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 mainstream on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of web properties …
(Avatars are now used all over the web)
Using WordPress Gravatars
If you visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress also displays user profile pics (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why some users display their photos on their blog posts and comments, while with other users, all you see is a greyed out silhouette or some weird icon with their profile, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your picture appeared greyed out …
This tutorial explains what Gravatars are, how they work and how to use avatars in WordPress.
What Are Gravatars?
WordPress uses a specific type 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 you to have one avatar used 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. 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 Gravatars Work
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to 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 WP site administrator will appear for their entries (we explain this further below).
(Default icon set by site administrator)
Typically, the default image most commonly used is called the “Mystery Man” …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to display with a default icon, then set up a gravatar.
Benefits Of Using Gravatars
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 display on a blog that you are a registered member of, gravatars allow you to 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:
Benefits for Site Administrators
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- Gravatars require no additional plugins.
- Gravatars are portable across the web. You don’t need to manage user accounts or edit user images, to allow people to use Gravatars on your site.
- Having a Gravatar account saves you from having to register an avatar on every site you join or service you register for.
- Users can update their Gravatar across multiple sites by uploading a single image inside their account.
The step-by-step tutorial below shows you 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 go here to create an account (it’s FREE): http://www.gravatar.com
Log 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 complete your profile, and select the email address and image you want associated with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
Add your photo, then crop and save it …
Choose a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …
(Rate your Gravatar image)
You can access and edit your own account settings …
You can edit your profile further 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 your post comments, forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also display inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user account …
And whenever you log back in …
Managing Gravatar Settings
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can manage some of the settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show 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 Menu)
Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section presents you with several 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 post commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that person posts a comment on your site, they will have the same image next to their name.
Remember to click the Save Changes button when finished to save your new settings …
Using Gravatars – Additional Tips
By default, Gravatar images display at a fixed size. To change the default image size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, various WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the functionality of Gravatars. These are available inside your dashboard by typing in the keyword “gravatar” inside the plugin search field …
(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 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 normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted WordPress installation if you install a versatile, feature-rich (and free) WordPress plugin called Jetpack …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards item will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This lets you display visitor profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image …
(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)
If this feature has been activated, then whenever a visitor hovers over your Gravatar …
(Hover the mouse over a Gravatar to display Gravatar Hovercards)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, allowing people to learn more about you …
Hopefully this tutorial has helped you learn what a Gravatar is and how to get your picture to display next to your post comments, blog discussions, forums 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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