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Using WordPress Gravatars

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 profile images has now become standard across the web on social web channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, online directories and other web properties …

(Avatars are now used across all user sites on the web)

Using WordPress Gravatars

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

You may have wondered why many blog posts and comments show photos in some entries and some don’t, or perhaps you’ve left a comment on someone else’s blog and wondered why your image didn’t show up …

In this tutorial you will learn what Gravatars are, how they work and how to set them up in WordPress.

What’s A Gravatar?

WordPress uses a specific kind of avatar called a Gravatar

(A Gravatar is a special kind of avatar used with WordPress)

Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar.

Gravatars allow you 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.com 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 by many technologies.

How Gravatars Work

Once your Gravatar account is set up, the service matches your WordPress profile information to your account email and displays your custom gravatar image next to comments, articles and (optionally) elsewhere across the WordPress universe …

If a site has not set up their Gravatar account, the default icon set by the site administrator will be associated with their comments (see further below).

(Default avatar set by site administrator)

Typically, most images use a default avatar (often called the “Mystery Man”) …

(Mystery Man Avatar)

If you don’t want your WordPress entries to be associated with a default icon, then set up your own gravatar.

Why Use Gravatars

A Gravatar is basically 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 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:

Site Administrator Benefits

WP User Benefits

The step-by-step tutorial below shows you how to set up and use Gravatars.

How To Add A Gravatar To WordPress – A Step-By-Step Tutorial

To use Gravatars, first first you will need 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 easily register 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.

You will be asked to upload an image …

(Upload your Gravatar image)

Add your image, then crop and save it …

Choose a rating for your Gravatar (G, PG, R, or X) …

(Rate your Gravatar image)

You can access and manage your own account anytime …

You can edit your profile further 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, forums, etc …

Your Gravatar will also display inside your own dashboard, in your user account …

And whenever you login …

How To Manage Gravatar Settings in WordPress

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

To manage how your Gravatar is used, log in as an administrator and go to the Settings > Discussion administration panel …

(WordPress Discussion Settings)

Scroll down the screen to the Avatars section …

You will be presented with several options:

  1. Avatar Display: In this section you can specify whether to show Gravatars or not.
  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 its appropriateness. Here you can select the maximum rating you will allow on your site.
  3. 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 user 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 WordPress Gravatars – Useful Tips

By default, WordPress displays Gravatar images at a fixed size. To customize the default image size, you would need to edit code in your template files.

Also, several WordPress plugins have been developed to enhance the use of Gravatars. These 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 site using a WordPress plugin called Jetpack.

Gravatar Hovercards

Gravatar Hovercards allow 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 add a Gravatar Hovercard to your self-hosted website, however, if you install the powerful, feature-rich Jetpack plugin …

(Jetpack Plugin – Gravatar Hovercards)

After installing Jetpack on your site and activating the Gravatar Hovercards feature, a Gravatar Hovercards entry will show up in your Discussion Settings > Avatars admin area. This allows you to display user profiles when someone hovers over a Gravatar image with their mouse …

(WordPress Discussion Settings Screen – Gravatar Hovercards)

If this feature has been activated, then if someone hovers over your Gravatar …

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

Your Gravatar Hovercard will display, giving people an opportunity to visit your profile and learn a little more about you …

(Gravatar Hovercards)

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 tutorial has helped you learn about Gravatars and how to get your WordPress avatar to show up next to your posts, 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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