This past week, I received a few emails from people asking how they can have a picture of them self appear when they leave a comment on not only this blog, but any other blog as well.
The good news is just a few clicks away! While I would like to take credit for this, however, it certainly is nothing that I have done.
You see, there is a simple service that handles this. Set your picture once, and when you post on any other blogs, your picture (or more technically, your avatar) will automatically show up!
Avatars are those little user pictures that you see on Twitter, Facebook, instant messenger programs , and blogs. They are all over the internet. An avatar is a computer user’s representation of himself/herself or alter ego whether it is an actual picture of the person, or a representation of something (or someone) they like.
If you would like to try this out (and it is free), and create an avatar for yourself to use, head over to: http://en.gravatar.com/. Gravatar is a central service where people can choose a provided avatar or upload their own so that they can be associated with their e-mail addresses when ever they post to a blog.
Avatars also will appear on the blog you run, unless you turn them off in this section. Keep in mind that the theme that you are using may or may not support displaying avatars. Most themes that do support avatars display them only in comments, not for post or page authors.
If you allow avatars, you have the power and control to allow (or disallow) certain avatars that appear on your blog. WordPress automatically interfaces to Gravatar (gravatar.com). Over at Gravatar, they use a rating system similar to the MPAA system for movie ratings: G for child-friendly images, PG for audiences over 13, R for audiences over 17, and X for explicit images. The good news is that by default, only the G-rated will be displayed on your website.
You can set this in Settings -> Discussion are of your Dashboard:
You also get the option to choose the image that’s used for comment authors who don’t have a Gravatar set-up or associated with their email address. The options include several generic settings (Mystery Man, blank, Gravatar logo), as well as 4 random identities: Identicon, Wavatar, and MonsterID, & Retro.
Mystery Man, blank, and the Gravatar Logo will all show up like the icon that is displayed there (boring!) Identicons are geometric patterns that are computer-generated. A unique pattern will be assigned to each commenter’s e-mail address, so the same pattern will be used every time they comment. MonsterID uses the same concept, but draws images of monsters instead of geometric designs. Wavatar assembles avatar images from a pool of pieces (faces, eyes, noses, hair), rather like assembling a Mr. Potato Head toy.
By using Avatars, you can give your readers/commenters a little bit of an identity when they comment on your blog.
Try it out – get your own avatar and see how it shows up when you leave a comment. Once you understand it, change up your settings on your blog!