Not Just Another Pretty Picture

Folks have been asking me recently about the little mugshots they see next to some of the comments on my blog posts. When I post a comment, for example, a small thumbnail image of my choosing, known as my avatar, shows up next to my comment. (See the first comment below.) Several others on my website also have their avatar showing, but most just get a big blue sideways “G” next to their comments.

So what’s the deal? Do you need to have an account on my website and every website where you leave comments to have your avatar show up there? Nope! That’s because many blog sites including mine support what is known as a Gravatar, or a Globally Recognized Avatar. The idea is that you upload your choice of avatar image to one place, and all blog sites supporting the Gravatar can reference your image from there. In fact, once you configure your Gravatar, you never have to think about it again, because it’s tied to the email address you leave in your comments. Whenever you use a registered email address in your comment, the website will automatically display the matching Gravatar. And note that you don’t have to worry about getting spammed when you use your real email address, at least on legitimate sites. Only the site administrator (that’s me in this case) can see that address, and I certainly won’t be giving it out to anyone.

So how do you set this up? First you need to sign up for a free account with, the popular blog hosting site. It’s free and quick, and you don’t ever have to do any blogging to have an account there. Then you log in to with your WordPress credentials, upload a photo, and register one or more email addresses. That’s it! (The instructions are here.) Then, any time you use one of these addresses in a comment on a Gravatar-enabled site, your avatar will appear automatically. It’s even retroactive, so old posts with an email address you’ve registered will start to work once you get signed up.

So now that you know how this works, you too can be one of the cool kids, with your smiling face or favorite cartoon character gracing all of your stimulating and thought-provoking comments!

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One Response to “Not Just Another Pretty Picture”

  1. Ed Leckert says:

    Here’s a comment! Note my Gravatar, or profile image, above.