You are probably already 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 norm across the web on social web accounts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and other web properties …
(Avatars are commonly used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays user profile pics (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users display their photos or images next to their blog posts and discussions, while other users only show a generic silhouette, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your picture appeared all greyed out …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set one up in WordPress.
Gravatar – What Is It?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar for use with WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow you to have one avatar 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 used by a growing number of WordPress users supported by many technologies.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …
If a site does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default icon set by the WP site admin will display next to their blog entries (see further below).
(Default icon set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (called the “Mystery Man”) …
(Mystery Man Avatar)
If you don’t want your entries to display with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up your own gravatar.
Why Use Gravatars
A Gravatar is basically the same thing as an avatar, but the images 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 belong to, gravatars allow you to have the same avatar display on all of the sites that you visit.
Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:
WP Admin Benefits
- Gravatars require very little effort to administer.
- There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow blog commenters to use Gravatars on your site.
WP User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves users creating an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.
The tutorial below explains how to set up and use Gravatars in WordPress.
How To Add Gravatars To WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial
To use Gravatars, first first you will need to create an account (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 easily register for one on the site …
Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to set up your profile, and select the email address and image you want to associate with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Select a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
You can access and update 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 begin following you around the web.
It will be displayed in your post comments, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own dashboard, in your user account …
And every time you log back in …
Managing Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To manage how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with the following options:
- Avatar Display: In this section you can specify whether to display Gravatars on your site or not.
- Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to rate their image (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 allows you to select what type of image you would like to display when users do not have a Gravatar. Selecting one of the generated icons gives users a default avatar without requiring them to have a Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that same person posts on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when finished …
WordPress Gravatars – Additional Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatars at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by typing in 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 blog using a WordPress plugin called Jetpack.
A Gravatar Hovercard allows your information to be made visible to others and makes it easier for people to find your blog or access your identity on services like Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.
Gravatar Hovercards are normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted WordPress site, however, if you install a versatile (and free) WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new item will appear on your Discussion Settings > Avatars management screen. This allows you to display visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then if visitors hover their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, allowing people to click through to your profile …
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 tutorial has helped you learn about Gravatars 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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