Most internet users are familiar with avatars.
An avatar is an icon, or representation of a user in a shared virtual reality such as a forum, chat, website, or any other form of online community where the user(s) wish to distinguish themselves from other users.
(Source: WordPress Codex)
Avatars have now become the standard across the web on social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and loads of other places …
(Avatars are used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other people’s WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays avatar pics (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users get to display their profile photos next to their blog posts and comments and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve posted something online and wondered why your pic displayed as a grey blob next to your comment entries, while others got to show their pictures …
In this tutorial you will learn what Gravatars are, how they work and how to add avatars in WordPress.
Gravatars – What Are They?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar for use with WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow you to have one avatar used across the entire web. Avatars are usually an image that the user will create themselves. Unlike standard avatars, Gravatars follow you around the web and automatically appear whenever you post a comment on a WordPress site.
Gravatar.com was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. As a result, Gravatars are now integrated into every WordPress site and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also supported by many technology platforms.
How Does A Gravatar Work?
Once your Gravatar account has been configured, the service matches your profile information to the email associated with your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a visitor has not set up their Gravatar account, the default icon set by the WP site admin will appear next to their name (see further below).
(Default icon set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally referred to as the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a default icon, then set up your own gravatar.
Why Use Gravatars
A Gravatar is basically the same thing as an avatar, but gravatars are hosted on a single server and are called up by encrypting the users’ email address using a special algorithm.
Instead of creating different avatars for every new site you create an account with, you could have the same avatar display on all of the web properties that you visit.
Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:
Benefits for Site Administrators
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
WP User Benefits
- Users don’t have to register on every site they visit just to use a Gravatar.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from a central location.
The tutorial below shows you how to set up and use a Gravatar.
How To Add Gravatars To Your WordPress Site – A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using Gravatars, first create an account here (it’s FREE): http://www.gravatar.com
Log in with your WordPress.com account details …
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can sign up for one on the Gravatar site …
Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to complete your profile, and select the email address and image you want to associate with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
Add your image, then crop and save it …
Select a rating for your Gravatar …
(Rate your Gravatar image)
You can access and edit your own account settings …
You can edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief description about yourself …
Once you are done setting up your account, your Gravatar will be integrated with your WordPress account and follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in blog comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also appear inside your own dashboard, in your user account …
And whenever you log back in …
How To Manage Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with the following options:
- Avatar Display: Here you can toggle Gravatars on and off.
- Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to give their Gravatar a rating (i.e. G, PG, R, X) based on appropriateness. This section lets you choose the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
- Default Avatar: WordPress lets you select what type of image you would like to display when users do not have a Gravatar account. Selecting one of the generated icons gives users a default avatar. Generated icons link the email of the post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that same person posts a comment on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to click the Save Changes button when finished to save your new settings …
Using Gravatars – Tips
By default, Gravatars display at a fixed size. To customize the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.
Also, various WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by typing in the keyword gravatar inside the plugin search field …
(Search for gravatar-related plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your WordPress site using a plugin called Jetpack.
Gravatar Hovercards allow your profile to be made visible to others and makes it easier for people to find your blog or access your identity on services like Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.
Gravatar Hovercards are a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to your self-hosted site if you install a versatile, feature-rich (and free) plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new item will appear on your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. This lets you enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then whenever visitors hover over your Gravatar …
(Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, giving people an opportunity to learn more about you …
Add A Custom Gravatar To WordPress
You can replace the default user gravatar on your site for users that don’t have a gravatar set up. To learn how to add a custom gravatar to WordPress, see the tutorial below:
Hopefully this article has helped you learn what a Gravatar is and how to get your WordPress avatar to display next to your post comments, blog discussions and more.
Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.
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