[Standards] Threaded chats

Greg Hudson ghudson at MIT.EDU
Thu Feb 8 19:18:23 UTC 2007

On Thu, 2007-02-08 at 16:22 +0100, Nicolas Vérité wrote:
> It's becoming a growing need, because in an (over)crowded chatroom
> or a multi-subject one-to-one chat, it gets uncomfortable to understand
> who/what one is referring to.

This is certainly an issue for us in getting people at MIT to transition
from our legacy IM system (Zephyr) to Jabber.

Zephyr's "threading" is really very basic.  The technical details are a
little screwy, but essentially, in some (but not all) multi-user chat
contexts, people tag the messages they send with a short topic.  This is
most prevalent and most important in the "help" chat context, where
people might be asking or answering messages about different topics at
the same time.

I think it's easier to design a sender UI for this kind of basic
threading than it is for a more thorough notion of threading; all you
need is the ability to easily send a series of messages to the same
place with the same topic tag applied.

>From a protocol standpoint, it would be possible to just use a
convention like putting "[topic] " at the front of each message, but
it's desirable to separate the topic tag from the body so that clients
can better visually separate conversations with different topic tags
(e.g. by putting the topic tag in a separate column, or color-coding
differnet topics).

The RFC 3921 "subject" element doesn't work for this kind of tagging
because it's claimed by XEP-0045 as the chatroom global subject.  The
"thread" element doesn't work because it's not human-readable.
Presumably a XEP-0131 header could serve.

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