I have always wondered if Gravatar was going to take off, and with its updated release a few months back, it seemed like while it gained some great new features, its paid options took away from the original open feeling of Gravatar.
Out comes news that Automattic, the people behind WordPress, have purchased Gravatar, and they have made all the features free, and have made it even better. This could mean a huge resurgence in popularity for the service, and has already meant the addition of Gravatars to WordPress.com.
Here is a bit from the post on Gravatar.com:
Here’s what we’ve done so far over the past few days:
- We transferred the Rails application and most of the avatar serving to our WordPress.com infrastructure and servers.
- Avatar serving is now more than three times as fast, and works every time.
- We moved this blog from Mephisto to WordPress.
Basically, we did the bare minimum required to stabilize and accelerate the Gravatar service, focusing a lot on making the gravatars highly available and fast. However our plans are much bigger than that. Here’s some of the things we’re looking to add and improve on the service:
- We’re going to make all of the Premium features free, and refund anyone who bought them in the last 60 days.
- Move the gravatar serving to a Content Delivery Network so not only will they be fast, it’ll be low latency and not slow down a page load.
- Take the million or so avatars we have on WordPress.com and make them available through the Gravatar API, to compliment the 115k already here.
- From Gravatar, integrate them into all WordPress.com templates and bring features like multiple avatars over.
- From WordPress.com, bring the bigger sizes (128px) over and make that available for any Gravatar. Currently Gravatars are only available up to 80px.
- Allow Gravatar profile pages with Microformat support for things like XFN rel=”me” and hCard.
- Develop a new API that has cleaner URLs and allows Gravatars to be addressed by things like URL in addition to (or instead of) email addresses.
- Rewrite the application itself (site.gravatar.com) to fit directly into our WordPress.com grid, for internet-scale performance and reliability.