Friday, November 09, 2007

Stealth Vs Block

One of my friends once complained about GTalk not having the invisible/stealth feature.
Me: But don’t you know Google doesn’t like us becoming over smart? If I don’t want my contacts to know I’m online, I better be offline. I can’t be extra smart by being invisible myself and being able to see others who are online.

He: That’s not fair, even I admit but what if I don’t want this particular guy who I’m sure will disturb me when I’m chatting with my girlfriend?

Me: Block him. And he will be temporarily out of your list. I think that’s ok. Later when you are done chatting with your girl friend you can go to the blocked list and unblock the poor guy. He won’t have a clue that you had blocked him. He will see you offline through out your girl friend chat session and when you unblock him he will see you coming online.

He: Oh it’s a pain to go to the blocked list and unblock the user

Me: I know. They could have kept the user on the list till you say delete. On GTalk you have to go to the settings and then click on the blocked tab to see the blocked list, select the user and unblock. But I don’t think it’s a big deal considering you won’t be doing it on a regular basis.

He: But finding my friend in a big list is again a pain. Have you seen my msn and yahoo blocked list? It has people more than my friends list.

Me: Ah but Gtalk will probably have only your friends in the blocked list if you don’t have the habit of accepting strangers’ requests

He: How come?

Me: Well this is what I call addressing the problem at the root level. In Gtalk you can’t send message to someone unless he/she accepts your request. So there is no way someone unknown can get into your block list unless you accept strangers’ and stalkers’ requests.

He: Oh well then I think it’s usable…

Me: Yes even I think it works.

He: So are you saying the Invisible feature is useless?

Me: I’m not saying the “Invisible to all” feature in Yahoo and MSN is not useful. It’s useful in its own way. It lets you have privacy in your own way. It allows you to be smart. But Google took this stand to keep their application light in features which makes it more usable. You know they have a similar kind of setting in Orkut too. If you don’t want other Orkut users to know that you have visited their profile, even you won’t know who all have visited your profile. Fair enough.
That’s why I said Google doesn’t like over smart people, nor do I :-)


Anonymous said...

Google is slowly catching up everything in Yahoo. If Yahoo! has not provided the stealth setting, then Google is going to introduce that feature and we all are going to praise Google that how innovative Google is ! Ofcourse it is !

Anonymous said...

I kind of realize how important it is to keep your product light and look at the real need of the user rather than loading up the product with features, but somehow having the invisible mode for a messenger seems to be a must have feature for me. I would have actually really liked it if I had the option to choose a particular use and be invisible only to that person and the overall ability to remain invisible.
There are quite a lot of scenarios where a user would like to remain invisible to everyone/particular users.

Unknown said...

@Vinodh Google seems to have understood the need of remaining invisible to a specific user and it can be achieved by the block feature. Just that they dont seem to have understood the scenario where the user wants to be invisible to everyone. Personally if you ask me, i have never used the 'invisible to all' option in yahoo or msn. I'm not saying its useless (No feature is completely useless), but my point is that there exist users who have never used that feature. Google might have taken that call inorder to cut that feature and the associated functions. I'm not sure though, they might come with the "invisible to all" feature tomorrow. :-)

According to me if you dont like google talk for it not having the invisible option, you should stick to yahoo/msn. But if you like Google Talk more than yahoo and msn, i think its coz of the better user experience which is in turn achieved by its lightness.

There is a favourite analogy i give out to explain this funda. "If i want more features than Maruti 800, i will probably go for Esteem. Not that i will buy 800 and ask Maruti to add a dicky to it. If Maruti does that they will be killing the user segment who are currently happy with the 800's features." :-)

Anonymous said...

haha... nice analogy...!!

Anonymous said...

and Umesh, I think you could think about pulling that profile pic of yours from some other location.

Since blogger decided to make the comments page a secure one in a https zone (can't figure why, though) and your picture is being pulled in from flickr in a http zone, users will keep getting a warning message (in IE atleast) every time a page refresh happens.

I am sure that you would be interested in enhancing the UX here :)

Anonymous said...

@Vinodh I dont know if i can find a SSL secured place to host my small pic :-) but if IE is spoiling the UX by prompting you to confirm if it is ok to show safe and unsafe content... its actually coz of a setting at your end :-) You can find it in IE by going to tools > Internet Options > Security > Custom Security Settings > Show mixed content. Your selection would be "Prompt". If you change it to "Enable" IE wont prompt you again. But i'm not sure if it is advisable to do that.
Anyways from the next post onwards i will make sure that my photo doesnt appear on my comments.

Anonymous said...

@Vinod: comment page is https to make the login safe.

@Umesh & others: GTalk uses jabber for IM. And I am not sure if jabber protocol supports invisible mode.

Anonymous said...

@Thejesh I dint know if there was a technical limitation in implementing this feature. So may be thats why google took the stand of no invisibility? Nothing UX about it? ;-) I wish someone from google made it clear...

Anonymous said...


Umesh, You don't care about stealth settings until you get married. :-)

Unknown said...

@Raj Yeah i think so... :-)

Arun said...

"Block" link on-click shows a simple DHTML popdown with 2 options

for 30 mins

But modes kill

Unknown said...

@arunvijayan Didnt understand about which block (which software) are you talking about. Thanks for the link but again didnt understand the context... please enlighten.

Anonymous said...

Google is introducing Invisible mode in GChat

Unknown said...

@Raj i saw that. But if you go through the comments you can see people who reflect my idea of invisible mode being stupid. They are asking what if everyone on Gtalk goes invisible... :-) Whats the point...

Unknown said...

Reproducing a comment from there

"Invisible is a terrible idea. Anyone remember ICQ? Invisible was what killed it. It's a great idea if you are the only one who can be invisible, but eventually everyone was invisible (because there was always someone you didn't want to talk to) and the rest is history. What might be useful is a selective invisible - where you could make yourself invisible to particular users, but it would have to be easy to turn on / off."

...which is actually the block feature

Unknown said...

Well, Temporary blocking is good but while your friend is in your blocked list, you cannot receive his chat messages... poor guy thinks that you received the message but it will never appear to you. He also wont get any message to suggest that the chat message is dropped.

Unknown said...

@shafi Good point

Raj said...

ICQ was an entirely different concept.
It was almost like MIRC and to some extent like yahoo chat rooms.
Invisible mode killed yahoo chat rooms too.
But gtalk(and yahoo and msn) are different. It is a very personal thing like you telephone.
The silent mode in your cell never killed cell phone technology.
Like pointed out in this article only people you know can see or be in your list.
Where as in ICQ you could search area wise and get all the users. You would then contact those who were online.
ICQ was something you used to get laid(I cannot say if you would be successful).
The highest searches were for females in different areas. When the invisible mode was introduced ICQ lost all its "sexually frustrated male population(who were borderline stalkers)".
But by then it already lost its female userbase because they were always harrased by this male population.
There was no alternative.Slowly hotmail caught up and people who wanted privacy somehow migrated to other messenger platforms
What actually bought be here was something else(I did not find it here thought)
Invisible mode is yahoo is useless.
Because there are a dearth of sites where you just type in the yahoo user-name and it will tell you if a person is invisible or no.
So i was just checking if yahoo is even bothered to give their users more privacy.
Gmail is the best they came up with invisible mode and it works.
Not like yahoo it has never worked.
I think gmail has not introduced invisible mode in gtalk because it does not work(works just like yahoo). I think they will include it once they are sure its "unhackable"

So just waiting when it comes to gtalk then I can be invisible online and tranfser files.
And no if everyone is invisible it does not mean that people will lose interest in chatting.
That is just like a phone you call someone up he does not answer , you don't blame the phone technology or concept.
You simply assume the person is busy and would have picked up if he was not.
So same here if everyone on gtalk goes invisible(I am not speaking about yahoo and msn because you can detect invisible-to-all users).
it is not going discourage. I am always invisible my friends buzz me. If I do not respond they assume I am not online. Sometimes you cannot respond to even your closest friends.
But you still want to remain online just in case there is some important news.
Because since google has offline message people leave a message. So you can be invisible and if the msg is really important you can reply back or be invisible and be online just in case something turns up.
The same thing with answering machine sometimes you do not pick up and you can hear the message play. If you find the message important you pick the phone or you call back immediately