WordPress For Non-Techies: Free WordPress Tutorials – WPCompendium.org

Using WordPress Gravatars

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)

Using profile images has now become mainstream on social web sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, online forums and loads of other places …

(Avatars are used all over the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

If you visit other WordPress sites, you will see that WordPress also displays avatars (e.g. when users post comments or engage in online discussions) …

You may be wondering why some users get to display their avatars next to their blog posts and discussions and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve contributed to an online discussion and wondered why your picture appeared all greyed out …

In this tutorial you will learn about Gravatars, how they work and how to add avatars in WordPress.

Gravatar – What Is It?

WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar

(A Gravatar is a special type of avatar used with 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.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 technology platforms.

How Does A Gravatar 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 post discussions, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …

If a visitor chooses not to sign up with Gravatar, the default avatar set by the WP site admin will be associated with their comments (this is explained further below).

(Default icon set by 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 display with a generated icon, then the easiest thing to do is set up a 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 having one avatar display on a forum that you frequently visit 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:

WP Admin Benefits

User Benefits

Complete the tutorial below to learn how to set up and use a Gravatar.

How To Add Gravatars To Your 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 create 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 to associate with your Gravatar.

Upload your Gravatar image …

(Gravatar offers you various image uploading options)

Add your image, then crop and save it …

Select one of the available ratings for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …

(Rate your Gravatar picture)

You can access and update 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 have finished editing your details and setting up your account, your Gravatar will begin following you around the web.

It will be displayed in your post comments, web forums, etc …

Your Gravatar will also appear inside your own dashboard, in your user profile …

And every time you login …

Managing Gravatar Settings in WordPress

Although WordPress sites now automatically integrate using Gravatars, you can change some of the settings:

To manage how your Gravatar is used, log into your WP dashboard and go to the Settings > Discussion area …

(WordPress Discussion Settings)

Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …

You will be presented with a number of options:

  1. Avatar Display: This section lets you toggle Gravatars on and off for your site.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 a Gravatar account. Generated icons link the email of the user 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 finished …

Using Gravatars – Tips

By default, Gravatars display at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, code editing would be required.

Also, many additional WordPress plugins have been developed to extend the use of Gravatars. you can see which plugins 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 plugin called Jetpack.

Gravatar Hovercards

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 normally a feature of WordPress.com (the hosted version of WordPress). You can add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted website, however, by installing the powerful (and free) Jetpack plugin …

(WordPress Plugin: Jetpack – Gravatar Hovercards)

After the Jetpack plugin is installed on your site and the Gravatar Hovercards feature is activated, a Gravatar Hovercards item will be added to your Discussion Settings > Avatars section. This lets you enable the display of user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar with their mouse …

(WordPress Discussion Settings – Gravatar Hovercards)

If you activate this feature, then if someone hovers over your Gravatar …

(Hovering your mouse over a Gravatar displays a Gravatar Hovercard)

Your Gravatar Hovercard will appear, allowing people to learn more about you …

(Gravatar Hovercard)

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 Gravatars are and how to set them up in WordPress.

Gravatar logo source: simpleicons.org. Avatar movie references used for illustrative purposes only. All copyright belongs to their respective owners.


"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now

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