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What is Gravatar and Why You Should Start Using it Right Away

Often new WordPress users ask us about how the grey icon that shows up next to their name. Sometimes we get emails from users asking us how can they turn this grey thing off. Well this grey icon is known as “mystery man” gravatar. In this article we will discuss what is a gravatar and why you should start using it right away.

History: Avatar

Before we dive into what is a Gravatar, we should first cover what is an avatar. An avatar is a graphical representation of a user. It could be the person’s picture, or a random icon they want to associate with. Back in the days when web was sort of anonymous, people would use icons for identification purposes. Largely it is still the case in the gamer community. One of the coolest part about discussion boards, forums, is that you can recognize active users fairly easily because of their avatar. While it is hard to remember names, it is very easy to identify a specific image. If you were part of numerous discussion boards, you would start to recognize a same group of people everywhere. As the web evolved and blogging started to become more mainstream, it was fairly hard to have an identity as a commenter. With forums and other services, users were required to register. Each user had their own profile, so they could easily add an “avatar” to their profile. However, blog commenting doesn’t require registration in most cases. So how do we identify users? Well that is when Gravatar comes in.

What is a Gravatar?

Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar. It is globally recognized because millions of people and websites use them. Most popular applications like WordPress have built-in support for Gravatar. When a user leaves a comment (with email) on a site that supports Gravatar, it pulls their Globally Recognized Avatar from Gravatar servers. Then that picture is shown next to the comment. This allows each commenter to have their identity through out the world wide web.

Gravatar

Why Should I add Gravatar?

If you want to be identified on the web, then you should use a gravatar. If you are a blogger, non-profit, small business, or anyone who wants to build a brand, then you need to start using gravatar. Chances are that you read and comment on blogs. At first your gravatar might not get as much attention. But if the same person sees your comment at numerous sites they read, they will probably end up visiting your website. We as publishers find it really easy to identify our loyal users by their gravatar.

In our opinion, gravatar makes your comment stand out.

How can I get a Gravatar?

It’s simple and it’s free. Simply go to Gravatar’s website. Signup with the email that you use the most often to comment. Add an avatar of yourself. This could be a picture of yourself, your company’s logo, or something unique. You really have to do it one time. Chances are you won’t be changing your avatar a lot. So it’s more like set it and forget it.

Most WordPress themes already come with gravatar integration with comments. If your theme doesn’t, then you should seriously consider adding it. For further branding purposes, you can change the default mystery man gravatar on your site and put something else. Here is a tutorial on how to change the default gravatar in WordPress.

To see the live demo of gravatar in action simply comment below. Hope to see new faces in our comments. If you have a gravatar, then make a comment below. So we can recognize you.

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Reader Interactions

421 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. thanks, great post – exactly the info i was looking for. Hopefully this message has my new gravatar next to it!

  2. Thank you for the informative article. I never knew what they were for but someone told me to get one!

  3. I want to use two gravatars, one for a book (it’s a reference book and the gravatar would be the “writer” of the book; the second would be for me writing or blogging as Flo. Would I create two different gravatars and when I’m writing as my alter ego, write from one web address and when I’m writing as Flo, use my regular address?

  4. Is there a way to remove the photo class from the avatar images?

    I ask this because I suspect it’s conflicting with our the rich snippets results in our theme.

    Whenever a recipe has comments, the rich snippet thumbnail disappears from google, if there are no comments, the thumbnail is shown correctly.

    See for example:

    On of our more popular recipes with lots of comments:
    http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cupcakesenmuffins.nl%2Fcupcake-recepten%2Fbasiscupcakes%2Fbasis-cupcake-recept%2F&html=

    A less popular recipe with no comments:
    http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/richsnippets?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cupcakesenmuffins.nl%2Fcupcake-recepten%2Fluxecupcakes%2Fkoek-en-zopie-cupcakes%2F&html=

    This goes for all recipes i checked so far.

    I suspect the class=’photo’ in the gravatar is interfering, but i’m no expert. Can anyone of you help?

    Thanks,

    Ron

      • Thanks! That did put me in the right direction, Turned out it was’nt the photo class but the v-card was the problem. After removing it from the comments, thumbnails started appearing again on Google!

  5. Learned about Gravatar through Hartl’s Ruby on Rails tutorial. Didn’t know they had this, nice to give it a try!

  6. Useful Info. Although I have been a social media enthusiast for long, I did not consider using gravatar. Now I see the point

  7. I am new to Gravatar and was looking for some info on how to use it. Great post, gave me a lot of useful insights :-)

  8. Is it better to use a photograph (head & shoulders) or would you recommend a logo/graphic for a small company?

  9. Great post! (I think). Now’s the moment of truth to see if following the advice of the post works…

  10. I was not aware of the importance of a gravatar. I thought it was just something aesthetic.

  11. This post is really helpful for me. I suggest every one must use Gravatar for better link building.

  12. I created my gravatar profile just after knowing what it does. One of the awsome things that happen to web. ;^]

  13. One leans something new every day. I have been on the net since 1995 and I had no idea what a gravatar was until I read this.

  14. Gravatar is great!
    As a small business owner & blogger I think its great that Gravatar allows you to add multiple e-mail addresses and to assign different avatars (images) for each within one account (all free). I have my personal photo assigned to my primary e-mail address and my business logo assigned to another e-mail address, thus making it easy to post Blog Comments using either my personal profile or my company logo, as I see fit…

    • Very good information. Any one who wants to be found in social media should sign up for gravator.

  15. Thanks for a great article on one of those topics many of us forget to share.

    For those that don’t know about Avatars or setting up a gravatar it’s seems a daunting task but as you show it’s really pretty simple. And once done it’s much easier to create a an online identity that’s both constant and easy to use.

  16. I like gravatar. I like it a lot. It helps brand you or give you an identity online. But I still need to update my Facebook photo or or Twitter avatar seperately. I think the next step and this would be easier if Facebook or Twitter implemented it, but alas its going to be gravatar is to hook up with both social services and using a Twitter api when you update the profile picture in Twitter, it updates your gravatar picture which then goes across the net. Building an app to connect with Facebook would work well.

    I want to see this.

  17. I’m having issues with my Gravitar not showing up in my own comments on my WordPress blog (using Thesis theme). Anyone else with a similar problem?

    • If you are using the same email as the one you associate with Gravatar, then it should always show. I have not heard of a single issue like this before. -Syed

      Admin

  18. Great post! I first learned of Gravatar when I created my blog, CyanSkies.com on WordPress three years ago. As you stated, you just set it and forget it! I used my friend’s (DC/Marvel Comics artist Hector Collazo) drawing of me and its been great so far!

  19. My only issue with Gravatar (and WordPress) ist that they don’t allow special characters like the underline in icoco_de. So I am forced to register with a different account name that has not much to do with my “real” screen name on almost every other board or platform I visit.

      • Thank you for making this clear. Yes, I know that my Gravatar is linked to my email address. I also learned that I can set my “display name” to be icoco_de (which I did). But I’d like to “adjust” my profile to “gravatar.com/icoco_de” rather than “gravatar.com/icoco987”. This is what I meant, and this doesn’t seem possible.

  20. You forgot to talk about performance.
    I did some tests and here’s the result:

    Post without Gravatar: Page Speed Score: 89/100.
    Post using Gravatar: Page Speed Score: 68/100.

    So, how to use Gravatar without loosing performance?

  21. i remember when i first got my gravatar it was around 2 years back. still haven’t changed it. when u r a blogger and comment a lot on other sites you should definitely get a gravatar which is used by wordpress and other cms for displaying avatars.

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