Move Over Gratavar Its Ravatars Turn

Ever wanted to add some flare to the commenting section of your WordPress blog? Grok-Code has coded up a nifty little plugin called Ravatars. Ravatars displays a random avatar for each visitor that is generated at random. The icons are based on email so if a user uses the same email address for each comment, the same Ravatar image will display. You can choose to customize the plugin to display Ravatars that are related to your theme or visitors can opt to configure their own avatar via Gravatar.

Ravatar comes with a default set of images, or you can remove those and upload your own. It works by creating a hash of the email address, and then using the hash to choose an image and the place where the image should be cropped. Uploading your own images gives you the power to customize avatars for your site. A backpacking site might use use nature scenes. Or you might pick images that match your blog’s color scheme.


In order to customize the plugin, you should upload photos to the plugins/ravatars/parts directory. As of this writing, the only two image formats supported are .jpg and .png. Grok-Code recommends keeping the amount of avatar images within the directory to around 40 although if your blog contains a lot of unique comments, you will most likely need to increase the amount of images if you want each commenter to have  their own image.

You can download the Ravatar plugin from their release page by clicking here. The release page also contains installation instructions as well. If you happen to download and install this plugin, let us know what you think of it. I think it will be a nice way of spicing up the commenting section so it doesn’t appear so bland.

Why Are Web 2.0 Sites Compressing Avatars?

I have a bone to pick with these web 2.0 sites and services. It may not be a huge bone but it’s an annoying one at the very least. Many of these sites and services allow members to customize their profile by uploading an image also known as an avatar. These images are usually .PNG, .GIF, or .JPG files. There is often a maximum dimensions rule as well as a maximum file size rule in place.

I don’t understand why these sites and services have to turn my images into pieces of crap. Most of my avatars that I have created in photoshop look great, until they are uploaded to one of these sites such as MyBlogLog or Technorati. Let’s go through a few Before And After pictures to try and illustrate my point. The first image will be the image as it should be seen, straight out of photoshop saved at maximum quality. The second image is what is seen after uploading the file to the service in question.

First up, Technorati avatars in JPG format.

Before Technorati Before Uploading To Technorati After Technorati After Uploading To Technorati

Now lets take a look at MyBlogLog avatars in .GIF format.

Before MyBlogLog Before Uploading To MyBlogLog After MyBlogLog After Uploading To MyBlogLog

In case you can’t see the differences notice how the second image always looks worst after it’s uploaded to the service in question. The image goes through some sort of compression and the end result is a crappy looking avatar. I have tried changing the images to .PNG and .GIF formats, saving them at the maximum quality level but the compression just rips these images apart.

Why do these sites and services have to compress these tiny images? Why can’t I as a user have a nice looking avatar without compression? I mean, take a look at that example for MyBlogLog, it looks like total crap. I urge you companies to turn that compression crap off. I think the file size limit along with the dimension limit is enough to restrain insane avatars from overtaking your hard drive space. There is no need to compress.

I wonder if I am the only one who has noticed this? Please let me know what you think.