That little picture beside your name is a 40×40 pixel jpg image. Once upon a time, when blogging was brand new, people wanted to associate a picture with their posts. They would upload their own little picture to each site that had the ability to attache an avatar to a post or comment, which in the beginning wasn’t too many sites. And of course they all had different requirements as to size, etc. As the number of sites grew, so grew the headaches associated with managing all the avatars. So “they” came up with a scheme to standardize on avatars and centrally manage them on a single site and then when a blog wanted someone’s avatar to associate with their post, they would request it using the user’s hashed-email address as a code. Simple. Elegant. So all the blogosphere started to adopt this scheme. It simplified coding and made life easier.

So the site that was setup to create, manage, and disseminate avatars is called Gravatar.com for “Globally Recognized Avatar.” And this is the first I ever heard of it.

So here’s the deal. It doesn’t cost any money and you can have as many avatars as you want associated with any number of email addresses. Go tohttp://www.gravatar.com and set up and account. They’ll mail you a link to log in with- you then choose a username and password, and upload a picture from your hard drive and they’ll resize it for you. And that’s it. Your new avatar will automatically show up on any blog site you comment on that uses Gravitars, assuming you give them the same right email address. You can also have multiple addresses by the way, and multiple avatars. Avatars are also “rated” and when you create your avatar you get to select one of four ratings:

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

What good are ratings without censorship? As administrator of the board I have provisions to set the minimum “suitable” rating for the site. Any avatar with a rating other than G will not display on this site 🙂

If you don’t have your own avatar, then this image is going to show up next to your name:

Now, the users of WordPress have written various hacks to get around the use of Gravatars that revert to the old original scheme of having users upload their own avatars to the site, and I may look into one of these schemes later but for now I’m going to implement the Gravatar scheme on the site.