Should I schedule my Skype video chats?
July 22, 2008 8:16 AM   Subscribe

What's the protocol for scheduling personal video calls over Skype or iChat AV? I'm pretty new to this area and trying to understand whether it's okay to just call someone up on video. I can see the need to set up times for conference calls or video conferences in a business setting where you're trying to coordinate groups of people or book facilities, but the rationale seems less clear for communicating with friends or family. Is it rude to send an impromptu video request to a friend or relative who you know to be on Skype? What's the protocol? If you need to schedule it beforehand, why? How much time is appropriate and under what circumstances?
posted by jeffhoward to Human Relations (10 answers total)
I usually precede the video request with a text message... "You around? Want to video chat?"
posted by crickets at 8:20 AM on July 22, 2008

Same as crickets - I don't just initiate straight-out, I ask first.

It's probably important to note that video-chatting is still new & rare enough that there really isn't any generally/universally accepted social protocol that you can just assume people are familiar with.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:25 AM on July 22, 2008

Its the IRL equivalent of showing up at someone's door uninvited and expecting some of their time. It just doesn't feel that way to you because you haven't moved from your chair.

As Tomorrowful pointed out, this is just one way that our advances in technology are out-pacing general etiquette / protocol's ability to keep up. And in such matters, you'll generally find a significant variation in people's opinions on the matter. My guess is that you'll see answers to the same effect here.
posted by allkindsoftime at 8:33 AM on July 22, 2008

Response by poster: So it's less like setting up a meeting and more like knocking on the front door before entering someone's home. A few seconds in advance, but not a few hours or days in advance...
posted by jeffhoward at 9:32 AM on July 22, 2008

I video chat with my parents and grandmother, and I always call first---but that's because they aren't usually logged in to iChat. If they were, I'd probably send a text message first.

On the other hand, my husband and I occasionally video chat and he'll just send a video initiation. So I think it depends on previously set expectations.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:41 AM on July 22, 2008

I usually precede my video chat requests with a text request - "hey, wanna video chat?" even with my boyfriend, who I talk to daily. Multiple times.
posted by Xianny at 10:25 AM on July 22, 2008

If you need to schedule it beforehand, why?

With the popularity of internet porn, you need to ask this? You might not want to see what people are wearing or not wearing when they are sitting around in front of the computer at home by themselves, and touchpad mice make it very easy to click on the wrong thing, that´s why.
posted by yohko at 11:42 AM on July 22, 2008

Actually Mad Magazine did a wonderful spread on the video phone sometime in the 1960's which covered all the ground about what you would find from uninvited video contact. Call first and ask. It's the polite thing to do.
posted by ptm at 6:35 AM on July 23, 2008

You may initiate at will. Expect the other party to have a mask handy, to show their best face, on demand. Don't any of you people watch the Jetsons?

Of course, what people said simply makes the best sense.
posted by Goofyy at 6:44 AM on July 23, 2008

Usually I phone first, mostly to make sure they are there and have time or are in the right frame of mind for video chat. Video is really fun, but I find that there is a little bit more formality in video chat, maybe because you are a little more self conscious, seeing both yourself and the other person on the screen, or feeling a sense of performance in front of the camera.

For example, if someone is in the middle of something or planning to head out the door in 20 minutes, even a brief video chat can feel a little awkward. Maybe it's just me, but I feel more pressured to have a substantive, lively conversation by video. I can't do this if I'm distracted by anything. I feel silly about having a "dumb" conversation in a way that doesn't bother me when I'm on the phone. Also, there have been times when I have not felt presentable enough (ie, Saturday mornings) to to appear on a video screen. With family, I have sometimes scheduled a regular time for video chat, but still call or email first to initiate. It just seems polite.

I use video chat solely for social purposes, however. I've only used it a couple of times in a business context. In those situations, it's email ahead of time to make an appointment, and then video in at the agreed-upon time (no initiating call or email).
posted by amusebuche at 8:38 PM on July 23, 2008

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