Michael Arrington has written a great article on TechCrunch about Skype etiquette, highlighting one of the only issues I have with using that great tool. I thought I’d share ….
“Skype is one of the most important work and social tools I use. It’s nearly perfect. Except that you people are using it to drive me crazy.
What I like about Skype is that you can use it for chat, or audio, or video. It’s an extremely versatile tool and most people in the startup world use it as their primary instant messenger application. It’s nowhere near as popular as Windows Live Messenger with 303 million worldwide monthly users, or Yahoo with 79 million. But it’s in a solid fourth place with 18 million users per month, according to Comscore (just the IM feature). The real number is probably far higher than that.
A lot of people know I like to use Skype for communicating, and I get a lot of inbound messages. And I’m starting to go a little crazy from the way people are using it. So it’s time for a friendly primer on appropriate Skype etiquette. Most of these helpful hints will also be useful for people using different IM applications.
It’s not a conversation until both sides are engaged. Just because I haven’t blocked you on Skype doesn’t mean that you have an open door into my brain. The best way to start a Skype conversation is to message something like “are you free?” If I respond then we’re all set. If not, don’t take it personally. And don’t start firing off whatever you want to say anyway. Too many of my Skype interactions look like this:
You: Hey Mike
You: Are you
You: Ok well I really want to talk to you about
You: [long message follows]
You: Hey! r u there?
You: Whatever. Thanks for ignoring me. Jerk.
Me (an hour later): Um, ok.
Instand messaging is both synchronous and asynchronous. Sometimes a conversation is both. I don’t take offense if someone bails out of a conversation on IM without warning only to reengage an hour or a day later. Neither should you.
Just start a conversation politely, and wait for the other person to say something before jumping in. If they don’t respond, say something like “Looks like you’re not online, I’ll send an email.” And then send an email.