Good Day Class!

Today we have the honor of having an elementary school teacher as the substitute teacher (guest writer) for our lesson.

For those of you who haven’t met him yet, he’s the author of Silent Cacophony

I’ll step aside and turn the floor over to him.


Hello class!

I haven’t had to step in for someone else’s class in a long time. That being said, I’m good friends with Miss Swafford and she mentioned some students have a tendency to act up when there’s a substitute teacher here at BWAB, but hopefully that won’t be the case today.

So just in the way of introduction, I am Chase March. I’ve been teaching for years and I’ve been blogging for two.

Today’s Lesson

I have a bone to pick with some bloggers. I guess it is a pet peeve of mine but I am sure I am not alone here. All I know is that people can have honest avatars or not.

I purposely designed a logo to use for my avatar (see above). It is a simple logo that I think can represent me over a long period of time. A personal photograph would have to be updated every couple of years, just like my driver’s license.

I’m not against using a personal photo for publicity reasons. I understand why some bloggers choose to do so. It gives the blogger a human face. It helps the reader identify with the author as well.

One thing I don’t understand though is people who choose to use the photograph of a celebrity as their avatar. I also don’t understand people who use photographs of someone else as their avatar.

What is the point of having an avatar that doesn’t define who you are? If you use a photograph of someone other than yourself for your avatar, I don’t think you are being honest.

I think you are being lazy.

It’s easy to grab an image from anywhere for your avatar.

It’s harder to pick a personal photo or develop a logo for your avatar but I think it is worth it.

Today’s assignment

Why did you choose the avatar that you use?

What do you think about people who use an untrue avatar?

Do prefer personal photos or logos?

Please raise you hand and share your thoughts.

chase.jpegChase March is an elementary school teacher, a writer, a blogger and a fan of hip hop. More of his writings can be found at Silent Cacophony. Take time to dig through his archives to find more about Chase and his journey into blogosphere.

Photo Credit: Jared

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Look Who's Talking
  1. TumblemooseNo Gravatar says:

    Dutifully raises his hand

    Oh, oh. Teacher! I know!

    For me it’s partly because every *&^%(%#$ photograph that I try and load to Gravatar gets rejected. I can resize until the cows come home and nothing works.

    So, I’ll just continue to put my surly mug out there.

    Can I go to the nurses office?


    Tumblemoose´s last blog post..Harriet Tubman keeps my writing going

  2. Branding is one of my favorite topics and I tend to link Avatar to the branding concept. I used my logos initially however, switched to my face later on as I realized that people’s interaction levels with me on my blog has been increasing.

    I personally believe that blogs with personal touch should either use their face or a anime (that is similar to the person’s looks) where as professional blogs/multi-blogger blogs dealing with business/niche topics should have their logos.

    Ajith Edassery | Blog Money´s last blog post..SEO – Link Building Series: Keyword Research & Optimization (for Short & Midterm traffic boost)

  3. @Tumbemoose

    Not until you admit that you stole my pencil. Mr March! George stole my pencil and won’t give it back!

    Being a Leo, I’m a little on the vain side so of course my avatar is a picture of me. 😉

    Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog post..Preparing for take off

  4. J.D. MeierNo Gravatar says:

    I think a real pic helps bridge the gap.

    It’s nice to show up online and see familiar faces, just like in life. It would be weird if everybody at work was a logo or mask (or fun, depending on the context 😉

    Granted I was the last person to put my pic up, but enough people convinced me it was important to show the person behind the posts. I originally didn’t think it mattered, but I think gradually I saw the difference.

    I still remember Barbara’s post on avatars and the big “ah ha” was that you recognize people at the party and you look for familiar faces.

    J.D. Meier´s last blog post..Test Your Decisions Against Reality

  5. I have always used my own picture for exactly the reason you mentioned – create trust and have people know who they are dealing with.

    @ George: Have you tried to re-size your image before you upload it to the avatar? I had the same problems initially but found that if you make your pic really small it will work.

    Monika Mundell´s last blog post..Born Again Twitter User

  6. Joanna YoungNo Gravatar says:

    I use a picture of myself that has lasted for two years and should be good for a few more yet. The main benefit has been when I’ve met bloggers and tweeters in person – they recognise me instantly. This is great if you’re at all shy and find it easier for people to approach you than the other way round.

    The other benefit is that it makes me easily recognisable in a twitter stream – I don’t change it. I know some people do, and that does make me pay attention more but is sometimes confusing especially when twitter is moving very fast.

    I feel more of a sense of personal connection with a picture of a person than I do a logo or an avatar, and prefer it every time. Sorry!

    Joanna Young´s last blog post..How Social Media Makes Giving Easy

  7. DavinaNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Barbara and Chase.
    My avatar is a clipping from a photograph of a wall hanging that I have in my living room. The entire wall hanging is of a couple doing a Fire Dance. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.

    When I first started blogging I didn’t have a picture that I liked of myself so I made my own as described. I’ve considered changing this, but it’s been over 8 months now and I like my avatar too much. If anyone wants to know what I look like, I have a picture on my about page.

    I don’t recall seeing any “false” avatars. Now I’m curious as to which ones you are talking about. I don’t think it means that person is lazy though… if they’ve gone to the trouble of choosing and uploading an avatar… that was a major undertaking for me anyway 🙂 The people with blank avatars… well that’s something else.

    Davina´s last blog post..A Dangerous Metaphor

  8. Brad ShorrNo Gravatar says:

    What Joanna said!

    When I see a logo avatar, I think, this is someone/someones engaging in social media strictly for business purposes. You prove this can be a false assumption, but that’s how I react. I don’t mind engaging with an all business social media identity, but it’s almost always a limited engagement.

    When I see a celeb avatar, I have no idea what the person’s up to, so I don’t engage.

    Brad Shorr´s last blog post..Premio Dardos Awards

  9. Well, I use mine for obvious reasons! Couldn’t get all three to look any good though but it is still a good way of branding that follows you around the Web.

    I also use the wordpress option to automatically assign a Monster Avatar for those that don’t have one. I find it preferable to not having them show at all.

    the three dog blogger´s last blog post..36 Unusual Dog Facts

  10. Hey, what the …….

    How come my Avatar isn’t showing? I noticed it for some of the other commenters as well.

  11. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:


    Thanks for the honour of being a supply for you today.


    I can see you hand. I don’t need to hear the sound effects or that kind of language.

    It’s nice to see you face so you may stay in the class here and do your work just like everyone else. Thanks.


    Good answer. Thanks for sharing.


    Give Alex his pencil back. I don’t want to have to call your mom.


    This is where you and I differ. Perhaps that is one reason I use a logo. Hmmm.


    If I remember correctly, most of the avatars on that post used either a photo or an anime. I never thought of it like that before. I just assumed that a logo was an easy to recognize and associate with a particular blog and author.


    Photos do create trust when they are honest. So far today everyone here is being honest. That’s good to see!


    No need to apologize. You don’t have to do things my way. I’m not that kind of a teacher. I realize that there is often more than one correct answer. Although, so far no one is on the same wave length as me.


    Wow, I never thought of that. And I completely agree about those who use celeb photos. I almost always pay them no mind.


    Once again, thanks. I’m having a great time with your class so far. They are so respectful and attentive. You’ve done a great job with them.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  12. LingNo Gravatar says:

    Why the stress on the avatar? I understand the trust factor, but still… How about your name, your online rep and the content you write? Shouldn’t the focus be on that? Isn’t this avatar business kindof like school all over again, where how you look is what ends up defining you.

    Not that I’m really worked up over this, but it’s something to think about, I’d say.

  13. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Three Dog Blogger,

    I’m not sure why some avatars aren’t being displayed today.

    You raise a good point though that no one else has yet. Why do some people not even use an avatar? Is an avatar essential?

    Anyone care to comment?

  14. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:


    Thanks. Excellent point! I totally agree! Yet at the same time, I like to be able to recognize a blogger when I see them in a comment or some place else. I’m sure I could do this on name alone but a logo, photo, or anime makes it a little easier.

  15. TumblemooseNo Gravatar says:

    @ Mr. March. Please don’t call Tumblemom! She’s been in such a rut lately.

    @ Alex: Stoolie

    @Monika: I did try that but it was nothing but issues. I’ll give it another go.


    Tumblemoose´s last blog post..Harriet Tubman keeps my writing going

  16. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Mr. March,

    I’m going with what Joanna said also (is she the class Ms. Smarty Pants???). Being able to identify someone by their avatar does make it more personal for me – and I feel more of a connection. That said, a logo works too for identifying someone – it just doesn’t feel quite as personal.

    Lance´s last blog post..Sometimes…Life Beats You Up

  17. Mike GoadNo Gravatar says:

    Using my own picture helps keep me grounded.

    Using an “untrue” avatar doesn’t matter to me, unless they take on the personality of the avatar they are using.

    I prefer photos over graphics.

    Mike Goad´s last blog post..Wedenesday Weigh-In, February 18, 2009

  18. RyanNo Gravatar says:

    I used to have a logo for Oktober5 and I think it really helped people identify me quickly. I’ve since switched to a picture for two reasons: To be more personal, and because I’ve expanded my blogging beyond my one blog. I might also add it’s fun to post changing personal images depending on my mood 🙂

  19. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:


    Does my logo help you feel a connection? I’m just curious here.

    Mike Goad,

    I’ve seen people use cartoon characters from the Simpsons or other shows. I don’t know exactly where these bloggers are coming from. Does it mean that they identify with that charater or just like the show?


    Constantly changing your photo might throw people off. I’m sure they can recognize you either way but I know that it is comforting to see the same avatar popping up over the blogosphere.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  20. I agonized over this because I desperately DIDN’T want to use my photo initially. I created a “business name” to try to keep the spotlight off of me – and I avoided using my photo for many years. (I still can’t bring myself to schedule a “professional” photo shoot and have a REAL photographer take a flattering picture!)

    As you can see – I ended up just using a photo of me. (I did consider using a stock image with a model – but decided that wasn’t “authentic”.)

    However, the only reason I use the real me is I’m not as creative as say Betsy or Cath or Sara. If I could find an image that “says it all” without showing my face – I’d switch in a minute.

    Instead, I settle for my mug and constantly chastise myself for NOT getting a headshot done.

    Kathy | Virtual Impax´s last blog post..Social Media is Simply Communication on Steroids

  21. I chose Bamboo as my avatar because, well, that’s my name. And it represents my background.

    I don’t have any strong opinions on what other people opt to use. And I see the advantages of both someone’s real picture and a symbol of sorts. Pros and cons to both.

    I like your avatar, Chase, has a lot of character.

    Bamboo Forest – PunIntended´s last blog post..Clowns are Downright Creepy

  22. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hello Mr. March – I’m quietly sitting in the back of the classroom observing and listening. I must say, you’re doing a fabulous job.

    When I started blogging almost two years ago, avatars weren’t even an issue, but putting your picture on your blog was. It was right about that time a blogger, author, web developer named Kathy Sierra was getting death threats against her. Just reading the story scared me. Her name AND photo were plastered all over the internet. Her story was enough to convince me not to use my last name or a photo (on my blog). For a long time I used “Barbara” as my sign in name. Then more Barbaras started showing up and I knew I had to set myself apart, so I also began using my last name.

    When avatars started showing up in comments, I followed Catherine’s lead. I found an anime (I think that’s what it’s called), that I thought was a good fit.

    My thought for the future is to change to a logo when I switch to my new theme (still…a work in progress). I know my readers would like to see what I look like, so will probably add a photo of myself to my “about me” page and use my logo as my avatar.

  23. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:


    In my mind the image from your painting gets immediately associated with you the blogger. If I were to see that painting somewhere I would probably say, “Oh, that’s where she got it from.”

    Adding a photo on a separate “about me” page seems like a good idea. Thanks for sharing.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  24. LanceNo Gravatar says:

    Chase – your logo makes it easy to identify you – it is unique – and I like it. So, yes – I do feel a connection. That said, there is something about a personal picture that makes it “feel” like I know you better. In reality, I’m good with either – and yours definitely makes a connection to who you are.

    Lance´s last blog post..Sometimes…Life Beats You Up

  25. Cool post! And I promise I’ll try not to act up and get sent to Principal Swafford’s office.

    I do like peoples’ smiling faces on their avatars. Somedays I wish I had gone that route with mine, but after initially thinking my Big Eye was almost too overpowering visually, it has kind of grown on me. (My eye “grown” on me, no pun really intended. Groan.) And it’s part of my branding so I imagine I’ll keep it for a while.

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..Bristles on a stick

  26. And Oooo, Barbara, we are going to get to see what you look like?!?! As if it would matter — you are wonderful whether we know what you look like, or not.

    Jannie Funster´s last blog post..Bristles on a stick

  27. My avatar is based on a present, a little heart made by a child who had grown homeless in Russia.

    To me is a memorial of who I have been and who I want to be.

    To others, I hope, it is what I have to share, a little heart

    Miguel de Luis´s last blog post..Thursday Haiku: Dark Potion

  28. NeilNo Gravatar says:

    My avatar photo is from my wedding day. It’s what I look like on a good day and still represents how I appear today.

    Neil´s last blog post..One Hundred Pushups

  29. I use my own photo because I write a personal blog so I’m the brand here. 🙂

    I have absolutely no preference when it comes to other people’s choice of avatar.

  30. melanieNo Gravatar says:

    I use my logo that I made and recognize logos or custom pics more than personal photos. Last thing I would do is put my boofhead on an avatar. That would scare away my potential customers!!!
    I dont use celebrities but I dont care that people do.
    Personal photos are good as long as they dont resemble a drivers license photos which many do.
    p.s I just had to add this after I scrolled up to take a peek and saw many smiling photos. Now those are the ones I will remember and like because if they were a shop keeper I would feel welcome into their store.

    melanie´s last blog post..A bit weird

  31. I wanted an avatar that was personal and a brand. I use my face for twitter, but I like my paintbox more. Makes me smile when I see it and it reminds everyone what makes me tick, I hope, when they see it.

    Janice Cartier´s last blog post..Discovery and Magnolias

  32. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:


    I feel like you do which is why I didn’t even get an avatar until I had been blogging for some time. I created this logo for my website and I quite like it, So, it became my logo, my face online. After all, I am a bit of a blockhead.

    Bamboo Forest,

    Thanks for the compliment. I think both our avatars work.


    Thanks again.

    Jannie Funster,

    My logo feels “right” as well. I guess that is what counts.

    Miguel de Luis,

    That is an awesome story! Thanks for sharing!


    I think some people use a photo from their ancient past. It’s good to see that you don’t.


    Thanks for weighing in here.


    Good point. Logos are easily recognizable and maybe more so than faces. I remember working in customer service and the customers would expect you to remember them. I struggled with this because sometimes I just couldn’t remember all the faces.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  33. Well, I don’t mind if a person uses a logo. I do mind how they communicate. If they’re constantly push-marketing and throwing out nothing but blatant self-promotion pieces, I certainly do mind and I tune them out right away.

    Do I have a preference for someone using a logo, photo of someone else etc.? Nah. How they communicate plays a bigger role on the impression I get of them.

  34. RobinNo Gravatar says:

    I used to be active in a forum (before I started blogging – no time now) where one of the people used a photo of Rhett Butler as his avatar. I’ve ended up using his hosting service for all my hosting – and I have noticed that I picture him looking like Rhett Butler. I wonder if it has influenced me to use his hosting! (I asked him once during a support issue if he really looked like RB, and he replied “I wish”)

    Robin´s last blog post..Finding Our True Selves

  35. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:


    Great explanation of your avatar. Thanks.


    Great points. That is just what should be key in blogging, isn’t it?


    I use Blog Catalog and notice a lot of “sexy” avatars. I think people do this on purpose to draw in men. Often, it doesn’t even feel like it is their actual picture either. Maybe I’m wrong though.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  36. Chase,
    This is good because I never knew why people did what they did with avatars.

    I love that Jannie would love us anyway no matter what the pic (notice I’m including myself!)

    I like Neil’s wedding photo. And Janice’s paintbox. I’m heading over to see her blog.

    I don’t have a single photo of myself without my kids, grandkids or husband in it. So I cut my head out of one of my photos and used that. Have you ever noticed how my head is tilted!

    Tess The Bold Life´s last blog post..5 Great Reasons To Be Bold & Go Out On A Limb

  37. LisaNewtonNo Gravatar says:

    Good post on avatars. I choose mine because I love to walk, like the exercise factor, the thinking I do while I’m walking, and now, with my camera as my walking companion, my walking shoes are even more important.

    Plus, I don’t see to many walking pictures out there. I may change it along with way, but for now, I love my shoes……………………..:)

    LisaNewton´s last blog post..Life’s a Beach

  38. NaturalNo Gravatar says:

    hi chase,

    well i say it’s only a gravatar. sometimes i think we take ourselves too seriously when it comes to blogging. it stops being about fun, for those who do it just for fun, and turns into this YOU MUST or YOU SHOULD. now why people choose celebs, i don’t know, i guess they like and identify with that celebrity enough for them to represent them? not a clue. i really don’t want to have to look at a picture of me everytime i leave a comment or even my entrecard advertising. i like my cute little lady enough. in her own way, my gravatar is celebrity. 🙂

    i don’t have a preference what people do, i try not to over analyze anything and just enjoy their blog. whatever they have to give, i accept or move on. 🙂

    Natural´s last blog post..Answer: A River Runs Through It

  39. Dennis EdellNo Gravatar says:

    Oh man did you hit my red button! I swear, if/when I ever start a forum, I’m seriously considering a RULE of “professional avatars only”.

    Sorry, I know you mentioned blogs, but forums is where it first started really annoying me.

    OK so Homer Simpson may be one of my offline idols lol, but is anyone going to take advice from him? The same goes for leotards and triple D breasts….are you seriously trying to have a serious conversation with me?

    My avatar as you can see is DE, my initials – also my logo on, my personal blog and central hub. I use the same one on EVERYTHING that accepts one.

    I haven’t been online professionally as long as most, but I am already pretty well branded. 😉

    Even though “I” am basically my brand, I don’t use a personal photo for two reasons…

    1. I don’t have any (seriously).
    2. I don’t photo very well – see #1 lol.

    Thanks for the awesome post. 🙂

    Dennis Edell´s last blog post..Your Thoughts Are Wanted On My Other Two Blogs 🙂

  40. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Lisa Newton,

    I do the same thing with running. Your avatar is unique. Good job!


    I don’t know why I look at avatars critically. I just do. I think they can say a lot. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  41. Evelyn LimNo Gravatar says:

    I use a personal photograph as my avatar because when I type in comments, I feel as if I am talking. My personal photograph is one that I took for my identification card and to comply with government regulations, in having to look straight at the camera. So yes, I looked rather serious. But my hair was combed neatly that day.

    For marketing purposes, I’m told that two things draw the attention of readers: your face and the faces of kids.

    Evelyn Lim´s last blog post..Raising Kids, Removing Fear

  42. Ulla HennigNo Gravatar says:

    Up to now I have a wordpress avatar and a twitter avatar. I haven’t been to Gravatar yet. In both cases it’s a photo. In the first days of using it I always thought “I should get a better one, all the women here look really swell”. But then I told myself “I am not looking like Madonna or Marilyn Monroe or … in reality, and I am not applying for a new job, so that’s me. Take me or leave me.” I would never use the gravatar of some celebrity, because that’s not me.

    Ulla Hennig´s last blog post..Premio Dardos Award

  43. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Evelyn Lim,

    It makes sense that kids and family draw people in but they also do the opposite in blogging.

    There are far too many family journal blogs that really don’t offer much to anyone outside of the family. You have probably seen these “look at my cute kids” blogs. They can be too much.

    Ulla Hennig,

    It always amazes me how many horrible photos are used for avatars. I understand getting a bad passport or drivers license photo. But when you have the choice of any photo to use for an image that is to represent you in cyberspace, why not choose one with care? That being said, if you are happy with yours, I guess that is all that counts.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  44. Chase, I totally get where you’re coming from. Pretty much any avatar is great: a picture, a graphic, a logo, running shoes, a giant eye… 🙂 But seeing a celebrity face always makes wonder, so who is this *really?* It just makes a bit harder to feel a connection with that person.

    Sara at On Simplicity´s last blog post..Giving up Sacred Cows

  45. Good questions! I still don’t know how to choose an avatar!

    actorswhoblog´s last blog post..Aamir Khan

  46. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Dennis Edell,

    I hear ya. The avatars that I see in forums and discussion boards are often irritating. There just isn’t another other way to say it.

    I also hear you about using a photo and I kind of agree. That’s why I have a logo too.


    Thanks for weighing in. I wholeheartedly agree.

    Chase March´s last blog post..Supplying Today

  47. PatriciaNo Gravatar says:

    I am having a growth removed off my face, and many days it is not a pretty sight – and the ladybug has been around me since my last decade. The ladybug is the symbol of woman recreating herself…and that is just what I am doing.

    I am about 5 years out from my peak of creativity and I want to be ready for that….and people never take me seriously when they first meet me….I want to present myself with what I write first…

    I will say that my picture is 2 times on my blog! one from Thanksgiving and one from my youth…

    Patricia´s last blog post..If You Have Not Anything Nice to Say, Then do Not Say Anything at All

  48. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:

    Actors who blog,

    Search the archives here. I didn’t know about it either until I read that post. This blog has some great tips hiding in previous entries.


    Thanks for sharing the story behind your avatar.

  49. Chase MarchNo Gravatar says:


    It looks like your last comments here were for another post.

    Thanks for giving me the opportunity of this guest post. It was a lot of fun.

    Thanks to everyone for responding.

  50. Barbara SwaffordNo Gravatar says:

    Hi Chase – Yes, I accidentally put my answers on the wrong post, Ooops! I fixed it.

    You’ve very welcome. I’m so happy you enjoyed the experience of guest posting and interacting with the readers and commenters of BWAB. You’ve done a marvelous job. Thank you.

  51. GennaroNo Gravatar says:

    Why did you choose the avatar that you use?

    I was already using the headshot for the about section of my site. Nice to keep a consistent image out there.

    What do you think about people who use an untrue avatar?

    Free choice in my eyes. I think it’s better to form relationship if you’re sincere about who you are, but people have a right to sculpt a public image.

    Do prefer personal photos or logos?

    Personal photos. Feels more personal though either is fine. It’s better if it represents a little about the person.

    Gennaro´s last blog post..8 Great Movies For Paris Travelers