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Browse Prior Art Database

Method for Managing Instant Message Overload

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000032966D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Nov-19
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Nov-19
Document File: 2 page(s) / 42K

Publishing Venue



Instant Messaging (IM) is quickly becoming an integral part of the work environment. Enabling quick and easy communication, IM enables individuals open access to numerous people, allowing for near-immediate human interaction across a network at a whim. In some work environments, IM is used so frequently that slang is developed around the technology, and people talk about being "pinged," or more increasingly often, being constantly pinged. Users who experience "constant pinging" can experience a windows management nightmare. Small chat windows may constantly take over window focus, popping up in front of other applications, occupying space on the OS taskbar, and otherwise distracting the user to the point of annoyance. When overloaded with concurrent chat sessions, the user has no choice for relief other than to change their status (away or do not disturb), effectively cutting off communication. This disclosure provides a way for users to manage IM overload without disrupting the IM communication channel. When individuals are overloaded by IM sessions, they do not necessarily want to cut off the existing or future IM communications. They simply want to manage the amount of open communication channels, keeping open lines to a realistic maximum. This disclosure provides a method by which users of instant messaging could intelligently and automatically manage overload, from both the sending and receiving side. If IM users could set "thresholds" for the amount of open communication channels, then users of IM could better avoid overload. In addition to describing a how a user might set a threshold, this disclosure also proposes various preferences to dictate behavior when a threshold is reached or exceeded.

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Method for Managing Instant Message Overload

The user interface of this invention could be implemented through the preferences of the IM client. Refer to Figure 1 for a preferred embodiment.

Figure 1. Preferred user interface embodiment for managing instant message overload.

In Figure 1, the user has several options to manage his/her chat overload:

To set a maximum number of open communication channels (IM windows)

If a maximum is set, to automatically respond with a canned, but editable message, or to automatically change IM status to shut down the channel completely ("Do not disturb") or appear to be away from the computer ("I am Away") and to specify those IM chat partners to whom the maximum window limit does not apply

Once a user's maximum number of instant messages threshold is reached, subsequent incoming chat invitations become part of the "Waiting Chats" queue, which would appear in the user's buddy list, or as part of a separate "Waiting Chat" window. Chat initiators are shown in the Waiting Chats queue with a timestamp next to their name to indicate when they initated the chat. Users are shown in the order of earliest to most recent chat initiation.

Figure 2. Preferred user interface embodiment for displaying "Waiting Chats" queue.


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In Figure 2, the 9:31 AM chat with Chris will begin (automatically pop into view in the normal manner) once the user has less than 5 chat windows open. Th...