Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pidgin episode #8726

... in which I argue that frecency, while good for digging into a list of URLs, is not a good metaphor for presenting IM status.

Pidgin Trac #8726 (new enhancement): User selection of saved statuses for the quick/popular list

In a nutshell: having a predictable, configurable list of saved IM statuses is better than an algorithm that tries to guess based on what your most-often-and-recently-used ones are.

I also am insufferably pleased with myself for coining the phrase power user limbo: a state in which a user has graduated from novice in a particular portion of the interface, but is held back from transitioning to full power usage by a mismatch between the presented and implied interface design metaphors.
Populating the list using frecency data without allowing the power user to control the content leaves them in a kind of 'power user limbo': the user wants to use saved statuses for the purpose that they were designed for (ease of changing statuses), but they are subtly constrained in a way that contradicts that purpose.
Given how rare original thoughts are ("Failure, Mr. Jones, is hardly original!" - Bloom County), there's probably a much better phrase for this concept. But I like the visual that accompanies power user limbo, so I'm stickin' with it.

You can go back to whatever you were doing now.
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