How to get your Picture in Blog Comments

Churchill silhouetteIf you’ve stumbled around the web for a while, then you’ve probably seen the little pictures that some people use alongside their comments in blog posts,  or on forums. So how do you go about getting your own picture against your blog comments or forum posts?

Not all blogs or forums allow their users to have pictures of themselves next to their comments or posts, but those that do tend to utilise the same easy-to-use system.

If you post questions on forums, or leave comments on blog posts and would like to enhance your comments with your photograph or some graphical icon, then read on, as it’s really not that difficult to achieve.

Avatars

The little pictures that you see next to blog comments or forum posts are called avatars. An avatar is a computer user’s representation of themselves in the online world.

In computer games an avatar is often the three-dimensional character that users use to represent themselves, in blogs and forums though, an avatar normally takes the form of a picture of themselves, a cartoon representation, or some graphical icon having some particular meaning or significance to the user.

To be able to use your own avatar on different blogging or forum platforms, there would really need to be a universally accepted system for the use and transfer of avatars across platforms, otherwise you’d have to set up a separate avatar for every system or website that you’re likely to use. This, as you could imagine, would be a real pain.

Fortunately, such a universal system does exist and it’s called GRAVATAR.

Gravatars

Mona Lisa 80 x 80 pixelsA gravatar is a Globally Recognised Avatar and is an free online service to serve avatar images globally and in a defined way.

A gravatar is always square and can be up to 512 pixels wide, although the default standard is 80 x 80 pixels.

To be able to use gravatars, all you need is a valid e-mail address and a suitable image that you want to use as your avatar.

Gravatars are linked to your e-mail address. Whenever you leave a comment on a blog post, the blogging software uses your e-mail address to retrieve your avatar from the gravatar website. However, in an effort to alleviate spam your e-mail address is not used directly, but an encrypted version of it, called an MD5 hash (or message digest), is used instead.

The MD5 hash, derived from your e-mail address, uniquely identifies your gravatar and prevents spam by not sending your real e-mail address in the process. Furthermore, there is no possibility of anyone extrapolating your e-mail address from the MD5 hash!

The MD5 hash of an e-mail address is always 32 characters long, using the characters 0 – 9 and a – f (hexadecimal notation). For example, the MD5 hash of the e-mail address iHaveAn@email.com is:

3b3be63a4c2a439b013787725dfce802

To call up the gravatar linked to this e-mail address using its MD5 hash, the blogging software would use something of the following format:

www.gravatar.com/avatar/3b3be63a4c2a439b013787725dfce802

Try clicking on this link and your browser should display the gravatar logo.

Ratings

The gravatar system also has an in-built (voluntary) rating system to try and prevent inappropriate images being displayed.

When choosing your gravatar image, if you feel that it may be unsuitable for certain audiences, you can choose which of the following ratings is most appropriate for it:

  • G   – Suitable for all audiences
  • PG – Possibly offensive, usually for audiences 13 and above
  • R   – Intended for adult audiences above 17
  • X   – Even more mature than above

Website managers running websites supporting the gravatar system can set the appropriate rating for their site. For example, if you ran a site that children may visit, then you would set the site’s gravatar rating to G. This would mean that only user’s gravatars with a G rating would be displayed and any gravatar with a higher rating would be replaced by a safe, default image.

Sign Up for a Gravatar

If this captures your imagination and you fancy getting your own avatar, then you will need to sign up with the gravatar system.

To sign up for a gravatar, you need to:

  1. Go to www.gravatar.com and click on the signup link
  2. Enter your e-mail address and then click signup
  3. Check your e-mail and click on the activation link in the e-mail sent to you from gravatar. If you can’t find the e-mail, try checking your junk mailbox just in case your spam filter has caught it by mistake.
  4. Choose a username and password
  5. Click on the link to add an image
  6. Choose an image from your computer and upload it to gravatar
  7. Crop and size your image
  8. Choose a suitability rating for your avatar

You should now be ready to go. Your avatar image is now linked to your e-mail address through the gravatar system and will appear when you leave comments on gravatar enabled blogs and forums.

Give it a Go

If you’ve successfully managed to create a gravatar and are now itching to try it out, why not leave a comment on this post to see how it all works?

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Comments

  1. commented

    thanks for the tutorial but what I was looking for is how do people do that .. I mean .. like I can see on your blog .. some people use their pictures .. how can I do that ??? ..
    all I have is a leave a reply section .. name mail website !! ..
    I keep seeing that on blogs !! there is no registration page where I can create a profile and put my picture !! .. and there’s no login with your facebook or something ..

    So, How on earth can I do that ??

    • commented

      You need to go to the Gravatar website to create a profile with your picture that is linked to your e-mail address. Whenever you leave comments on a blog using the same e-mail address (if the blog is Gravatar enabled) your picture will automatically show up next to your comment.

  2. james commented

    I am having trouble seeing how exacly you post a picture. Where is the button down here?

    • commented

      There is no button on this page to post your picture. You have to go to the Gravatar website first to create a profile with your picture that is linked to your e-mail address. Then, when you leave comments on a blog using your e-mail address (if the blog is Gravatar enabled) your picture will automatically show up next to your comment.

  3. commented

    Ok, here goes! If it doesn’t work, I’m gonna try it again! I would like to know if previous comments I made with this email address will fill in with the new avatar. Do you know if it does? Thanks! Now I’m not a white figure on a gray background anymore…I hope…once I click on “submit comment”

    • commented

      It certainly seems to work and in answer to your question, yes, previous comments that you have left using the same e-mail address should now display your avatar (providing the website in question has Gravatars enabled).

  4. Mariann commented

    Thanks!!!
    I hope this works, for some reason I had a very ugly default avatar. LOL

  5. commented

    Thanks for the post.
    I still seem to be having a problem getting my photo to show up when I post on blogger blogs using my wordpress account. Any idea why this is?

    • commented

      Hi Kory,

      Looks like you have the basic Gravatar working as your photo is showing up in the comments here. Blogger is a Google product now, so I’m not sure if they use the Gravatar system to display photos of commenters. Maybe you need a Google+ account with an associated image for this to work?

      Richard

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