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Building Social Web Applications by Gavin Bell

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Chapter 12. Managing Identities

Identity is an essential part of how people interact online. The faith you have in someone’s identity will color your interactions with that person. The “Real Name” badge on Amazon, for example, clearly identifies who is writing reviews by using the reviewer’s name from her credit card, giving the reviews more credibility. Profile pages for the people on your site are another key component of this. In this chapter, we’ll look at the wider issue of identity on the Internet and how this affects your site.

Existing Identities

People will come to your site with an existing identity on the Internet, but all too often we ignore this potential context and set up new identities that they cannot reuse. A simple example is the square avatar, which is a visual representation of a person. Sites usually recommend that people choose an image to use for their avatar. Most people use a photo of themselves, but this is not obligatory; providing emotionless defaults tends to encourage people to add their own image and give a better representation of their identity. Many sites use a 48×48 pixel image, but some use an image that’s 60×60, and others use one that’s 128×128 pixels. Lately, the trend is for larger avatars. If you request one of the standard sizes, people are more likely to have an image of the right size on hand. Do not force people to find an image of themselves, open an editor, crop the image, and then export it because you think a 160×120 image suits your ...

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