Chatback widget from Google: About time

I may not be the best one to follow in this regard, since I have a fondness for widgets and plugins (yes, Brent, I know my page is really loading slowly), but I think the Google chatback applet is a great idea. Erick Schonfeld at TechCrunch seems less than impressed, and wonders why anyone would want random people visiting their blog to send instant messages through Google Talk. I see it as just another way for people to ping me about something — even if it’s just to see if I’m around, or to ask a quick question. I’ve already used it several times, and it’s only been a day or so.

Obviously, if people ping me through the widget and I’m busy, then I just won’t answer. But if it’s someone asking a quick question, or telling me something interesting, then I’m happy to hear from them. Some people like to leave comments, some people are happier with an IM message. And I like the idea that my blog becomes the central point of contact for people who may not be able to remember my email, or don’t know whether I’m using GTalk or Skype or MSN. Rafe Needleman doesn’t think much of the widget, but I think he’s being a little harsh.

Rafe mentions Meebo as a better option, and I tried it — in fact, I used it a lot before I found a way around the firewall at work. And I tried the Meebo Me blog widget for awhile too. But you have to keep Meebo open in a browser tab all the time, and it’s hard to know when there’s a new message. I like GTalk because it’s integrated into my Gmail, which is always open. I used Plugoo for awhile because it integrated with GTalk and it worked great, but now that there’s a Google widget I don’t need it.

3 thoughts on “Chatback widget from Google: About time

  1. It's close. I put it on my site, too, although since nobody goes there I haven't had much use for it. But there are a few problems:

    1. Why is it so narrow? My status messages tend to be quite a bit longer. The chat badge's proportions should be customizable (there are numbers in the html it spits out, but I don't think they work to widen or heighten it).
    2. It doesn't seem to work quite right with my browser–it tells me to install Flash version 8, which of course I have installed already. And anyway, if the google chat window in gmail doesn't necessitate Flash, why should this?
    3. Like I said, I haven't had a chance to try out a full conversation, but I believe the way it works is that when someone IMs me through the widget I get a gtalk message prompting me to open a url. Why not just channel the visitor's messages into a standard gtalk message window?

    Anyway, you're right that it's an improvement over Meebo–I don't want to keep a browser window open all the time on the off chance that somebody is going to IM me from my blog. But I don't think it's quite there yet.

    Also, while I'm here–Disqus is cool, but I believe it doesn't work with co.mments.com, which is how I keep track of comments I leave in various places. I guess I should just get over it, though.

    • Thanks for the comment, Jake.

      A number of other people have mentioned the giant link that pops up —
      I haven't had that happen. When someone starts a chat through the
      widget, it pops up in a regular GTalk chat window in my Gmail. Maybe
      it's different if you're using the GTalk standalone app.

      On Wed, Feb 27, 2008 at 10:27 AM, Disqus

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