What are best practices for encouraging / enforcing profile pics?

Hi! We think profile pics are very important for our forum to have the community feel we’re shooting for.

What are best practices for encouraging profile pics?

One complication is that we need users to go through an approval process before entering Discourse, and I don’t know if that works alongside social log-ins (which we totally want to encourage.)


Can’t claim this is a best practice, but what we’ve done is:

  1. Create a pinned topic that covers the subject, explains the value of having updated profiles, and explains how to update the fields we care about.
  2. When I see someone post as a letter avatar, I sometimes direct message them with a link to that topic.

I held off on doing anything like #2 for a long time, but it’s proven to be far more effective than #1 alone.


I’ve been thinking about this too, especially for highly active/visible members. Getting them to have a nice avatar image would turn it into ‘leading by example’. I got stuck in finding an automated solution that would DM such users when they posted something. Instead, I think I’ll go with Dave’s solution for a while and see if a small effort can make me reach a tipping point here.

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There’s already a reminder that pops up dynamically after you’ve replied a few times and are no longer TL0, and still carry a default avatar.

@tshenry can you test to verify that this is still working on try (remember to reset default TL to 0 before creating an account, as try is TL1 by default)?


I kicked off a new account on try at TL0. When I was naturally promoted to TL1, I received the following message which suggests to fill out the user’s profile:

Then as a TL1 user, I received the following notice when I opened the composer:

The full conditions for the notification can be found here:



I opened a PR for one area I thought could use improvement. Currently the “visiting your user profile” link in the education message points to the base user profile page. The profile picture setting is at least another click and some scrolling down for a new user, it seems like it might be better to take the user right to it.



Here’s a tactic that others can use.

I customized the welcome message to say the following:

Choose one of these popular first steps to take next.

You can also learn how to use our website features by starting an interactive tutorial or reading the new user guide.

Providing a direct link to the page where users can add a profile picture in the first message they received has helped. It’s a step that most people are familiar with given other social media platforms, so they were able to figure it out pretty easily.


Thanks this has been very useful to customizing the invite email templates, especially the general link for preferences and I was able to add one for Profile as we ask for a few custom fields.

And I really appreciate the link to launch the bot tour, it’s a great way to learn discourse by practicing.


Is it possible to require members to add some type of profile picture?

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Hey Julie,
Nothing much has chanced since this topic was started – there are plenty of ways to encourage people to upload a custom avatar and there are a couple of different options to have default avatars but there is no out of the box solution for enforcing a custom avatar to be used – that would require a small plugin (not available on our Standard plan).


A way to do it without a plugin would be to use some external authentication database and have it require an avatar to create an account.


Generally what works for me is asking directly.
“Ehi man in our community we love to see our faces, I noticed that you’re writing a lot of interesting posts why not permit our people to see yours? I guarantee you that talking with a face is better than talking with aa letter in the alphabet.”

It worked 100% of the time


We’re about to launch our Discourse site. My users are used to a listserv platform, and I have configured the email settings so that they can reply by email and start new posts by email.

But related to profile pics, the thing I don’t understand is why sometimes users receive an email that shows the sender’s profile pic along with a nicely formatted “Visit topic” link (formatted like a button), but other times a new message comes in a less pretty way – no profile pic and the “Visit topic” is a simple hyperlink.


I think this has to do with the length of the post. If it’s a short post, it will look more like a regular email.

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I’ve been doing testing with some different test accounts, and I see different results. I don’t understand why. I sent a test message and several users got the version that shows a profile pic, like this:


But I have also two test accounts that received the same message, but no profile pic. It looked like this for them:


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I tell them that we are human and we like to see (or intuit) who we are talking to. And I suggest photos of real users in my community as exemple in case you don’t want to put a photo of your face. Partial photos, with effects or caricatures… whatever but human.



Would it be possible to add a setting to the user profile picture field, making it an staff only privilege to change a user’s picture?

Or at the very least, is there a way to hide the “change picture icon” from the user card (self) and re-enable display on the public user card for (.admin) or (.staff)?

Either way this wouldn’t be super feasible for large communities,mostly small ones.

Unless a setting can be added to force user picture changes into the staff approval due. Approve/deny option available to staff

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Probably easiest to hide the option via CSS if that’s what you need.