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)
Avatars have now become the standard across the web on social web accounts like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and loads of other places …
(Avatars are used across all user sites on the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you read blogs, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may have wondered why some users display their avatars with blog posts and discussions, while others only show a generic silhouette image, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your profile image didn’t show up …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set up avatars 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 with WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow web users to have one avatar 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 many WordPress users supported on many technologies.
How Does A Gravatar Work?
Once your Gravatar account has been created, the service matches your profile information to the email associated with your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post 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 administrator will be associated with their entries (see further below).
(Default avatar set by site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your entries to be associated with a default icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a gravatar with your own picture.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
A Gravatar is basically 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 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:
Benefits for Site Administrators
- Gravatars require very little effort to manage.
- There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
- Gravatars are carried across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow post commenters to use Gravatars on your site.
WordPress User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves users from having to set up an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites from their account.
Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn more about setting up and using a Gravatar.
How To Add A Gravatar To Your Site – Step-By-Step 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 easily register for 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)
After uploading your photo, crop and save it …
Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
You can access and change 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 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 …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user profile …
And whenever you login …
How To Manage Gravatars On Your WordPress Site
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are displayed.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …
(WordPress Discussion Settings)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with several options:
- Avatar Display: Select whether to show Gravatars 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 select 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. Generated icons link the email of the user to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that person posts on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when done …
WordPress Gravatars – Useful Info
By default, WordPress displays Gravatars at a fixed size. To customize the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.
Also, several WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by searching for the keyword gravatar …
(Search for gravatar-enhancing plugins inside your WordPress plugin dashboard)
For example, you can a feature called a Gravatar Hovercard to your blog using a WordPress 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 Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.
Gravatar Hovercards are normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to your self-hosted website if you install the versatile, feature-rich (and free) Jetpack WordPress plugin …
(Jetpack WordPress Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new item will appear on your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This lets you enable the display of visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then if visitors hover their mouse over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, giving people an opportunity to visit 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 about Gravatars and how to get your picture showing up all across the web.
Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.
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