Some days ago I noticed a weird-looking shadow appearing on so many different gravatars that it didn't seem like a coincidence. With a sinking feeling I looked up one of my own posts and .. there it was.

Meta revealed that it's a side effect of yet another vanity feature: How does the User Card popup work?

The problem

The way I see it, gravatar 3D shadows have a least 3 downsides. They:

  • unilaterally change avatar appearance
  • distract attention
  • feel awkward in comparison to the overall style

Why a "distinguishing shadow" seemed like a better idea compared to always showing the usercard, I really don't know.

Claim that it is optional [source] only adds to the confusion. If a gravatar gets a shadow immediately after filling in the profile, then how can it be optional?

In addition, see:

The request

Roll back the gravatar shadow. The pop-up is okay but the gravatar shadow .. it just doesn't feel like a good thing.

Or at least make it truly optional by creating a pref "Show gravatar shadows":

Let the user decide whether gravatar shadows are shown (on all profiles), e.g. via an explicit setting:

enter image description here

Until then

For a quick remedy, I added a new tweak to a Google Chrome extension I created a couple of weeks ago:

undercurrent website

Its latest version contains an option for turning off all gravatar shadows, albeit only on the client side. See undercurrent website.


As Hendrik Vogt wrote in his comment, the issue can be partly solved by defining the excerpt summary as <!-- summary: &nbsp; -->. The drawback is that although it removes the shadow, the usercard is completely disabled and it doesn't affect how other profiles are shown.

  • I think that request like "Let me decide whether to show my user card or not" has better chance to be accepted.. by choosing to hide the user card, the shadow will become irrelevant. – Shadow The Dragon Wizard Sep 6 '11 at 11:30
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    @Shadow: You can already decide to hide the user card by using the summary <!-- summary: &nbsp; -->. – Hendrik Vogt Sep 6 '11 at 11:35
  • @Hendrik having empty summary will hide the card? It's not mentioned here. – Shadow The Dragon Wizard Sep 6 '11 at 11:38
  • Saul sorry, but maybe this feature is already implemented, see Hendrik comment. – Shadow The Dragon Wizard Sep 6 '11 at 11:41
  • @Hendrik nice, checked it on myself as well. Saul - looks like you got what you wanted? :) – Shadow The Dragon Wizard Sep 6 '11 at 11:44
  • @Shadow Wizard: In part, yes, but the visual noise on other gravatars is still there. For now I'll stick with undercurrent. – user151803 Sep 6 '11 at 11:56
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    Hmm.. so what you actually ask for is "Disable user cards" per profile, like you can disable images in a browser? – Shadow The Dragon Wizard Sep 6 '11 at 11:59
  • @Shadow Wizard: That's right. Perhaps I jumped the gun a bit in response to your initial comment. – user151803 Sep 6 '11 at 12:01
  • I thought this request was about seeing other people's user cards, not hiding your own? Hendrik's tip doesn't help that at all. – Adam Lear Sep 6 '11 at 13:10
  • @Anna Hendrik's tip was in response to Shadow's request for hiding your own. – Grace Note Sep 6 '11 at 13:26
  • @Anna Lear: The initial request was about removing those pesky 3D shadows. As comments came along, I updated the question hoping to clarify the issue but it's possible I made it worse :) – user151803 Sep 6 '11 at 13:29
  • @Grace Aha. Reading. I do it very goodly. – Adam Lear Sep 6 '11 at 13:43

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