WordPress Social Avatar Plugin Provides an Alternative to Gravatar

Despite the fact that Gravatar is the default avatar service built into WordPress, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. There are times when you may want to use a different avatar on a specific site but don’t want to change your Gravatar image. In some instances WordPress site admins choose to disable the service for whatever reason, but there is a way to give users more avatar options without turning Gravatar off.

WP Social Avatar is a new plugin that makes it easy to use your Facebook or G+ picture as your WordPress avatar. Once activated, users can add their Facebook handles or G+ IDs to /wp-admin/profile.php.


Your avatar will be instantly updated to the new selection throughout the site.


WP Social Avatar includes a settings panel under the Users menu that allows administrators to set the minimum role/capabilities required to use social avatars.

The plugin does not require Facebook or G+ authentication in order to set your avatar, so it’s just as convenient to use as Gravatar. It also does not disable Gravatar for users who prefer it. Maruti Mohanty, the plugin’s developer, plans to add more social avatars in the future. If you want to add a few convenient avatar options to WordPress profiles on your site, download WP Social Avatar from WordPress.org.


18 responses to “WordPress Social Avatar Plugin Provides an Alternative to Gravatar”

  1. This looks pretty cool. Wondering how it works exactly? Does it hotlink to Facebook’s avatar? Or does it actually save a copy of the file locally?

    • Henry, I am glad you liked it.
      To answer your question, no it doesn’t save a copy of the image locally. It uses the handle of Facebook/Googleplus account to fetch the profile picture hotlink with dynamic sizes.

  2. Minor problem with the Google+ avatar code: You’re making a request to the Google+ API to get the picture information, which is fine. But you’re using your own key to do it instead of having a site use it’s own key.

    This is an issue because normally these requests are limited to 10,000 API calls per day for the free versions of them. If a bunch of people use this plugin, you could rapidly run out of requests.

    Additionally, you’re using direct curl calls and not the wp_remote calls to make these requests, which means that this won’t work on sites without curl available to them.

    Additionally, you’re making this same API hit on every request to display said avatar, with no caching around it. This will exceed the limits fairly rapidly, the returned data should be cached for at least a day or two before making the same request again. You could use a transient for this, or usermeta would be appropriate in this instance.

    Just a few points. It’s relatively easy to make code in WordPress interact with external services APIs, it’s a lot trickier to make them scale as well.

    • Thank you so much Otto for scrutinizing my work. You totally make a lot of sense, I will start working on making the plugin better. Thanks again for the points :)

    • Those are fairly significant issues, Otto, and enough to encourage me to wait for Maruti’s next version. Thanks for pointing this out.

      • Hi Tammi,

        I have made changes as per Otto’s suggestion and have taken off the curl call and replaced it with wp_remote_get and also have implemented a cache functionality to make the API calls every 48 hours and also have provided a clear cache button to get the immediate changes.

        Hope you would like to check the latest version which is 1.4.


  3. Simply, one of the most wanted feature on my list! I always thought how nice it would be if we could pick from any social profile.
    Nice work Maruti.

  4. A great addition would be to use the gravatar image if desired for the author bios/post bio boxes, but have the caching used for the other options. Main issue with Gravatar is it shows an error on expiration headers with Google PageSpeed Insights due to 5 minute expiry…. there is no currenty plugin which provides for local caching for using Gravatar, and that would be huge “most wanted” option, perhaps to add to this plugin for a single solution for using ANY image for author bio, etc. :-)


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