Using WordPress Gravatars

Learn about WordPress Gravatars … what they are, how they work, and how to set up Gravatars in WordPress.

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Using Gravatars In WordPress

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 media accounts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and loads of other places …

Avatars are now used all over the web

(Avatars are now used all over the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays user avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …

Using WordPress Gravatars

You may have wondered why many blog posts and discussions show pics or images in some blog entries and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve posted something online and wondered why your pic appeared all greyed out …

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog

In this tutorial you are going to learn what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use avatars in WordPress.

What’s A Gravatar?

WordPress uses a special type of avatar called a Gravatar

A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar used in WordPress

(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar for use with WordPress)

Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars make it possible for a person 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 supported by many technologies.

How Do 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 entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …

Using WordPress Gravatars

If a site does not have a Gravatar account set up, the default icon set by the WP site admin will be associated with their entries (see further below).

Default avatar set by site admin

(Default icon set by site administrator)

Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally referred to as the “Mystery Man”) …

Default Avatar

(Default Avatar)

If you don’t want your WordPress entries to display with a default icon, then set up your own gravatar.

Benefits Of Using A Gravatar

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 register an account with, 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:

WP Admin Benefits

  • Gravatars require very little effort to manage.
  • There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
  • Gravatars are 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.

Benefits For WordPress Users

  • You don’t have to create a new avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
  • Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from a central location.

The tutorial below explains how to set up and use a Gravatar.

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site – Tutorial

To start using Gravatars, first create an account here (it’s FREE): http://www.gravatar.com

Gravatar

(Gravatar.com)

Sign in with your WordPress.com account details …

Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Site

If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can create one on the site …

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress 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.

You will be asked to upload an image …

Gravatar offers you several image uploading options

(Upload your Gravatar image)

Add your image, then crop and save it …

Using Gravatars In WordPress

Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …

Rate your Gravatar image

(Gravatar ratings)

You can access and edit your own account settings …

How To Use Gravatars In WordPress

You can edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief description about yourself …

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

Once you are done editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will begin following you around the web.

It will be displayed in blog comments, forums, etc …

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

Your Gravatar will also show up inside your own dashboard, in your user account …

How To Add A Gravatar To Your WordPress Blog

And every time you login …

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

How To Manage Gravatars On Your WordPress Site

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.
  • Which rating of Avatars are displayed.

To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion screen …

WordPress Discussion Settings Menu

(Discussion Settings Menu)

Scroll down the page to the Avatars section …

How To Use WordPress Gravatars

You will be presented with the following options:

  1. Avatar Display: This section lets you toggle Gravatars on and off for your site.
  2. 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 choose the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
  3. 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 user 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 …

Save WordPress Changes

Using 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 functionality of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by searching for the keyword “gravatar” …

Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard

(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 WordPress plugin called Jetpack.

Gravatar Hovercards

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 Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.

Gravatar Hovercards are typically a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add a Gravatar Hovercard to a self-hosted site by installing a versatile, feature-rich (and free) plugin called Jetpack

WordPress Plugin: Jetpack - Gravatar Hovercards

(Jetpack by WordPress.com – Gravatar Hovercards)

After the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. 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

(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)

If you activate this feature, then if visitors hover over your Gravatar …

Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards

(Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)

Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, allowing people to learn more about you …

Gravatar Hovercards

(Gravatar Hovercards)

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.

Using Gravatars 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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"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill, DailyGreenPost.com

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Author: Martin Aranovitch

Martin Aranovitch is the founder of WPCompendium.org and the author of The Small Business Digital Manager. WPCompendium.org provides hundreds of FREE tutorials that show you how to use WordPress to grow your business online with no coding skills required! Get our FREE "101+ WordPress Tips, Tricks & Hacks For Non-Techies" e-course with loads of useful WordPress tips!

Originally published as Using WordPress Gravatars.