You have all probably seen the new feature in Whyville - Star My Avatar. In this new Front Page application, a Whyvillian is given the opportunity to submit their face and get others to rate their face for them. The top ten are then featured and you get a score for what people have "Rated Your Face" as. I have an instinctive dislike for this feature because of how self-indulgent, image-centric and possibly harmful this could be to Whyvillians - especially ones of Whyville's younger age range.
At the moment, I have 116 votes and a score of 1.91. That's around 106 people voting 2, and 10 people voting 1 if we assume that no one voted more than 2 (in which case, people voting 1 would be higher). But there are people with a lot lower scores than me. The current limit to get into the top ten is 2.36 and there are hundreds of people who are getting under 2. Now, I just dropped a few parts on willy-nilly but some of the people with scores of 1.5 or lower look to have spent ages working on their face. How do these people feel about being voted so low?
Whyville, according to it's own "About Us" page is a site aimed at 8-15 year olds and many of the Whyvillians (possibly even a majority) are female. As is widely accepted, this is an age where people are very sensitive about their looks. It may seem like a very loose comparison but when people spend ages on their avatar - buying the right hair and putting it all in place - is it right for someone to then tell them it's rubbish? Is Whyville sending out the right messages by saying that the look of an avatar is the most important aspect?
If you look at the "Top ten", you can see that as the votes get higher, the score gets lower. All of the top ten are under 100, on general. This means that one acquires more votes, the score keeps getting lower and lower. Great morale boost, eh? Imagine feeling that the consensus of the people of Whyville is that your avatar is bad looking. How would you feel?
One might say that this was on opt-in scheme and that Whyville doesn't force you to do it. However, a score of 2 on this would be a reasonably good score for Star My Avatar but only if you compare it to everyone else and that's pretty hard. I know people who would be absolutely crushed, say, if they got 40% (the equivalent) on a test. Even the top scores which are achievable in this game (ranging usually from 2.8 - 3) don't seem good to an ordinary Whyvillian.
Do you know the other place that does this? Actual dating websites.
However, I can't ignore the fact that these are avatars. You are not getting your actual physical looks assessed. People might like this. It is reminiscent of the actual beauty contests that the newer Whyvillians are so fond of. I remember those. I never won a single one when I was a Newbie. Shortly after, I left Whyville (only to return again!). I then joined BLOBY which some of you might remember. Bearded Ladies for a Better Yville - trying to stop the need for people to be overly obsessed with looks. Check out BabyPowdr's article "This Rainbow's got a Beard" (#3837) about this. Neglecting newer Whyvillians because of looks is never a good thing. Will Star My Avatar not just promote this?
I thought Whyville was different! I thought we weren't going to conform to other websites. We had our science and maths and making faces was cool but we weren't going to judge people on their look. That was something for the new, materialistic age. No, we were cool kids because we were different. Obviously not. Ooooopppp, nominated for Contribution to the Times this year, is the great hero of this cause and has always been known for wild and wacky faces that didn't conform but were quite cool. Isn't this the way to go?
Since the start of this article, my rating has gone down to 1.85 with 123 votes. Last week, a kind, caring Whyvillian used their pearls to update my signature part (Snaily McSnail by KeishaJ) for me for 900 days. I hate to say it but Whyville doesn't think it was worth it.
This is Cobd . . .