July 24th, 2004


FUQ: Instant messaging policy

[Last update: 23 Sep 2004]

I list my instant messaging details in my profile, and you're welcome to contact me via IM. However, your messages are unlikely to get through unless I add you to my contact list, so please comment here before you add me to your contact list. (I reject users I don't know. And I get a lot of requests, especially to my MSN account.)

I don't like to block people, but I will if my IM time becomes unproductive. To avoid this happening, the below could be of use.

  • An online status does not mean free to chat. I don't like to appear unwelcoming by using a busy status, but please respect my time. If it's important, go ahead anyway, but otherwise, please ask if it's a good time to chat. I don't like to interrupt people, so please give me a chance to say I'm busy.
  • I have a full-time internet connection, so I am often logged onto IM. That does not mean I'm physically present at my machine. I often use an away status when I'm away, but sometimes I forget. So please understand that if I don't reply immediately, it's not a personal indictment against you or anything.
  • Please type in proper English if you can. (I make special exceptions for some friends who I know have dyslexia, for example, but any effort you can make will be greatly appreciated.) Although I won't make fun of you on grammarpolice, the way you write does affect the way I think of you, for better or worse.

    In particular, please type you and your in full. I don't mind people typing ppl, pls, or tnx (even though I don't do it), but you are likely lose brownie points if you type u and ur.

  • Emoticons are important! Use them early and often. :-)
  • My communication patterns in IM are quite similar to those in phone conversations. Generally, if the typing indicator says that you're typing, then I'll stop typing, unless I am almost done typing the current message. If your next message doesn't relate to what I'm typing, usually I'll clear my message, so that I don't introduce a second thread.

    If you wanted to know what I was typing, you can stop typing (I will resume once your typing indicator switches off), or you can indicate in the same message that I should continue what I was typing.

  • If you use a one-word comment like right, cool, yep, &c, it's still your turn to speak, so unless I have more to say, I won't respond. In a similar vein, I sometimes use this style to cut off a conversation. Some of my friends rightly deduce that if I have several consecutive single-word responses, it's time to leave me alone.

Phew, that was a long list! Oh well, the basic rule of thumb is that if you follow phone conversation patterns, you're generally on the right track.

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