Gallery of default anonymity: A work in progress

Posted by Rob Walker on April 29, 2009
Posted Under: The Designed Life

NOTE (MARCH 25, 2012): I’m not really updating this post anymore. These days I’m blogging at Design Observer. Please go there to see what I’m up to these days. Thanks.

EBay

EBay

Facebook

Facebook

Flickr

Flickr

Hotmail

Hotmail

Twitter

Twitter

YouTube

YouTube

Friendfeed

Friendfeed

Just a few that occurred to me. More ideas? Let me know.

Or has someone already gathered these up somewhere? It wouldn’t surprise me*, but if it’s out there I couldn’t find it.

UPDATE: I opened the comments, they were closed by mistake. Plus: Adding some more examples after the jump, and will keep adding as they come in or otherwise come to my attention. *2nd UPDATE: On 10.1.09, some has brought to my attention this other collection from 2006.

LastFM

LastFM

CarDomain.com

CarDomain.com

Goodreads (female)

Goodreads (female)

Goodreads (male)

Goodreads (male)

Garageband

Garageband

MySpace

MySpace

Tumblr

Tumblr

Yahoo!

Yahoo!

Skype

Skype

Topix

Topix

Google Accounts

Google Accounts

BlipFM

BlipFM

Vimeo

Vimeo

Momentile

Momentile

Identica

Identica

rejaw

rejaw

Yammer

Yammer

Brightkite

Brightkite

Posterous

Posterous

ThisNext

ThisNext

Stylefeeder

StyleFeeder

StumbleUpon

StumbleUpon

Famegame.com

Famegame.com

Bikespace.net

Bikespace.net

Yelp

Yelp

Dailymotion, female

Dailymotion, female

Dailymotion, male

Dailymotion, male

Dailymotion, gender neutral

Dailymotion, gender neutral

LiveJournal

LiveJournal

BerlinerStrassen.com

BerlinerStrassen

SB*Nation

SB*Nation

The Knot

The Knot

Funny Or Die

Funny Or Die

Cracked.com

Cracked.com

Joystiq

Joystiq

Talking Points Memo

Talking Points Memo

Sleeq (male)

Sleeq (male)

Sleeq (female)

Sleeq (female)

IMBD

IMDb

SpatulaOfDeath.com

Spatula Of Death

Hi5 (female)

Hi5 (female)

Hi5 (male)

Hi5 (male)

Chess.com

Chess.com

NPR.com

NPR.com

Plinky

Plinky

Digg

Digg

Yay!Everyday

Yay!Everyday

Tribe

Tribe

gravatar1

Gravatar

WOWinsider

WOWinsider

Infield Parking

Infield Parking

MeiLin Miranda

MeiLin Miranda

Gmail

Gmail

Netflix (three examples among many)

Netflix (three examples among many)

Good Magazine

Good Magazine

Multiply

Multiply

NYT's TimesPeople

NYT's TimesPeople

Wall Street Journal

Wall Street Journal

Twine

Twine

KCRW.com

KCRW.com

USA Today

USA Today

8Tracks.com

8Tracks.com

Dimeadozen.org

Dimeadozen.org

Imagekind

Imagekind

Quirky.com

Quirky.com

Amazon Reviewers

Amazon Reviewers

Kickstarter

Kickstarter

Amie Street

Amie Street

Dreamwidth

Dreamwidth

Consumerist

Crochet Me

The Hype Machine

Acid Planet

TheFrisky. com

Bloodydisgusting.com

CNN

Complex

LinkedIn

Trillian

TheFancy.com

* Thx to Dan S. for CarDomain.com. Thx to E for eBay. Thx to Randy L. for Garageband & MySpace & Imagekind. Thx to Andy for Spatula of Death. Identica through Postrous courtesy of a comment from Foomanddoonian. Thanks to Brian Z. for Netflix. Thanks to Joy-Mari for Gmail. Thanks to Justin Kirkwood for: Bloodydisgusting.com, CNN, Complex, LinkedIn, TheFrisky.com, and Trillian. See comments for more credits & thanks.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

A very cool idea. Like some post-modern art-making strategy applied to personal identity. Embracing the default “self” image. (MySpace must have one, no?)

#1 
Written By Randy Ludacer on April 29th, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

This is awesome Rob. Kind of reminds me of this entry from sociological images about how Facebook chooses to represent users: http://contexts.org/socimages/2009/04/15/who-is-facebook/

#2 
Written By Noah Brier on April 29th, 2009 @ 7:08 pm

This is great Rob. Don’t forget Tumblr!

#3 
Written By BWJ on April 30th, 2009 @ 11:18 am

Thx BWJ, added it.

Good link, Noah. Thanks to you & to Randy, too.

#4 
Written By Rob Walker on April 30th, 2009 @ 11:39 am
#5 
Written By CRZ on April 30th, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

Thx CRZ, have now added.

#6 
Written By Rob Walker on April 30th, 2009 @ 1:24 pm
#7 
Written By Rob Torres on April 30th, 2009 @ 3:41 pm
#8 
Written By Jon Wiley on April 30th, 2009 @ 4:25 pm

Notice how many are men? How hard is it to make an androgynous silhouette? Proof we’re still in a patriarchal culture.

#9 
Written By Ephilei on April 30th, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

i only see 4 out of 16 that are clearly masculine (i omitted good reads).

proof that you have a chip on your shoulder?

#10 
Written By jeff on April 30th, 2009 @ 6:22 pm

my mistake – i see 5 now…

#11 
Written By jeff on April 30th, 2009 @ 6:23 pm

Normally I avoid approving comment strings that seem likely to start a “flame war,” as they used to call it in the old days. In this instance I think debate is useful — how many masculine figures to *you* see?

#12 
Written By Rob Walker on April 30th, 2009 @ 7:16 pm

I’m agreeing with Rob Walker, to me most of them are androgynous.

Here’s one from Blip.fm that has both a masculine and feminine figure, so works out for those of us who identify with both.

http://blip.fm/_/images/nousericon.gif

#13 
Written By Cedric on April 30th, 2009 @ 7:51 pm

Nice one, Cedric. Added.

#14 
Written By Rob Walker on April 30th, 2009 @ 8:31 pm
#15 
Written By py on May 1st, 2009 @ 7:09 am

Very good PY; have added. Thanks!

#16 
Written By Rob Walker on May 1st, 2009 @ 7:36 am

momentile.com has an awesome anonymous avatar – it’s a lucha libre mask.

#17 
Written By Patricia Fabricant on May 1st, 2009 @ 8:18 am

I’d never heard of Momentile. Thanks for that; added now.

#18 
Written By Rob Walker on May 1st, 2009 @ 8:37 am

Thanks, I will add those later. And I am happy to link directly to your earlier post if you care to share that. (You will note that I have an open question in this post about whether someone has already done this — I assumed somebody must have.) Thanks for all these great ones, I don’t really know most of these services.

#20 
Written By Rob Walker on May 1st, 2009 @ 10:26 am

Star Army has a bunch of anonymous pics collected here:

http://stararmy.com/wiki/doku.php?id=anonymous_character_art

#21 
Written By Roleplay Forums on May 1st, 2009 @ 12:42 pm

Very funny!

#22 
Written By Shelly on May 1st, 2009 @ 11:39 pm
#23 
Written By ryan on May 2nd, 2009 @ 1:05 am

Here’s mine from an ancient grad school project. I imagined everyone visiting the website would wear moustaches and helmets. but then i lived in brooklyn and the website was for cyclists, so maybe i wasn’t that far off.

http://bikespace.net/images/noPhoto.gif

#24 
Written By Miket on May 2nd, 2009 @ 9:20 am

Ryan & Yvonne — Added both, thank you.

Roleplay Forums — I have to think about whether that’s the same thing I’m thinking about here; nobody really uses a default in a virtual world, do they?

Miket– sorry the delay in adding yours, I misunderstood “grad school project” to mean it was just a theoretical example, but I see now the site/network actually exists.

#26 
Written By Rob Walker on May 3rd, 2009 @ 6:21 am

Nice! I bet this collection doubles in terms of examples by the time I revisit.

HMK

#27 
Written By H. Michael Karshis on May 3rd, 2009 @ 9:09 am
#28 
Written By marion on May 4th, 2009 @ 7:28 am

Marion, thanks — I looked around that site a bit and noticed they had m, f, and neutral icons. So I’m using ‘em all.

#29 
Written By Rob Walker on May 4th, 2009 @ 9:24 am
#30 
Written By Bailey on May 4th, 2009 @ 11:51 am
#31 
Written By MrKnox on May 5th, 2009 @ 2:39 am

very nice collection!
I made this one for our Berlin-”Photos, Blogs & Music”-community…

http://berlinerstrassen.com/files/avatare/avatar_standard.gif

#32 
Written By finefin on May 5th, 2009 @ 5:42 am

Bailey, MrKnox, and Finefin: Thanks, all those added now.

#33 
Written By Rob Walker on May 5th, 2009 @ 5:52 am

http://www.funnyordie.com (Will Farrell’s comedy site) has an image of the unknown comic…

#34 
Written By SheWhoTravels on May 5th, 2009 @ 3:28 pm

Nice! Added.

#35 
Written By Rob Walker on May 5th, 2009 @ 3:38 pm

http://www.sleeq.com/fileadmin/images/default/maleuser.jpg

The german community “sleeq” http://www.sleeq.com has one of the best ever…

#36 
Written By Florian on May 9th, 2009 @ 10:30 am
#37 
Written By matthooley on May 9th, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

AVclub.com
chess.com

#38 
Written By random on May 9th, 2009 @ 12:27 pm

Here’s a link to our default avatar at Joystiq.com. This is a great idea, btw!

http://www.blogsmithcdn.com/avatar/images/11/1318203_64.jpg

#39 
Written By Ben Gilbert on May 9th, 2009 @ 12:41 pm
#40 
Written By Ryan on May 9th, 2009 @ 12:46 pm

Thanks, recent flood of new suggest-ers! I will add all of these later today, great suggestions.

Also apologies to anybody who encountered a “comments closed” situation, that usually happens by default after several days, but in this case I have now left this one open again.

#41 
Written By Rob Walker on May 10th, 2009 @ 5:47 am

cracked.com

#43 
Written By Doug on May 10th, 2009 @ 2:06 pm
#44 
Written By Narmitaj on May 10th, 2009 @ 6:38 pm

Okay recent commenters: I have added almost all of these, so thank you!

I’m having a bit of trouble with the AV Club one. It looks like I would have to join Strands.com to get that one, which I’d just as soon not do.

And I’m on the fence about the Wikipedia example. It’s not really a user avatar, but a placeholder for a picture in an entry, as I understand it.

Anybody got an opinion about whether that should count?

Anyway I think I got all the others.

#45 
Written By Rob Walker on May 11th, 2009 @ 3:39 pm

Here’s the default for the NPR.org community: http://community.npr.org/ver1.0/Content/images/no-user-image.gif

#46 
Written By mrknox on May 12th, 2009 @ 12:32 am

Thanks MrKnox — added.

#47 
Written By Rob Walker on May 12th, 2009 @ 7:54 am

Oh the irony…millions of everyday people surfing the interwebs because they don’t want to miss out on anything but can’t expose themselves to the lurking spammers and whackjobs. Talk about getting connected!

Warhol “misunderestimated” (thanks Dubya) the amount of time that we will all be famous..it’s down to about 15 seconds…and he prolly didn’t know that we’d have a fake online name attached to one of these delightful anonymous avatars.

Go US!

#48 
Written By Moot the Hoopla on May 12th, 2009 @ 8:58 am

Digg: http://digg.com/img/udh.png

I hate hate hate the Facebook default avatar. I don’t know why but it really bothers me.

#49 
Written By Dan on May 12th, 2009 @ 12:44 pm
#50 
Written By Reilly Stroope on May 12th, 2009 @ 1:13 pm

your IMDB is labeled IMBD :)

And Tribe:
http://images.tribe.net/tribe/images/unknownUser.jpg

#51 
Written By Stormy on May 13th, 2009 @ 3:47 pm

Neat idea, it’s cool to see these kinds of things.

How about Gravatar?
http://www.wprecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/gravatar1.jpg

#52 
Written By Sheri King on May 13th, 2009 @ 3:51 pm

WOWInsider, it’s a niche site but I like the ogre avatar. http://www.blogsmithcdn.com/avatar/images/99/2450025_64.jpg

#53 
Written By Amyl on May 13th, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

I guess this got linked somewhere new. Thanks for the IMDb catch, now fixed! Added some of these new ones, will get to others soon. Thanks all..

#54 
Written By Rob Walker on May 13th, 2009 @ 4:00 pm

How about Infield Parking- the Nascar Social Network:

http://www.infieldparking.com/images/defaults/thumb_avatar_md.jpg

#55 
Written By kylemac on May 13th, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

Oh yeah, meilinmiranda.com uses a cheez-it. Not sure if that’s the kind of site you’re looking for or not, though. :)
http://www.meilinmiranda.com/sites/default/files/cheez-it-icon.png
(and not to be a pain, but the IMDB now just says IM)

#56 
Written By Stormy on May 14th, 2009 @ 3:37 pm

Probably meilinmiranda is not my kind of thing personally, on a quick look — but that’s one excellent avatar. Will add later. And have attempted once more to perform the simple operation of getting IMDb correct. Thanks again!

#57 
Written By Rob Walker on May 14th, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

legend idea… sleeq is the best, then friend feed. I’m surprised there are not more animal silhouettes or smart quotes saying “im too scared to show my face”

#58 
Written By elliot on May 14th, 2009 @ 6:37 pm

The Story of the Cheez-It Icon: http://wiki.meilinmiranda.com/index.php/Cheez-its

Thanks for thinking it excellent. We’ve had fun with it. :)

#59 
Written By MeiLin Miranda on May 15th, 2009 @ 10:15 pm
#60 
Written By Everett on May 20th, 2009 @ 10:38 am

Good one Everett– added. Thanks!

#61 
Written By Rob Walker on May 20th, 2009 @ 12:41 pm

Simply amazing!!!

#62 
Written By IhateDesign on June 3rd, 2009 @ 9:52 am
#63 
Written By Steve Portigal on July 24th, 2009 @ 6:02 pm

Thanks Steve Portigal.

#64 
Written By Rob Walker on July 25th, 2009 @ 11:18 am
#65 
Written By banksean on October 1st, 2009 @ 1:30 am

Thanks Banksean. I wish someone had pointed that out earlier! (As noted: “Or has someone already gathered these up somewhere? It wouldn’t surprise me, but if it’s out there I couldn’t find it.”)

#66 
Written By Rob Walker on October 1st, 2009 @ 5:04 am

they changed the youtube default icon. the new one looks terrible! look for yourselves

#67 
Written By anthony on November 15th, 2009 @ 2:03 am

Dreamwidth:
http://s.dreamwidth.org/img/profile_icons/user.png

I had the privilege of being on the discussion list while things like the default avatar were being hashed out, and people brought up gender/race/ability and probably a few more things before the owners made a final choice.

Here via Sociological Images, because Denise linked to one of their posts (about the pushing/actively pushing wheelchair user graphic vs. the static/seated one), and naturally this resulted in wandering…

#68 
Written By Azz on December 19th, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

Does anyone have a copy of the old facebook default? That would be good to include. As I recall, it was a blue question mark. I knew someone who had it, rotated, as their profile image for a while, but the ‘previous profile images’ thing doesn’t seem to go back far enough for me to find it.

#69 
Written By arturus on December 21st, 2009 @ 1:40 pm

Never mind, I see there’s a copy of it at the other collection linked in comments.

#70 
Written By arturus on December 21st, 2009 @ 1:42 pm

Thanks AZZ.
Arturus: I can’t decide whether to add outdated icons, but so far I’m thinking no. Glad you found what you were looking for though

#71 
Written By Rob Walker on December 23rd, 2009 @ 4:24 pm
#72 
Written By Azz on January 4th, 2010 @ 10:50 pm

Thanks for that; added!

#73 
Written By Rob Walker on January 5th, 2010 @ 6:26 am

Someone should make an image with just an X.

#74 
Written By swire on February 25th, 2010 @ 5:20 pm

Why more people are’t fawning over the genius of Yay!Everyday’s default avatar is beyond me. Danny Glover circa 1988 = Perfection.

#75 
Written By Justin Kirkwood on February 28th, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

Thanks for the reply to my post at #21

To explain, the site has a number of nations characters can belong to, and the anonymous character art is available for each nation’s character that don’t have art–e.g. you know what uniform they’re wearing but not the character’s face. The green face with “no picture available” across it is a reference to the classic “Anonymous” character meme found on popular imageboards.

#76 
Written By Roleplay Forums on November 5th, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

Landed on this page (over a year from the last comment, unfortunately!) after googling my irritation to getting plunked with a masculine-looking default by the NY Times. Maybe this list was shorter earlier, when the first gender-bias-complainer was accused of having a chip on the shoulder, but looking at the list now, clearly the male-looking avatars (13 or so?) far outweigh female-looking ones (I count only one), not counting images of famous people or cases where there are two options. I will tell you on a personal level it was annoying to be given the NY Times default with no alternative–even blank would be just fine! How would a manly man feel getting a flower-in-girly-hair avatar such as at The Knot? What’s worse, The Knot assuming female readers or the NY Times and Wall Street Journal assuming male readers? Now tell me I have a chip on my shoulder.

#77 
Written By Not Male on July 20th, 2011 @ 3:14 am

I like it when people download the default avatar, edit it and upload it as their avatar. You could start a sub gallery of such uses.

#78 
Written By Ivan Pope on March 23rd, 2012 @ 6:12 am

So, according to most of these sites, the anonymous user is a male…interesting. That’s a good reflexion of our societies: by default you are a male, unless otherwise specified. I would expect a little bit more of a reflexion from someone who has to design an icon to represent people.

#79 
Written By gloria on March 23rd, 2012 @ 11:48 am

How on Earth did you forget somethingawful’s “Stupid Newbie”?

http://fi.somethingawful.com/customtitles/title-pawn_17.gif

#80 
Written By paencil on March 25th, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

Trackbacks

  1. ·::p·wilkes·journal::·  on May 14th, 2009 @ 8:57 pm
  2. wrongdistance.com  on May 18th, 2009 @ 9:36 pm
  3. meneame.net  on June 20th, 2009 @ 2:55 am

Add a Comment

please
required, will not be published
optional

Previous Post: