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Well, I'm wondering if a user with a silly or fun avatar is not considered as reputable as another. Or the complete opposite...Having a default Gravatar mosaic image indicates the user is a noob, or doesn't interact enough with the community to care to define a custom avatar.

Personally, I hope everyone really enjoys my Tobais Fünké avatar.

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Generally speaking the case is held that a person defines for themself a persona online, and that that persona has an instantly recognizable brand image. I would much rather follow someone with a known-to-me brand image, and their advice, rather than just someone who takes a good headshot. –  jcolebrand Aug 30 '11 at 15:12
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@jcolebrand The logical problem then extending to the issue of people who happen to use the same known-to-you brand image. Don't see it often, but always a loop when it happens. –  Grace Note Aug 30 '11 at 15:43
    
Surprise, I'm the top rated noob at SO. I'll keep it. –  Uphill Luge Oct 2 '11 at 1:09
    
Mosaic avatar looks good. No need to change. –  nhahtdh Jul 17 '12 at 7:22
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I think it's not the avatar that defines you as a noob, it's the name. for example anybody called user12254568523 is a noob. –  Dan Hanly Jul 17 '12 at 8:03
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@DanielHanly given that user id is a SQL Server int, anyone with that exact username has in fact chosen it themselves... –  AakashM Jul 17 '12 at 11:38
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@AakashM lol, sorry smartass, I'll be more careful with my numpad hammerings next time to ensure that they at least are within the range of int! –  Dan Hanly Jul 17 '12 at 12:47

9 Answers 9

up vote 18 down vote accepted

See the list of top users on Meta. Of users on the 1st page:

  • 5 have default (mosaic) avatars.
  • 13 have conventional head-shots.
  • 1 has a decapitated head-shot.
  • 1 has a head-shot of an anime character.
  • 1 has a head-shot of a Simpsons character.
  • 1 has a head-shot of a cat.
  • 1 has a head-shot of an integrated circuit man.
  • 1 has a head-shot of a cross between a human baby and a narwhal.
  • 2 have head-shots of stick figures.
  • 10 have various other objects or symbols, many of them silly.
  • and founder and #1 user Jeff Atwood has this: Coding Horror logo

In short, having a quirky avatar does not hurt your reputation here.

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If this question can be answered, I think this is it. –  MVCylon Aug 31 '11 at 2:25
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And one has a QR code. –  uɐɯsO uɐɥʇɐN Oct 2 '11 at 1:22

Try changing your avatar and user name to something random like Jon Skeet and find a random head shot from Google images like this one

enter image description here

and see if it has any effect on your reputation.

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I know you're joking, but it wouldn't be the first time we've had to remove imposter Jon Skeet accounts. –  Bill the Lizard Aug 30 '11 at 17:14
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I am Jon Skeet. This is a fake account just to pose this question! –  MVCylon Aug 30 '11 at 17:46

Personally, I really never worried about my Gravatar. I like my privacy online, so I didn't put up a headshot of myself (however grainy :P), but I just used something that represented something that I enjoyed...

My avatar is also rather unique and has sparked some interesting conversations - other people have seen it other places and thought of studiohack.

My two cents. :)

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It is difficult to get any hard facts here, as there some preferences of certain avatar types might correlate with some other properties which might influence how good the posts are, or otherwise influence the votes.

You might want to do an experiment here:

  • Create three new accounts.
  • One account gets a "funny" image, one stays with the default Gravatar pattern, one gets a serious looking photo.
  • Each time when you are about to post a question or answer, throw a dice to decide which of the three accounts to use.
  • After about 100 (or 1000?) posts each, compare which got most upvotes/downvotes.

To exclude other factors, all three should have similar names. Or you might want to add different types of names, too: the default user920248 type, a real sounding name (not one already active on SO), a pseudonym like "OffBySome" (but again, not one already in use here).

This would be nine accounts, quite some work.

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Hey dont use OffBySome! But OffByNone or OffByOne is all yours. –  bkaid Aug 30 '11 at 17:56
    
Actually, I'm not totally sure in which category my avatar is. It is a photo of myself, in some way. –  Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 30 '11 at 17:57
    
@OffBy: Sorry, I needed an example here, and your post was just above to see. As I said, don't use a name which already is in use. –  Paŭlo Ebermann Aug 30 '11 at 17:59
    
select * from SO where time on SO = 1 year and number questions asked = ~50 and number questions answered = ~50. order by rep. Review each image by hand –  MVCylon Aug 30 '11 at 18:13

I just discovered this Simpson's "Nerd" is named Doug....

enter image description here

Hello new avatar...

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I would say that at the very least a "unique" avatar might allow you to be more easily recognizable to users, therefore swaying their opinion of your answer based on how they feel about your site interaction as a whole.

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Personally, I have found the best bet to be: ask the community to make a gravatar for you. Then, randomly rotate through the submissions and you're bound to please everyone at some point!

(Sadly, most of the selections were removed from imgur. Here they are from my Gravatar account:)

From Popular Demand:

Popular Demand Gravatar

From Michael Mrozek:

Micheal Mrozek Gravatar

From Tim Stone:

Tim Stone Gravatar

From Fosco:

Fosco Gravatar

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Hey, haven't seen you in a while! (I believe I submitted one too, but I can't find it.) –  Moshe Aug 30 '11 at 15:42
    
@Moshe I am slowly working my way out of the pile of work I am under. I shall make an official return soon! If you can find the Gravatar you created for me I will put it in here as well –  The Unhandled Exception Aug 30 '11 at 15:47
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The images are still viewable by adding stack to their URL. Like i.stack.imgur.com/Q3F0d.png rather than i.imgur.com/Q3F0d.png –  Arjan Aug 30 '11 at 17:34
    
Awesome, thanks @Arjan! –  The Unhandled Exception Aug 30 '11 at 18:20

I'm wondering if a user with a silly or fun avatar is not considered as reputable as another.

It seems to be okay for these guys.

gumbo bobince

Having a default Gravatar mosaic image indicates the user is a noob, or doesn't interact enough with the community to care to define a custom avatar.

There is evidence that this is not the case.

mmyers

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I resent that remark! Having a gravatar image that is not of one's self clearly indicates that .. one is .. oh screw it. –  jcolebrand Aug 30 '11 at 15:11
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@jcolebrand is right, I'm clearly not to be trusted. –  Tim Stone Aug 30 '11 at 15:11
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I'd submit that reputation points and diamonds are not a valid judge of whether or not I care enough to define a custom avatar. :P –  mmyers Aug 30 '11 at 15:14
    
@mmyers that's not a custom avatar? And here I thought it was –  jcolebrand Aug 30 '11 at 15:15
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@mmyers: You really need to work on your interaction with the community. It's like we don't even know you. ;) –  Bill the Lizard Aug 30 '11 at 15:20
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@Bill is setting the right example by showing a full body shot. –  Paul Bellora Aug 30 '11 at 15:36
    
Gumbo's avatar is the greatest avatar ever!! –  MVCylon Aug 30 '11 at 15:42
    
Neil B II's avatar was kind of, well .. umm .. O.k., so I don't have a term to describe that particular avatar, but he managed to hit 10k in a month or so. –  Tim Post Aug 30 '11 at 15:49
    
Cletus' one is also pretty awesome :) –  BalusC Aug 31 '11 at 4:09

Just look at some of the Top Users. I notice that Bill the Lizard and Cletus seem to do fine on rep. :)

And Cletus has 145K rep on the main site, too...

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