numbers for people.

How many people use Gravatar?

Background: At PagerDuty we’re revisiting our mobile app. Gravatar is a great service made by the founder of GitHub in 2007 that lets people upload their picture and serves it back to any service that can link to a URL. 1-3% of the top million sites 1 and serves 100,000 requests a second. Naturally I wondered how may actually return images.

Our background: When PagerDuty launched, it was an obvious and easy thing to integrate, but on a mobile device, each one of those http requests is a lot more expensive. So we did the research2:

  • 23% of our users have Gravatars. This compares pretty well to the system average: 18% of requests to Gravatar return an image3, but it’s lower than the numbers for WordPress sites (30-40%) and (50-60%)4
  • It doesn’t vary much by size of company or account, but smaller accounts had slightly higher Gravatar penetration
  • This was partially because of very small accounts tipping the scales, 40% of users with addresses had Gravatars
  • There is a lot of variance by company ranging from 0% to 93%. The trends aren’t surprising (Nike employees do not use Gravatar at the same rate as Heroku employees)
  • The median percentage for a company was 13%

For a comparison at the far end: Github, unsurprisingly, is absolutely awash in Gravatars: all the projects that I looked at had >90% Gravatar use, all of the top 100 users had Gravatars, and when I looked, John MacFarlane took the prize for most active user without a picture at #148.

  1. I’ve been a top million site according to Alexa before but now I’m barely top 2million
  2. our users are very technical so these numbers may not match your user demographics
  3. I’m very thankful to Simon at WordPress for tracking these numbers down for me
  4. This makes sense, as our #1 complaint from customers about using Gravatars is that they’d have to sign up for a WordPress account

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