From avatars to gravatars: How important is an online identity?

Have you ever searched your name on the Internet to see where you rank, or used the images tab instead of web to see what photos appear in the search? These searches may have yielded your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures, a different picture for LinkedIn and another one from a network you forgotten you’d registered for.

You have all these different images because every time you sign up for a new website or sign up to comment online you’re asked to upload a picture to that profile.

In order to update those old images to something that better represents you, you need to login to each service and upload a new picture to each of these networks. That’s a lot of time spent uploading profile pictures, and updating profile information. Wouldn’t it be easier if you could sign up to one service that connected your e-mail address with your profile picture across the Internet?

When you register your e-mail address with the image associated with your registered e-mail address follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you login, comment or post on a blog that supports Gravatars.

Gravatar stands for “globally recognized avatar.” An avatar is the earliest form of a profile photo and got its name from the icons people used to differentiate themselves when commenting on forums.

Although many social networks don’t have Gravatar integration, you’ll find they’re supported on most website commenting systems.

Using a Gravatar can make your comment stand out from the rest.

With a Gravatar account you can add as many e-mail addresses to it as you like, assigning your personal photo to your personal e-mail address, and your company profile to your business e-mail address, making it easier to post comments either from yourself or from your company.

If your name is your brand and you write or comment regularly on posts you’ll want to have an image that represents you or your brand. Others who regularly post comments on sites will be able to recognize you just by glancing at your unique profile picture and might just visit your site or blog as they share your thoughts on a comment. It’s also a great way for a web manager to easily identify and reply to their loyal posters.

Many WordPress users may already be familiar with Gravatars as they’re integrated with that platform. When you login to WordPress you’ll see your Gravatar appear in the top right corner of the screen. uses Gravatars, they appear at the end of each online article with the writer’s biography.

If you’re wanting to keep your personal identity hidden then is likely not a service you’ll want to subscribe to. Most platforms and commenting systems usually assign you a default avatar and don’t require you to upload a photo.

It’s free and easy to get a Gravatar, just visit, register your e-mail address with, upload an image, connect your networks and fill out the biographical information. Now you’ll have one convenient place to update the majority of your profile photos, that sure beats having an egg for a Twitter profile.

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Cathy Earle

Cathy Earle is a WordPress Web Developer and Internet Consultant. She has been developing websites and consulting clients in Australia and North America for over 15 years. Her degree in Public Relations and Management Communication, in addition to a 12 year career as owner of an independent publishing company, have proven beneficial to her work today — navigating the vast world of the internet and online marketing.