Avatars Rule

No, not an avatar rule. Since Avatars, silly as they may be, are becoming the new norm on the RS Forum, I have decided to adopt one that no one will recognize as representing a human being. Admittedly, avatars are probably necessary on forums where discussions frequently deteriorate into displays of ego and attitude. But, until lately, I have not seen much of that here. However, we have to keep up with the times. From now on, I will be OneOfTwoOrMoreFormerlyCalledRoyButTheOnlyOneFromAuburnThatIKnowOf. You can call me Roy for short. Feel free to create your own.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17736 posts

Roy,

You've made an excellent and somewhat entertaining point. I'm not at the point yet where I'm considering adopting an Avatar, but who knows that could happen.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1464 posts

If you want to retain some personality, don't use avatar. Who is supposed to remember it? After some time of contributing more and more people start rely on your answers. But it's not that likely if you are avatar. Almost all of them look alike. And I also liked when I could see where the contributors were from.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3202 posts

Hate and despise avatars. And I'm less inclined to answer a question from an avatar.
BUT, to get into the spirit of things, I think I'll change my boring, ordinary name to a fun and oh so clever avatar.......
%*(#sp!&$+Xn@_>??/<zing=^%$#12000...........You can call me % for short.

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2891 posts

Honestly, I don't see why it matters. It really annoys me when people on this board criticize a new member for using a screen name rather than their real name. That isn't very welcoming. On other websites, it is the norm to use a screen name to maintain some degree of privacy and we should respect people's desire for that.

Years ago when I signed up for this website, I didn't realize that it wouldn't let me choose a screen name after I created the account. I personally would have preferred to use a screen name, but won't bother to change now. I don't use my real name on any other website. Choosing a screen name has nothing to do with being silly. By the way, I always thought an avatar was the image or graphic associated with an account rather than the text screen name.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3202 posts

You don't have to use your real name. I think avatars are cold and impersonal. This website has never been like others, that's one of the reasons why I like this one and not the others. They only just started a couple months ago when this website was overhauled and it has changed the personality of this website. Just my opinion.

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
961 posts

Susan I agree with you completely about the avatars. If you don't want to use your real name, don't - but these goofy word/number things are annoying.

Okay Ed, it's all yours. You've been calling yourself that for some time now anyway, just not in your profile. I'm sure no one will try to co-opt that name from you. :)

I think I'll now be known as she who shall remain nameless formerly known as Nancy. Wow, this is fun. lol

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

Hey, Ed, we already refer to you as 'Butthead'...or Speedo (or perhaps Speedo could deteriorate into just 'Butt' ;-)

I, too, like the fact that most people use their actual name (or a version of it). I hate responding to 'MM-pht1212': 'OK, MM-pht1212, if you'll take a left after exiting the metro station..." Of course, we've had Frank and Frank II; fine with me. But I feel like I don't know who I'm talking to if it's 'Fnk2'. And in my perfect world, I like to know immediately if I'm dealing with a male or female. Of course, we all know Pat to be a really great guy...Just Kidding! I knew within a few posts that Pat was female, and it's usually not difficult to future these things out...

Often, it's very useful to know where someone is from, such as helping with airports and such; just a state or region is better than 'Traveler, Single and Lovin' It!' in my opinion ;-) but 'T, S and L I!' could include his? her? nearest city when asking for airline assistance.

Do you really want to start with the avatar photos? Mine could be a snuggly kitten, Norma could have a globe, 'Butthead' could use a beer stein, etc. Yawn. I really like the fact that we don't have little photos/looping videos...OR just the default 'quilt' design for those of us too lazy or uninspired to choose a photo.

And then we could start using those 'signatures' at the end of each of our posts: 'Eileen, Texan in CA blahblahblah...then Wouldn't it be great if we could all live in harmony?' or some such gunk. Maybe use your favorite obscure quote, or a funny line from your favorite movie...Just.Say.No.To.Signatures. Please.

How 'bouts if everyone just use a 'real' name of some sort, make the M/F obvious if possible, and your location can be a bonus for me. Unless you're really set on 'Single and Lovin' It!'...

And OK - I'll call you 'Roy for short' ;-)

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2457 posts

Now you started me thinking about this, Roy - may I call you X-Roy?

Do avatars/screen names affect the degree of civility expressed, either by OPs or respondents?

I also like to address people by name, and I miss seeing where someone is from.

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3404 posts

Personally, I can't relate to an unpronounceable jumble of letters & numbers which are supposed to represent a human being. It would be like talking to a robot so I never participate in a thread started by such a creation. Beyond anything else, it is so unimaginative and unnecessary.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Laura,

It appears that you can change your name.

Ack!

I changed my name to Butthead for the initial part of this post and the system went back and changed it in all previous posts until I switched back.

Bad experiment.

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1154 posts

Ed, too funny!! I caught that brief re-naming experiment...

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1519 posts

Oh, oh, please can we have pictures or videos, please? Ed's of course would be either the Dos Equis guy, or a repeating video of aforementioned Speedo airport run.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
800 posts

Yes, Zoe. Now that Butthead is taken, X-Roy will do fine.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Maybe there should be two classes of avatars.
One for people that provide information.
One for people that just comment on comments.

Posted by Darcy
Lewiston, Idaho, USA
1201 posts

Oh! Nigel! you're too funny! Just call me "Wild One"!

I too don't care for the avatars. If someone doesn't want to use his/her real name, use another "real" name, for example, Suzy B. Yep, you can call me Suzy B., Wild One or d'Arcy!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2457 posts

We can now re-name this thread "Invasion of the Name-Snatchers".

Posted by Nancy
Corvallis OR
961 posts

Good one Zoe! This thread is giving me a good chuckle this morning.

Posted by Maryam
Washington, DC
560 posts

Ha, this thread has made me smile. I have "complained" a couple of times about these new usernames. Perhaps I will be MaRule2x1.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

That fool from East Midlands caused me to (laugh, then) cough for 10 minutes :-(

I first spotted his 'stupid, cool' name on his 'Tupperware' thread...and had to click on it to see what moron chose THAT as his/her name ;-)

Penalty box for you, Nigel. Ten for (causing) coughing.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
644 posts

Stupid avatars. Oh well, if you can't beat 'em, might as well join 'em. I will now be known as TupperwareParty1964. Well, maybe just for a couple of days!

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3202 posts

LoL! We'll just call you Tupper for short... : )

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3202 posts

These are getting good... Yam for short... : )

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4867 posts

Sorry Susan, I changed my name back and deleted my message. Now your post makes no sense. Briefly I was YamIhere... But you, and only you, can call me Yam!

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

I am so stupid..it took me several minutes to figure out what the heck this thread was about. I thought an "avatar" was the little picture or symbol you could choose to go with your name on a website.. like on tripadvisor.com ... I like those..

I don't really like the ones I see here that seem to be long strings of random numbers/letters .. not because I am mean or judgemental about it. but because I prefer to address people by their names( fake names are fine.. ) and remembering to type out x84^& so3yy2 is hard and so impersonal..

I prefer saying " hi sue" or " hi travelfiend" ..

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

OK, I've done my time in the sin bin, I've changed my personality again - can I come out now?

Posted by Diane
Ottawa
1154 posts

Were we playing "hide and go seek"? If so, yes, you can come out now... your feet were sticking out of East Midlands, so we knew all along where you were hiding... ;-)

Posted by Laura
Virginia, USA
2891 posts

Pat, you aren't stupid. An avatar is the little picture or symbol displayed by your name.

This post is really about display names or screen names.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
800 posts

According to Wikipedia under Avatar (Computing), an avatar can be either a symbol or a name. It is all about assuming another identity. Like a lot of other folks here, I think names, even fake ones, (with a location) are a reminder that there is a real person behind the message. That is necessary for a strong, shared sense of community.

I don't know which came first on other boards, the hostility or the use of avatars, but things get pretty heated from time to time on those boards where avatars are the norm. I trust the Rick Steves site to keep these discussions more civil; no matter what other changes occur here, I hope the sense of community remains.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3202 posts

From techterms.com/definition/avatar:
"Online discussion boards typically require users to register and provide information about themselves. Many give users the option to select an image file that represents the user's persona. This image, combined with a made-up username, serves as a person's avatar. For example, a user may select a picture of a Pac-Man and choose the name "pac32" for his avatar. This avatar typically appears next to each posting the user contributes in an online forum."

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

Yes, Just Old Nigel, you may come out now. The coughing has stopped.

And yes, we could see your feet.

Posted by Ilja
Seattle
1464 posts

I don't understand why some people cannot use their first name and have to use avatar. Or to use a fake name. What should we be afraid of? Is it some deep seeded paranoia? There is already so much information about us around, for example credit report, healthcare records, companies spying what we are looking for on internet and then of course Facebook. It's really funny when someone uses avatar and then you can find everything about them on Facebook. I noticed in Europe that people have their full name on the doorbell even outside on the street and also on their mailboxes. It seems to me that in this country this would be an exception.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3202 posts

"It seems to me that in this country this would be an exception."

llja, It didn't used to be. Back in the day people did that here too. Including name and address in the phone book. Times have changed. You're right though, any tech savvy person can find out tons of info on anyone online. But they need more than just your first name and state.
If on any forum you use your real first name, not your last name, and you put what state you're from... no one is going to be able to trace you. I think, for some people, avatars became "cool" to use. I've always thought they're dumb and pretentious. And I agree with Roy... I think many people are less polite when they use an avatar.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8732 posts

I noticed in Europe that people have their full name on the doorbell even outside on the street and also on their mailboxes.

Not in Paris. Nothing or just one or two initials by the bell buzzer, nothing on the doors of the flats, not even a number in many buildings I am familiar with.

Posted by Kim
Paris
541 posts

Contrary to your statement, Ed, I find that an excellent experiment (I mean, it showed quite effectively that it worked, didn't it?!!!)

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

"It is all about assuming another identity." Sort of. It's also because many website require every poster to have a unique name. I prefer to use my own name, but on many other websites, "Tom" and "Thomas" are already taken, so I have to make up something else. I know at least formerly, this website did not have such a rule, but I'm not sure about now. Is that why we suddenly have so many screen names like "Trvlpunk92"?

"I don't know which came first on other boards, the hostility or the use of avatars" I couldn't say exactly, but I remember plenty of trolling and flame wars on message boards in the early 90s, when avatars weren't yet very common.

I suspect this website keeps itself relatively civil mainly because it's well-policed by both the webmaster and users. I doubt it has much to do with real names versus avatars, although because the invasion of the avatars occurred fairly recently, it's probably too early to tell. Trolls are usually quickly removed and the deep knowledge pool of the contributors usually "outs" the fakers pretty quickly. There was a period several years ago of sometimes intense acrimony, however. It coincided with when that "traveler vs. tourist" nonsense was in full swing, and when some people confused "Travel as a Political Act" as "Travel with a smug superiority complex". And a certain poster in particular whose replies tended to raise the temperature in the room a little, you might say. Very few posters used avatars at that time.

Posted by Dave
Ventura, CA, USA
162 posts

"...and when some people confused "Travel as a Political Act" as "Travel with a smug superiority complex"
Thank you, Tom! That's the perfect description for that silly thread; sometimes a little brevity is in order. I can let it go now.
Cheers, Dave

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

A question - why have all of these 'KprX34-,,?'-type names popped up all of a sudden? The one opportunity I had to fake sign-up, I noticed my battery was dying, and I find it's a pain to log in LOL, so I haven't logged out to play with the system.

I'm guessing (per Laura's post) that now you can choose a separate screen name?

(But Laura, I like 'Laura'...soooooo, soooooo much better than 'knowing' you as 'KKhatesspuds449-skt494949'. Yuck.)

EDIT: Also, if I want my screen name to be 'Frank', but there is already a 'Frank', does the new sign-up procedure not allow me to be 'Frank', even though I want to be 'Frank, Texan in CA'?

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3578 posts

And you have been ;-)

So...if the sign-up procedures on the Travel Forum (yep - drinking the Kool-Aid) allow me to go by 'Frank, Texan in CA', then why on earth would I want to be 'krPZ-1773;QW/’ ?!?!? As 'Frank, Texan in CA', I can still be completely anonymous; no one has to know that I'm really a 2nd grader named Elizabeth...

Back in the day, I understood the 'Frank7’ and 'Bob-4' names; they weren't the first Frank and Bob to sign up. OK. But 'Llp$#^767676' ?!? That's not anonymous; that's robotic - at least 'R2D2' and 'C-3PO' roll off the tongue.

Everyone should just be 'Frank, fromblahblah' ;-)

Posted by Tom
Hüttenfeld, Hessen, Germany
9094 posts

Eileen, perhaps this forum has become popular on the planet Klingon.

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
800 posts

If you want to be Frank, go for it. Just list a hometown so we can tell the Franks apart. After all, we cannot all be Frank, but we should all be frank.

Posted by Rebecca
Nashville, TN, USA
644 posts

Eileen, dibs on "R2D2". I also like "KnitterMonkey", which is the name of a new poster asking a question in General Europe about traveling from Paris to Venice and back to Paris. The new wave of avatar names is certainly giving me some laughs!