If you have noticed, some web sites and blog sites show a picture of the author somewhere near the post.  And in addition, pictures of people that leave comments somehow show up by magic.  How is this done?

The Magic of Gravatar Pictures

Sample Gravatar imageThose little pictures that you see are called "Gravatars"  and they are supplied by a number of service providers.  If you have a WordPress site one of the most popular services is Gravatar.com.  This site hosts your picture and profile for free and associates it with an email address.  When you login to a WordPress based site with that same registered email address there is a link established between the two sites, and this allows your picture to be pulled over from the Gravatar.com web site and displayed on the WordPress site you are visiting.

And when you either author a post or leave a comment, many times you are required to fill in your email address.  This is the same email address that is use to poll Gravatar.com and pull your picture for display.

Gravatar Compatibility with my WordPress Site

Displaying the Gravatar is dependent on your specific WordPress site.  The version of WordPress that you are using (anything newer than v2.5 should be fine), the theme that you are using, and specific plugins that are active on your site all come together to determine if Gravatars will be displayed and what certain behaviors are.

In general, most active sites try to keep up with the latest release of WordPress, or very close to the latest release.  So, at the time of this writing, I would expect that most active WordPress sites are at v3.0 or newer of WordPress, and in this case, Gravatar support is built into the base code.  Of course, that does not mean that the pictures will automatically appear on your site; your theme and plugins still need to support the Gravatars.

Displaying  WordPress Gravatars

imageOk, to turn the Gravatars on so everyone can see those cool automatic profile pictures, you need to make one small setting change in your WordPress configuration.  Simply login to your administrator account an go to the dashboard.  In the Admin menu go to Settings > Discussion and scroll toward the bottom looking for the Avatars section.  In that section you will see a radio selection for showing or hiding Avatars.  Simply select Show Avatars and save your changes.

You might be wondering why the section is Avatars and not Gravatars.  The reason is because Avatars is a generic term for iconic representations of identity, while Gravatars is a specific service offered by Automatic.com via the Gravatars.com site.  Your WordPress installation doesn’t have to use just Gravatars; WordPress can use avatars from many different services.

After turning on Show Avatars and saving your settings, any themes that support Gravatars will automatically display them in the defined locations (like comments and author posts.)

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Filed under: Wordpress ConfigurationWordpress Gravatar

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