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I have noticed that on message boards, that we use the name avatar for the picture on our profiles. On Facebook and Twitter they are called profile pictures, and on Skype it is called Display Picture.

I know, in general, everyone should know the word avatar if you make an online profile before the recent change to Profile Picture.

Which term is correct for the modern web 2.0 era which we are in? Should I assume to call it a profile picture now over avatar and display picture?

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For me have all those terms slightly different meaning...

Avatar is something, what I use on website, where my nick is "UX Fanatic" - my profile could be important and have valuable info, but it's not linked to my real name (like some community forum for example). I am expecting that avatar will not contain my actual face, but some movie star / abstract art / animation...

Profile picture is ... picture of my profile. It evokes that my profile is important part of website (Facebook, Twitter...) and most likely it's somehow linked with my real life (real name, personal informations...). I am also expecting to see my face on profile picture.

Display picture is like "hey, your profile is not important, but if somebody will ask, we will display this". My profile is not important at all, more important are data and there is only small chance that somebody will look for informations on my profile page (OneDrive, DropBox...).

  • Wholeheartedly agree with this, and would add that in Web 2.0, where sharing your real identity has become the norm, "Profile picture" should be the default. The major exception would be gaming, and I think gamers are more likely to know the term avatar than non-gamers due to the term's long association there. – TzeraFNX Oct 7 at 15:59

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