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I absolutely love chat and want to extend a huge thanks and token of appreciation, respect and awe-of-coding skill to Balpha, Marc Gravell, and the rest of the team who built it (sorry I don't know the names of everyone who was involved!!)

I look forward to seeing chat launch on StackOverflow, and am enjoying watching ServerFault chat and SuperUser chat grow. I am the room owner of a few different rooms and intend to create more rooms on ServerFault's chat. I like to stay in my rooms all the time so that people feel invited and are more likely to come in and chat. Entering an empty room is no fun!

I'm also in The Tavern all the time! It's a great place to meet / get to know the people with whom I've been exchanging information for over a year.

The problem is, I work for a living and often have to step away from keyboard to head into meetings, get food, use the whiteboard to hash out a problem, take a stretch break or just step outside to remind myself that there's more to life than programming. I think it would be great if, while AFK, I could set my status so people who enter my rooms or people who talk to me in The tavern know I'm AFK and will be back shortly.

I propose a "status" feature, similar to Jabber/XMPP status or AIM status, whereby I could set myself to "Away" and provide a short message ("AFK, BRB", "Getting lunch, back in an hour") or even an "Available" message ("I'm here, but working at the same time, so I won't see your message unless you @ me"). I don't think we need the 10,000 kinds of statuses XMPP has (Available / Chatty / Away / Extended Away / Do Not Disturb) because if you're going to be gone for more than an hour or so you should probably just leave chat.

I'm talking about a quick, easy, non-obtrusive way to let others know that you're not available for a moment and are not just ignoring them. Maybe a status indicator on your icon in the top right, and a tooltip with the status, or showing the status in your user box?


Like this, for example:

Tooltip AFKBBS FTW!


Or maybe like this:

In the box nice and sweet!

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2 Answers

In the absence of such a "status" feature I am using the "about me" field on my chat profile to indicate my status. So if you're trying to send me things or if you're going to post love notes to me, before getting offended that I don't respond, check my info box to see if I'm away: alt text

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Well the feature seems nice, and I'm all for it, just wonder if it's redundant. The FAQ mentions that your avatar itself is an indicator of your status - if its dim/faded then you've been idle for minutes.

Your avatar goes to full brightness and sorts to the top of the avatar stack for that room. The longer you are quiet and don't talk, the more ghostly and transparent your avatar will become. Thus, the more bright avatars you see in a room, the more populated it is.

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Sathya -- the difference is, my Avatar goes dim whether or not I'm away from keyboard, or here and just not participating in the discussion. If everyone's talking about .NET and I'm working, I'll hear the sound if someone @Josh's me and I'll respond. But if I'm AFK, they might thing I didn't hear them or am ignoring them. The fading avatar indicates if I'm active or not, the feature I'm requesting indicates why I'm not active. –  The Unhandled Exception Sep 18 '10 at 14:38
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