A popular chatting application has the global option "Enable buddy icon animation". Would this be better phrased as "Animate buddy icon" or not? And if so, is this a general rule? For example, replacing "Enable SSH logging" with "Log SSH" seems to cry out for another noun like "output" at the end. But that might be an exception since "log" can also be a noun.
You need to make a distinction between an action that causes a single event to happen, and an action which causes a state change.
Delete X is an event as it will happen once and X will not continually be deleted without the user selecting
Enable animation is a state change, as from that point on the animation will happen without the user being needed.
So I would keep to language that implies a state (such as enable or activate) for state changes such as
Enable logging or
Enable animation. And single event verbs for single event actions such as
Enable SSH logging vs.
Log SSH is a subtle distinction, but an important one. When someone selects
Enable logging, it is clear that from this point on something will be logged, whereas the language in
Log SSH implies that a log will now be generated for recent activity.
The verb in "Animate buddy icon" does not refer to the action user may perform. He will not animate, but he can enable/disable the animation.
Hence I'd say "Animate buddy icon" may sound for the user like "Animate it once, now". Still, it mostly depends on where it is placed. Should it be a checkbox in settings, it would mean "enable/disable the option" while a button in the chat window might make the user think it refers to on click, one time (and thus on demand) animation of the icon.
I would do it like this - strip the verb from the option name, so that it sounds "Animated buddy icon: disabled" and move the verb resembling the action user may perform to a button [Enable] placed next to it. Upon pressing the button, the option would change to "Animated buddy icon: enabled" and the button to [Disable].
This is a really broad question and there's no right answer. However, I'll like to give my 2 cents.
It depends on a lot of things, from your users to what form elements you use. The "Animate buddy icon"-label needs a radio button group (Yes/No) or a similar set of options (like a dropdown). "Enable buddy icon animation" only requires a checkbox.
I would go for whatever is most describing and also fits in the screen that you design. However, there are other concerns you need to assess. For example: you can force input to the radio button group but you can't force it using the checkbox (unless it's a T&C-style checkbox that the user has to agree to).