You are probably 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 standard across the web on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and other web properties …
(Avatars are now used all over the web)
If you read other blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatar pics (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some blog posts and comments show photos or images in some blog entries and others don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your avatar didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.
What Are Gravatars?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow you 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.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 on many web technology platforms.
How Does A Gravatar Work?
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email associated with your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post discussions, 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 administrator will display next to their name (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by WP site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a generated icon, then set up your own gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
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 creating different avatars for every new site you register an account with, gravatars allow you to have the same avatar display 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
- Gravatars require very little effort to administer.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
- Users don’t have 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 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 Site – Tutorial
To use 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 set up your profile, and choose the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar …
(Rate your Gravatar image)
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 bio …
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, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also appear inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user account …
And whenever you login …
How To Manage Gravatars On Your WordPress Site
Although WordPress now automatically integrates the use of Gravatars, you can change the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are shown.
To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with several 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 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 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 same person posts a comment on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when done …
Using WordPress 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, various WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by typing in the keyword “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 site using a plugin called Jetpack.
A Gravatar Hovercard allows 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 typically a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to a self-hosted website or blog, however, by installing a powerful (and free) WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
Once Jetpack is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards item will appear on your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This allows you to enable the display of people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then whenever visitors hover their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, giving people an opportunity to click through to your profile and learn a little more about you …
Hopefully this tutorial has helped you learn what Gravatars are and how to use them 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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