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 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:
- Drop shadow around avatar doesn't look good on avatars with transparency
- What's with the drop-shadow on certain gravatars?
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:
For a quick remedy, I added a new tweak to a Google Chrome extension I created a couple of weeks ago:
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: -->. The drawback is that although it removes the shadow, the usercard is completely disabled and it doesn't affect how other profiles are shown.