Sure, this topic has been discussed before - but I want a fresh take. So, I'd like to ask the following questions~
a) do you use a picture of yourself or do you prefer an avatar? (and why, if you care to elaborate), and,
b) what assumptions, if any, do you make about an author from viewing his/her profile pic?
ooh, ooh, also: c) do you think it's better to switch up the photo a la Facebook or is it better to find one nice image and stick with it?
Any additional input you have is welcomed. I often find myself vacillating between using real pictures and using avatars. I am torn as to whether actually showing myself is hurting or helping me, as far as credibility and initial impression given to readers goes..
a) Of course this is me! Everyone knows I'm about the cutest thing around! I use an avatar for privacy - I'm simply not happy about putting my picture all over the world for the whackos out there. I would prefer to use my own, but am simply not comfortable doing it.
c) I believe it better to pick one and stick with it. Should you find a few readers that want to see anything you write it will help maintain that loyalty. I use the same avatar through several sites as well for that reason.
a) This is me.
b) A professional picture, to me, creates trust with readers and other users.
c) I have only switched once on here. I feel like keeping the same picture helps people remember you better!
I used to use a photo of myself, but after reading so much about identity theft, I decided to use an avatar instead. You don't know who could copy your photo online and use it for whatever purpose. The only place I have my photo online now is on Facebook, and only my friends can see my profile. I have chosen a photo of Sherlock Holmes, because the stories of Holmes are my favourite works of fiction.
I've always been pretty reluctant to just post a picture of myself online. Besides just being kind of uncomfortable to think it's "out there" (maybe for someone to draw mustaches on or something ), I have grown kids (with lots of Facebook friends), so I try to keep a low profile as far as being "too public" goes. (Besides, grown kids or not, I've managed to keep the pride and vanity of a fourteen-year-old girl. I don't want people drawing mustaches! )
People (administrators of online writing sites) have always said a real picture is more credible. I've actually turned down some opportunities because I wasn't about to post a picture. Instead, I liked my old Earth picture because I kind of identified with some elements of the photograph. To me, that was "sort of representing who I am". I discovered, though, that a few people seemed to mistake what kind of person they thought I am - maybe because some of my writing is kind of formal. Anyway, a few people seemed to imagine that I'm some kind of cold-hearted, out-of-touch, monster (or something); and I realized it may make sense to come across as a little less cold seeming. Not sure I'm comfortable with the big, eye-face, image now; but I thought I'd try to have a little bit of fun with the photo, in view of my discomfort with posting one at all.
Now, too, with Google's new emphasis on authorship; and with HP also getting behind the authorship thing, one of the HP blogs recommended people use one picture and really establish themselves as one person across the Internet. I decided to compromise and put a part-face up, add the glasses (I guess because I wear them when I'm writing), and "water-color-up" the image to make me feel a little less exposed.
I know what you mean about not being sure if it will help or hurt. This time, as well as a few times in the past when I tried a real picture (or in this case, part of one), I've actually traded some objectionable reaction for a different kind of objectionable reaction. A lot of people have said they liked that Earth photo, but it created a little bit of surprising reaction in some. My real photo, however, tends to invite patronizing, condescending, remarks from "father types" (regardless of how old they are, or how old I am). Honestly. A day and a half after putting my own picture up (this time and other times as well), I start getting the "teachers" offering me tips on how I can improve my writing! I thought the glasses would deter that "phenomen" that some women have to deal with more than some others, but the glasses don't seem to have helped. Basically, as in offline life, I don't look intimidating and cold (like the Earth picture). Instead, I look approachable (and apparently, like someone who wants/needs the "valuable advice" of people who aren't "as dumb looking" as I am.
As for other people's avatars, I have to agree with those site administrators who say those with a real photo come across as more trustworthy. A non-real photo doesn't necessarily make me not trust someone, provided it's one that seems like they're expressing who they are as a person. The quickest way to lose my attention is to post a model or actress/actor picture as an avatar. I don't have a problem with plain, old, pictures (like someone's cat or a pot of flowers), but - really - those actors and models seem to scream out "giant phony here!". (A long time ago when the picture discussion was going on, I went through - like - 60 pages of Hubbers to see how many who did well had cheesy or phony photos. Not too many people who do reasonably well on here have obviously cheesy photos. They have their cats, flowers, babies - whatever. There's a certain type of cheese that just doesn't show up until you get about 50/60 pages into the Hubbers. LOL (Well, at least the last time I checked, which was at least a year or two ago.)
Now, with Google's emphasis on authorship (and the new Google profile thing), I've just decided to stay with some version of a real photo (while not compromising my own preference for a certain amount of anonymity). I'm in favor of the authorship thing.
Thanks, guys. I'm kind of a schizo when it comes to profile pics. I can't ever stick with one. I do try to use a real photo of myself, but I know that at times that can work against me, depending on who is doing the viewing and which particular photo I choose.
Obviously, our writing should speak for itself and the avatar/photo we choose is just a one small aspect of our overall authorial presence. I often publish using just my first initial, so as to avoid any sex-based bias or assumptions but on HP I always use a real picture. No particular reason.
I hear you on the using models/actors as profile images, Lisa HW! While a few good hubbers have done this, the vast majority that use these for their avatars are basically spammers.
You've given me much to think about it and I appreciate it immensely!
RooBee, I've noticed that you change your picture from time to time, but it always pretty much looks like the same person to me. I think that may be the real factor with real photos - not whether people change from one shot to another of themselves. Anyway, that's my own impression.
I chose my Earth (and still have it in some places) because of the non-gender issue, but I also felt like it had a feminine element to it (which I thought kind of represented me - not really gender-focused yet not hiding my "feminine side" either. It's transparent, and I kind of wanted to express a certain amount of transparency too. (I don't imagine a lot of people put all that much "deep thought" into some pictures, though ).
This is a real photo of me. Because I have modelled for my mother's paintings, my image is already out there-from the time I was a baby there have been paintins of me. If I used an avatar it would likely be a picture of my cat, or cats that I've had in the past. Regardless of whether you use of photo of yourself or not, I think always changing your photo isn't a good idea. I could see myself using a different picture for different subjects-eg. a happy expression for funny stories, a series expression for serious stories, etc., but there should be some consistency. I find I often see the phto/avatar first, before I see the hubber's moniker.
With the new thing of pushing authorship/identity, the latest recommendation seems to be to pick a name, pick a picture, and use the same of both everywhere online. I don't know, but I wouldn't imagine that occasionally changing the picture (that's used everywhere) would be all that big a deal. Not sure, though, of course. Basically, Google's author profile says to put a head shot up, and then it will show up in searches. Now, that one I just can't make myself do. (Besides, I don't want to see my own face showing up "everywhere" like that.)
"a) do you use a picture of yourself or do you prefer an avatar? (and why, if you care to elaborate)"
I have used a real picture of myself before but I would never do so again. It just feels too "public". I don't like the way that some people stereotype others based on the way they look and besides, who knows what use an unscrupulous person might devise for your avatar pic or where it might end up?
"b) what assumptions, if any, do you make about an author from viewing his/her profile pic?"
I try not to make assumptions because it really p1sses me off when people make assumptions about me (see above).
"c) do you think it's better to switch up the photo a la Facebook or is it better to find one nice image and stick with it?"
Whatever floats your boat.
What you said is exactly how I've always felt. Over time, though, I've had enough people seem to assume things based on the non-me avatar that made me think my tone/writing might be served better if I showed that I'm not Frankenstein (or a stone). It's not that I care what others think of me or my writing. I do care, though, about how people relate directly to me in conversation/communication. I don't care who acts like they hate me "for me", but I was getting sick of the occasional (but extreme) hate-filled remarks that were pretty much a matter of someone attacking me for what they imagined I am - not for what I really am. It's not that I couldn't (and wouldn't) ignore some remarks. I always have (and it has been ALL that often anyway). What combined with that issue was having so much stuff stolen in so many ways (and not just copied Hubs). I just got so I figured I'd do whatever I could to "establish" myself as the person behind the writing. It may not help much; but it made me feel (at least until I change my thinking again) as if I wasn't putting my writing out there completely anonymously. Basically, I guess (useless or not), it felt like I was taking a step toward claiming my own stuff.
As for assuming, the only things I really assume about are those actor/model pictures. Guilty on that one.
Your profile pic is also one part of your brand. Whatever you are selling, yourself, how tos, information, MLM - it all helps to have a single image that you stick to.
Unless it doesn't work of course.
I probably would have changed mine, but by the time I thought about it.. it was too late.
One other teensy little thing. I would never use my real name, picture, address, information about my kids, family, workplace - online.
I agree with all you have shared, except my screen name is my name made into a pen name. I don't share my last name on these kind of sites.
As far as FB, that's for my family and friends and it's private.
Concerning real pics, it's the same as any kind of site, including dating sites. No one knows for sure if it's really you, so why bother? I prefer an avatar and I use the same one, like Mark says, it's like a brand.
This is the real me. Taken 1 year ago at the Southfork Ranch near Dallas. I'm sitting on the patio where J. R. Ewing and his family ate many a breakfast on the TV series DALLAS. Loved my outing, loved all the pictures we took that day of our visit.
I've used my real photo since my first day on HubPages.
I started out with a studio photo, but quickly decided that a head and shoulders shot was a little risky to use. Maybe it could be used in identity theft. To get around this, one could also use a photo like Lisa HW does, or you could use a picture of you looking over your shoulder, or of your face turned in profile.
I like to use my real photo because of the kinds of subjects I write about. Sometimes I write about pets, so some of my profile photos have had an image of me with my dogs. I write a lot about nutrition, wellness and health, and my current photo lends credibility to my work. I switch profile pictures every couple of months, but rotate the same 4 photos repeatedly.
I don't make a judgement about the hubbers who don't put up a photo of themselves. They have their reasons for not using their picture, just like I have personal reasons for not using my real name at HubPages.
My picture is me, although a me that was created in a makeover session I went to a couple of years ago. My hair has changed since then and my own way of using cosmetics (on the rare occasions I use them) is different to that used by the makeover person. So, it's me in one way but not in another.
Certain avatar pictures that are not a straight photo of the person can have a positive impact. Wilderness uses such a cute one (I vaguely remember he said once it was his child), that I do find it influences my perceptions of him in a positive way. Likewise, Trish_M uses a picture of herself as a small girl. The picture reminds me so strongly of my younger daughter when she was small that again it influences my attitude to Trish_M in a positive way.
The Wilderness photo is a memorable cutie;but on the other hand, I've always thought Wilderness is the mother of that cutie. (I guess, when it comes down to it, none us really needs to know who is a guy or a woman. ) (Sorry, wilderness. Now I know. )
I use my real photo in several places on the web. The main reason is that there is another Melissa Barrett out there that is a published author of some reputation. I didn't want to end up riding her coat tails, even accidentally. As far as my name, it is my married name, but not my legal one. But, if someone would find out my legal name, so be it. They can steal my debts all they want.
I use a real picture because I regard the Internet as real. I don’t wear masks in real life, so why should I do it on the Internet? Identity theft – I prefer not to be scared of baboons behind mountains. I will handle them when they attack me.
I trust and like authors using their own pictures, but I also know that shy, reversed and sceptical people feel comfortable ‘behind masks’. They will, however, stay strangers to me, like voices on the radio.
I change my photo frequently according to my moods. After all, in real life I don’t look the same every day. When I am in an arty mood, I will watermark the photo, or make it ‘old’ or black-and-white – all depends on my mood.
This is, of course, my personal view. I respect the views of others and will never consider my views as ‘correct’ and theirs as ‘wrong’.
Most important: Our hubs/writings are not masked; it is our crystal clear thoughts, ideas, knowledge and wisdom. And this is actually all we want to know about each other.
The avatar/picture is therefore a secondary matter.
I never really saw my Earth avatar as a "mask" at all. I guess that's because I knew my own reasons for choosing it, and I knew how carefully I selected it for a number of elements in it. To me, I felt as if I was expressing myself far better and far more openly by choosing something that thought represented inner aspects to my personality, than if I'd just put my face on there and offered nothing more about who/what I am, as a person.
People think so differently, don't they.......
Yeah, what she said.
Plus people can put up any old picture on the Internet and claim it's a real picture of them, when in fact it's a pic of a celebrity/next door neighbour/whoever.
And what about those people who post pictures of themselves, but 20 years ago looking much younger/slimmer/with more hair? What does that say about THEIR personality?
For some reason, this topic really gets me steamed up LOL. I suppose it's because (like you) my own preference is to keep my private life off the Internet, except for the bits I choose to display.
I realise that total privacy is impossible, and that anyone who really wants to can find out a lot about you. But the advent of social networking and what seems to be an increased emphasis on presenting your "real" photo as a "brand" is conspiring against even having a modicum of privacy - it seems as if we're all being compelled to blur the boundaries between the different aspects of ourselves and between ourselves and other people. Sorry, but that makes me INCREDIBLY uncomfortable. There's enough of this type of stuff in real life without having to put up with it on the Internet as well. It's why I don't "do" Facebook.
The steamed-up thing is kind of funny, Empress Felicity. I agree, though, that there's something creepy about that whole brand thing. I refuse to go to social sites (well, because I don't like all that information out there, but also because I don't really know how to be an "Internet friend" anyway ). I'm not entirely sure I don't plan to remove pretty much most everything I have on the Internet one of these days, just for the reasons you mention. On the other hand, there's a part of me that thinks how none of us have any privacy any more anyway - so what's the difference.... Just depends on my mood.
Anyway, go get unsteamed. (For the record, my half-picture is two/three weeks old (not that anyone would mistake it for anything much older than anyway, obviously.) I'd feel pretty strange putting a 20-year-old picture (even a blue, half-one) on and saying it was me now. In any case, when/if I ever involve myself with branding, I'm going to put on some make-up and have an expert take the picture.
I still keep a lot of my life private. My name's a pen name (even though it's established enough to be a doing-business-as type of thing, and I've had it for years.
I 'do' Facebook, Twitter, HubPages, Blogspot and my own sites - but all as this identity. It is entirely removed from 'me', as in it is I think virtually untraceable. For a reader, and hopefully more than one, Mark Ewbie is all they need to know.
The anonymity is also empowering. No friends, family ,work colleagues to
worry about - total freedom to be that adopted person.
I jest of course. It's easy to make up a name, grab a picture (watch out for copyright) and start publishing. All the best authors do it.
I do use my real picture - and my real name. I have it on everything. I've found that it gives me a certain level of accountability. Knowing that my name and face are on what I write makes me think twice about everything I write. I have had the same picture since day one on HP. I need to change it... but I hate every picture of me, so it's really hard to choose another one.
But besides that... I don't think I could ever come up with an avatar that would really represent me. I'm too complicated. I hate labels. I'll never have a tattoo because I don't think I could decide on an image that was that meaningful. I'm probably over-thinking that though. But that's just how I am.
There's another good point on here about someone else having the same name. I have that problem too. There are countless Lisa Beamans. By putting my picture with the name, that does help establish which one I am. I hadn't thought about that - but it works.
As far as assumptions go... I think I do make assumptions. Isn't that why they've chosen that certain avatar? They've chosen it to represent them. It's their brand, their logo.
I've re-written my profile at least once. And, likely to do it again, in the near future. My profile represents a business I work at out of my home.
From time to time, I will use my real photo, but mostly use other pictures. My name(real) is on most of my hubs. People can identify me via that.
In a lot of ways, I've gotten just so sick of the whole Internet and anything on it, including myself and all that crap I've written. I need a real vacation, a drop in outside temperature of about 20 degrees, and a few giant cups of coffee to get me out of the month-long, giant, slump I've been in.
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