Incenting The User To Put Up A Profile Picture

I have not seen this technique before, but it sure worked with me.

I logged into a brand new web service today and this was my default profile picture.

Changing it was the first thing I did.

Very clever.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Dave Hyndman

    That’s great!

  2. Lenny

    I have seen this happen on sites before. If your users are mainly male and you put up a female icon, you will get a higher rate of images uploaded.

  3. Matthias

    that’s really a smart idea, thanks for sharing!

  4. Nathaniel McNamara


  5. willcole

    This is great. I also like the idea of hiring an artist to create a series of high quality default profile pictures. The incentive wont be there but I think it makes the site look better; particularly when browsing users.

  6. Greg Cannon

    Brilliant! Obviously much better incentive than this silhouette/question mark deal disqus uses..

    1. obscurelyfamous

      It definitely is. This is changing asap!

  7. Perry

    Sruggling to find the reference but I recently read a study which showed that if you prefill a form with innacurate data people are signficantly more likely to correct it (and thereby complete the form) than they to complete the form given a blank set of fields. Unsurprisingly not a finding limited to Dick Cheney 🙂

  8. daryn

    I really like the idea behind gravatar ( ). Go there and register your email address and a picture, and then sites can check for a default picture there when creating your account / if you don’t upload one.The next step for them would be to allow participating sites to contribute profile pictures back into their system, which would add immense value as I can’t imagine too many people going there and registering on their own.

    1. fredwilson

      I like gravatarVery good ideaI don’t know why its not more popularFred

      1. peteski

        re: Gravatar How many sites are gravatar enabled?

        1. daryn

          No idea.. I first really noticed it fairly recently on Seesmic.I know that they have plugins for various blogging software and platforms (It is a project of Automattic — the people behind WordPress), and people have also written a couple cool non-web plugins, like for OS X’s Address Book, and for Thunderbird.Their blog is fairly active:

        2. Joe Lazarus

          Gravatar is owned by and integrated with WordPress. So, it’s enabled on at least the 2M+ WordPress blogs (plus probably hundreds of thousands of non-WP blogs). As of December ’07, they were serving 190M Gravatar requests per day…

  9. carlobm

    Hahaha. That sure is effective.

  10. Chris Papadopoulos

    That is pretty brilliant. Also, what web site was this image originally from?

  11. Phil Freo

    LinkedIn convinced me to finally upload a photo by telling me my profile was only 95% complete without one.

  12. jackson

    Ha ha ha….I love it! All I can say is bring it on!

  13. Shagata Ganai

    Glad you like being told what to do. You’ll do well in the new Fascist Amerika.

  14. Brandon

    the smart thing would be using Cheney for all democrats and Clinton for all republicans

  15. Joe G

    I call this the “hartford whalers” technique and first saw it used by in their registration flow a few years back. They noticed that users would not bother to list their favorite sports team if it was left blank – but if it was pre-populated with something that was not true, the desire not to have misinformation about them exist was very powerful.So what was the “favorite sports team” equivalent of having dick cheney as your profile photo? The Hartford Whalers. 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      The hartford whalers technique it is. I love it!

  16. christianbusch

    That’s a fantastic idea. We’ll add one to our site as well!

  17. Ray A.

    Hilarious! Great Idea.