Statuses

  • Early generations of Instant Messengers had a number of different possible statuses users could set.

  • Nowadays, that feature is either vestigial or completely absent.

  • This is obviously in a large part because of the shift in what it means to be online.
    • There’s a reasonable expectation that people are online practically 24/7.
  • The feature is also a somewhat poor fit in most cases:
    • If I want to reach someone who is Away, they’ll just respond once they aren’t.
      • I’ll just send them the message regardless of the status.
    • Do not disturb is primarily a setting for the recipient - I don’t need to know if they don’t wish to be disturbed at the moment if I don’t have the capability in the first place.
      • I’ll just send them the message regardless of the status.
  • Maybe the problem is with explicitly setting the status? Automatic AFK markers seem to be useful enough…

  • In any case, I wonder whether there shouldn’t be a rethinking of presence markers, given the current COVID situation; in the absence of serendipitous meetings, it might be useful to know who’s Free For Chat, or just in general, what they’re doing (working on, listening, etc…)