Skype status overload

Skype status overload

Skype is a computer program that enables voice conversation through the Internet. It works somewhat like a Instant Message program where you have a list of contacts (i.e., buddies) and you can see if they are around or available in case you want to chat with them (in fact, Skype also has a text chat capability). It’s interesting to think about the telephone with enhanced privacy controls and status information – you know before you try to reach someone what is going on with them. I don’t know if it’s my introverted aversion to the phone or if it’s a general thing, but the lack of information before dialing (what are they doing? is it a good time to talk? can’t we pre-negotiate the conversation?) is something I don’t like about POTS (Plain Old Telephone System).

Skype has offered up way too many choices, though. I imagine they have functional differences, and those may even be documented somewhere, but on their face, they are totally confusing, especially if you build on the IM model that has offline, online, online (but invisible), online (but away).

What is the difference between Online and SkypeMe?
What is the difference between Not Available, Do Not Disturb, and Away?

It’d be very interesting to find out how people understand and use these status indicators – both as explicit choices that people make about their own status, and of course on the other end, how other people interpret the status indicators about their contacts and how they interpret that.

I’ve noted that I can still receive chat messages in some states, and it is a surprise to me, since I’m sort of hoping to be left alone when I set that state. But I haven’t figured out all the variations and all the differences within those. I’m sure it’s been analyzed somewhere, but a quick Google search didn’t help me out very much.


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