Re: Better Gravatar directions INSIDE bbPress
“her worries would have continued for some time if she did have [a Gravatar]. She’d have been desperately trying to remember every single site she’d put her email on to see whether her picture appeared there”
Actually, if all the sites where her avatar appeared used Gravatar, she would only have to worry about changing one image on gravatar.com and the new avatar (or lack thereof) would then be used on all those sites. Gravatar helps alleviate the situation you describe, not make it worse.
In any case I think it would be wrong to pimp Gravatar in the actual default theme. As it exists right now, having Gravatar in the core actually helps people who want to add their own avatar solution by supplying the core replaceable function and the calls to it in the rest of the code. By replacing that one function, a plugin author can remove Gravatar altogether and replace it with something else. Another bonus for me and everyone who volunteers support time is that by using Gravatar we avoid all the issues associated with supporting file uploads in the core.
I still believe that Gravatar should be supported by default in the core, but I think it would be inappropriate to push what is effectively advertising for the service to the front end (in the default theme) and force people to make modifications to remove it. That’s not the idea of having it there at all.