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If you're screening your follow requests, it's probably not a good idea to reject or block someone just because their profile picture is empty.

There are many blind people on the Fediverse who don't use profile pictures. For example, the writer Robert Kingett at @blindscribe doesn't use one.

The most reliable way to screen accounts on here is just to read what they have posted, as this better reflects what kind of account they are.

@feditips and make sure you check on the originating instance as if they're interacting with bad instances you may not realise just seeing from your instance.

Plus your instance may not show any bio or posts or the pic, whereas the originating instance is.

@feditips Great tip! I had no idea people were doing this, either! I'd also suggest maybe adding people to a list first if you want to give them a try for a while.

@blindscribe

I think it started from spam bots on Twitter who originally tended to have no profile picture, and people started associating lack of avatar on profiles with spam.

But modern spam bots do have profile pictures (usually from some random stock archive) so it doesn't even make sense to believe this any more.

@feditips@mstdn.social @blindscribe@writing.exchange I’ve seen where fedi people state explicitly that if you don’t say anything about yourself on your profile, then it’s an auto deny.

For me, I look for a bio - even the tiniest of bios - because that tells me someone put in effort to tell random passersby what they’re interested in. Before now, a lack pf profile picture was also a turnoff but now I know better.

@blindscribe @feditips I was pretty sure that Mastodon, at least, didn't let you add somebody to a list unless you follow them first...

@mattcen @feditips Oh yeah, you have a point! I was thinking it was the default to let people add stuff to lists without following them.

@feditips
Sometimes missing profile pics are simply bugs.
The first days I had a webp image as banner on my pleroma account. I always wondered why mastodon instances did not show my banner and profile pic (jpeg) at all when all other software was displaying them.
Then I noticed: Mastodon does not support webp and seems to crash while fetching (or displaying) when webp is used.
So I changed my banner to jpeg and banner and profile pic were displayed.. 🙄
@blindscribe

@feditips @blindscribe i can see perfectly, and there's nothing wrong with my elephant.
people always invent the dumbest ways to judge strangers.

What if they’re super racist but only use racist dog whistles to communicate with other racists? I don’t know all of the newest racist terminology.

@feditips @blindscribe @storydragon So much truth in this. Look at the inside, not the outside of a profile. Like a person. Look them for what they are on the inside not out. :)

@feditips @blindscribe Thanks much for posting this. I used to do this but stopped when I realized it wasn't any kind of actual indicator, and being visually disabled knowing people might not CHOOSE to have a profile pictures re-enforces the rightness of that assertion :)

@feditips @blindscribe While I’d never do that based on a profile image alone, I’d never considered this. Thank you so much for helping raise awareness :)

@feditips @blindscribe I certainly wouldnt filter someone out based on a photo or not. Honestly, I never even look at profiles. All the people I follow, followed me first, or we interacted based on interest hashtags. I also am not going to just go to the firehose and read peoples posts, I probably wont like what I find anyway.

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