Often new WordPress users ask us about how the grey icon that shows up next to their name. Sometimes we get emails from users asking us how can they turn this grey thing off. Well this grey icon is known as “mystery man” gravatar. In this article we will discuss what is a gravatar and why you should start using it right away.
Before we dive into what is a Gravatar, we should first cover what is an avatar. An avatar is a graphical representation of a user. It could be the person’s picture, or a random icon they want to associate with.
Back in the days when web was sort of anonymous, people would use icons for identification purposes. Largely it is still the case in the gamer community.
One of the coolest part about discussion boards, forums, is that you can recognize active users fairly easily because of their avatar. While it is hard to remember names, it is very easy to identify a specific image. If you were part of numerous discussion boards, you would start to recognize a same group of people everywhere.
As the web evolved and blogging started to become more mainstream, it was fairly hard to have an identity as a commenter. With forums and other services, users were required to register. Each user had their own profile, so they could easily add an “avatar” to their profile. However, blog commenting doesn’t require registration in most cases. So how do we identify users? Well that is when Gravatar comes in.
What is a Gravatar?
Gravatar stands for Globally Recognized Avatar. It is globally recognized because millions of people and websites use them. Most popular applications like WordPress have built-in support for Gravatar. When a user leaves a comment (with email) on a site that supports Gravatar, it pulls their Globally Recognized Avatar from Gravatar servers.
Then that picture is shown next to the comment. This allows each commenter to have their identity through out the world wide web.
Why Should I add Gravatar?
If you want to be identified on the web, then you should use a gravatar. If you are a blogger, non-profit, small business, or anyone who wants to build a brand, then you need to start using gravatar. Chances are that you read and comment on blogs.
At first your gravatar might not get as much attention. But if the same person sees your comment at numerous sites they read, they will probably end up visiting your website. We as publishers find it really easy to identify our loyal users by their gravatar.
In our opinion, gravatar makes your comment stand out.
How can I get a Gravatar?
It’s simple and it’s free. Simply go to Gravatar’s website.
Signup with the email that you use the most often to comment. Add an avatar of yourself. This could be a picture of yourself, your company’s logo, or something unique. You really have to do it one time. Chances are you won’t be changing your avatar a lot. So it’s more like set it and forget it.
Most WordPress themes already come with gravatar integration with comments. If your theme doesn’t, then you should seriously consider adding it.
For further branding purposes, you can change the default mystery man gravatar on your site and put something else.