Can I make user list in Empathy more compressed? I thought Pidgin's list is too lax, but Empathy is even more so. For comparison, here's Empathy for Ubuntu (left) and QIP for Windows (right):
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A solution to this problem is available by changing the source code and recompiling the package (described for 12.04 through 14.04 at http://vaab.blog.kal.fr/2013/04/04/fixing-empathy-in-ubuntu-12-10/#tl-dr). The description is suitable for beginners of programming and/or system administration.
This problem is registered with Canonical with at least 2 bug reports, and has been escalated to the GNOME project.
Everybody is welcome to chime in at one of those reports (preferably in the GNOME project directly), register as being affected, or - even better - provide a patch.
When you have the contact list open, you should be able to go to the "View" menu (on the menu bar at the top of the screen) and choose "Compact size". Or you can use the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+3 to switch to the compact contact list.
Note: This might depend on the Ubuntu/Empathy version you are using. I am using Empathy 18.104.22.168 on Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.