You might have noticed in my comments some of the commenters have their smiling faces grinning out at you while others have a drab gray blob.
This my friends, is the Gravatar!
A gravatar, or globally recognized avatar, is quite simply an avatar image that follows you from weblog to weblog appearing beside your name when you comment on gravatar enabled sites. Avatars help identify your posts on web forums, so why not on weblogs?
Essentially they help you be more recognized. As we discussed in the social media branding article, this kind of consistency can be very useful for making yourself known in communities. Use the same avatar on Twitter, forums, flickr and blog comments and people are sure to recognize you.
You can have your own Gravatar in minutes, just provide the email address you usually comment with.
Gravatar.com is now owned by the same people who build and run WordPress, and unlike some other avatar services, it is easy to integrate into your blog AND keep away the saucier images. The new version of WordPress has capability built it, though you might need to tweak your template, and for the rest of us there is a simple plugin. Other platforms support them too. See how to add Gravatars to your blog here.
What are you waiting for? Smiley faces make your comments more welcoming 🙂