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For many many years I have used instant messengers on the ICQ and the Jabber protocol. Currently I am using pidgin and my contact list has grown large. It is a pain to organize my contacts especially since I never know which group to assign my contacts to. Should I put the dude to "friends", "town X", "university", "my sports club", "my hackerspace", "event foobar" if all those things apply to a certain person? I tried that once, but any time I was looking for a contact I had to scan the full list anyway, because I could not remember which group I choose for this person. Thus I never really used the groups and now my contact list is an unordered mess.

The obvious solution would be to not organize the users in groups, but to use tags or in other words to assign contacts to multiple groups. But despite that Google showed me several feature requests for something like that in pidgin I could not find an implementation. Somebody must have already written a plugin for that or not? I'll be happy to accept that the tag assignments are stored locally on my computer if the protocols don't support tags.

If someone can recommend another instant messenger that runs on Ubuntu and that features what I describe I'd be happy to have a look at it.

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What you'll run into isn't clients with lack of multiple-group (ie tagging) support, but a lack of protocols. For example, XMPP/Jabber accounts (like GoogleTalk) support multiple groups for a single user, but not all the other service types available in a multi-protocol client like Pidgin do, so Pidgin does not.

I'd suggest the following: create a single XMPP/Jabber account with a service that has transports, say with (there are many to choose from, but the list I usually draw from is currently down). These will allow you to connect to a single jabber account, and then log into your other chat accounts as well, creating contacts like or

Using a client like gajim that supports metacontacts stored on the server, this will allow you not only to log into one account for all your chat accounts, but also create an XMPP/Jabber account for each of the people on your roster, even if they're using AIM or MSN etc. That way you can put each individual roster item in as many groups as you'd like, and depending on the support in your client, also create metacontacts (combine people with multiple accounts into a single entry), both of which will persist after logging out and closing the client.

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