Looks like Tom has been busy brainstorming on how to improve his Gravatar service, which we here at SEB use to provide those little avatars in the comments. He’s now testing a new variation called Wide Gravatars. The concept is simple: Spread out the serving of Gravatars across multiple nodes above and beyond just his own server through a bunch of handy volunteers so that A) bandwidth is spread out and B) if one node goes down (including Gravatar.com itself) the serving of Gravatars will remain unhindered as the slack is picked up by other nodes. All it takes to implement in the various plugins available—such as my own EE Gravatar—is a small change to a single URL.
I’ve implemented the change in my plugin here at SEB to test things out and make sure they’re stable. If everything looks good I’ll release the updated plugin for everyone to enjoy.