As a blogger you are probably trying to build some sort of community on your site. In doing so, you need to be sensitive to how you give your visitors the ability to relate to you and the other users. Allowing them to show an avatar aids in giving them the ability to visually identify themselves within your community.
Automattic had an idea that if they created a “globally recognized avatar”, which they call “Gravatar”, making it easier for both bloggers to allow the avatars and the visitors to “carry” their avatars with them to each blog they comment on, then life would be easier. The idea was a great one and in my opinion it works wonderfully. All people have to do is head over to Gravatar and register (check out this thread on MakeUseOf Answers for a few more details). Oops. Everyone has to opt in for it to work?
Many people are fine with that but there are still many people who just don’t feel like registering at one more site just for a little icon. That’s where Incarnate comes in.
Incarnate attempts to address this issue by making it possible to find your avatar from another social network, saving visitors the trouble of registering and uploading yet another avatar. In fact, visitors can choose which avatar to use from amongst their social networks. The sites that are searched are Twitter, Facebook, Gravatar.com, MySpace, XBox Live and YouTube.
To start out, check out Incarnate’s site and run a test search on the user name or alias that you use across the web.
Cool, eh? Now that we get an idea of how it works, let’s see how it works on a WordPress blog.
In the Admin area of your WordPress blog, add a new plugin. Run a search for WP-Incarnate. It should come up as one of the only listings and it will be called “Incarnate for WordPress.”
Once installed and activated, you should see another field at the top of the regular comment section asking for your name, handle, alias or email.
All your visitor has to do is read the simple directions, type in the information and choose the avatar they want to use.
That’s about how easy it really is. This way your visitors can now find and carry their avatars from the social networks they already use. No need to register at another site and upload another icon. Also, they will be more recognizable because the avatar will be the same as on the other networks.
As a side note, if you are looking to create an avatar for commenting and your social network presences, check out these MakeUseOf articles:
- Build Your Own Cool Avatar With These 4 Awesome Sites
- 3 Fun Online Avatar Creators to Represent Yourself
- Create Cool Animated Avatars Using Your Webcam
Do you use an avatar when you comment on blogs? Do you prefer the Gravatar way or do you think the Incarnate way would be easier?