Using chat, I noticed that the message avatar sometimes appears larger. Why and when?

Does size matter?

Is this some kind of double, super-secret, bonus indicator? (^_^)

It's probably something obvious, but I'm new-ish to Stack Exchange's chat and couldn't find the answer in the chat FAQ, nor searching here in Meta.


2 Answers 2


It's very simply a matter of how much space is available. Subsequent messages by one user are rolled up into a single "speech bubble" (we call it monologue), to the left of which the user is displayed.

If there are just one or two lines of messages, displaying the full-blown avatar would cause unnecessary whitespace gaps:

chat messages with large avatars at the side, causing gaps between messages

Compare to:

small avatars

It's not a question of "how many messages"; we really just measure how much space is availble (after all, a single message can span more than one line when being displayed). The small signature (with the small avatar and the possibly abbreviated user name next to it) always fits into one line, and thus never causes any gaps between monologues.

Once the monologue is high enough so that next to it you can show the large avatar and the full user name below the avatar without creating a gap, it will be displayed. If even more space is available, you'll also see the user's reputation being displayed.

  • Okay, I saw that was how it behaved when I was checking out Mahnax's answer (and realizing it wasn't quite right). ... But by that logic, shouldn't we get a full user badge when there is enough space? (^_^) Sep 1, 2012 at 9:04

When a user posts more than three lines in a row, their avatar increases in size. These messages must be posted in quick succession (I don't have an actual number for that), or else they will not conglomerate.

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