Today’s web is all about being social. One small way you can do that is to let people know who is talking — to put a face with that name. This small touch can turn a stale stream of statements, questions, and answers into something that feels more like a conversation between real, living people. So, how do you do that?
You need an avatar, or profile picture.
At one time, WordPress included functionality to assign a profile picture to your WordPress account. This way, your profile picture would show up along with your post (assuming your WordPress theme is set up to display them) or anywhere else you wanted to show it on your site. As for commenting on someone else’s blog, there are a variety of ways to solve that problem, depending on how the blog owner has set up their site. One common solution is requiring that commenters create an account on the blog and set up an avatar. That works, but it can be a little tedious. It’s something that many people would rather just skip if they want to leave a quick comment on a blog. Why go through the work of creating another account that they’ll probably forget the password to anyway? Now, WordPress has removed native avatar support and instead suggests you use a Gravatar, which you can set up at https://en.gravatar.com/.
A Gravatar is a globally recognized avatar that is associated to your email address. Whenever you use your email address in a system that supports Gravatars (like WordPress blogs), that Gravatar will be displayed. Because it is tied to your email address, it covers you in both cases; whether you are a blogger and want to include it with your post or elsewhere on your site, or you are commenting on someone else’s blog and want to include it there.
To set up a Gravatar, just go to gravatar.com and link your email address to a profile picture.
You can actually set up as many email addresses as you would like, and you have one profile picture or avatar associated with each email address. For WordPress blog owners, make sure one of these email addresses is the same one that is in your WordPress account. Now, if you’re a blog owner, just enable Gravatar support in your blog (in the WordPress administration screen, go to “Discussion” under “Settings” on the left side navigation) and you’re done.
The Gravatar that is associated with your email address in your WordPress account will appear. Also, if you are commenting on someone else’s blog, as long as they have their blog configured to support Gravatars, it will show up there too. Gravatars are becoming more common, so more blogs are supporting them.
Remember how I mentioned earlier that if you are a blog owner, your WordPress theme needs to be set up to display your avatar first? That just means that blogs can be set up in a number of different ways, and some are set up to display this avatar (or Gravatar) with each post or elsewhere on your site and some are not. If yours does not, you’ll have to find a WordPress theme that does. Or, you can contact us at Checkerboard and we’ll can find one for you. Better yet, we can probably customize your theme to include this functionality!