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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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Instant message protocols
delirium leaving
In this case, when I say "protocol" I mean "etiquette", and not "a set of agreed upon rules for communication between computers".

I have a problem with instant message programs (and for that matter, aso with IRC). The thing is, I am always (well, almost always) connected on various IM services, and on IRC. This is not in and of itself a problem. The problem is that I'm absolutely lousy at remembering to set or unset myself as away, as appropriate. This means that there is only a very weak correlation between my away status and whether I'm actually at a computer.

This is made even worse by the fact that whether I'm actually at the computer does not necessarily have any bearing on whether I'll be available to talk to. If I'm doing something in the same room which is neither terribly interesting and important and notice that someone is trying to speak to me, I might go and speak to them. On the other hand, even if I am at the computer then I might be about to go elsewhere. Or I might be doing something requiring my attention. Or something full screen. Or I might just not feel like talking.

And to make things even worse again, I often switch between these various different states quite rapidly; for instance, after finishing doing something else, I might sit down at the computer, check my friends page and my email, then get bored and go off and do something else. Even if I could remember to set/unset away, I'm not sure it would make sense to mark myself as unaway for those 5 intervening minutes.

And the final problem is that often I'm not really sure whether I feel like talking or not up until the point when I someone sends me a message.

And I tend to worry that by all of this, I'm ending up driving people away, and distancing myself from others, which I definitely don't want to do. So I'm wondering about what the appropriate protocol and etiquette is in these sorts of occasions.

If someone sends you a message just as you're about to leave the computer is it right to ignore the message, or is it right to reply to it saying "hi; I'm just leaving so I can't talk now"? I tend to do the former because I worry that the latter will sound like "hi, I don't like you so I want to find some excuse to blow you off", but I suspect that this may not be very sensible. So what's a good way of replying which is both friendly and polite, but does allow you to stil leave instantly?

Secondly, if someone sends you a message when you are at a computer but don't feel like talking for whatever reason, what's a good way to reply? Again, I normally plump for the "pretending that I'm not actually there" reaction, which, again, is probably not good. Generally, my thoughts tend towards "I like you, and I'm happy that you want to talk to me, and I want to talk to you too, but not now because my brain is sucking, and I just want time and space alone" but I don't really know any good way to communicate that.

Thirdly, what's the right thing to do if someone sends you a message when you aren't actually at a computer at all, and don't see it until considerably later on? I don't like saying "you wanted me for something?" since in all likelihood they just wanted to say "hi" and maybe chat a little. I also don't like just saying "hi" back to them if I don't have anything much to say, because conversations that stall after 4 lines tend to annoy me. And I also don't like just not replying at all (though that's what I normally do) because then it looks like I'm ignoring the person in question. So what should I be doing? Does it make a difference if the person is still online when I see the message? What if they're marked as away?

And if you think that there's anything else I should do to make myself more open and approachale via IM, please tell me. Likewise if you can think of any good ways for me to overcome my chronic problems with setting myself as away, so that people might actually have some sort of idea if I was around or not.

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I definitely have the same problems. My usual tactic is to say "hey, i gotta run, sorry" or "hey, sorry - forgot to set an away message." Stephen, on the other hand, does something that drives me absolutely nuts-- he NEVER puts up an away message, under any circumstances. The only way of knowing whether he's likely to respond or not is to check his idle time, but often it just indicates that he's sitting in front of the computer reading a book.

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