Bes Zain — a former Gravatar moderator — helped contribute to this article.
As reported earlier, the Gravatar Public Beta is live. Within this review, you’ll find screenshots and my opinions of Gravatar’s new features. Please note that Gravatar is a paid service ($10) if you want more than two gravatars and/or more than one e-mail address.
Since I was already registered for Gravatar, I didn’t need to re-register which was nice. And my old Gravatar was there as well. The main screen — dubbed My Gravatars — shows which gravatars you have and allows you to add additional gravatars and/or e-mail addresses.
Adding a Gravatar – Image Uploading
Since I didn’t particularly like my old gravatar, I decided to add in another one. Gravatar allows you to upload a picture from your computer (the file I used was 1.55 MB) and crop it from there.
One thing I’d like to see here is a status indicator for the image upload and also a limit on the file size uploaded.
Cropping the Gravatar
Now that I had my spiffy picture uploaded, I wanted to crop it. Gravatar conveniently has a cropping tool that allows you to easily do this. One thing I did notice is that the cropping tool gives you much more control when the picture is at a higher resolution.
Rating the Gravatar
Once my gravatar was all cropped and ready, I got to rate it. As tempted as I was to rate my gravatar “X”, I decided to give my gravatar the Disney friendly “G” rating.
There is a potential for abuse here, but I’m glad Gravatar decided to allow users to rate their own gravatars. However, I foresee a problem with the reporting mechanism for abuse. What if it takes too long for an offending gravatar to be taken down? What if the admin is on vacation or something?
When reporting an “under-rated” gravatar, all you can enter in is the offending URL and an explanation. What I think should happen here is that the user can enter in the gravatar’s URL and give the gravatar a suggested rating. If enough users change the rating (say from G to X), then the offending gravatar is automatically changed to a neutral image until the owner of the gravatar changes it and/or the rating.
The owner of the offending gravatar would get a message telling him/her that the gravatar has been labeled as offensive. The owner can then appeal the offensive rating or change the gravatar and/or rating, which will then go into an admin queue. This takes the admin mostly out of the loop and makes the users the moderators.
Select Which Gravatar to Use
After uploading, cropping, and rating my gravatar, I had way too many choices to chose from. However, if I want to add one more gravatar, I would have to pay $10 a year. Rather than do that, I selected the gravatar I just uploaded.
Removing a Gravatar
Removing a gravatar is simple as well. Just hover over the gravatar you wish to delete and click the bright and shiny red “X”.
The Future of Gravatar?
I’m not incredibly convinced Gravatar will be able to pull it off, especially since Gravatar has had such a shaky start. MyBlogLog can almost be a full competitor since it offers a full profile, community, and avatars for comments as well. Gravatar will be playing catch-up for a while if anything.
However, MyBlogLog is bloated and Gravatar (right now) is extremely easy to use, especially for those who don’t own blogs. If Gravatar starts turning into MyBlogLog and still has the admin/server difficulties, there will be nothing to stop people from flocking to MyBlogLog for good, especially since MyBlogLog offers a great amount of services for free.
I also don’t personally see Gravatar surviving very long unless the service secures some serious funding, and right now ten dollars is a little much to pay for more e-mail addresses and gravatars.
I suggest giving Gravatar a second chance and checking out the beta. The service is much improved over what it was before and very easy to use. I foresee a significant problem with Gravatar as far as abuse goes, however.
My skepticism is high as far as the survivability of what I think is a valuable (but not ten dollars worth) service. MyBlogLog is a viable competitor, but it carries a lot of baggage that Gravatar doesn’t have at the moment.
Right now the service is still in beta and is having its ups and downs. If Gravatar cannot reliably stay online and functioning past the beta, I predict that the Gravatar launch will not be a success, especially since the service has already left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths.