Web-based chat widget face-off

I’m part of a group using Meebo for chat reference, and while it’s been fine so far, it lacks a couple of features we’d like to have. One: the ability for the user to leave the chat page without ending the session. Two: the ability for the user to leave us a message if s/he arrives when we’re not on.

I’m poking around in other web-chased chat options, and so far I’m turning up a couple of options.

  • Meebo: No limit on concurrent users, as far as I know. Requires the librarian to keep the Meebo.com page open in a browser in order to stay on the service. (Although they now also offer a sidebar widget that may remove that requirement.)
  • Plugoo: Only five concurrent users. Doesn’t require the librarian to keep a web page open, because it doesn’t offer a proprietary chat client–instead, it works through an existing chat account such as Meebo, AIM, YM, etc. Users can leave a message if they access the service when the librarian isn’t on.
  • Hab.la: Allows user to navigate away from the web page without ending the session. (See this post on infodoodad.) Has a dedicated page for library services. Only allows 5 concurrent users. Only allows one librarian at a time (but they’re working on more.) Hab.la also seems like an interesting new delivery model, in that the chat bar sits unobtrusively in the bottom corner of any page you want; to chat, users click on it to open a window. So instead of devoting a single library web page to chat, you could put chat bars on every web page and not worry about whether people could find their way to the single service point. Sort of like having librarians roaming all over the library. (Of course, that limit on concurrent users could get sticky.)

None of these tools archives chat transcripts, which is a drawback. On the other hand, they all offer anonymity to both participants in the conversation, which is a plus.

So, to sum up (click through for full-size version):

Web-Based Chat Comparison

If I got anything wrong, or have outdated information here, please let me know.

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5 thoughts on “Web-based chat widget face-off

  1. caleb says:

    hi!

    meebome can be monitored through an im client that can connect to an xmpp server (like pidgin or trillian pro). you’ll need a special pidgin plugin to automatically accept requests from meebome patrons, though some report problems (http://libraryvoice.com/archives/2007/09/26/problems-with-pidgin-and-meebo-or-the-chocolate-has-melted-a-little/)

    also see libraryh3lp, in development at UNC (sort of):

    – as many concurrent users as you want
    – as many librarians as you want
    – not-flash-based – javascript interfaces nicely with mobile devices
    – fully customizable style with css
    – maybe not free in the future, but cheap ($100-$300/yr)
    – librarian monitors through xmpp-based im client like pidgin
    – goes away when you browse away

    sample: http://www.oregonlibraries.net/libraryh3lp_webchat_test
    project site and instructions: http://code.google.com/p/libraryh3lp/

    and also new “qwidget” from oclc questionpoint

    – as many concurrent users as you want
    – as many librarians as you want
    – not-flash-based – javascript interfaces nicely with mobile devices
    – some customization
    – for oclc questionpoint customers only
    – not yet 24/7
    – librarian monitors through oclc questionpoint interface
    – patrons leave message if chat is unavailable
    – goes away when you browse away

    sample: http://www.oregonlibraries.net/qp_chat_widget

    I’ve also been encouraging libraries to show a link to our 24/7 service if staff on the widget are unavailable:

    western oregon university – http://www.wou.edu/provost/library/
    central oregon community college – http://campuslibrary.cocc.edu/

  2. […] Karen’s post comparing chat widgets: Web-based chat widget face-off […]

  3. […] Karen’s post comparing chat widgets: Web-based chat widget face-off […]

  4. sandrar says:

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  5. Sign: zdbrw Hello!!! kzyze and 7382vhxpemrery and 6051 : I like your blog. cool post!

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