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 avatars has now become the norm across the web on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and other sites …
(Avatars are used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatar images (e.g. when visitors post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some users display their profile photos with their blog posts and blog comments, while other users only show a generic image, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your avatar appeared greyed out …
In this tutorial you are going to learn about Gravatars, how they work and how to add 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)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars make it possible for a person 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 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 used by a growing number of WordPress users supported on many technologies.
How Do Gravatars Work?
Once your Gravatar account has been configured, the service matches your profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your entries, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the site administrator will be associated with their entries (this is explained further below).
(Default avatar set by WP site admin)
Typically, the default image most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
(Mystery Man Avatar)
If you don’t want your entries to be associated 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 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 create an account with, gravatars allow you to 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.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are carried across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
WordPress User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves users from having to register an avatar on every site they join or service they register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside a central location.
The tutorial below shows you how to set up and use Gravatars.
How To Add Gravatars To Your WordPress Blog – A Step-By-Step Tutorial
To start using 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 sign up for one on the Gravatar site …
Once you have verified and set up your account, follow the instructions to complete your profile, and select the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
You will be asked to upload an image …
(Gravatar offers you various image uploading options)
After uploading your image, crop and save it …
Choose one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Rate your Gravatar image)
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 have finished editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in blog comments, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own dashboard, in your user profile …
And every time you log back into your site …
Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) are displayed 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 …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
You will be presented with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Select whether to display Gravatars or not.
- 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 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. 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 person posts a comment on your site, the same image will display next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when done …
Using Gravatars – Useful Info
By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To change the default WordPress Gravatar size, code editing would be required.
Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins are available inside your dashboard by typing in gravatar inside the plugin search field …
(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 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 Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin.
Gravatar Hovercards are a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted WordPress site by installing a powerful plugin called Jetpack …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
Once the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a new item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars management panel. This allows you to enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then if visitors hover 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 …
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 a Gravatar is and how to get your picture to display next to your post comments, discussions and more.
Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.
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