Connecting the Dots or Establishing an Identity on the Web — Part 2

October 17, 2012

A couple of days ago I retweeted Part 1 of this series and got lots of questions. I’m only covering two here.

Number 1 Question: What’s the big deal about having all these profiles?

You don’t have to have “all these profiles.” It really depends on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you have no interest in directing people to specific places when they see your presence somewhere on the Web, this post is not for you. Keep doing what you’re doing, and don’t read what I’m about to say.

For those who do want to direct people somewhere specific, whether it be a blog or a social media app for hanging out online, you need to give enough information about your whereabouts to help them find that place. For instance, if you have a Twitter, Facebook or Google+ id (to name a few) and you also want people to read your blog, you’re shooting yourself in the foot if a link to your blog is not in your profile. Putting the link in your updates is too much work for someone just discovering you. Don’t make people work to find your blog. Make it easy to find or many will not bother to find it.

Number 2 question: What is Gravatar?

I’m so glad you asked. Gravatar is a profile used by some major sites to help people establish an identity on the Web. The cool thing about Gravatar is you can comment on sites run by WordPress or using Disqus (a comment app), and someone curious about you can click the avatar left with your comment in order to find out what you want them to know and where you want them to go. Here’s mine. If you looked at my Gravatar profile, you noticed there is a list of places to find me. I list them because some people are more comfortable in some places than others. Some people contact me only via Twitter or only via YouTube or only via Facebook. Instead of trying to make the initial contact point my blog, I give them several points of contact. But wherever they interact with me, I ensure one thing is obvious — I have a blog. That’s where I spend most of my time, so if people know where it is, then there’s a good chance they can find it. :D Too often those who “like” my blog posts or comment on them, do not have anything on their Gravatar profiles. It’s a dead end. I hate that. Of course I realize some people don’t want to lead others somewhere, but I know many of you do hence this post.

Gravatar is not the only “universal” identity profile on the Web, but it’s significant enough, you should probably have one. If you have a WordPress blog, you already have a Gravatar, but that doesn’t mean the profile is complete. What’s in it is entirely up to you. As for other profiles that may be of interest in establishing your presence on the Web, of course Google is prominent, but the avatar does not move outside of Google products unless a particular site owner using Blogger as their platform has installed Disqus. Okay, that’s as technical as I’m going to get on that. Net: I’ve found more people use my Gravatar than my Google id to find out who I am. Another identity profile to be aware of is MyOpenId. This site is not user friendly, but best to grab your id now in case this profile becomes pervasive on the Web. I have my doubts about this, but I have an id just in case.

I feel the urge to write about the differences between WordPress and Google, but I’ll spare you that today. Maybe another post. I still need to publish the post about filtering tweets. ;P But just to make this fun, a photo of the founder of Gravatar and WordPress, the smilin’ Matt Mullenweg:

I had to post this pic since Matt is a Texan. Oh, you’re not fond of Texans? Uh oh, you may not always like this place.

Every time I see a picture of these young entrepreneurs, I have this urge to say, “I know a very intelligent, good looking blonde who is unattached.” Actually, I know two, and their mother would make a fantastic mother-in-law. ;-)

I hesitate to include Richard Armitage in this, but well, he is a geek, so he fits. No pictures though. Your imagination will have to suffice.

Establishing an Identity on the Web — Part 1

February 29, 2012

Do you comment regularly and/or have a blog, then Gravatar is a good way to give yourself an identity that’s recognized across multiple websites. It is not the only tool that does this. There are some others with MyOpenId being most notable. However, Gravatar is one of the easiest to use. But it’s no good if you don’t put a little something about yourself or your blog or your Twitter id or Facebook, or wherever it is you would like people to go to connect with you.

A vent: I get frustrated when I click on a Gravatar, and there is nothing there but a picture. Please tell about yourself. I know some of you feel funny doing that, as if it’s some sort of flag waving, but it’s not. It helps those of us who would like to connect with you do so more easily.

Thanks for listening! :D