Your Internet Consultant - The FAQs of Life Online

11.16. How can I find out what someone on the Internet looks like?

Answered by Steve Kinzler (

There are a few online ways that you might be able to view an image of a particular Internet user, if you're lucky.

First, if both your site and the site for the user in question are running a special version of finger that supports face images, and if a face image is available for that user, then you can use finger to view the person's face along with his or her ordinary finger information. Such special versions of finger are GNU finger and its derivatives. GNU finger is available from most GNU software archives, such as*.
A recommended derivative is ICSI's version available in*

One GNU finger server with lots of face images available is Finger for details.

Second, if you can expect that the person you're interested in has ever attended a Usenix conference, then that person might have had his or her photo digitized as part of Usenix's FaceSaver project. These images and further information are available in This archive is updated after each Usenix conference with a FaceSaver room.

Third, there exists a collection of small bitmaps of Internet users in*.

The FaceSaver images are also available in this archive in a smaller, monochrome format as facesaver*. Also, in logos*, there's a collection of bitmaps representing various Internet domains using the appropriate company or organization logo. See the README* files in these collections for information about submitting bitmaps to them. They're updated on a frequent basis as new submissions come in. They're also mirrored in, where they're available for uucp.

If you use a Web browser, a convenient way to reference these collections for a particular user is to access the "WWW to Finger Gateway" at the URL When fingering via this gateway, any face and logo bitmaps available are displayed along with any finger information.

Software is available that can take advantage of these bitmap collections. "faces" is available in, runs under X11, NeWS, SunView, and XView windowing systems, and can be used to monitor one's mailbox, jobs in a print queue, users on a system, unread newsgroups, weather forecasts, users on IRC channels, and other such things using displays of faces and logos for the items monitored. The exmh interface to the MH mail system can use these collections to display the face or logo for the mail messages it processes. It's available in "Meuf" (mail enhanced using faces) is available in* and can serve as an X11 graphical interface to mail using face or logo bitmaps to represent messages in the mailbox. All these programs can recognize a special item in a mail header labeled X-Face as a compressed and encoded face bitmap for the sender of the mail message.

Other software that can deal with face images in some manner is as follows:

xfaces*           mailbox monitor
xwafemail  mail interface
quipu/X.500  ISO Development Environment          user directory server
vismon       AT&T Version 8 Unix                  visual
GIF archives of some regulars on Internet Relay Chat are available from:

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