So, are you one of our commentors who’s customised their gravatar (the little thumbnail (avatar) that appears next to everybody’s posts)? If you are only relying on WordPress’ default geometric ‘identicon’ because you don’t know how to get yourself a custom avatar, then this post is for you. It’s also for anyone who hasn’t yet realised that there’s more they could be doing with their gravatar.
If you are a commentor who enjoys playing around with different nyms for rhetorical effect (since pseudonym-play is somewhat traditional on LP), it’s courteous to other readers to maintain a consistent identity via your avatar, so here’s how to do it in order to provide the best information:
- go to gravatar.com, register an account and on the
Gravatarsscreen choose your own image to be your gravatar
- if you comment from multiple devices associated with different email addresses, add the extra addresses to your account and assign the same image to them (or assign different images to different addresses – or register a separate gravatar account for each email address – there are various ways to configure this)
- Then go to the
My Profilescreen and personalise your profile with a bit about you (as accurate or as performance art as you like). The Gravatar setup allows you to add links to social media profiles and websites and various other bits and pieces, so you clutter it up as much or as little as you like.
Then when others hover over your avatar, they will see a hovercard with a link-button saying “View Complete Profile”.
When someone clicks on that button, what they’ll see on a fully personalised Gravatar profile is something like this:
I’ve kept my Gravatar profile fairly simple (I keep my link-clutter on my about.me profile), just enough for people to know a bit more about where else I hang out online. It’s very easy to make it provide much more information if you want it to.
If you’re someone who is building a professional profile online, adequate customisation of your gravatar and other online account profiles is part of showing others your professionalism and making it easier for them to find you in other forums. For others, making it clear which online accounts of yours are for work and which are for play can be a really useful effort to make, for those who don’t want to make everything you do online about ‘managing your brand’.
Even if you just want to have a pseudonymous blogging account, it’s still a good idea to have your Gravatar profile say something about you beyond just your choice of avatar image. One of my favourite online profiles ever was for an old friend who in his About Me section described himself as a giant covered with dense orange fur who had various unlikely hobbies/pursuits for such a hirsute and highly visible giant, and that self-description pretty much meant you were prepared for whatever you might find he had written using that particular ‘nym. That was back in the early days of USENet when people played around with online identities far more blithely, but I think a bit more of that sense of fun in these over-serious days wouldn’t do anybody any harm either.
If you’re wondering whether I want you all to tell me about your brand new gravatars/hovercards/profile-descriptions? Why yes, yes I do.