Gravatar – What it is and why you should use it

April 30th, 2011 | Posted by Andie in Thinking Hard

What is a Gravatar?
A Gravatar is a Globally Recognised Avatar which follows you around the web, specifically when you comment on blog posts. An Avatar is an image which you choose to represent yourself on the internet, whether it be a photo of yourself or an image to represent your ‘internet’ self.

Why do I need a Gravatar?
Branding Branding Branding! People tend to run in the same blog circles. While there are millions of blogs out there, you may tend to notice that similar names start to pop up on comments and sometimes posts of blogs you follow. Having a Gravatar helps greatly with branding. You have an image on your twitter profile, on your facebook profile, why not have one when you comment on posts as well.

How do I get a Gravatar?
Easy! Visit http://en.gravatar.com/ , click on Log In / Sign Up up the top and Sign Up. All you need is your email address. If you already have a WordPress.com account, you can go straight to Log In.
Once you are logged in, chose an image which you would like to appear next to your name and add this to your gravatar profile.

What type of image should I use?
Try to keep it simple. Gravatar image sizes range between 1 pixel and 512 pixels. To get an idea of the different sizes:

(256px, 128px, 64px, 32px and 16px respectively).
Most images on comments that I’ve seen range in-between the 32 and 64px mark, so ideally you want something that is going to be visible at these sizes. There are a few that do go quite low such as 16px and any image that is too complicated isn’t really going to be viewable at this size.

Do I have to use a picture of my face?
No. If you are happy to show your face, go for it. However I do know that a lot of people don’t want to use images of themselves directly and would rather use an image which represents themselves in another way. That’s perfectly fine.

I sometimes use different email address’s for different comments…
Gravatar supports this. For example, you could have a couple of blogs, say one on food and one personal blog. When you comment on other food blogs, you might use the email address “food@myfoodblog.com” and for personal blogs you might use “awesome@mypersonalblog.com”. What you can do with Gravatar is assign different images to different email address’s, so your food email has an image of a chocolate cake and your personal blog has an image of your child.

How does Gravatar know that it’s me posting the comment?
When you fill in a comment form, which often looks something like this:
your email address is compared with Gravatars database. If it matches, then your Gravatar is displayed.

Anything else I need to know about Gravatar?
Not really. Gravatar is a great little extra to help with your branding. It’s very simple to sign up and upload your image, and any further FAQ’s can be found on their Common Questions page


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