 20 05:01:35 EDT 2010


Pidgin doesn't suck. It's just different. But my wife doesn't like it. She just asked me today to install Linux Mint to her work PC because she is terribly annoyed by Vista. I asked her what her needs are, so I can tell her if there's anything she won't be able to do with Linux. When I got to Pidgin, she said it sucks and she said she would have to think about installing Linux because of the IM client. Well... she didn't actually use it, but it's probably because we do use Pidgin when chatting me on one end, with Pidgin, and she uses Yahoo Messenger on the other side (interesting choice of words, right? :P). The most common annoyance in our chats are file transfers. Some get there, some (plenty) don't.

Her computer is next to mine, at home, so although she didn't use the program herself, she pretty much saw the look and feel of Pidgin. I only use it for Yahoo and here's a list of issues with my default install of Pidgin. Yes, default. The following list should be included by default in Pidgin:

1. My groups are all sorted from Z to A. Why not alphabetically? (A-Z) But the real problem is I have more than 10 groups and dragging and dropping to manually sort them alphabetically really is bothering. There is no option to sort groups.

2. There is no keyboard shortcut to toggle offline/invisible users.

3. Transfers through the Yahoo protocol are not stable enough. As a matter of fact, I know that even Yahoo Messenger has issues with this thing, but not that often. I also know the scum bags at Yahoo Messenger have an unexplained pleasure into silently torturing 3rd party developers such as the yahoo Pidgin module's developers, by changing bits and pieces in their protocol every now and then. However, if this would be the only issue, that would be fine.

4. No audio/video capabilities with Yahoo accounts. For us, that's an issue. I have hundreds of people in my list and many friends who use Yahoo Messenger on a daily basis and sometimes I have to use voice chat and even my webcam. However, when I absolutely need to do that stuff I simply use the ugly GYache to do the job OR, without a shred of pleasure/satisfaction I boot Windows for the sole purpose to use Yahoo Messenger.

I'm sure you understand how annoying this thing can be. It is also annoying that my wife rejected a whole operating system just because she doesn't like Pidgin. I admit I'm not a fan, but I do like Pidgin with all those annoyances - even if I want them fixed. The bottom line is Pidgin needs a lot more attention in two "departments":

1. common/basic usability (kind of a one-time job after some UI thinking)
2. protocol compatibility (maintenance stuff)

I am informed regarding the development. I even spent about an hour reading the results of the latest community survey. I have also spent some time reading the blog. I know you people have families and other social duties. We live on the same planet and we understand this. But still, there must be some way to improve Pidgin. Here's what I suggest:

Focus on development based on donations and set targets that satisfy your needs so people can pay you for your time and effort while you will finally sort things out. Focus on Pidgin's compatibility with the major protocols. Again, set goals regarding donations and when those goals are met, you will be able to earn a living while developing. It just depends on you how you manage this situation.

I mentioned Linux Mint. Here's why. Thousands of USD get their way by donations and sponsorships. The main developer left his job so he can work full time on that distro. His choice was wise. Since he quit, donations and sponsorships went up because he and his team made that operating system better and better. That's because they listen to the community, they work with them and follow suggestions and in the end they really get paid. I would speculate that Pidgin has far more users than Linux Mint, because that's an OS, while Pidgin is an application that is available on all major operating systems, including Windows.

I'm not suggesting you to quit so you can develop Pidgin. There's nothing to guarantee that it will work as a long-term solution. But you can think this as a short-term plan and come up with a development roadmap that suits your schedule/life AND also do it for the amount of money you require. Not everyone can send money, but there will be enough who can. Let's work together on this one.

Furthermore, maybe you should write a garbage collector and a crash reporter so non-technical people can help you by sending reports without much effort. UI stuff can be fixed relatively easy, but protocol maintenance is a long-term job and these tools should help you do it. I know the developers are also users of these protocols so they can test themselves, but not all users have the same habits, so there's the difference that could answer a lot of questions without technical abilities on behalf of the users.

The number of bugs is apparently high, but not so many people are affected by them. Split by category, the bugs are at a reasonable level. But even if you guys don't fix everything in that list, starting with the most obvious/common bugs would help a lot of people. Just make a plan so we can help you as well.

Good luck!

Crefelean Nicolae
E-Mail: kneekoo at
My project:

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