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)
Avatars have now become the norm across the web on social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online forums and loads of other places …
(Avatars are used all over the web)
If you regularly visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress sometimes also displays avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …
You may be wondering why a number of users display their pics with their blog posts and comments, while with others, all you see is a nondescript image or some weird icon with their entries, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your profile image appeared all greyed out …
In this tutorial you are going to learn what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.
Gravatars – What Are They?
WordPress uses a specific type of avatar called a Gravatar …
(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used in WordPress)
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.
Gravatars allow you 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.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 web technologies.
How Gravatars Work
Once registered with Gravatar, the service matches your WordPress profile information to the email registered in your account and displays your custom gravatar image next to your post comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …
If a site has not set up their Gravatar account, the default avatar set by the WP site administrator will be associated with their comments (we explain this further below).
(Default avatar set by WP site administrator)
Typically, most images use a default avatar (generally referred to as the “Mystery Man”) …
If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a default icon, then set up a gravatar with your own picture.
Why Use A Gravatar
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 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:
Site Administrator Benefits
- Adding user Gravatars requires very little effort.
- There is no need to maintain additional plugins.
- Gravatars are visually portable across the web. You don’t have to manage user accounts or their images, to allow visitors to use Gravatars on your site.
WordPress User Benefits
- Having a Gravatar account saves you from having to set up 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 shows you how to set up and use Gravatars.
How To Add Gravatars To Your WordPress Site – Step-By-Step Tutorial
To use Gravatars, you will first need to create an account here: http://www.gravatar.com
Sign in with your WordPress.com account details …
If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you can easily register for one on the Gravatar 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 associated with your Gravatar.
Upload your Gravatar image …
(Upload your Gravatar image)
After uploading your photo, 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 edit your profile further by associating your Gravatar with an email, website, location and a brief description about yourself …
Once you are done setting up your account, your Gravatar will be integrated with your WordPress account and follow you around the web.
It will be displayed in your post comments, web forums, etc …
Your Gravatar will also appear inside your own WordPress dashboard, in your user profile …
And every time you log back in …
Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress
Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can manage the following settings:
- Whether Avatars (aka, Gravatars) show on your site or not.
- Which rating of Avatars are shown.
To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP admin area and go to the Settings > Discussion area …
(Discussion Settings Menu)
Scroll down to the Avatars section …
The Avatars section presents you with several options:
- Avatar Display: Specify whether to show Avatars 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. This section lets you choose 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 account. Selecting one of the generated icons gives users a default avatar without requiring them to have their own Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the commenter to an auto-generated image. Now, every time that commenter posts 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 – Useful Tips
By default, WordPress displays Gravatars at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, you would need to edit code in your template files.
Also, a number of WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use 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 site using a WordPress plugin called Jetpack.
Gravatar Hovercards allow 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.
A Gravatar Hovercard is a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can, however, add a Gravatar Hovercard to a self-hosted website or blog if you install the versatile Jetpack WordPress plugin …
(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)
After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars screen. This allows you to display people’s profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …
(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)
If you activate this feature, then if visitors hover over your Gravatar …
(Hovering the mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)
Your Gravatar Hovercard will pop up, allowing people to visit your profile …
Hopefully this tutorial has helped you learn what Gravatars are 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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