[OT] UIs for User Confusion (was: Re: Friendly XMPP Branding (Re: [Standards] XMPP vs. Jabber))

Dave lists+jabber_standards at bigfatdave.com
Fri Mar 9 06:58:13 UTC 2007

On Thu, Mar 08, 2007 at 04:49:25PM -0800, Justin Karneges wrote:

> On Thursday 08 March 2007 3:42 pm, Rachel Blackman wrote:

> There is a small movement to call 
> XMPP simply "IM" (e.g. IM Address, IM server), which the Coversant and Psi 
> projects are already considering.  It is kind of a rename, but not really.

I'm not quite sure what exactly you mean by "kind of a rename," but if
you mean anything substantial, you're going to run into problems, since
there are many IM systems out there, an awful lot of which were around
long before Jabber/XMPP/XIM/whatever (and therefore would've earned the
"right" to call themselves "IM" first).  It's also dangerous to try
renaming a protocol into the common name of its category of (possibly
yet undiscovered) protocols.  Think, for a sec, what would've happened
if somebody had decided to rename UUCP into "email."  We'd all be stuck
trying to explain to people whether we were using an email system called
"SMTP," or an email system that attempts to confuse people by calling
itself "email."  Renaming a member (even an incidentally only member)
of a group into the name of the group itself is a move calculated to
confuse people, since it adds no information, but attempts to subtract
information by blurring the existance of the group itself.

> Similarly, "Standard IM Address" (again, just an idea) isn't a full-on rename, 
> but rather more of a show of confidence. :)  But with just enough of an edge 
> that you know it isn't AIM we're talking about.

SIP/SIMPLE is also a standard IM system, so "Standard IM" would be
nothing but a subgroup of "IM," with at least two members.

(Yes, Jabber/XMPP/XIM/whatever has a bunch of neat features missing from
SIP, but that's because Jabber is much more than an IM protocol - it's an
eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol.  Incidentally, XMPP itself
is just a category, and even though there's only one member (Jabber),
that uniqueness is incidental.  (There are plenty of possible extensible
messaging and presence protocols that wouldn't be essentially the same
as Jabber.)  However, there's a long tradition at the IETF of calling
protocols by protocol group names, so it may not be useful to fight if
they give us a bone and put "Simple" or "eXtensible" before the parent
group's name (e.g. SMTP, or XMPP).  Trying to pass off one particular
IM system as "the" standard IM system would be outright misinformation.)

> We could go a long way with more support from you people (*points at multi-IM 
> people*).  How about you lay out your account configuration menu like this?
>   IM (XMPP/Jabber)
>   AIM
>   MSN
>   Yahoo
>   ICQ
>   etc

If a Multi-IM developer tries to lend credibility to a lie, it only
puts his own credibility at risk.  If the JSF/XSF/whateverSF woke up one
morning and decided to rename Jabber/XMPP/whatever into just plain "IM"
(which it has no plans to do anytime soon, AFAIK), the only reasonable
thing to do (starting from what the above seems to imply we were starting
from) would be something like this:

Jabber/XMPP (confusingly calls itself "IM")

> Giving XMPP priority.

My trick above also gives Jabber/XMPP/whatever priority as well, and it
has the added bonus of trying to undo part of the confusion created by
a hypothetical decision by the JSF/XSF/whateverSF, rather than creating
confusion out of nothing at all.

Not only that, but we're sparing ourselves the tech support calls/emails
from disgruntled users who can't get your stupid client to login to their
"IM" accounts.  Confusing users is just plain stupid.  Everybody loses
in the end.

> In this case we're still mentioning XMPP (and even 
> Jabber)

You mean: you're attempting to confuse people into thinking that IM
means Jabber.  I'd call that a flat out lie.

> to direct the user,

Nice of you to help the user out a bit, after confusing the **** out of him ;-)

> but the real name is the very blatant "IM".

...which again, is one big fat lie

> Just 
> seeing this list would instill a sense that XMPP is intented as the "main" 
> network.

I wish you would've told me your intentions earlier!  I thought your
goal was to misinform.  In that case, I have the perfect solution for you:

Jabber/XMPP (intended as the "main" network)

> Or even better, with a hierarchy:
>   IM (XMPP/Jabber)
>   Legacy IM networks (to be eventually discontinued by the FBI)
>   |
>   ---
>       AIM
>       MSN
>       Yahoo
>       ICQ
>       etc

This is again misinformation.  It's also introducing an unnecessary menu
into a UI, which is poor UI design.  (Read: it'll lose you users.)

> OR:
>   Standard IM (XMPP)
>   |
>   ---
>       Google Talk
>       LiveJournal
>       SAPO
>       Plain IM
>   Legacy IM networks ...
>   |
>   ---
>       AIM
>       MSN
>       ...

If you'd like to differentiate between IETF standard IM protocols and
other IM protocols, you can do so without lying to your users:

IETF Standardized IM Protocols
   The Protocol Formerly Known As Jabber
      <bunch of popular Jabber servers>
      Connect as user
      Connect as peer
Other IM Protocols

> Turn it into a competition!

Yes, let's have a competition to see who can lose the most users by
trying to misinform them.  (The sad thing is, I don't know if you'd
even win such a competition: practically anybody at the IETF (and plenty
outside of the IETF) could easily make a run for it.)  Those who don't
value their users' freedom of thought will eventually lose their users.
Truth has a tendency to get out, sooner or later.  Maybe it'll only happen
when it's time to replace Jabber/XMPP/whatever, sometime in the future
(possibly with a pubsub-based system, in order to take advantage of IP
multicasting, or whatever), and somebody suddenly realizes that some nut
at the JSF renamed Jabber into "IM" many years ago for the sole purpose
of confusing users.

 - Dave

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