A buddy list is a list of contacts that is used as part of an instant messaging system. An instant messaging system works by allowing users to see when their contacts are online. By displaying a list of "buddies" that are online, the user can send messages to his contacts and communicate in real time. A buddy list can be used entirely for personal purposes, entirely for professional purposes, or for a combination of the two. In some cases, a buddy list is used in a professional setting to let colleagues communicate with each other quickly and easily while performing other tasks and without having to leave their workspaces.
When a person first registers for an instant messaging service, he usually does not have buddies. The buddy list is developed over time as the user makes contact with people who use the same service. Upon registering for this kind of service, a person usually has to come up with a screen name. This can be his full name or a name he invents.
A buddy list usually grows quite quickly in the days and weeks after a person first registers for the service and grows incrementally thereafter. This is because most people sign up for an instant messaging system that is used by many of their friends, many of their colleagues, or by both personal and professional contacts. This means that there is a built-in network of buddies that the user can connect to shortly after registering for the service.
Depending on the type of instant messaging service that a person signs up for, it may be possible to connect to a buddy list using a mobile device. Some people prefer to use an instant messaging service that works on both computers and mobile devices so they can have conversations with their buddies while they are on the go. This also allows people to stay in contact with all of the people on their buddy list even when they are away from their computers. This can be quite useful for personal and professional purposes.
It is possible to organize a buddy list according to contact categories. A person might be able to create categories for friends, family members, and colleagues. This sort of categorization capability is very useful for people who have a long list of contacts, especially if many of those contacts are signed on for the instant messaging service on a regular basis.