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We have user status e.g. online, offline, busy, away, etc. in our chat application. Are they still relevant?

When using a chat application especially for work, you use it to communicate with a person. You need to send a new message to a colleague, lets say the sales report for the month. You see that their status is busy, you don't say, "Oh wait. He's busy, I guess I'll send this to him later." No, you send it anyway right? Even for other statuses the scenario is still the same, you send it right away regardless of their status so that when they check their messages they see it immediately.

So is it relevant? Pros and Cons would be nice.

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I would argue that they are indeed very relevant and I personally find them extremely useful in an enterprise environment.

If there is no concept of state, what happens when you send a message and expect an immediate response? If you know the user is busy, your expectations are set: "Ah ha they are busy/away/offline, I might not get a response straight away."

States provide a level of awareness that distance ordinarily removes.

If you were sat in front of me and I could see you were on the phone or in a conversation with someone else I wouldn't bother you. State makes up for that sensory information that a chat client lacks.

Some chat applications have a "Do not disturb" state/feature, whereby you cannot send a user messages while they are in this state. Who wants to receive a message while they are presenting to an important client which pops up saying "You meeting that moron of a client today?".

I would argue that its a good thing, but you could probably condense most states into just two:

Online:

  • Active

Offline:

  • Away
  • Busy
  • Offline
  • Do not disturb
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  • I think a DND should not prevent a sender from sending a message anyway, the user and the sender should just be notified that messages may not actually be received/sent until the user returned to regular status. – Lie Ryan Mar 1 '16 at 15:01
  • @LieRyan You'll hear no objection from me, but that's generally how they work. – Chris Spittles Mar 1 '16 at 15:04
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I suppose online, offline and away are still relevant. I didn't include busy because busy and away both imply that the user is not available to attend to message.

The difference between busy and away; Busy is user triggered, much like "do not disturb" but away is triggered by the app after the app idles for a period of time.

Given an office setting, sometimes you just want to chat with a user over an urgent issue. Away allows you to see if he/she is turns up for work but not at his/her desk. Offline alone doesn't tell you much of the user availability.

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