I use wordpress.com because we maintain a Phanfare Health Status blog there. It needs to be independent of Phanfare so it can reliably work even if Phanfare is down.
I was surprised to see that WordPress was sharing my avatar photo with a third party blog. I went into the wordpress settings and I see that they do make some reference to Gravatar. Nevertheless, I think that this use by WordPress violates good practice.
When you sign up for a WordPress blog and set it up to completely hide the WordPress brand, you certainly don’t expect WordPress to share this information with other blogs.
I know why WordPress is doing this. They are doing it because they want to compete with sites like Disqus, a startup in the business of tying together the conversation going on across blogs, tying back comments to their authors across blogs.
But with Disqus, which I use in this blog, it is completely obvious that I am carrying my identity with me across blogs. I have to login to disqus on at least one of the blogs, and the disqus logo appears across the network of blogs.
I find what WordPress is doing to be a bit sneaky and I think they can and should do better.