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Using WordPress Gravatars

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 profile images has now become the norm across the web on social media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of web properties …

(Avatars are commonly used all over the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you read other people’s WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress also displays avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …

You may be wondering why some users get to display their photos or images next to blog posts and comments and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your image appeared all greyed out …

This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.

What Are Gravatars?

WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar

(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar used in WordPress)

Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars allow web 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.com was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress. 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 registered with Gravatar, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email address in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …

If a site has not set up their Gravatar account, the default avatar set by the WP site administrator will be associated with their entries (this is explained further below).

(Default icon set by WP site administrator)

Typically, the default image most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …

(Default Avatar)

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

Why Use A Gravatar

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 display the same avatar on all of the sites 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 more about setting up and using Gravatars.

How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial

To use 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 easily sign up for one on the Gravatar 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 …

(Gravatar offers you several image uploading options)

Add your photo, then crop and save it …

Select a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …

(Gravatar image ratings)

You can access and edit 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 setting up your account, your Gravatar will be integrated with your WordPress account and follow you around the web.

It will be displayed in your post comments, web forums, etc …

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

And every time you log back in …

Managing Gravatars On Your WordPress Site

Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate with Gravatars, you can manage the following settings:

To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …

(Discussion Settings)

Scroll down to the Avatars section …

You will be presented with several options:

  1. Avatar Display: Here you can specify whether to show Gravatars or not.
  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. Here you can select the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
  3. 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 user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that 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, Gravatar images display 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. These are available inside your dashboard by searching for the keyword gravatar

(Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)

For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your WordPress blog using a plugin called Jetpack.

Gravatar Hovercards

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 Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.

A Gravatar Hovercard is a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted site, however, by installing a versatile, feature-rich (and free) plugin called Jetpack

(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)

After Jetpack is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars management screen. This allows you to display visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar …

(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)

If this feature has been activated, then whenever visitors hover their mouse over your Gravatar …

(Hover the mouse over a Gravatar to display Gravatar Hovercards)

Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, allowing people to learn more about you …

(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 tutorial has helped you learn what a Gravatar is and how to set them up in WordPress.

Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.


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