Wavatars: New Faces

By Shamus Posted Sunday Apr 27, 2008

Filed under: Projects 32 comments

Rather than trying to watch the last five or six posts for new comments, I usually just follow the WordPress moderation queue. This lets me see all new comments, even when they appear on months-old posts. The only downside to this was that I couldn’t see the avatars for everyone. It’s much easier to remember people and what they’ve said previously if you have a “face” to go with the name, so this was a major drawback for me.

The good news is that now that I’ve upgraded to WordPress 2.5, this moderation queue shows Gravatar icons for each user. The bad news is that I can now confirm that the Wavatars generated by Gravatar.com are different from the Wavatars generated by my original plugin. Which means the faces I see don’t match the faces you see. Sigh.

One of my goals for that project was for people to get a wavatar in a deterministic way, so that your Wavatar at Chatty DM will match your Wavatar here at Twenty Sided, which will match the Wavatars at any of the other 1,000+ sites that have downloaded the plugin.

Now everyone will have two Wavatars associated with their email, and which one you get will depend on where it was generated.

I’m not sure why this change was made. It doesn’t look like they added more parts to allow for more permutations, it’s just… different. I can’t imagine what the benefit would be of going in and changing this. I don’t have access to the Wavatars source being used at Gravatars.com, so I can’t even tell what the difference is.

I realize this is probably trivial to most people. It’s certainly not hurting anyone. This is just one of those displeasing situations that drive engineers nuts. I’m sure I’m being pedantic in worrying about it, but obsessing over details like this and wanting disparate systems to inter-operate gracefully is in the blood of anyone who writes software for a living.

To this end, I might alter my site to use the Gravatar.com versions. This will mean the faces will match again, although it also means the faces you’ve come to know here will all be “re-rolled”.



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32 thoughts on “Wavatars: New Faces

  1. Tango says:

    At least you have a plan :)

  2. Davesnot says:

    Well.. I suppose I have to say something meaningless to see if my face is still my face… so.. here ya go.. something meaningless.. uh.. less.

  3. ArcoJedi says:

    “…in the blood of anyone who writes softwae for a living.”
    You mean “software”. And you are right, it certainly could have been implemented better. Sorry to nitpick.

  4. Avaz says:

    It really sucks that different softwares (and their engineers) compete with each other instead of coming together and cooperating. Meh, that’s business for ya.

  5. onosson says:

    Roll away… I’d actually like my next wavatar to have more than one tooth, and no unibrow, so anything will probably be an improvement!

  6. DGM says:

    Hmm… My first wavatar made me look like an inbred hick. My current one makes me look like I’m stoned out of my mind. So I say roll it; I figure either it’ll be third time lucky or I’ll have proof that Shamus secretly hates me and designed the plug-in accordingly. ;)

  7. Zaghadka says:

    Wow. You mean I might not be retarded looking smiley face guy?

    You need to write an extension that “rolls” all sleek and handsome avatars and call it Suaveatars or something.

  8. Dev Null says:

    As an inveterate commenter on old posts, I always did wonder if anyone saw them. But then, I don’t use the default Wavatar, so I don’t much mind which Wavatar its generating for me. Still, I have to admit, the main appeal of the original system was that it _was_ deterministic, so you do have to wonder why someone changed that – and apparently only that – aspect of the system…

  9. ArchU says:

    I’d better get drawing so I can upload some kind of cranky likeness…heaven forbid my icon should stop being a surprised looking cog.

  10. McNutcase says:

    Well, if we really, really like our Shamus-rolled Wavatars, I guess we could always grab the images and use them as Gravatars.

    Or just quit worrying about trivial stuff.

  11. mookers says:

    Suaveatars FTW! I love it.

  12. SimeSublime says:

    Interestingly enough, nobody who’s posted here so far has changed from the descriptions in their posts.

  13. Miral says:

    Something to bear in mind is that the wavatar plugin gets the “real” email address, while gravatar.com only gets an MD5 hash of it. And within the wavatar code you’re taking your own MD5 hash to operate on and work out which parts to show.

    My “just stupid enough to probably be what actually happened” theory is that the gravatar.com version is still taking an MD5 hash (of the hash they already have), and not using the hash directly.

    I tend to use different email addresses at different sites, so I wouldn’t have the same wavatar on different sites anyway. :) Though I’ll probably be a little disappointed if I lose my current wavatar on this site — I think it’s kinda cool ;)

    Have you tried contacting them and asking about it? As the original author of the plugin/system they’re using they ought to pay attention to you…

  14. Shamus says:

    ArcoJedi: Fixed. Thanks.

  15. Mario says:

    I wouldn’t mind a reroll; mine looks slightly deranged. Like McNutcase said, everyone can keep the old Wavatar if they like it better anyway.

  16. I was wondering how you had pulled off having the same Wavatars on 2 different sites.

    Whatever you do, let me know, I’ll go the same way so commenters on both our sites have the same Wavatar.

  17. Stu says:

    Boo! I thought my wavatar was particular impressive – I hope I don’t get a bogus one next time round. :-P

  18. Deoxy says:

    “I like myself just the way I am. [clinking sound as nose-lightbulb pops]”

    I actually like my current Wavatar… but yeah, I bet Miral is correct as to what happened.

  19. Pekka says:

    Can you see how your Wavatar is going to look without actually commenting? Well, since I asked this, you don’t really need to answer ;-)

    Hmm, you can edit this after commenting. I don’t see how to cancel, though. Up the Mister Moderator, I suppose.

  20. McNutcase says:

    Chatty: Actually, if I ever comment on your site, I’ll have a different Wavatar there. My e-mail address will hash differently, because I use the +foo method of ensuring any emails sent by any site carry that site’s name as payload whenever I can. Some sites for some reason regex a +foo as rendering the address invalid, and I hate that…

  21. Froody says:

    Roll ahead, it’s hurting nobody of us, as you said, and if it’s annoying to you, then just solve it ;)

    (Also, I don’t like my current one :P )

  22. @McNutcase: Ah Well… I’m so not technically qualified to understand any of this… :)

  23. Graham says:

    So here’s the big question.

    The Wavatars plugin generates one Wavatar for someone, which is the same across every site.

    The Gravatar implementation generates another Wavatar for someone.
    …is it the same across multiple sites at least?

  24. Shamus says:

    Graham: Good question. I can’t think of a good way to test that right now, though.

  25. Zukhramm says:

    I would prefer to have consistancy, to have the same Wavatar everywhere, even if that means a wipe of my beautiful face.

  26. Kristin says:

    Yay! New wavatar!

  27. Phlux says:

    My guess is that when Gravatar decided to consolidate all of these various icon plugins, they noticed that everyone used some form of hash function to generate a unique ID. Probably not everyone uses email address as that field, and not everyone uses the same hash function.

    The Gravatar programmers probably went in and changed them around so that the hash number was the same across all plugins. In fact they probably just used whatever hash function they use for their own system.

  28. Graham says:

    Shamus –

    For how to test this, we’d need to look at it on 2 blogs and check if they’re different. Easy enough.

    Checking on both mine and ChattyDM’s servers… with multiple emails…

    Both servers do display the same Wavatar using the Gravatars implementation for an individual email. The name and website given do not affect this.

    Perhaps they’re just using a different hash, instead of md5?

  29. Uninverted says:

    I wouldn’t mind the reset at all; I’m not really digging the slow-looking wavatar in front of a pink background.

  30. RPharazon says:

    A reroll would be nice. I really don’t like my wavatar. It’s pink, hexagonal, sad, crazy, and has a monocle.

    I did go to gravatar.com a month or so ago, but for some reason it stopped working soon afterwards. I couldn’t be bothered to go back again.

  31. Neilandio says:

    just seeing mmy wavatar

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