Plugoo versus Meebo

The Librarian in Black has a write-up comparing Plugoo and Meebo, two IM widgets that allow users to chat with you from a web page without the need for IM accounts or clients.  She says she’s still a MeeboMe girl, and with good reasons.  I’ve tried both of them, and while they both offer good features, I think the Meebome widget has the most useful features.  Here is my rundown of the two offerings:

  1. Meebome allows you to chat with more than one person at a time.  Plugoo does not.  Last night I actually simultaneously chatted with three business students using my Meebome widget from the Biz Wiki.  This would not have been possible with Plugoo.
  2. Plugoo has only two sizes that you can choose from, a small and a smaller.  The Meebome widget allows you to customize your widget on the Meebome widget page, or you can tweak the size by hand when you embed the widget in your page.
  3. I like the fact that Plugoo will send the IMs from the widget directly to your IM account, so you only have to have remember to log in/log out/change status in one messenger.  I still use Trillian as my primary messenger, as I think it is a little more robust than Meebo.  This means that I have to remember to change my status/availability in Meebo manually, since it does not automatically detect my availability when I set my screensaver or go idle.  I’m getting better at remembering to change my Meebo status when I leave my desk.  With Plugoo, since it is tied to an IM account, the availability is automatically changed when the IM account’s status is changed, regardless of the IM client. 
  4. I love that Meebo had recently added customizable status/away messages.   Also, if you select the “Edit Status” menu, you can actually save a customized away message.  As an example, I have a saved message for Mondays which states, “I’m working tonight and am out for the afternoon.  I will be  back 6-10.”  This allows users to see my availability and know when I’ll be back in the office.  As it turns out,  I get a lot of traffic during my Monday evening shifts.  Last night I had 5 students use the Meebo widget to contact me while I was working the reference desk. 

In closing, both products offer some really cool features, and I don’t think you can go wrong either way.  Both widgets will allow librarians to better help patrons by giving them a convenient, easy-to-use communication mechanism right that can be embedded anywhere in a library’s web site.  Both of these products are fairly new, which should get us all excited about what might be available to us in the future.