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AliChat -- Lesson 1: Profile Picture

Welcome to the debut of my new weekly feature, which will hopefully evolve into a series of PSA's, how-to's, and stories about presenting yourself in a respectable fashion and relating to others, both on and off of OB (only less lame than that sounds).
It should be noted that I am not any sort of authority on this crap, so it's probably a good idea to take the shit that I spout pretty well salted. However, I am a world-class lurker and observer, and wouldn't be writing this if I didn't think I could seriously help you people out (and/or I really love telling people what not to do) (and/or I owe Booty a favor).

Anyway, my first topic will be your profile picture. Uploading a picture is one of the first things you should do on OB, and its importance cannot be stressed enough. I've written WAY too much about why your picture is important, why it should be good, what makes a good profile picture, what makes a bad picture, and some examples of the better profile photos on OB.

There's also a picture of a kitty.

One of the first and most important things to do on OB is upload a profile picture. Being without is roughly equivalent to wandering around in public with a bag over your head: everyone assumes there's a reason and wonders what you're hiding. People without profile pictures are generally taken less seriously (as are people with bags over their heads) and less likely to get profile views and comments (exception: "upload some profile pictures!"). If you are going for "mysterious," there are better ways.

Now, to choose a picture that follows the rules, which are detailed on the photo-uploading page ("Just about anything is okay, within a few guidelines: it must be a photograph of you, not a drawing. For legal reasons, pictures with nudity or copyright violations will not be allowed.") (that's right, "detailed"). While the mod fleet may try to keep you from uploading an otherwise bad photo (protip: include your face), the most ridiculous uploads stand a good chance of being approved just to be secretly mocked. It's best to remember that your profile pictures WILL be seen by at least one other person.

The next step would be choosing a GOOD profile picture. One of the important things to remember is that your default profile picture is placed next to profile views, comments, messages, and forum posts; it acts as your voice and avatar on OB. With a good default picture, people are more likely to view your profile, take your posts seriously, and not get creeped out when you leave them comments.
Good default profile pictures should be unique and recognizable. Good things to remember:
1. People will generally be seeing your profile picture BEFORE your name (if they read your name at all). Having a profile picture too similar to another member's (or several other members) will make it easy to get you confused with someone else. To avoid getting lost in the crowd, look around at other people's photos, and then do something different. (protip: webcam photo of you sitting in front of a computer is NOT different.)
2. Default photos are resized for profiles, comments, messages, posts, and the sidebar... pretty much everything. Be sure to pick out a picture that still looks like something (preferably you) at 50 pixels wide. (protip: vertical photos are not quite so compressed.)
(protip the second: this does not mean your photo should have a 1:8 width to height ratio... something in the area of 3:4 is loads more sensible.)
3. Avoid the basic faux pas:
-- Washed out. Webcams do this. It's not always avoidable, but warm light, colored clothing, and tinkering with photoshop can usually bring some saturation back to the picture.
-- White space. While composition is important, making use of the space is better.
-- High School yearbook photo. These are photos that are completely without personality and just scream "GENERIC." Some people pull this off. Most can not. It's best to assume you're one of the latter.
-- Text. It's not readable, often misspelled, and will likely lead to a photo mockery meme. (protip: exceptionally ridiculous photos, with or without text, OFTEN lead to photo mockery memes.)
-- REALLY TINY. Just because your photo is resized on the boards doesn't mean you shouldn't use a larger one in your profile. Give people a reason to look you up!
-- Changing your default photo every day (or, you know... a lot). Some people can pull this off. Most can not. It's best to assume you're one of the latter.

Ideally, your profile photos should all be usable as defaults (exceptions include group photos with other OB members, maybe full body shots that just don't look good 50 pixels wide, etc. I hope you're getting the idea).
This does not mean they should all be virtually identical! 10 shots you sitting in front of a computer webcam should not fill your gallery. Show off the facets of your personality, and prove that you're more exciting than a wet cardboard box! (protip: if you aren't more exciting than a wet cardboard box, then the above rule need not apply.)

The last thing to remember is that you don't need access to a professional photographer for good profile pictures. You're a real person, and it's entirely okay to look like one. (protip: if you're not a real person, then the above rule need not apply.)

examples - The Spyrral - It's distinctive and recognizable, no matter what size.  Has enough attitude to give posts additional character.
The Spyrral
It's distinctive and recognizable, no matter what size. Has enough attitude to give posts additional character.
examples - Ninjer - Not a typical pose, which makes it really easy to pick out his posts on the forum.  It's a flattering picture with personality.
Ninjer
Not a typical pose, which makes it really easy to pick out his posts on the forum. It's a flattering picture with personality.
examples - Otakutre - You stop when you see this one in a forum. The white backdrop makes it stand out, and it's extremely flattering and recognizable.
Otakutre
You stop when you see this one in a forum. The white backdrop makes it stand out, and it's extremely flattering and recognizable.
examples - Cat - Proof that even grainy photos work really well! It makes Cat and her posts easy to recognize. (This is also a good example of vertical cropping)
Cat
Proof that even grainy photos work really well! It makes Cat and her posts easy to recognize. (This is also a good example of vertical cropping)
examples - Vasha - Another example of a good vertical photo, but also a colorful one that really stands out on the page.
Vasha
Another example of a good vertical photo, but also a colorful one that really stands out on the page.
examples - The prettiest inbox... - At 50 pixels wide (with added shitty jpeg compression), these people STILL look good.
The prettiest inbox...
At 50 pixels wide (with added shitty jpeg compression), these people STILL look good.
examples - the kitty, as promised. -
the kitty, as promised.
  

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