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)
Avatars have now become mainstream on social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online directories and loads of other places …
(Avatars are commonly used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other people’s WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays user profile photos (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users get to display their avatars next to their blog posts and comments and others don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your pic appeared greyed out …
In this tutorial you will learn what a Gravatar is, how Gravatars work and how to use avatars in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar used with WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow WordPress users to have one avatar used 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 used by a growing number of WordPress users supported by many web platforms.
How Gravatars 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 post discussions, 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 admin will display on their comments (this is explained further below).
(Default avatar 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 be associated with a generated icon, then set up a gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
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, 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
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
WP User Benefits
- Users don’t have to upload an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside their account.
The step-by-step tutorial below explains how to set up and use Gravatars.
How To Add Gravatars To Your WordPress Blog – 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 create 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 …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
Add your image, then crop and save it …
Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Rate your Gravatar picture)
You can access and edit your own account settings …
You can edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you are done 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 appear inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user profile …
And whenever you log back into your site …
Managing Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate with Gravatars, you can manage the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP admin area and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Here you can toggle Gravatars on and off.
- 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 appropriateness. Here you can 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 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 Gravatars – Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To change the default WordPress Gravatar size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, a number of 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 WordPress blog using a plugin called Jetpack.
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.
Gravatar Hovercards are a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted website or blog, however, if you install the versatile (and free) Jetpack plugin …
(Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
Once the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a new item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This allows you to enable the display of visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then whenever a visitor hovers over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, giving people an opportunity to visit your profile and learn a little 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 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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