I currently frequent two (moderator only) chat rooms on separate chat sites regularly through the standard browser interface (not mobile). One of these rooms, however, has much less activity than the other, but what goes on in that room is still of great importance to me.
As a result, I don't always have that window open. Granted, I could open the browser in another tab/instance, but this isn't practical for (alt-tab switching is a pain, lack of screen real-estate with other things I'm doing is an issue, etc.).
That said, what I'd really like to see is a delayed-update histogram of the chat activity of other rooms, so that I can see when there is a surge of activity and join in, as the room is not always active.
I envision something like this:
Note that the scale and interval above would not be the same as the ones you see for transcripts; it would be over a different time window, and the interval would be whatever the pooling interval is.
Now, I don't expect real-time updates. I think that a polling time of a minute or two is fine (something much less frequent than what you're using for the actual chat).
Clicking on the histogram would take you to that room (like what would happen now if you were pinged from another room, and would work across SE sites).
Because screen real estate is valuable, I'm thinking you would only have one room shown there at a time. Additionally, some of the recent users of the room could be removed to make space for this (I don't know if I need to see a visual representation of that many users, considering I probably won't see it on the transcript immediately when I enter the room).
As to how to select which room, I think the following would be fine:
- The user selects a room which the histogram is displayed for (can be administered through their favorites, perhaps) when the user is not in that room
- A second room is able to be selected, to be displayed when the user is in the room selected in the above
I realize the secondary histogram is a little bit much, and might over-complicate things, so I think it's perfectly OK to have just one room which the user selects as "always show histogram for". Additionally, if it makes it easier, showing the histogram for that room when the user is in that room is perfectly OK as well.