Gravatars Make Your Comments Stand Out!
A GR avatar is a globally recognized avatar. This is an image that you’ve associated with one or more email addresses – and when you make a comment on a blog or in a forum that supports gravatars, your comment will appear like this:
When you don’t have a gravatar, your comment looks like this:
And even though you may say something brilliant, it loses a little something, so set up your gravatar today – it’s free and easy!
Setting Up Your Gravatar
First, go to www.gravatar.com, to sign up for your free account.
Just provide your email address. The gravatar site will send you an email, and you click on the link in that email (or paste it into your browser address window) to confirm that you own the address. You then assign a password for your account.
When you start out, you’ll see your email address next to a silhouette like the one above next to “Scott.” In the image below, you can see that I have four email addresses set up already. Setting up a new email address and changing the picture for one you’ve already set up is exactly the same. Note that when you set up multiple email addresses you will have to click on the link in a confirmation email sent to each of the addresses.
We’ll walk through the “change your gravatar process” since it is the same as associating a new gravatar with an email address. At the bottom of the page, you will see an option to select or add an image:
Since you don’t have any images yet (or if you want to change yours), click on “add a new one” to assign an avatar to the selected email address (the one in the green box at the top of the page). You will be presented with a choice about where to load your gravatar image from.
Select whichever location you want. We’ll use “my computer’s hard drive” for this tutorial. You are presented with a simple form:
Click browse and select the location of the image you want to upload as your gravatar.
Then select “Next.” Your image will be uploaded, and you will have a chance to select the exact part of the image you want to use. A black screen is displayed, showing your uploaded image with a tiny box in the middle of it, and a slider control, located above a button labeled “crop” at the bottom of the page.
Don’t click the “crop” button until the little square in the center shows exactly what you want to see. You can move the slider bar to adjust how much of your image fits inside the square.
You can also click on the image to drag the small box around until the right part of the image (at the right size) is displayed within the small box. This will be your gravatar.
Now click the “crop” button. If you don’t like the way you’ve cropped – or if you accidentally hit the “crop” button too soon, you have a chance to cancel your selection and edit again.
Once you confirm, you are asked to rate the appropriateness of your new gravatar.
You should probably only upload G-rated or PG-rated avatars. Each website that uses gravatars can specify what level of images it will use. If your image is “too high” you will get the dreaded silhouette. Tyner Blain allows G and PG images. Even though most (all?) of our readers are adults, we have readers from around the world, and to be sensitive to different cultural standards, we decided to be more conservative. All work-safe websites will need to do the same. If you want to upload an R-rated or X-rated gravatar, you can – but Tyner Blain will show a silhouette next to your comments until you upload a more widely acceptable image as your gravatar.
Then you are returned to the page that shows your registered email addresses, and your image is displayed at the bottom of the page. In this example, I have two images available for use as gravatars.
If you place your cursor over an image, the gravatar website will show you the rating for that image.
You can also click on the big X to delete an image from your gravatar account.
While an email address is selected in the middle of the page,
select one of the available images at the bottom of the page and it will be associated with the selected email address. You are returned to an updated list of your registered email addresses.
Now, whenever you add a comment to Tyner Blain, or any participating blog; or add a forum posting or otherwise participate in any supported site, your gravatar will appear next to your words.
The most recent version of WordPress supports gravatars by default, and plugins are available for most major blogging platforms. It is getting easier for people and companies to use gravatars in their web sites, and once you set one up, it will work on every website that supports gravatars.
How Do Gravatars Work?
The website will take the email address (that you supplied when making a comment), encrypt it (with MD5 encryption – very strong stuff), and send it to the gravatar web site when rendering the page. It does this within the request to render an image on the web page. The image that the gravatar website provides is your image. So your email address is never just “floating around out there.” It is secure.
What are you waiting for? Sign up today for a free gravatar, and engage in conversation even more effectively on the sites you love. If a blog you like does not support gravatars yet, ask them to.