I was interested if I can use a different flavor of gravatar instead of identicon.

When you click on the change picture text on your profile picture it has the Identicon and Upload options. I clicked Identicon (which already had the green tickmark) and my avatar changed (which obviusly sould not have happened as I have not changed any options).

For a reference you can see my old avatar here:

And my new one on Stackoverflow:

  • I have no recollection of changing my email address at any point during the lifetime of my account. (It was registered using Google-authentication).
  • I have no Gravatar account registered.

Edit: My profile email (md5-ed) address would give the old avatar: http://gravatar.com/avatar/b7e3f1540794848070cb4dd37389784f?d=identicon

  • 1
    I'm uncertain what you're asking. You have this tagged bug, but seem to be asking a support question - I'm not sure what question you're asking, though. Clarification is needed?
    – user206222
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 8:17
  • 1
    @Emrakul I havve not changed anything, so why did my avatar change? (I added some clarification).
    – vbence
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 9:50
  • Didn't you notice the big banner? Your question is duplicate of this one and the answer there is probably relevant in your case as well. Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 9:51
  • @ShaWizDowArd I see the banner pointing to a qestion which is not related to by problem at all and a moderator closing my question, which was obviously done without understanding the question itself. - The linked topic does not apply. I have my email address filled out in my profile which did not change. I also registered with a Google account so my email was present for SO from the time of registration.
    – vbence
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 9:54
  • In both cases the profile picture changed without you meaning to change it. In your case maybe the algorithm that calculates email hash was changed during the years you're registered, resulting in different hash and different identicon. Still, from what I understand your goal is to prevent such thing i.e. keep the profile picture consistent even in such cases, isn't it so? Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 10:00
  • @ShaWizDowArd Yes, the described solution would work in my case (luckily I have an account here for example with the old pic), but may people don't. - BUT I flagged this a bug, because it is a software bug which should be addressed by a dev. Also terrible UX: data changing whithout you changing anything, loosing information without being able to undo it. (Also... I'm adding a few info to the post.)
    – vbence
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 10:05
  • OK, still not convinced it's really different but will let a dev decide whether it's bug or not. @m0sa can you please reopen? (and as a dev state some official opinion? :)) Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 10:07
  • I just noticed the link with the md5 no longer gives the original either. The green one (first image in the question) is not the original one either. You can still see the original (purple, empty in the middle) as my profile pic at this time. - Looks like Gravatar is also changing something.
    – vbence
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 8:14
  • Identicons were changed again in 2023: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/389123/…
    – pkamb
    Commented May 28, 2023 at 16:05

1 Answer 1


Since recently we are salting creation of hashes for generating identicons for users that do not have a gravatar account. This is because there were some concerns that the gravatar identicon urls leak email addresses.

This is the default for new users, and for existing users a salt is added as soon as they change their picture and select identicon.

If you're so attached to your old identicon register with gravatar, and use your identicon as the profile image.

  • 2
    Is that in response to the Gravatar security risk issues discussed before? If so, perhaps it would be nice to answer one of them with this update.
    – Bart
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 10:24
  • That's quite what I had in mind but of course couldn't be sure. Sounds reasonable. Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 10:24
  • 5
    An accept button is still due IMO. Very inelegant to change the pic without a real action (indication of intent to do so) on the user's part.
    – vbence
    Commented Nov 7, 2013 at 10:43
  • Just curious: is this only triggered when changing the picture?
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 12:14
  • 1
    @Arjan yes (for existing users, new users have a salted identicon per default)
    – m0sa
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 14:41
  • I guess you're only validating the existence of the Gravatar account once? So, when creating a Gravatar account later on, one needs to use "change picture" to let SE perform the check again? (I guess we can extend How do I change my profile picture, or avatar? a bit then.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 21, 2013 at 15:40
  • 2
    Curious again: if two users use the same email address, will they have different salts? (Some sock puppets and spammers were easily identified as being the same, just by peeking at their identicon. I still like the change anyway though.)
    – Arjan
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 12:33
  • 1
    @Arjan you're right about changing the picture. The gravatar option only appears if the user has a gravatar account. Otherwise only the identicon option is available.
    – m0sa
    Commented Dec 28, 2013 at 12:53
  • @Arjan maybe they add pepper in such case? ;) (j/k - only Mr. m0sa here can really answer) Commented Dec 29, 2013 at 8:31
  • I'm curious why the Gravatar service itself still uses md5 hashes? Did you reach out to it? It has all the emails at hands, so it would be fairly simple to re-hash them with a more secure algorithm and inform integrators that they should update as well if they still want to receive images from the service.
    – EvgenKo423
    Commented Mar 19, 2021 at 8:09

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