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 the norm across the web on social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and many other sites …
(Avatars are now used all over the web)
If you read other 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 display their profile pics with posts and comments, while others only show a nondescript image, or perhaps you’ve posted something online and wondered why your pic didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set one up in WordPress.
Gravatars – What Are They?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar for use with WordPress)
Gravatar stands 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.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 on many web technologies.
How Gravatars Work
Once your Gravatar account is set up, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email address in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site has not set up their Gravatar account, the default avatar set by the site administrator will be associated with their entries (we explain this further below).
(Default avatar set by site admin)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (often referred to as the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your entries to display with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a gravatar with your own picture.
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 creating different avatars for every new site you create an account with, 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
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are carried across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
Benefits For WordPress Users
- Users don’t need to register on every site they visit just to use a Gravatar.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside a central location.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to set up and use Gravatars.
How To Add Gravatars To WordPress – 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 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.
You will be asked to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers a number of image uploading options)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Gravatar image ratings)
You can access and manage your own account anytime …
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 dashboard, in your user account …
And whenever you log back in …
Managing Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can change the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section presents 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 rate their Gravatar image (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 lets you 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 user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that user posts a comment 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 …
WordPress Gravatars – Additional Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To change the default image size, code editing would be required.
Also, several 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-related plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your 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 Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.
Gravatar Hovercards are a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted WordPress site, however, by installing a versatile, feature-rich WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack Plugin – 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 screen. This allows you to display user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then whenever someone hovers their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, allowing people to visit your profile …
Hopefully this article has helped you learn about Gravatars 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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