Most internet users are 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)
Using profile images has now become the norm across the web on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of other places …
(Avatars are now used all over the web)
If you regularly 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 have wondered why many blog posts and comments show pics in some blog entries and others don’t, or perhaps you’ve posted something online and wondered why your avatar appeared all greyed out …
In this tutorial you will learn about Gravatars, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.
What Is A Gravatar?
WordPress uses a special kind of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar is short for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow web users 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 was acquired in 2007 by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com. As a result, Gravatars are now integrated into WordPress 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 registered with Gravatar, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email address in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post discussions, articles and (optionally) elsewhere on the WordPress site …
If a site chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default icon set by the WP site admin will display for their entries (this is explained further below).
(Default avatar set by WP site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (often called the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to display with a default icon, then set up your own gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
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 have the same avatar display on all of the sites that you visit.
Enabling gravatars on your WordPress site also simplifies the process for everyone involved:
WP Admin 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 their images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
WordPress User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves users having to create 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 their account.
Complete the step-by-step tutorial below to learn more about setting up and using Gravatars.
How To Add Gravatars To Your WordPress Blog – A 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 sign up for one on the Gravatar 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.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Gravatar offers you various image uploading options)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Select a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Rate your Gravatar image)
You can access and change your own account anytime …
You can further edit your profile by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief bio …
Once you are done editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will be integrated with your WordPress account and follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in blog comments, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user profile …
And whenever you log back in …
Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress now automatically integrates with Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are shown.
To control how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP admin area and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(WordPress Discussion Settings)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section provides you with a number of options:
- Avatar Display: Here you can toggle Gravatars on and off for your site.
- 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. Here you can 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. 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 user posts on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to save your changes when done …
WordPress Gravatars – Useful Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatars at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, code editing would be required.
Also, a number of WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. These 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 WordPress blog using a 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.
A Gravatar Hovercard is a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add Gravatar Hovercards to a self-hosted site if you install a versatile, feature-rich (and free) plugin called Jetpack …
(Jetpack Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing the Jetpack plugin on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a new item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars screen. This allows you to display visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then whenever someone hovers over your Gravatar …
(Hover your mouse over a Gravatar to display a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will appear, giving people an opportunity to see your profile and learn a little more about you …
Hopefully this article 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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