Should the naked ping be stopped?

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The naked, unaswered ping. It might leave you wondering, what did that person want? Was it important? Why didn't they just ask me what they needed?

If you use any type of instant messaging program or even text messaging, you could be the recipient of a naked ping. It's when someone sends you a message that simply says "ping", but there is no other context.

Typically, a ping is meant to find out if someone is available. If you are, you may respond with a "pong" or some other way to let them know you can chat.

But the naked ping is different. You might be away from your desk or pre-occupied on the phone (otp). And by the time you respond, you get no response.

Is it time for the naked ping to stop? Should we give some context to our messages? What are your thoughts?

Jason Hibbets is a Community Director at Red Hat with the Digital Communities team. He works with the Enable Architect, Enable Sysadmin, Enterprisers Project, and community publications.


It's like seeing a missed call on your phone, but the person didn't leave a voicemail. Not that big a deal.

I have both received and sent naked pings. I look at it this way: if I ping someone and they're not available, I just send them an email if it's important. If I receive a ping while I'm away and get no follow-up, I just ignore it. Otherwise, if I ping and include a bunch of info and the person's not there, I've just wasted time.

I generally try to give some kind of context, even if it's as simple as "ping re: lunch". I've listened to enough NASA and air traffic control communications that I want to be as concise as possible:

"Station, Houston on Air-to-ground 2 for robo"

On the station the astronaut now knows which ground station called them, which channel to reply on (since the radio listens on all but only transmits on one), and what the topic to be discussed is so they can gather the appropriate notes before calling back.

Back here on the "real world" we have to balance this with small talk to make people comfortable, but not take two hours to answer a two minute question.

Melanie's right, it's only annoying to those who're annoyed by a missed call on their phone ... if you call that number back and get someone other than the person who called you (e.g. "I don't know who called you, I didn't place that call"), or get no answer, then it's a little annoying, this is why I don't return missed calls any more unless I know who called.

Same with pings. I answer if I feel like it, or care about the sender. Otherwise, I ignore. Sometimes I answer, and then close the window in 2 minutes. The limitations of IRC don't let you know if that person is there, typing, whatever, so I don't wait to find out.

With a naked ping, I generally assume the priority is low. If it was important, the ping would bother to get dressed before showing up at my door.

I totally agree with this. I usually "pong" back, and then move on with my life. If the pinger cared whether I was there, he got his answer already. If she had a question that wasn't time sensitive, she either still has it or not, and I'll find out when she's good and ready.


If it's important, they oughta tell me so. Otherwise, I assume it's a "hey-would-like-to-ask-you-something-and-would-be-easier-to-do-in-IM-if-it's-convenient" sort of thing.

there ya go!

Hey, I just pinged you, and this is crazy, but here's my channel, so pong me maybe.

It's just a silly game-like thing people.I don't get the big deal.

Most of the time I don't care why people are pinging me... so I don't really pay attention to their pings anyway. Naked pings I doubly ignore... they are nature's way of reminding me that everyone is equally annoying.

Better to receive a ping than have a luser going straight in to a monologue about how there technolife has collapsed around them, followed by "you must help me now!". If you then fail to respond within 60 seconds, they follow up with "Hello?"... How rude! ... "Ping is Polite" :-)

This probably harkens back to Ye Olde Hacker Etiquette Filtere. There is (or was) a known issue wherein hackers had their wetwired internal "polite" circuit reversed, so <em>input</em> was subjected to the "rude-block" filter. Most people have this circuit set on <em>output</em>. So when hackers say something like, "Hey, poophead, you borked up that code for the lpt reset. I fixed it for you," the receipient hears, "I fixed the lpt reset code." Other, non-hackers hear, "Hey poophead ... [tech stuff] ... I corrected your work for you." Non-techies can get pretty flustered by the rough, candid talk that hackers use, not realizing that all hackers have the circuit reversed so that such rough language is essentially ignored.

Some find the naked ping is a simple online corollary of "hi....!" while others see it as an interruption that is followed by silence. Is the naked ping any better than, "Ping ... hey I can't figure out how to make my mail cert work on my smartphone, i saw that you had this issue and resolved it, can you walk me through the steps you took, that is if you're not too busy, hey are you even there, are you typing a reply already, gee I guess not, well, sorry to bother you, see ya l8r g8r."

I really think neither is better or worse, it depends upon the recipient, and since the sender can't know which way the recipient's etiquette filter is installed, it's aways a flip of the coin whether the naked ping is "nice" or "naughty."

I tend to think recipients need to loosen up. Responding "sorry, busy now, will get back to you l8r" isn't hard, and shifts the issue of the politeness filter back on the sender. If the ping is stale (has been there while recipient was AFK), it can be answered or ignored.

Such is the nature of transactional communication systems.

My question to you would be, why did you never pong my ping!?!?

pong. Did you ping me?

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