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)
The use of profile images has now become mainstream on social web channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of other places …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read other WordPress blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays user profile pictures (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users get to display their pics next to blog posts and comments and others don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your pic displayed as a grey blob while others got to show their pictures …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use them in WordPress.
What’s A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a special kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used with WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars make it possible for a person to have one avatar 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 by many web technology platforms.
How Does A Gravatar Work?
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your profile information to the email associated with 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 site admin will appear for their entries (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by WP site admin)
Typically, the default avatar most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
If you don’t want your entries to be associated with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a gravatar with your own image.
Why Use A Gravatar
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 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:
Site Administrator Benefits
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
- Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
- 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 from their account.
The step-by-step tutorial below explains how to set up and use a Gravatar.
How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using 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 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 associated with your Gravatar.
You will need to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers you several image uploading options)
After uploading your photo, crop and save it …
Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Gravatar image ratings)
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 bio …
Once you are done 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 display inside your own dashboard, in your user account …
And whenever you login …
How To Manage Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using 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 …
(WordPress Discussion Settings)
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with the following options:
- Avatar Display: Select whether to display Avatars on your site 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 appropriateness. This section lets you 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 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 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 Gravatars 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. you can see which plugins 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.
A Gravatar Hovercard allows 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.
A Gravatar Hovercard is typically a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted website or blog by installing the powerful Jetpack WordPress plugin …
(Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After Jetpack is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a new entry will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars screen. This allows you to enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then whenever visitors hover over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, allowing people to learn 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 article 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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