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I don't understand the purpose and added complexity of using an external site for SE profile pictures.

Surely a simple upload form and image editor is within the realm of abilities of the SE staff. As a relatively new user I just feel it is an unnecessary obstacle to overcome whilst creating an account.

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I'm not sure, but it's the reason that I don't have a picture on here. – Paulpro Aug 31 '11 at 4:06
@Paul Thanks for the case and point. It's a barrier of interaction with the site. And as temperamental as some online users are, it doesn't take much to turn people away, which is detrimental to a user driven utility. – Steve Robbins Aug 31 '11 at 4:09
I fully agree. Most of us already use OpenId to sign in, so why do we have to create yet another account just to get a picture on the profile we already have.... and have you noticed how many, many, many questions and posts that criticize Gravatars, get close.. wuts up with that?! – Cliff Ribaudo Aug 12 '12 at 1:19

It's the same as saying "Why do SE sites use OpenID; surely a simple password form is within the realm of abilities of the SE staff". The point is to externalize things that aren't SE-specific; there's no reason for every site on the internet to reimplement the same code to let you show a little picture next to your name, just like there's no reason for all of them to have separate registrations

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I don't think Gravatar is an obstacle to creating an account (It doesn't block or stop you in anyway). But I assume you mean that once you have created an account you sort of have to go somewhere else to then set your profile image (provided you didn't have one already).

Plenty of people have an issue with Gravatar (or any third party site) on SO so you're not alone:

Obviously the reason they went for it was that it offloads the storage of images (which may have been more important back when the site started), it's an existing solution which people were already using and in a way is actually very handy for sites that support it. Another use is that Gravatar also has default images for when accounts don't exist or change which is much better than seeing the "missing image" on the site (which will no doubt occur if users host there own images) as well as providing a simple API for scaling which is pretty neat.

It seems fairly reasonable that at some point they will either host profile images themselves, allow an image URL to be specified or integrate imgur in the same way the post editor now provides a simple way of uploading photos.

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Yes, it's more of an annoyance of "Now I have to go create another account?" than anything else. As most users have several accounts with on various SE networks, the account creation process becomes repetitive and a bit exhausting (seamless as it is). I already have an account here, why go make another one? – Steve Robbins Aug 31 '11 at 4:05
@stevether, provided you login to the "other" sites with the same details you shouldn't have to do much as it'll recognise can also set your profile on one site and copy it to all other associated profiles using a single button (if that helps). – davidsleeps Aug 31 '11 at 4:06

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