Feature
Post

Category
Webapps


Gravatar Beta Review

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.

Registration

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.

Gravatar Public Beta - Logged In Screen

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.

Gravatar Public Beta - Image Upload Screen

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.

Gravatar Public Beta - Cropping Tool

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.

Gravatar Public Beta - Rating Mechanism

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.

Gravatar Public Beta - Selecting a Gravatar

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”.

Gravatar Public Beta - Removing a Gravatar

The Future of Gravatar?

It sounds like from this WordPress Podcast that Tom Werner is planning on turning Gravatar into a pseudo-MyBlogLog.

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.

Conclusion

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.


  1. By Jordan posted on February 16, 2007 at 12:44 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Finally they’re back up! I’ve been so tired of the gravatar I had up that I was considering using a different e-mail so I didn’t have to see it.

    I like the new crop feature. It saves me from having to resize it on my own and resaving it. Because you know, that extra step is far too much work ;)

  2. By Josh Stodola posted on July 19, 2007 at 12:40 pm
    Want an avatar? Get a gravatar! • You can link to this comment

    Gravatar is pissing me off. I told it to give me a “G” rating and it still never shows up on peoples blogs. I change the URL to point to my gravatar except with a query string rating of X and then it shows. I login to gravatar, and there it sits with a G rating. Fricken worthless…

  3. Trackback