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Google Talk chatback: So bad even Google doesn't use it

Google launches a quick but not easy way for you to connect with site or social profile visitors.

No, not really. Sorry.

Google yesterday announced in its Talkabout product blog that there's a new way to connect your site or social page visitors directly to you: a Google Talk chatback widget that instantly connects the visitor to your GTalk or Jabber IM client.

I like giving my readers a chance to connect with me directly in real-time, so I'm all about products like this. But the implementation of this little product is so lightweight and so lacking, that I understand perfectly why even the Google blog post announcing it shows only a picture of the widget instead of a live version of it.

Proof that Google is about to buy TinyURL.

The two big problems that I saw right away are these: There's no way to tell people who see your chatback widget that you're unavailable without also turning off your availability to people in your buddy list; and the product doesn't ask people who want to reach you to identify themselves. There's just not enough control of the chat session before it starts to make it enjoyable.

Then there's the product's gaping user interface weirdness: When someone wants to chat with you, you get a giant unreadable link in your instant message window, which opens up the discussion in a browser-based chat window. Why it can't just run the chat in your existing IM client, I don't know.

However, my Twitter friend Ryan says it does do a good job of parsing photo site URLs and will display the images they link to inline.

As I said, I'm in favor of giving my readers a good way to reach me live, but this tool doesn't cut it, which is why I, too, am showing only a graphic of it and not the thing itself.

If you do like this idea but not Google's implementation, check out MeeboMe (review).