Last Updated: October 12, 2015 0

Gravatar – an image that follows you from site to site

Found In: Social Networks › Tools

With the world of the internet, we all have access to ever greater amounts of information and we similarly generate ever increasing amounts of content too. It is normal now for people have become members of community forums and blog sites to post our views of the world, and often this can mean we have joined a dozen or more such sites across our many interest niches. The concept behind the Gravatar web site is to allow members to register their email address to upload a “globally recognized avatar” so that when we post comment out there on the internet, as long as the same email address has been used on the blogging platform, then your Gravatar will be looked up and displayed automatically.

In order for it to work, the blogging platform needs to have installed a plug in which caused every post to be checked against the universal directory of the Gravatar web site. Assuming that plug in is installed and activated, then it all works seamlessly well, saving the user a lot of time to upload his avatar to each site and blog post. It all works on meta data stored against the avatar the user has uploaded against the email address he has registered it to. The blogging platforms supported are Drupal, WordPress and Redmine content management systems. The avatar that is uploaded can be a square one hundred and fifty pixels, and it is always displayed as eighty by eighty pixels when the blog platform has the plugin installed and activated.
Massive Volumes of Gravatar Hits Per Day, Served Lightening fast

The statistics on its usage are quite remarkable. After Tom Preston-Werner developed the system, he got distracted by other projects and for several years did not support it. He then returned to the project with the assistance of of allies Edgecast and Dyn and committed to making it faster to serve the avatars of its user base. Because each time a visitor to a blog opens a web page, that places a call for the avatar to be served from the global server. As of January 2012, Gravatar now serves about one hundred thousand avatars per second, about eight billion, six hundred million avatars served per day. That is truly an amazing performance, and it just goes to show the level of use out there in the wider blogging community. It is also a credit to the developer and his supporters that their servers deliver the avatar typically in under one hundred milliseconds, as he says, in a quarter of the time it takes to blink your eyes

When a user registers for free with Gravatar, they are assigned a simple URL (Universal Resource Locator, also known as a web page address) to use when they are publishing content on one of the compatible platforms. This web page address has a “hash” code at the end of it, which translates to be your email address. This format and design enables you to set up in community user forums and message boards your profile, which contains your unique Gravatar URL. This extends its functionality way past only working on blogging platforms that have the plugin installed. The purpose of forum profiles is to display your name and avatar and signature for every forum post you make. By using your Gravatar URL, you can then maintain a common avatar at one central location, and then use it across all of the sites where you publish content.

Assume that you, over the course of a few years, that you have published hundreds or even thousands of posts online, you are able change your avatar on every post you have ever made by simply logging into Gravatar and changing the avatar you keep there on file. Then when your old content is ever viewed, Gravatar will then be serving your new avatar seamlessly because it is tied to the email address you used to register your Gravatar account with. Of course nothing prevents you from registering several email addresses and keeping several avatars on file, depending on how many personas you wish to maintain in your online publishing life. The main thing to remember is that everything about your avatar is that it is tied to your email address, which is then encrypted in MD5 encryption code at the end of the URL you are given, and that by using this encrypted web page address you are pointing all your published content to Gravatar for it to serve to that web site the avatar you have on file with them.

Gravatar Handles Avatar Content ratings with No Problems

The whole idea behind this is so that you can keep all your avatars across all your published content up to date with the latest avatar of your choosing. What is very interesting is that avatars can be assigned a content rating just like movies can be assigned a a G rating or an R rating for the nature of their content. This is worth bearing in mind because the site where your fill out your forum profile, or the blogging platform site owner may have set their site to only accept for example G rating avatars. In those instances, a R rated avatar would not get displayed.

Some people have reported problems with using transparent PNG avatar file formats appearing poorly when viewed in internet Explorer. In such situations, there are established work around solutions to the problem, or of course you could choose an alternative file format type for your avatar to avoid the problem.

As a web site owner, there are various sources to finding the plug in software for use with your WordPress blogging platform, and for the other content management systems that are compatible with Gravatar. It is all quite easy to download it, install it and to set it to activate. It doesn’t take more than a minute to do. On the whole, the Gravatar is an excellent solution to avatar management issues, especially for the prolific content publisher.