December 25, 2007 | Posted by Matt
Every year the folks at 24 Ways do an advent calendar of web awesomeness, with great articles that basically cover the state of the art for developing on the web in that year.
I was delighted to see in their final article this year called Performance on a Shoe String they mention Gravatar:
You’ll have noticed the pattern by now – get rid of as much traffic as possible. When an article has a lot of comments and each of those comments has an avatar along with it, a great many requests are needed to fetch each of those images. In 2006 we started using Gravatar for avatars, but their servers were slow and were holding up page loads. To get around this we started caching the images on our server, but along with that came the burden of furnishing all the image requests.
Earlier this year Gravatar changed hands and is now run by the same team behind WordPress.com. Those guys clearly know what they’re doing when it comes to high performance, so this year we went back to serving avatars directly from them.
If your site uses avatars, it really makes sense to use a service like Gravatar where your users probably already have an account, and where the image requests are going to be dealt with for you.