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Using WordPress Gravatars

For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.

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)

Using profile images has now become the norm across the web on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and other web properties …

(Avatars are commonly used all over the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you read other blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays user profile pictures (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …

You may be wondering why many blog posts and comments display photos or images in some blog entries and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve posted something online and wondered why your pic displayed as a grey blob with your WordPress posts, …

This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use avatars in WordPress.

Gravatars – What Are They?

WordPress uses a special 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 WordPress users 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 was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. 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 by many web technology platforms.

How Do Gravatars Work?

Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your profile information to the email address 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 chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the WP site administrator will display on 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” …

(Default Avatar)

If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a generated icon, then set up your own gravatar.

Why Use A Gravatar

A Gravatar is essentially 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 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 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

Benefits For WordPress Users

Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn how to set up and use a WordPress Gravatar.

How To Add Gravatars To WordPress – Tutorial

To use Gravatars, first create an account here (it’s FREE): http://www.gravatar.com


Sign 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 to associate with your Gravatar.

You will be asked 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) …

(Gravatar image ratings)

You can access and manage your own account settings …

You can further edit your profile by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …

Once you have finished editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will follow you around the web.

It will be displayed in blog comments, web forums, etc …

Your Gravatar will also show up inside your own dashboard, in your user account …

And every time you log back into your site …

Managing Gravatar Settings

Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:

To manage how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …

(Discussion Settings)

Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …

The Avatars section presents you with the following options:

  1. Avatar Display: This section lets you toggle Gravatars on and off.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 without requiring them to have their own Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that same person posts a comment 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, Gravatars display at a fixed size. To customize the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.

Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. These 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.

Gravatar Hovercards

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 Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.

A Gravatar Hovercard is typically a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted website if you install a powerful (and free) WordPress plugin called Jetpack

(Jetpack WordPress Plugin – 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 management screen. This lets you enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …

(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)

If this feature has been activated, then if a visitor hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …

(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)

Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, giving people an opportunity to visit your profile …

(Gravatar Hovercard)

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 about Gravatars and how to get your picture to display next to your posts, comments, 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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For a white label version of this tutorial visit WPTrainingManual.com.