Gravatar, short for Globally Recognized Avatar, is the second most popular Automattic product to WordPress.com. It began as an independent service years ago but suffered from scaling issues and lack of resources to develop it. The basis is users can sign up for an account and register an avatar to be used on any avatar-enabled blog. Having an account ensures that the user's image will appear next to comments across the Web.
When Automattic acquired Gravatar in 2007, it promptly placed the service on better servers with more scaling potential. WordPress incorporated avatar support (powered by Gravatar) into WordPress 2.5 and it continues to be a completely free service to this day.
Gravatar integration can be done on WordPress, WordPress MU (Multi-User WordPress), and WordPress.com blogs via the Settings C Reading screen, shown in Figure 26.1, and many Automattic services, including IntenseDebate, incorporate Gravatar into their offering.
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