I’ve always been a big fan of avatars. I consider them an easy way to clearly identify who’s posting what on a message board, and something that allows one to be unique and creative. When it comes to blogs, we’re beginning to see more and more of them using avatars for the same reason. Wherever I can, whenever I can, I’ll use the same one, as a matter of consistency and recognizability across the blogosphere. Many of the sites that require registration will allow you to upload an image to be used as an avatar, and still others are compatible with Gravatar (including the Chamber). Needless to say, I think that it’s pretty cool to see the purple throwing star all over the place.
Sadly, however, I’d say that the majority of netizens that cruise the blogs haven’t embraced this concept. All too often, Chamber visitors are left with the familiar and annoyingly generic beside their posts. Sometimes I just want to say “Get a damn avatar already!” In fact, I was actually frustrated enough to so some research and see if there was a way to replace the with something more interesting and Chamber-specific. Alas, I discovered that there isn’t much I could do that doesn’t include manually entering the avatar in for each comment. I can’t force people to take a few minutes and set themselves up.
The whole process of researching this got me thinking. Maybe these little frustrations can spawn great ideas? Perhaps I could use (or abuse, as it turns out) Gravatar and gmail to use the little icons a little more interactively? After a little shootout with Tex (pardon the pun) in one of the previous threads, it finally dawned on me. Chamber emblems!
The idea I’m running with here basically involves my selective use of avatars to assign Chamber commentors in certain situations. Depending on the comment, they could be used as either “gold stars” or “demerits”. Or, I could use them as some sort of Chamber Scarlett letter. Now, this is still a work in progress, but here are a few examples:
Straw Man- Assigned to commentors who insist on laying out some crappy straw man argument.
Ad Hominem- It’s been an unwritten (originally written) rule that the use of an Ad hominem argument was a concession of defeat here in the Chamber. Hence, the white flag.
Wonder Palm (aka Buddha Palm) I often use kung fu metaphors around here, and anyone who has seen the movie Iron Monkey (video) could tell you that a well-placed strike with Wonder Palm will leave an opponent whimpering back home in humiliating defeat (not to mention sporting a fresh palm print on their body). If kung fu was a metaphor for debate, well, I think you can figure it out (although I was leaning toward using the icon to acknowledge the giver of the blow, instead of the recipient). In other words, this would be a good avatar to have by your comment.
I’m still working on more, and I’m certainly open to suggestions/ideas on this, so consider this an open thread for that purpose. Or, if you think I’ve gone off the deep end, you can tell me that instead. No big deal.
In the meantime, I’m going to test the feature here with a few comments…
Update: I almost forgot. I’ve going to have a table in the sidebar with the list of emblems, complete with page links to descriptions for each one (like a key). The beta table is there now.
Update: Here is the current table of emblems, as found in the sidebar: