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 mainstream on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and loads of web properties …
(Avatars are commonly used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress also displays avatars (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some users get to display their photos or images next to their blog posts and comments and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve posted something online and wondered why your avatar appeared all greyed out …
In this tutorial you are going to learn about Gravatars, how Gravatars work and how to use gravatars in WordPress.
Gravatar – What Is It?
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 make it possible for a person 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.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 on many web platforms.
How 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 discussions, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …
If a site does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default avatar set by the WP site admin will be associated with their comments (we explain this further below).
(Default avatar set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally referred to as the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a gravatar with your own picture.
Why Use 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 having one avatar display on a forum that you often drop into and another avatar displaying on a blog that you are a registered member of, you could 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:
Benefits for Site Administrators
- Gravatars require very little effort to administer.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow post commenters to use Gravatars on your site.
- Having a Gravatar account saves you from having to set up a new avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside their account.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to set up and use a WordPress Gravatar.
How To Add Gravatars To WordPress – Step-By-Step Tutorial
To use Gravatars, first first you will need to create an account (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 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.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
Add your image, then crop and save it …
Choose a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
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 description about yourself …
Once you have finished setting up your account, your Gravatar will begin following 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 every time you log back into your site …
Managing Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can manage the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Avatar ratings filter.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with the following options:
- Avatar Display: Select whether to show Avatars or not.
- 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 choose 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 without requiring them to have a Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that commenter posts on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to click the Save Changes button when finished to save your new settings …
WordPress Gravatars – Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatars at a fixed size. To change the default image size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, various 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-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 information 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 normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to your self-hosted WordPress site by installing a powerful, feature-rich plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This allows you to enable the display of people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then if visitors hover their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hover the mouse over a Gravatar to display Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, giving people an opportunity to see your profile …
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 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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