There is one big problem that we face in IM, as we make more online friends and acquaintances our IM list goes on increasing. It is quite a task to keep scrolling the IM window to reach a particular buddy when one knows that many in the list that one keeps scrolling over will not be accessed.
I have seen some IM buddy lists which runs into a couple of hundred buddies in the buddy list. Well most of the IM clients allow to create groups & let manage them and also they have the features to remove buddies but that’s not enough. Mostly people don’t remove the buddies from the buddy list thinking it might offend the buddy and end up having a huge buddy list.
This problem arises from the fact that IM has a dumb notion of relationships, it is a binary one. You are either a friend or you are not. For instance someone might have added a colleague’s id in IM while working on a project but long after the project is over s/he would still not remove the id for the fear of offending him. Such nature of relationship is not very weill captured in the first gen social software i.e the IM.
Till new paradigms/thoughts of modelling relationship is being sorted out, we could
get a work around by doing a UI remodelling. Create two partition of the buddies visible and ‘old contacts’ .Set as a threshold a certain number of days if you a buddy is not corresponded with for the threshold number of days then move him into old contacts partition and do not make him visible in the buddy list. If a buddy in a old contacts list corresponds then move him back to the visible buddy list. Provide other menu to let the user access the old contact list if he wishes to reach him.
This could be probably taken up as a project under the gaim category in the next summer of code by google.