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Avatar change released Tuesday, Feb 5

Hi everyone,

Some of you may notice that the avatar that represents you have changed. For people who have not chosen their own avatars, we are now defaulting to the first letter of your username in a colored circle instead of the red fork and spoon on the plate.

If you want to change your avatar, you can do so on your profile. Just click "view profile" in the upper right corner of the site, and then you will see your avatar on the righthand side of your profile. Underneath the avatar you will see the words "upload avatar." Click on that in order to update or personalize the image that represents you!

Let us know if you have any questions,


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Avatars are not rendering properly on Chrome or Firefox.

    Unique user-chosen avatars are too big and overlap the text.

    Default avatars that are now the first letter of the username are too small.

    Need a "Goldilocks" fix ...

    7 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      Agree on the Goldilocks fix, please. Cannot see my entire avatar (not that people can read what it says without hovering over it, but still...)

      Interestingly, I do *not* have the too-large avatar issue, as some others have mentioned on another thread (square boxes vs. round).

      1. re: ipsedixit

        Ditto - please fix. First few letters of a post are not readable.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Thirded. I've tried Firefox, Chrome, and IE8 - in all three, avatars overlap the text, and the microscopic initial letters are not appearing "in a colored circle" but are just randomly appearing below usernames on a white background. They don't look like an avatar, just a random stray lower-case letter.

          Also, the screen still "bounces" after I post a comment. And it's still unpleasant.

          Edited to add: Actually, in both IE8 and Firefox the initial letters are appearing in teeny-tiny LOWER-CASE type on a white background. Also, on my profile page (and on the profile pages of others) in the blocks of "People I'm Reading" and "People Reading Me" the single letter avatars apparently force a line break, so that instead of one bigh block of small avatars, there's a short line of a few personally-selected avatars, then a single letter, then another single letter, then another short line of avatars, and so on.

          HOWEVER, in Chrome the single letter avatars are capital letters, do appear in colored circles, and on profile pages the avatars in "People Reading Me" etc. all appear in one big block. So in Chrome at least the "new default avatars" are working the way they were intended to.

          Personally selected avatars are too big and overlap text in the posts in all three browsers.

          There appears to be a different color for each letter of the alphabet. I agree with posters who have pointed out that this makes it easier to confuse posts by users with different usernames but the same initial. With the old default avatar that was the same for ALL users it was easy to ignore the avatar, knowing it was the default - these multicolored ones are much harder to ignore.

          1. re: Allstonian

            Agree - the SCREEN BOUNCE would have been a more appropriate first fix vs. changing the non-specified avatars.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              Hi LindaWhit,

              We did push a fix for the bounce in yesterday's release. Are you still seeing it happening?


              1. re: mudaba

                It has been doing so this morning. Let's see if it does with this response....

                ETA: Yes, it leaves the response, the screen scrolls down a bit, and then back up to have the comment being replied *to* and the comment I just left visible on my screen.

                1. re: mudaba

                  I am still seeing bouncy posts today.

          2. On Safari the avatars are rendering too large and overlapping the first few letters of a post. Not horrible, but it looks a bit amateurish. Not a bitch - just an fyi.

            18 Replies
                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  Wait... you see the avatars as Square? I see them as Circles.

                  Plus, I agree with everyone about the letter in the color block. It looks very childish. Nothing to do with Chowhound At All. Oh! I guess that's what they were going for.

                  1. re: Gio

                    LOL, earlier I saw squares, circles and ovals depending on the width of the letter. So, I thought the capital letter was being "hugged" in color based on the letter shape so a "J" is inside an oval and a "W" is inside a square....wow...this is really silly.

                    Right now I'm seeing capital letter avatars surrounding by a colored square.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      If the original post is someone without an avatar, the new default avatar seems to go oval. See pic below.

                      Otherwise, I only see circle avatars (various colors, arbitrarily assigned) with a white initial in the middle.

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Possible for you to post a higher res screen shot? I can't make out what the "correct" avatar is supposed to look like.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Linda, your name is right on top of your avatar. This is obscuring the avatar and making it quite difficult to read your name. Well, actually your name isn't difficult to read, but the username of people who are using photos as avatars with the usernames on top of the photo, both end up obscured.

                          I can sort of see why the default avatar was changed to the single letter (lower case? Why not upper case like the first letter to the start of a book or sometimes a magazine article?) Why would the username be superimposed on the avatar? This cannot be a problem with my browser since I'm on Internet Explorer 8 which is a Microsoft product.

                          Oh, if it matters, the avatar is square but obscured.

                          1. re: LindaWhit

                            apparently, until addressed, there are a number of different ways we are each seeing default avatars.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              Yeah, I realized after I posted that pic that it was a lousy shot. Is large enough on my screen; not so much on screen. Let's see if this is any better...

                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                ROFL... Don't tell me you see that Lozenge with a white letter. I don't believe it.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  That's EXACTLY what it is - a purple lozenge with an "F" in it for Fowler. :-D

                            2. re: HillJ

                              I see dead people. All right. No. I'm sorry. The devil made me... This latest ahem update it just plain silly and not at all necessary. Of course, as always, This is only my opinion.

                              1. re: Gio

                                LOL...devils in the details. If Chowhounds had been asked by Site Talk announcement to create a customized/select avatar of their own choosing/liking/design then this circle/square/oval capital letter default wouldn't have been necessary.

                                Sometimes it pays to just tell "us" what you want.

                            3. re: Gio

                              Seriously? What browser? I see them as a square in both IE and FF. Same rendering issue in both places, too. Running on Windows 7.

                              Letter in a color block?? Not on this end. See attached.

                              Cross-browser, cross-OS compatibility, be damned! Testing, be damned! It's amateur hour over at Chow.com. Sorry to be harsh, Chow engineering team, but this feels like 1996 all over again.

                              1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                Awww... DQP... don't worry. I'm sure The Team will sort it all out in due time. Of course we'll all be grey haired from waiting by then. Either that or raiding the fridge for sustenance.

                                I'm using the latest edition of Fire Fox. I see white letters in round circles that vary in color for different members. At first I thought they represented some sort of undercover team. But soon saw that everyone without a custom avatar had these anti-food symbols.

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                  davis, I posted just above a larger version - hopefully you can see that.

                              2. re: davis_sq_pro

                                Nor on this end. Everything is a jumbled mix on Firefox.

                            4. re: corneygirl

                              Thanks for the heads-up on rendering issues. We'll be pushing a fix for this later today to make sure the avatars are properly rendering everywhere.


                            5. I first noticed the change due to the wavy pattern of avatars on the people reading me section of my profile.

                              The new default avatars display 50% higher than the others.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                I use Chrome, and they are in a straight line, all the same size.

                              2. It's not working in Internet Explorer 8. The avatars are overlapping the username and making it almost impossible to read the username. For those without a personalized avatar, there is a lower case letter for the first letter of the username, but what't the point of that? Is this more change for change's sake? Go back to the default fork and spoon, it looks better. Or, drop the single, lower-case letter that is under the username, it looks weird and pointless.

                                1. A good reminder that I should get a non-default avatar!

                                  I like the idea of having different default avatars to distinguish users on a thread. The single-letter avatars are bright and pop-out, and I initially thought that a good thing. However, as the number of users on a thread with the same first initial increases, it becomes a distraction. For example, when "Mickey," "Minney," and "Donald" are in a thread together, it's easy to mistake which "M" person is saying what. At least with the homogenous avatars that came by default before, you quickly learn to tune them out.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: hyperbowler

                                    When the avatars defaulted to a fork/spoon they all looked the same too. I have no idea why first letter of s/n was decided on to replace the other default...but it looks childish.

                                  2. I'm on FF and while the default avatars are large they do not overlap anything. But the funny thing is that in the bank of people reading me the circles look like balloons bouncing up and down. They are not in a straight line across... At first I thought that was cute. But really it's just ridiculous.

                                    Also, the last 2 columns of avatars on the profile page are hidden off to the right and cannot be viewed...

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Gio

                                      I use Fire Fox also. The letter avatars are positioned slightly off kilter.

                                    2. +1 on rendering is all screwed up on FireFox.

                                      Please do some usability testing before releasing changes! Maybe time to hire a QA person or two?

                                      1. That is an incredibly strange decision... the letters have nothing to do with "Chowhound". What is the meaning behind such a decision?

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: iluvcookies

                                          Exactly. At least the fork and knife on a plate made sense!

                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                            The knife and fork image represented the symbol used in tourist guides for eating places, not people. Not that the new default avatar has much personality either, but maybe that's the point.

                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                              I understand. That knife/fork image still made a lot more sense than billiard balls with initials on them.

                                          2. re: iluvcookies

                                            This is what happens when tech people have too much time on their hands.

                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                              Yep... and tech people are usually not designers either.

                                          3. Wait, you get just a single tiny letter if you don't have an avatar? What's the point of this?

                                            I suggest that Chow invite some regular members to form a group that will preview and privately vet usability changes prior to their being rolled out. Clearly some kind of reality check, and a lot more QA, are both desperately needed.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                              "Wait, you get just a single tiny letter if you don't have an avatar? What's the point of this?"

                                              Subtle (ha) encouragement to get a damn avatar! ;-D>

                                            2. It sounds like there are some questions about why we would change default avatars. I can answer those: we want to bring more color and variety to the page, making it more engaging and easier to browse. We saw in user testing that there was confusion about pages that had numerous forks/spoons, and that the idea of the back-and-forth discussion was being lost on those long pages for those who were new to Chowhound.

                                              We are also hoping this can be a reminder to users that they can and should choose their own images to represent themselves!


                                              13 Replies
                                              1. re: mudaba

                                                "We are also hoping this can be a reminder to users that they can and should choose their own images to represent themselves!"

                                                As I just posted above with slightly different wording...

                                                1. re: mudaba

                                                  What about the problem with not being able to read the username with those posters that DO have avatars. The username is superimposed on the avatar. I have difficulty reading the username and seeing exactly what image the avatar is supposed to represent. By the way, a single letter is not as colorful as the red default avatar.

                                                  1. re: John E.

                                                    Hey John E., you still have a knife and fork and yours is in a circle. The only circle I can see using IE8, I might add.

                                                    1. re: grayelf

                                                      i'm seeing the same thing for John E only. i'm on Firefox.

                                                      maybe he actually chose that as his avatar!

                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                        The explanation is below -- John E had a cached copy from before the update and nabbed the knife'n'fork. Duchess Nukem has it too now :-).

                                                  2. re: mudaba

                                                    <We are also hoping this can be a reminder to users that they can and should choose their own images to represent themselves!>

                                                    I say if you're going to use a stick rather than a carrot, go all out. If someone refuses to upload an avatar, just replace that tiny letter with the words "is an idiot." That'll learn 'em. Then I can see "small h is an idiot" over and over, until I cave and upload an avatar.

                                                    1. re: small h

                                                      Know what sucks? You have a small letter for your avatar -- on my end at least -- and it's an "s" rather than an "h." Adding insult to injury. *sigh*

                                                      1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                                        I know. Let it serve as an illustration of exactly how bad this design decision is.

                                                        1. re: small h

                                                          Good illustrations have lots of curliques. Like what Spirographs give you. ;-)

                                                    2. re: mudaba

                                                      I'm not sure how this is an improvement. It looks awful.

                                                      I take it that it's not supposed to appear this way??

                                                      (I am using Firefox at the moment)

                                                      1. re: magic

                                                        Partially fixed now.

                                                        However, the icons are not lining up properly. See pic.

                                                        1. re: magic

                                                          Yep - same here. But at least the icons are showing up correctly now!

                                                    3. Everything seems to be fixed now, but my god, it looks like I'm playing that "Bubbles" game on iPad ...

                                                      1. Hi everybody.

                                                        We released a fix this morning that should've taken care of the bulk of broken styles on the new avatars. A fix is on the way for the alignment issues in Firefox on profile pages, where avatars for people you're reading or who are reading you were not lined up. Avatar styles may still appear wonky in IE8 though; unfortunately we no longer support IE8, only the two most recent versions of all browsers, so in this case IE9 and IE10.

                                                        As for the folks who were reporting still seeing "bouncy" replies, we released a fix for that this morning as well.

                                                        Hope that all helps.

                                                        10 Replies
                                                        1. re: DeborahL

                                                          Testing the bouncy replies.....

                                                          ETA: AND it works - thank you!

                                                          1. re: DeborahL

                                                            <<unfortunately we no longer support IE8, only the two most recent versions of all browsers, so in this case IE9 and IE10>>

                                                            Does this strike anyone else as arbitrary, bordering on silly?

                                                            According to http://arstechnica.com/information-te... , which is the first hit in a Google search for "web browser market share 2012," as of last September:

                                                            - IE had the largest desktop browser market share, at around 54%.
                                                            - IE8 accounted for the lion's share of this 54%, well ahead of IE9. Unless I misread the graphs, that made it the single most popular desktop browser.
                                                            - IE6 and IE7 still saw substantial usage.

                                                            NB: Windows 8 and IE10 were about to be released.

                                                            Since Windows XP doesn't support IE9 or IE10, Chowhound no longer supports any Microsoft browser on that operating system, thereby disenfranchising all XP users, especially in corporate environments, who are not able to or choose not to install a third-party browser.

                                                            Does anyone else find this disturbing?

                                                            Edited to correct typo. (Was mistyped as "web browser market share 2010.")

                                                            1. re: meatme

                                                              According to http://arstechnica.com/information-te..., which is the first hit in a Google search for "web browser market share 2010," as of last September: ...

                                                              Wait, you do realize it's 2013, right?

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                <<Wait, you do realize it's 2013, right?>>

                                                                Had you read the article--or read my post with greater care--rather than gone for easy snark, you'd have realized that I committed a minor typo.

                                                                As I said, it's the market share as of *last September*, just four months ago.

                                                                Thanks for catching this. I've edited the original post to correct the typo.

                                                              2. re: meatme

                                                                I just bought a new Dell laptop in October. IE 9 had several 'issues' that made it not work properly with the new Dell laptop so I went back to IE 8. The tech staff at CBS/Chow is feeding bullshit to the people that make the decisions at Chow/Chowhound. They are having difficulty with simple issues with the Chow website. Issues that they created and don't wish to solve so they say they won't support a relatively recent web browser. If there are problems with IE 8 that are not supported, I'll have no choice but to abandon Chowhound and recommend the same to others.

                                                                1. re: meatme

                                                                  IE 8 makes up about 6% of our visitors. It's not insignificant and it's not an easy decision, but we had to drop support for IE 8 for a few reasons.

                                                                  1. It's very outdated, and holds back a lot of development. It does not support current standards and the latest version of important code libraries do not support IE 8.
                                                                  2. We are a small engineering team with limited resources, and with the growing need to support multiple browsers and platforms, including the growth in mobile platforms, we had to make this tough decision.
                                                                  3. It's pretty common industry practice to support only the two most recent versions of any browser. IE is now on version 10. As we mentioned earlier, Google dropped support for IE 8 on Nov. 15th 2012. We supported IE 8 for just a little bit longer.

                                                                  As far as this change goes, I believe the only difference in IE is that the avatars appear square instead of round, which was already the case before the default avatars were changed. With little exception, the differences in IE 8 so far are largely cosmetic.

                                                                  1. re: meshane

                                                                    Thanks for the thoughtful, detailed reply.

                                                                    I suppose I'd ask whether that 6% is specifically of desktop/laptop-computer visitors (i.e., page hits?), or whether it includes portable devices, none of which run IE8 at all. Chowhound interaction is still more suited to machines with larger screens and keyboards.

                                                                    I'd also ask whether there were other browsers you continue to support that represent less than IE8's share of your visitors, and if so, whether it would make more sense to support the most popular eight (or ten, or however many) browsers overall, rather than arbitrarily the two most recent versions of each.

                                                                    I'd also point out that Google has an incentive to drop support for IE8, as they push--and push and push and push--the use of their own Chrome browser. I'd imagine that you guys are more agnostic.

                                                                    But I won't ask or point out these things, because the deed is done.

                                                                    In any case, I've noticed only minor formatting differences between my IE8 and IE9 machines, also including the shape of the boxes surrounding entries in the "Replies" column of board pages. Things like that are certainly livable, causing no loss of functionality, at least not so far.

                                                                    Again, thanks for the response.

                                                                    1. re: meatme

                                                                      One aspect of outdated browsers, is that they tend to have more openings for hacking/compromise. The older the version, the more time for there to have been hacks, and the more time for them to be distributed. It's only good sense to use updated software/browsers that have the latest fixes when you're maintaining a site with hundreds of thousands of peoples' data.

                                                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                        Microsoft continues to provide security updates for IE8, and (tens of?) millions of Windows XP users, particularly in corporate environments, have no alternative browser available.

                                                                        <<It's only good sense to use updated software/browsers that have the latest fixes when you're maintaining a site with hundreds of thousands of peoples' data.>>

                                                                        This refer to corporations that doggedly stick with XP/IE8 and not to Chow's decision to drop IE8 support, right?

                                                                  2. re: meatme

                                                                    I cant use a google browser either, in my corporate setting, they are blocking it now. the fact is IE8 is still a major browser reality for a lot of us for most of the day.

                                                                    a smartphone really doesnt substitute for adding content to the site.

                                                                    It is darned annoying as it gets more and more difficult to actually interact with chowhound. some of its coming on the corporate side, but some from the chowhound side.

                                                                    Also, we have several home computers that are still on XP with no upgrade in sight (those at least have flex re the browsers we can use.)

                                                                    Were not all out on the latest apple product out here!

                                                                2. Thanks anyway Duchess, I figured it out.

                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: John E.

                                                                      But you've started a movement....

                                                                      "And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said
                                                                      fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice's Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may think it's a movement."


                                                                      1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                        But, of course you can join me as a union brother. (so to speak)

                                                                        1. re: John E.

                                                                          I do kind of like the cutlery solidarity. (Alphabet-Flouting-Louts/Cutlery-Implementing-Oddballs, as it were.) But if it becomes important for you to be the single standardbearer, just speak up. :)

                                                                          1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                            Nah, I'm just a rebel. Let's do it together. (But of course anyone can lift it and use it as well.) I happened to remember that I recently copied and pasted part of a Chowhound thread onto an MS Word document to remember a user name in relation to the thread so I lifted the avatar from that before seeing your reply. The ironic thing is, just a couple of days ago, I posted my first avatar to my username that was a photo of my father and grandparents that was taken in about 1936.

                                                                      1. The letters are not correctly centered vertically in Chrome, it looks pretty ghetto.

                                                                        1. any way to make a mini avatar show up on the collapsed thread?