Nothing makes a BuddyPress site seem more active or more colorful than when members upload their own unique avatars. Unfortunately, not all users have the motivation to follow through with adding a profile picture. You could use a plugin to add avatar upload to registration, or even force BuddyPress users to upload a profile photo before accessing other pages. However, this may seem a bit heavy handed for some social networks.
The BuddyPress Identicons plugin is one alternative that will bring some color to the members directory without troubling users to upload a profile photo. By default, those who haven’t uploaded an image will have the mystery man avatar assigned. Too many of these can turn your directories into a sea of grey and white and give the impression that members are not invested in the community. BuddyPress Identicons replaces the mystery man with GitHub-style identicons.
BuddyPress developer Henry Wright, the plugin’s creator, was inspired by GitHub’s implementation of identicons, which the social network added in 2013 for users who do not have a Gravatar. The idea is based on Don Park’s original Java and Canvas implementations for creating unique identicons.
BuddyPress Identicons are uniquely generated from a hash of the member’s username. The implementation will not look exactly how it does on GitHub, as the logic used to generate the identicon is somewhat different. In fact, this plugin allows for a few customizations to better fit your social network. You can set the background to transparent in the BuddyPress settings menu and also adjust the image size by defining the constants in your bp-custom.php file.
The plugin is compatible with both WordPress multisite and bbPress. After testing it on a BuddyPress site, I can confirm that it works as advertised. If you’ve been frustrated by a lack of unique avatars on your social network, the BuddyPress Identicons plugin provides an instant fix. Simply install it from WordPress.org, activate it, and all of your mystery men will be transformed into unique, colorful identicons.