No doubt, you’re 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)
The use of avatars has now become mainstream on social web accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and loads of web properties …
(Avatars are now used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you regularly visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatars (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some users get to display their photos or images with their blog posts and comments and others don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your image appeared all greyed out …
In this tutorial you will learn about Gravatars, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a special type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar for use with WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow WordPress users to have one avatar across the 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 was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. As a result, Gravatars are now integrated into WordPress and millions of avatar images are served billions of times per day across the web. Gravatars are also supported on many web technology platforms.
How Gravatars Work
Once your Gravatar account has been created, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …
If a site chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default icon set by the site administrator will be associated with their comments (we explain this further below).
(Default avatar set by WP site admin)
Typically, the default image most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up your own gravatar.
Why Use A Gravatar
A Gravatar is essentially 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 having one avatar display on a forum that you often drop into and another avatar displaying on a blog that you are a registered member of, 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:
Site Administrator Benefits
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or their images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
Benefits For WordPress Users
- Users don’t have to set up an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from a central location.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to set up and use Gravatars in WordPress.
How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using Gravatars, you will first need to create an account here: http://www.gravatar.com
Sign in with your WordPress.com account details …
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can create one on the 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 …
(Gravatar offers a number of image uploading options)
Add your image, then crop and save it …
Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Rate your Gravatar image)
You can access and update your own account anytime …
You can further edit your profile by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you have finished setting up your account, your Gravatar will follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in your post comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also show up inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user account …
And whenever you login …
Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed 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 administration panel …
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Specify whether to show Avatars or not.
- Maximum Rating: When users create a profile on Gravatar, they are given the opportunity to rate their Gravatar 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 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 on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when finished …
Using WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To change the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.
Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by searching for the keyword gravatar …
(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 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.
A Gravatar Hovercard is a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted website if you install the powerful, feature-rich Jetpack WordPress plugin …
(Jetpack WordPress Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This allows you to display user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then whenever someone hovers over your Gravatar …
(Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, allowing people 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 tutorial has helped you learn what Gravatars are and how to get your picture showing up all across the web.
Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.
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