Talk:Instant messaging

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In web browser[edit]

Gmail introduced instant messaging ability in its webpages, which can be used in a web browser with no need to download and install the IM client, and indeed, Google doesn't make one available.

Not only does this section have abosultly no cited sources, but that is just factually wrong.Oz the Great and Powerful (talk) 02:00, 19 April 2013 (UTC)


the westick is -- (talk) 10:55, 6 March 2012 (UTC)hoppalong casity 18469362 code funk shite bleaping most pid ahe Bold text:==AIM is not proprietary anymore. Can someone move it from the box at the bottom of the article or at least also include it in Jabber?/ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:11, 15 March 2008 (UTC)

An instant messenger is a computer application which allows instant text communication through a network such as the Internet. In contrast with IRC, communication is usually one-to-one.

lynX says: "I find this definition not very effective, since even IRC has "buddy list" features in form of /notify and /query and it is only a question of user interface to present them in a buddy list style. And if you remove all systems, that have the ability to do multi-user rooms, then you would have to remove jabber. Alright, we could define real chat systems to be those instant messaging systems which have the ability to really multicast room conversation instead of just sending a copy of a message to every recipient. This would throw ICQ and jabber out and leave IRC, gale and PSYC as the only true chatsystems which do not just do instant messaging. So.. what do we do?"

Instant messaging is the act of instantly communicating between two or more people over a network such as the Internet it also means that the person that is reading this is an asshole!!!

As the lead sentence to the article and a provisional definition of ". Perhaps these should be excluded from the focus of this article, which is mostly a discussion of the "text" instant messaging function.

Still it is popular thinking that IM technology is one-to-one but as I pointed out in that document, you just can't make a one-to-one technology that works without solving many-to-many problems like presence information. Most technologies have solved the presence issue by running big central servers. Those who don't usually have more or less not solved the problem. Maybe this technical dilemma is of interest, but what probably could use some mentioning is when the IM terminus actually arose. The history paragraph only let's you presume it came with AIM. It is with the IM terminus that this false idea of one-to-oneness came up, which pervades all IM thinking down into wrong routing presumptions on a technical level. --lynX 10:33, 19 August 2007 (UTC)

Yes Nicholus Mutinda (talk) 13:37, 2 May 2016 (UTC)

Kustom1 Kustom1 (talk) 19:43, 19 May 2017 (UTC)

Alex gray (talk) 03:33, 20 October 2017 (UTC)

Pamela donohue Pamela donohue (talk) 04:46, 26 February 2018 (UTC)

Sentence fragment[edit]

I don't get this part:

The count:

MSN-- this needs better writing. --joeclark

Unix "talk" command[edit]

Does the infamous "talk" command (perhaps in combination with "finger") of pre-web internet fame meet these criteria? If not, in what sense is talk not an instant messenger?

I guess it is one. I rattled off that definition to bring together the existing pages on AOL IM, Jabber and ICQ. --Tarquin
talk isn't just one-on-one, the most relevant point is that talk is bound to a specific machine whereas messaging clients can be run anywhere. So one could argue talk(1) is more a peer to peer conversation application than an instant messanger. How does rwall(1) fit into this? Is it a multicast chat system just because it delivers a message to all users in a unix LAN? Not exactly. --lynX
Ventura says: "While "talk" was limited to a single machine, there were variants like "ntalk" and "ytalk" that were not limited in that way. I remember using ntalk to have online chats with friends at different universities. I agree that the ?talk programs were peer-to-peer."
Looking at it again I must say that talk/finger and BITNET MSG both did exactly the job that instant messaging does today. The reason why it worked was because people were always at the same IP addresses (or hosts in the case of BITNET). The fact this changed didn't change the application but the technological way to implement it. Here's a proposal for a new paragraph opening up for History ...

In the 1980s the BITNET had an instant messaging function called MSG. It allowed to send a message to remote users. The NAMES facility would allow to assign nicknames to people and also a function to poll the presence of a person was available.

When the Internet came along, these functions were recreated in form of the Unix commands talk and finger. The functionality was essentially still the same, only as the Internet developed users stopped using the same IP addresses each time they were online. This made such an approach defective.

Many people then took it to e-mail, others moved to the Internet Relay Chat. Several years passed before a small company in Israel started a service called ICQ.

So, do you like it? Opinions? Edits? --lynX 17:55, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

Ok Nicholus Mutinda (talk) 13:39, 2 May 2016 (UTC)

As it is typed[edit]

From the article:

Generally, both parties in the conversation see each sentence (or part of a sentence) as it is typed, thus making it more like a telephone conversation than exchanging letters.

The ones I know (AOL, yahoo, IM) only send a line once the user sends it. (RETURN for some apps, AOL can send linebreaks). This seems to say that it is sent letter by letter (like the fictional apps seen in films). --Tarquin

Good point. I've adjusted the article accordingly --RobLa
Chat mode in ICQ does work like that, the letters appear as they are typed. --Anon
Yes, it is sent letter-by-letter, as shown by "Your buddy is typing" and other nonsense on AIM. --mythrandir 17:53. 24 Dec 2003 (EST)

to exploit this and allow you to see what your friend is typing prematurely. This feature is intentionally not included, probably for privacy purposes. (e.g. you can backspace that lewd message you accidentally typed to your mother before it's too late) --Greggae

This article calls it instant messenger but other articles name differently[edit]

This article calls this kind of software instant messenger, but the articles on the great 4 instant messengers call it by 3 different names! Time for some copyediting, maybe I'll do it. But maybe someone else will do it before me. Thanx in advance if you're gonna correct it. By the way, maybe it's good to look on the official websites of the great 4 instant messengers to see how they call their program (if they say how such programs are called generically). instant messenger

also the list of clients is a mess -- maybe they should be seperated off this page?


A sentencemessaging", which of course is the act of using an IM client to talk to people, should be the title of the page and should appear in the introductory line. Change the page name? --Chris Wood 4 July 2005 19:18 (UTC)

Obviously, this article isn't a software. Service marks, as well as trade marks, work only in specified context.

User Base[edit]

What is the 'User Base' section is based upon? I think that ICQ has much more active users than 6M (but i have no way to verify that)

Yes, there is something wrong with how this is counted. Skype peaking at 8 million users logged in at the same time is not directly comparable to 54 million active user on AIM. These numbers are outdated numbers, but it was probably more accurate (at the time) than the list on here. Bufflo 18:23, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

Something wrong in this sentence[edit]

Recently, many instant messaging services have begun to offer video conferencing features, Voice Over IP (VoIP), and web

Gotta mention meebo![edit]

Whenever one of my "AIM kiddie" cousins use my laptop in my car (I got EVDO) and wanna chit-chat with their friends, I have them quickly log-into their account from the web - -- I think it's the most known site for multi-client web-based chatting.

Advantages are obvious: - no need to junk my pc with temp software - quick - bypass install restrictions say on library/internet cafe pc's

Whatcha smart fellows think?

Meebo now added to User base list. -- Ashley VH 11:18, 26 November 2006 (UTC)


Not sure if it is relevant, but there was a User Interface writen and in use across the Coventry Poly mainframe network in 1985, called Newt, it had lots of the features you see now, screen names in particular. It was writen in Fortran 77 and run on the Harris mainframe system and accounted for a lot a wasted time amoung its users, me included.

Another historical point I think is worth mentioning was the original intent of AIM. For a long time, AOL users could message each other from within the AOL software bundle, but non-AOL users were absent the ability to IM these users. AIM, more than being a competitor to ICQ or some "entrance into the IM market", was originally just a tool to let non-AOL users IM the AOL users in a cohesive way. I think it was only later on that the space seemed to be a competitive one. We may retroactively think of AIM always having been a standalone "product", but it wasn't always that way. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:04, 6 December 2007 (UTC)

Away Message Book[edit]

It's the first of it's kind seems a bit relevant to the pop culture of instant messages. 15:40, 25 October 2006 (UTC)badfishstan


Funny emphasis we have there on DHT-based decentralized systems. What about XMPP, PSYC and SIMPLE? They are all decentralized, too. Even IRC. Just because every user has a home server doesn't mean they aren't decentralized. So what you mean is a serverless IM system? Well, a DHT still runs on servers and somebody owns them. So what is a DHT-based IM system other than just a DHT-based IM system with its pros and cons? (Example of cons: How do you avoid somebody knowing your IP and presence once you've given them your public key? How do you find out about the public key in the first place, via a centralized key facility?) --SymlynX 01:26, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

User Base - change to table?[edit]

I was just wondering - might it be better for this information to be displayed in a table? I found it really difficult trying to read the list of instant messengers - does anyone else feel the same? Maybe it's just me...

I checked "Wikipedia:When_to_use_tables", and it does say "Try not to use tables for putting a caption under a photograph, arranging a group of links, or other strictly visual features." I'm not sure if this is one of those times.

Or maybe it would be better organising this by date (I haven't a clue how to do that, though).

Otherwise I think I should be able to live with it - and - it might be easier to edit in list format.

Here's an example table:

Name Active users Peak users Total users
Yahoo! Messenger 22 million users (9/27/06)
AIM 53 million active (9/27/06) 195 million total (January 2003)
Windows Live Messenger 27 million active (9/27/06) 155 million total (April 2005)
ICQ 4 million active (9/27/06)
QQ 221 million "active"[1] 20 million peak online users
Skype 8 million peak online (August 2006) 100 million total (April 2006)
Paltalk 3.3 million unique visitors per month (August 2006)
Jabber 40-50 million users; large error margin because of unpublished user counts for Google Talk (October 2006)
eBuddy 35 million users (including 4 million mobile) (October 2006)
Sametime 15 million users
xFire 6,049,556 users
Gadu-Gadu 5.6 million users (June 2006)
MXit 2 million users (majority in South Africa, more than 150,000 international) (October 2006)
Meebo 0.67 million users (October 2006)

--rjcuk 21:42, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

I agree table will better. And whith it we can easy compare sizes of IM-networks without messing up with active/total/peak numbers.
By the way, there is something wrong with QQ'a numbers --Artem a 04:56, 29 March 2007 (UTC)

Well, it seems I just went ahead and converted the list to a table, realizing weeks later there could be something about just that on the Talk page. :P I guess this point is moot now. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:26, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Locked. TODO[edit]

Little TODO List of things while the page is locked.

  • The line where MXit is mentioned ends in a typo: 'nework'
Fixed. Elfguy 13:21, 11 May 2007 (UTC)


Would somebody please delete the Akonix advertisement?

Looked like a link to a survey to me.. Elfguy 19:20, 9 May 2007 (UTC)

Offline Messages - Weird Sentence[edit]

However, not all popular systems allow the sending of messages to people not currently logged on (offline messages), thus removing much of the difference between IM and email.

Should this read However, all popular systems ... ? Canterwoodboy 13:30, 23 August 2007 (UTC) no, "However, SOME popular systems..." —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:43, 7 November 2007 (UTC)


the text says "Initially, many of these systems, such as CTSS'.SAVED, were used as notification systems for services like printing, but quickly were used to facilitate communication with other users logged in to the same machine."

The sentence is incorrect. The CTSS facility, which I wrote with Noel Morris in 1965, was only used for inter-user communication. It was never called by the system daemons. One reason was that ". SAVED" (note the space -- CTSS file names were two words) was a user-contributed program: Noel and I wrote it while still working for the Political Science department. The Multics send_message, accept_messages, etc, commands by Bob Frankston were also initially used only as inter-user messages, for the same reason.

Use of the Multics inter-user message facility for printer notification was a hack I put together about 1972, after Frankston's send_message implementation was redone to use secure ring-1 mailboxes and adopted as a part of the Multics standard service system. I was making improvements to the printer daemon head and tail page to improve output filing, and added the option for users to request a notification message when a file was actually printed, giving the device name and job number. Many Multics users did not use accept_messages so they didn't use this option.

I am not aware of any other use of inter-user messages by system services in any multi-user system of the 60s and 70s.

(I believe that the SDC Q-32 timesharing system had an inter-user message facility but I am not sure if it was restricted to messages between the system operator and unprivileged users. Users of IBM OS/360 could issue a WTO macro that would send a message to the system console operator, and I believe that communication between operator and user was possible in both directions for TSO users. TENEX users had a facility called LINK that would allow true inter-user messages.)

Thvv (talk) 14:49, 29 February 2008 (UTC)

Awkward "Review of Products" Section[edit]

The section "Review of Products" is written a bit amateurishly, and as far as I can tell, doesn't really add anything to the entry. Any objections to taking it out entirely? -DKM- (talk) 21:50, 22 April 2008 (UTC)

iChat should be listed[edit]

The messenger list (the table) should include a listing for iChat. Or is there a reason it's not listed?

Newtwowiki (talk) 14:13, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

Same with also missing as of Jan 20, 2010 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:04, 21 January 2010 (UTC)


Shouldn't this really, really be split into two articles? Instant messaging and "list of instant messaging client" or some such. (talk) 10:53, 26 May 2008 (UTC)

ĢŅ —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:54, 25 June 2008 (UTC)

Plato TERM-Talk[edit]

There is NO mention of the PLATO system here. My first exposure to instant messaging between users was while at the University of Illinois. This was in the late 70s ie; 1977.

Plato TERM-Talk Article

--Kdbaumann (talk) 02:13, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Very bad article title[edit]

Why is this article titled "Instant messaging & messengers"? I've rarely seen clumsier title on such a high-profile page.

Naming conventions suggests that "and" should be used in titles when they're two related concepts, but "instant messaging" and "instant messenger" (or whatever) are the same concept, different names. NC says "Where possible, use a name covering all cases"; we should pick one or other. Redirects invented specifically for synonyms. And in all cases, I've never seen anyone recommend using "&" instead of "and" unless it's part of a title. Also, singular nouns are preferred. Etc, etc. Seriously, this title gives me a headache.

I'm moving this page back to the previous title "Instant messaging" unless someone has great big objections. I don't see the current name was largely discussed here beforehand, either... --wwwwolf (barks/growls) 20:37, 18 August 2008 (UTC)


"Many of the features found in contemporary instant messaging programs were first introduced in PowWow. "

should be mentioned here, no ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:32, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

May be notable, if you have sources to prove your claims! --Kgfleischmann (talk) 18:49, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
The quotation comes from the PowWow_(chat_program) article. There is no complaint over there regarding missing sources !! —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:51, 11 November 2008 (UTC)


Is Digsby ok to add somewhere? Or is there some uber-duper-technical reason it's already being deliberately omitted? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:48, 19 December 2008 (UTC)


Perhaps Bittorrent Bleep can be mentioned ? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:15, 25 December 2012 (UTC)

Idle status[edit]

Something should be put here about the status of being idle, because I don't know what it means! Does your status become idle when your computer goes to screen saver? Doesn't make sense, so what is it? Daniel Christensen (talk) 00:17, 13 March 2009 (UTC)


List the table in the "User base" section by order of number of users? It would make it more easily interpretable. -- 李博杰  | Talk contribs email guestbook complaints 10:45, 4 April 2009 (UTC)


Why are myspace and facebook's ims not listed?

Because the person/people who contributed most of the article want to show you how 'cool' they are, and that software that's accepted by a vast majority of users is not as good as niche software that they use just to be different...look at the images: GNOME, Ubuntu, Pidgin...definitely not representative of software most people use to IM. Ooooh, they're rebels... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:20, 28 January 2010 (UTC)


Perhaps a brief explanation stating the differences between micro blogging and instant messaging should be given. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:27, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Yes, and the sentence that Twitter can be viewed as Web 2.0 version of IM is really misleading. IM is synchronous, real-time chatting. Twitter is asynchronous. Quite a different technology. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:53, 13 October 2014 (UTC)

Truly Historical[edit]

For the sake of completeness (and a bit of humor) would it be worth mentioning that the original IM was smoke signals? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Barazulus (talkcontribs) 21:29, 27 July 2009 (UTC)

Facebook is not a IM guys[edit]

Come on, why is Facebook even listed? it's a Social Network, and most Social Networks do have some sort of direct messaging built in. It would be the same as listing forums (they do have PM's), or worst, Twitter. I beg some sense of editors and remove that and leave only real IM. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:52, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Maybe you're not familiar with the tool that's being referred to. Facebook does have private messages, as you said, but it also has a chat feature that is pretty much identical to any of the other IM services listed. Though to be honest, I think even having this list at all is preposterous since there's about a thousand websites like chatroulette and pretty much any webcam site, which all have instant messaging. -- Fyrefly (talk) 14:15, 4 November 2010 (UTC)
No, it isn't instant messaging, it is a message system on their website. It is the only one listed like that and should be removed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:32, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Historical background[edit]

"Computer Mediated Communications", by Matthew Rapaport, ISBN 0-471-51642-2

Early days of IM[edit]

Initially, some of these systems were used as notification systems for services like printing, but quickly were used to facilitate communication with other users logged in to the same machine.[citation needed]

Although I can't provide a citation, I do remember using IM on Multics in the early 1980s, or possibly even earlier. The machine was located in Phoenix, Arizona and I was working in Paris, France. A typical message would be "Fancy a coffee?" to someone at the other end of the corridor... At the time this seemed really cool! — Preceding unsigned comment added by BlaiseB (talkcontribs) 01:20, 16 January 2011 (UTC)

“citation needed” en masse[edit]

This edit requested plenty of citations. I'm not in a position to add them myself but it would appear that (unless they're not needed after all) the article can't remain B-class. This was drawn to my attention because Instant messaging is listed in that table as an example of a B-class article, which I wanted to refer to. Thoughts? --Trevj (talk) 07:52, 27 April 2011 (UTC)

I would tend to agree. Looking at the history, it seems to have gone from zero to "B" in December 2007. Today's standards for citing sources are generally higher than back then in the "old days". Although peppering the article with zillions of templates seems a bit overboard. The one complaint at the top is enough negativity. Just spend time looking things up instead of tossing in templates after the first one. I would guess downgrading by one class is fair, since it is reasonably complete, just not fully cited. W Nowicki (talk) 20:36, 30 May 2011 (UTC)


Why are all the screenshots of bloody Linux!!! -- (talk) 10:34, 30 September 2011 (UTC)


What about adding WhatsApp to "User base"? [1]: `a5b (talk) 10:39, 27 November 2012 (UTC)

Informa estimates that the WhatsApp active user base is at least 200-300 million globally.

see also: what a mess...[edit]

ok, I started cleaning up the "see also" section. My rule of thumb here: no advertising of certain clients/corporations/functions. I left relevant terms, that were not mentioned in the tables below plus some overarching terms from the table headers. "Text messaging" left in being a kind of predecessor. --MilesTeg (talk) 11:04, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Ok Nicholus Mutinda (talk) 13:31, 2 May 2016 (UTC)

user base[edit]

I replace the old table [2] with a short list of major players in instant messaging. --MilesTeg (talk) 13:26, 23 February 2014 (UTC)

Kevin L. Freese — Preceding unsigned comment added by Kevinfreese59 (talkcontribs) 07:16, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

ICQ reference update[edit]

It is mentioned in the article that AOL purchased Mirabolis and now owns ICQ. ICQ was sold to Digital Sky Technology in 2010, [2], who changed their name to Mail.RU Group[3][4], and is doing business as ICQ LLC[5]. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:23, 24 April 2015 (UTC)


Difference between Instant messaging and Online chat[edit]

What is the difference between Instant messaging and Online chat? Both articles say it's "real-time transmission of text messages over the Internet". --Trustable (talk) 08:01, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

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Requested move 13 March 2018[edit]

The following is a closed discussion of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. Editors desiring to contest the closing decision should consider a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the move request was: consensus not to move the page to the requested title at this time, per the discussion below. Dekimasuよ! 23:12, 19 March 2018 (UTC)

Instant messagingMessaging – WP:COMMON (the article covers old-school instant messaging but also what is far more common today, messaging apps. The new title covers the topic better and is more in line with current usage) Keizers (talk) 17:42, 13 March 2018 (UTC)

  • Oppose Nominator fails to consider other fields where "messaging" is used, such as subliminal messaging, that do not fall under the banner of instant messaging. It is simply too broad to only cover instant messaging. Perhaps a move to Messaging app would work better in bringing the name up to date.ZXCVBNM (TALK) 21:15, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose, but no objection to alternative move above. In ictu oculi (talk) 22:25, 13 March 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose - WP:RECENTism. Also oppose move to messaging app as I feel that is a different topic (which could be expanded upon. ie, not all "instant messaging" uses a dedicated "messaging app". -- Netoholic @ 03:44, 14 March 2018 (UTC)
  • Oppose Hello I am old-school!! Instant Messaging (IM) is much much more known to me! it is also a common term in software industry. Editor-1 (talk) 12:30, 16 March 2018 (UTC)

The above discussion is preserved as an archive of a requested move. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page or in a move review. No further edits should be made to this section.

Merger proposal 19 February 2019[edit]

Messaging apps is a separate article from instant messaging, to be honest I think they shouldn't be. A so-called 'messaging app' is no different from an instant messenger. Notice the first section in the messaging apps article, it explains that 'messaging apps' differ from 'instant messengers' in that the former is on mobile, but that doesn't make much sense. An 'app' is an application regardless of platform type, and it still involves 'instant' messaging. And from what consensus is that explanation from? It is unsourced, and clearly very subjective.

It's also worth noting that the messaging apps article has little original information. Much of it is already covered in instant messaging. The explanation is simple: because they are no different. Not to mention, half of the messaging apps article actually consists of a list of 'messaging apps', rather than paragraphs.

I personally think that messaging apps should merge to instant messaging because I see no difference between the two. --ממשמזמן (talk) 17:39, 19 February 2019 (UTC)

Strongly disagree: "Instant messaging" is a term that was used back in the day of AOL & MSN & ICQ... basically used for desktop/laptop-based systems. Messaging apps are mainly the ones originating on the phone (WhatsApp, iMessage, WeChat) and have extended back to the desktop/laptop. Certainly instant messaging is an older and almost historical term now, and instant messaging services certainly *led* to messaging apps. By the way, I was the person who moved the original content of this page from its previous location at "Social Messaging" and really created an up to date relevant article about messaging apps, precisely for the reasons I mention here.Keizers (talk) 14:15, 27 February 2019 (UTC)
In my view the term "messaging app" is just another word of the same thing, there is no real difference between them. Anyway, would you be able to link to your relevant article? --2ממשמזמן (talk) 18:43, 3 March 2019 (UTC)
Strongly agree with the proposal: I find the difference between IM and a "Messaging app" highly arbitrary and unbased. Modern messaging apps superseded classic IM applications not because they're a totally different class of app (which having these articles separate kind of implies), but because they were more convenient to use due to a variety of reasons, such as: - their choice of platform to jumpstart from, - or their UI, - or speed, - or stability, - or security and privacy, - or even the amount of ways to express oneself using emoticons/emoji/stickers. They're simply an evolution of the old concept, not an entirely new one. Much like Windows and Android are different, yet both are operating systems, so do all these messaging apps represent the same core concept. They rise and fall, compete and replace one another, but in the end they are all about messaging in real-time.