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At the moment, SE uses the "email" field your profile to look up your avatar on Gravatar. This has a few issues:

  • If your email on SE doesn't match the email you gave Gravatar (because, for example, you logged in with Google and it defaulted to your gmail address), the Gravatar option will silently fail to appear with no indication anywhere what is wrong, or even that Gravatar is supported.
  • If you don't specify an email, it instead uses a hash of your IP, leading to the same problem as above with the additional possibility of your avatar randomly appearing, changing, or disappearing as your IP changes, as documented here.
  • If you want to use separate emails - for example, because Gravatar profile pages are completely public, or because you use email filtering and want to easily discriminate between emails from the two sites - you are completely out of luck.

It would be nice if there were a separate "gravatar hash" field that you could use to override the default behaviour of using a hash of your email.

  • 2
    You can upload custom image, you know. – ShaWiz Oct 11 '13 at 23:57
  • One option to implement could be avatars.io as that hooks into gravatar but also loads of other services too. – JonW Oct 12 '13 at 0:05
  • @ShaWizDowArd Yes, but it's nice to be able to change my avatar on Gravatar and have it affect everything that uses it. – ToxicFrog Oct 12 '13 at 1:44
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You can change the email in your profile to whatever you want. It doesn't affect your ability to login at all; that's what OpenID is for (you can view your current login options under my logins in your profile). As far as I know, it won't keep replacing your email address every time you login; it should only do that if the field is empty (if it does change your email when you already had one set, I'd file a bug report).

The email is there for account recovery, as well as some basic things like tracking down your account if you email the Stack Exchange team. It is never displayed to anyone but you and the moderators. It doesn't really affect anything else on the site other than your Gravatar, so you're free to change it to whatever you please (whatever email you use with Gravatar). You can also add multiple email addresses to your single Gravatar account, and even set difficult pictures for each one you've added there.

If you're really concerned, Stack Exchange has even provided the ability to upload custom avatars through Imgur. So there's really no need for a separate field for a custom hash. You already have a plethora of options available to you.

  • "You can also add multiple email addresses to your single Gravatar account" - how? I looked into this and the word from the Gravatar devs was "one email == one account, if you want more emails create more accounts". – ToxicFrog Oct 12 '13 at 1:45
  • @ToxicFrog I don't know who you talked to, but when I go to the main manage screen, the title at the top says "Select an email address (below) to modify or add a new email" and the "add a new email" part is a link that lets you add another email. I currently have five different emails on my Gravatar account. – animuson Oct 12 '13 at 2:14
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    I didn't talk to anyone, this was from reading the Gravatar/Wordpress support forums. No wonder I didn't see that option - I spent all of my time looking at profile settings rather than the avatar list. Thanks! – ToxicFrog Oct 12 '13 at 4:00

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