A sigpic (portmanteau for signature picture) is a term used on BoyChat and other message boards to refer to a small graphics file appended to the end of a user's message. Sigpics serve as memory aids to identify participants as well as a way to express one's individuality.
Sigpics on BoyChat
Early in BoyChat's history, sigpics served as a method of authentication on BoyChat. Users would use the HTML "img" tag to add pictures hosted on external web sites. In 1997, growing awareness of security concerns led to external images links being blocked by the message board software to protect against IP address harvesting. Because the idea of sigpics had become part of BC culture, Brother Bonzo modified the software to allow sigpics that were hosted locally on the BC server. This also led to the registered user system, eventually replacing sigpics in 1999 as the means of proving identity and preventing imposter posts.
In the early days, there was not much thought given to the images used as long as they were not illegal due to sexual content. But as BoyChat became more prominent, the owners of some copyrighted images began to send cease-and-desist letters to the admin. This led to more strict requirements on the type of images accepted by the "sigpix team". TPKA not played a role in developing BoyChat's sigpic protocols. BoyChat sigpics now must not contain copyrighted material not owned by the poster, may not contain any identifiable person other than the poster himself, and may not include erotica or nudity.
Sigpics on other message boards
On UBB message boards such as BoyLover.net, sigpics are called avatars and rarely have the identifying function they do on BoyChat. Rather, an avatar is usually chosen from a predefined stock of images supplied by the board administration, although users may upload their own. Additionally, many users fill the signature area of their posts with (often large) pictures of boys.