My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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damn AIM caps

As i’ve mentioned before, i think that it’s *ludicrous* that services cap the number of people that you can and should know. I’ve hit the AIM cap – 200 buddies. I keep removing people but there are not enough people to remove anymore – there are only 10 addresses that i can’t associate with someone. I tried to remove anyone who hasn’t logged in in a while or who i don’t actually talk to, but the reality is that AIM is my primary form of communication for work colleagues, for social connections, for geeking out. I never login without there being at least 30 people that i know online (even now at midnight in the interim period). Although i talk to only a fraction every day, i rely on the presence bits to be in contact with people regularly and have the ability to reach out when appropriate. As more people get on AIM, work interactions switch to AIM and folks like my brother start maintaining one IM address per device, the caps are going to get more and more problematic. I honestly don’t know what to do.

How are other people handling conversation caps like the AIM cap? I cannot even imagine having a cap on my addressbook, but that’s what this feels like.

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15 comments to damn AIM caps

  • jeremy bornstein

    If your client supports it, you can create multiple AIM accounts and add people only to the buddy list of a single account. I do this–I keep a separate account for professional communication and another for more social communication. I’m soon going to have to break that down even more. It’s clearly possible to separate in other ways, such as alphabetically or chronologically.

  • Dear Danah,

    There is a free (as in speech) program called Gaim, you may have heard of it. Right know, the only work around I have done is having more than 1 account, even better, a small set of account. (say danah0@whatever.com to danah9@whatever.com) and then just give a random one to people.

    Now, you launch Gaim, and it will sign up in the 10 diferent account,(once properly configured (wich takes 5 minutes) remembering 10 diferent passwords, and shows you just one buddy list. This will make everything for you transparently.

    Just launch the program and you get a single list of up to 200 * 10 = 2000 buddies on it.

    I hope it helps.

    James.

  • Mary

    I use psi, a jabber client, and I have over 300 contacts. It supports AIM, MSN, Yahoo AND encrypted IM sessions are available on it too. Which I like because it means that my conversations with my “buddies” is private. http://www.jabber.org

  • soxos

    Security is an easy guess, but the likely reason is this. AOL is providing you a service for free (as in beer). There’s a maintenance cost associated with every freind they allow in your buddy list. Hell, it might even be a compound interest equation… They’re paying a staff to maintain the network and letting you use it for free! You get what you pay for. You want to have a better network? Why not set your own up and use Trillian to comm across mutilple instances. (btw, I’ve used Gaim for a year and it’s great. Log files are very easy to parse from cl)

  • I recommend Adium. It will let you connect multiple AIM accounts. AIM will still let you IM people not on your buddy list, so I use extra accounts to add people to my list, but still IM them from my main account. That way I can see when they go on and offline, but they don’t have to deal with my many “personalities.”

  • I appreciate all of this feedback, but 80% of my IM conversations are via my Sidekick and i have no desire to split who is work/personal because i find that utterly impossible. On my Mac, i use iChat since i also use sound/video at times.

    Part of what makes AIM frustrating is that it doesn’t have the openness of email – no one charges me for sending an email or caps how many people i can talk to. You’re right that it’s locked down instead of P2P – grr.

  • There are two reasons for that limit (from what I’ve been able to cobble together):

    1. The core of the AIM server code hasn’t been touched in nearly 10 years. Seriously. 200 seemed like a lot back then, I’m sure. I wouldn’t expect this to change – possibly ever.

    2. AOL used to offer an enterprise version of their server as a product. I think the idea was that you’d play with AIM for free and get hooked on it. When it was time to get security, and larger (corporation-sized) buddy lists then you’re organization would buy the enterprise product. No one did. Product no longer exists.

  • Workaround for AIM caps?

    Danah about AIM’s 200 contacts cap : As i’ve mentioned before, i think that it’s *ludicrous* that services cap the number of people that you can and should know: I’ve hit the AIM cap – 200 buddies…
    …Now, if the limit is on server side, I …

  • I have a phone at home and in the office.

    I have e-mail at home and in the office.

    I have snail mail at home and in the office.

    Most people I know do not know more than one of the above six pieces of information.

    Even fewer know my blog and can post comments.

    I tried both AIM and cell phone for a month and quit. Waste of time and loss of privacy.

    If it is important, the person will persist and will finally reach me – at a time when I want to be reached via that particular channel of communication. If it is not important, the person will give up trying, thus saving us both meaningless chatter.

  • on my Mac, I use both iChat (for AV) and Proteus (for most chatting). I recommend Adium or Proteus, as they can both handle multiple accounts (on multiple services).

    You can be logged in as danah1 and danah2 and send everything from danah1.

  • kelly

    hey, i downloaded psi and i was wondering if u knew how to sign on with an aim screen name?
    thanks

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  • Chis

    You should get ICQ! also how do you get more than 1 aim.

  • Mike

    u can get more than 200 buddies by using the recent buddies catagory and then dragging them into the category u want

  • ok guys, all your solutions are lovley but there is a way to have more then 200 buddies on you AIM buddy list and it is quite simple altought it sounds a bit complicated.
    Go to the AIM registry

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER >
    SOFTWARE >
    AMERICA ONLINE >
    AOL INSTANT MESSENGER (TM) >
    CURRENT VERSION >
    click on BUDDY

    Do you see the thing that says c8? Double click it. Change it to c10. If you choose c10, your limit of buddies is 3088