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

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Have you ever wondered what is a Gravatar and whether you should be using it?

Gravatar allows users to display an avatar image next to their name on WordPress websites.

In this article, we will discuss what a Gravatar is and why you should start using it right away.

What is a Gravatar and why you should start using it right away

History: Avatar

The term Avatar was borrowed from online gaming communities in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Before that, online forums were mainly text-based communities where users were only identified by their user names.

As these communities grew, it was becoming harder to identify users only by their names.

To solve this, online forums allowed their users to upload an image as their profile photo. They called this an “Avatar” image instead of a profile photo.

The term Avatar means an image that represents a person or a user. This could be their own photo or any other image they want to use as their profile photo.

As the web and blogging evolved, WordPress blogs faced a similar problem. WordPress comments became the conversation hub for many blogs, and it was harder to identify commenters with just names.

Unlike online forums, where users were required to create an account, WordPress commenters generally didn’t need to make an account to leave a comment.

This is when the Gravatar came in.

Related: See our guide on the History of Blogging.

What Is a Gravatar?

Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar. It is a popular web service that allows people to create a profile and associate avatar images with their email addresses.

Gravatar

Once you add a Gravatar, it is going to be recognized on all the platforms that come with built-in Gravatar support, including WordPress, Slack, Github, Stack Overflow, Atlassian, and more.

This means that when you leave a comment on one of the sites that support Gravatar, it will pull your Globally Recognized Avatar from their servers and showcase it next to your name in the comments and other areas.

For instance, when a user leaves a comment on a WordPress site, their Gravatar is automatically shown next to their comment.

WordPress comments showing gravatar images of users

This allows each commenter to have their identity throughout the interwebs.

Why Should I Add Gravatar?

If you are a blogger, non-profit, small business, or anyone wanting to build a brand, you need to start using Gravatar.

A Gravatar allows you to build your identity on the web and build an authoritative voice in your industry.

At first, when you comment on blogs, your Gravatar might not be noticeable immediately.

However, if the same person sees your comment on numerous sites they read, they will probably visit your website.

Some website owners complain that Gravatar slows down their websites, and this is the most cited reason why bloggers choose to disable Gravatar.

Pro tip: See our ultimate guide to speed up WordPress for more performance optimization.

How Can I Get a Gravatar?

You can get a Gravatar by visiting the Gravatar website and signing up for a free account.

It is quite easy to create a Gravatar for your profile.

First, you need to visit the Gravatar website and click on the ‘Create your Gravatar’ button.

Sign in to create a Gravatar

You will now be taken to the signup page.

Gravatar is owned by Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com (not to be confused with WordPress.org; see our guide on the difference between WordPress.com vs WordPress.org). This is why they require users to sign up using a WordPress.com account.

Create a new WordPress account or sign in with an existing account

You can create a free WordPress.com account or sign in if you already have an account.

You will now be directed to the ‘Login’ page, where you need to provide the email address and password of your WordPress website.

After that, simply click on the ‘Continue’ button.

Provide WordPress account details

Next, you will be asked if you would like to log into Gravatar using your WordPress.com account.

Simply click on the ‘Approve’ button to continue.

Click on the Approve button to integrate WordPress account with Gravatar

After that, Gravatar will send a confirmation email to your email account.

You’ll need to open the email and click on the ‘Confirm your email’ button to activate the Gravatar account.

Click Confirm your email button to activate account

Now, you will be redirected to the WordPress.com website.

Next, you need to go back to the Gravatar website and sign in using your WordPress.com account.

This will take you to your Gravatar Account page.

Here, you simply need to click on the ‘Add a new image’ link below to add your Gravatar image.

Click on the Add new image link

Upon clicking on the link, you’ll be taken to the ‘Upload Image’ page.

You can now upload any image you want to use from your computer or by pasting a URL.

We recommend choosing a nice profile picture of yourself or your company logo for the Gravatar.

However, if you want to remain anonymous, you can use any other image that represents you.

Upload Gravatar image

After you have uploaded a Gravatar, you’ll be directed to a new page where you can crop, rotate, zoom, and preview your image.

Once you’re satisfied, simply click on the ‘Crop Image’ button below.

Edit Gravatar image

Next, you’ll be asked to rate your Gravatar according to its maturity level.

Simply check the box next to a preferred option and click on the ‘Set Rating’ button.

Your Gravatar has now been set up.

Choose a rating for your Gravatar

Next, you need to visit the ‘Websites’ page from the sidebar on your Gravatar dashboard.

From here, you need to simply copy and paste your WordPress website’s URL and title.

Finally, click on the ‘Save Website’ button to store your settings.

Paste your WordPress website URL and title

Now, you can try out your Gravatar by leaving a comment on a website or by checking the author profile on your WordPress blog.

This is how our Gravatar looked in the author bio section on a demo site.

Preview of author profile with Gravatar

Frequently Asked Questions About Gravatars in WordPress

Users often ask us questions about using Gravatar for their own avatar image as well as using Gravatar on their websites.

Following are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about using Gravatar.

1. How do I turn off Gravatar on my WordPress website?

You can turn off Gravatar on your WordPress website by simply visiting the Settings » Discussion page and unchecking the box next to the Avatar Display option.

For more details, see our tutorial on how to disable Gravatar images in WordPress.

Disable Gravatar on your website

2. What happens when a user does not have a Gravatar image?

By default, WordPress will show the mystery man image next to the comments where the comment author does not have a Gravatar image associated with their email address. This is called the default Gravatar image.

You can change this image by visiting the Settings » Discussion page and scrolling down to the Default Avatar section.

Set a default Gravatar

From here, you will see a bunch of options to choose from. Some of them will automatically attempt to generate a unique image by using an algorithm based on the user’s name or email address.

3. Can I add more than one image or email address to my Gravatar account?

Yes, you can add multiple images and email addresses to your Gravatar account. However, you can only use one image as your Gravatar for each email address.

Add an extra image or email address to Gravatar account

4. Can I disable my Gravatar account?

Yes, you can disable your Gravatar account at any time. Simply log in to your account on the Gravatar website and choose ‘Disable My Account’ under your profile photo.

Disable Gravatar account

Disabling your Gravatar image will stop processing your images, and any websites where you left comments will stop showing your Gravatar image.

We hope this article helped you learn about what is Gravatar and why you should start using it. You may also want to see our tutorial on how to change the default Gravatar in WordPress and our top picks for the best team communication tools for small businesses.

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Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi with over 16 years of experience in WordPress, Web Hosting, eCommerce, SEO, and Marketing. Started in 2009, WPBeginner is now the largest free WordPress resource site in the industry and is often referred to as the Wikipedia for WordPress.

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Reader Interactions

429 CommentsLeave a Reply

  1. Syed Balkhi says

    Hey WPBeginner readers,
    Did you know you can win exciting prizes by commenting on WPBeginner?
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  2. lee says

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

  3. Zeana Romanovna says

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

  4. Flo says

    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?

  5. Ron says

    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

      • Ron says

        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!

  6. Allen says

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

  7. Siddarth says

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

  8. Michiel Drenth says

    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 :-)

  9. Chris McQuillan says

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

  10. Joshua Hardwick says

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

  11. Carmelo Gonzalez says

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

  12. Vicky says

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

  13. kranthi says

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

  14. Alex says

    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.

  15. Duane says

    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…

    • Jim Forde says

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

  16. Frank Woodman Jr says

    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.

  17. David says

    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.

  18. Brady says

    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?

    • Editorial Staff says

      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

  19. Nando says

    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!

  20. iCoco_de says

    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.

      • icoco_de says

        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.

  21. Thomaz Fernandes says

    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?

  22. Gautam Doddamani says

    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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