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 mainstream on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and loads of web properties …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatar images (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users display their profile pics next to their posts and blog comments, while other users only show a generic silhouette, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your image didn’t show up …
In this tutorial you will learn what a Gravatar is, how Gravatars work and how to add avatars in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a special kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow WordPress users 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 web platforms.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once your Gravatar account is set up, the service matches your profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a visitor does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default avatar set by the WP site admin will appear next to their name (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by WP site admin)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (often called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your entries to be associated with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up your own gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
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 frequently visit and another avatar displaying on a blog that you are a registered member of, gravatars allow you to display the same avatar on all of the web properties 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.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or their images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
Benefits For WordPress Users
- You don’t have to create an avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside their account.
Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn more about setting up and using a WordPress Gravatar.
How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog – Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using Gravatars, you will first need to create an account here: http://www.gravatar.com
Log in with your WordPress.com account details …
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can register for one on the site …
Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to complete your profile, and choose the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
You will need to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers various image uploading options)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Choose a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
You can access and manage 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 editing your details and 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, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also show up inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user account …
And every time you log back into your site …
How To Manage Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate with Gravatars, you can change the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Here you can toggle Gravatars on and off for your site.
- 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 its appropriateness. This section lets you select 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. Generated icons link the email of the post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that commenter posts 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 WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatars 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 use of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by typing in gravatar inside the plugin search field …
(Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your site using a WordPress plugin called Jetpack.
A Gravatar Hovercard allows 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 normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted site by installing the versatile, feature-rich Jetpack WordPress plugin …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new item will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. This lets you display visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then whenever a visitor hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, 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 Gravatars are and how to get your WordPress avatar to appear next to your post comments, blog discussions, forums 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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