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So, there is this bug report that is about transparent profile pictures not working, however it was 'fixed' by making the transparent background white. Then there is this bug report that has received no official attention at all and there is the comment by Oded ♦ on this answer in the recent new profile discussion that simply states that white backgrounds are here to stay. Everybody (read all the posts on the topic I could find) seems to agree it looks absolutely horrible on non-white backgrounds (for example on stackexchange.com itself, the top bar or sites like scifi.SE), so that statement did quite surprise me.

Now, from what I have read I could hypothesize that this is purely because imgur doesn't support resizing images with transparent backgrounds, however this sounds like an issue that StackExchange should be able to get fixed if they would try~ so I doubt that is the real reason.

  • Stack Exchange does not handle the images, it's imgur's responsibility. Adding such feature would probably cost lots of money that Stack Exchange prefers to invest on other things. – Shadow Wizard Nov 30 '14 at 20:50
  • @ShadowWizard: Well, this is not some hobbyist site we're talking about. Nor is imgur the only third party image solution out there, nor is image hosting the most complex matter ever and SE is already paying imgur, so they should have some leverage in getting such a bug fixed. – David Mulder Nov 30 '14 at 21:09
  • As far as I can tell, the whole image resize thing is just a "bonus" (on imgur side), not part of the original purpose of imgur, so most likely it's not a bug - just something-nice-to-have not being perfect. imgur might be many things, but they probably never bothered to implement such a feature - when there's not enough demand, I can understand why they don't want to spend any time and efforts on this. Now Stack Exchange can, in theory, just put the original picture and resize using CSS/HTML only, but then it means wasting tons of bandwidth. – Shadow Wizard Nov 30 '14 at 21:24
  • @ShadowWizard Losing an alpha value when working with colours is a bug. No matter how you turn it around. Historically one that can be explained (as they were rendering jpg's always), but none the less a bug. And resizing is one of the main features imgur is providing, even if SE is using a different interface than the normal one (nnnnm.jpg vs nnnn.jpg?s=300). Either way, losing a client as big as SE over a bug is something that imgur would likely not allow either way, so suggesting loading the original picture seems totally out of place. – David Mulder Dec 1 '14 at 16:39
  • @David the thing is, Stack Exchange doesn't care enough to demand imgur fixing the bug/adding such feature. They probably got more important things to worry about, and have a good deal with imgur that they won't get with others. If this bug report will get enough upvotes (100? 1000?) they might reconsider, but until then... don't think anything is going to change. – Shadow Wizard Dec 1 '14 at 18:37
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Not really an answer, but there is a workaround - use gravatar instead of uploading pics. It supports transparent backgrounds. Example user: Manishearth.

  • So the behavior is even inconsistent... but thanks for the tip. Now some of the comments I had seen make a lot more sense, though I feel bad for changing my email address purely for this~ – David Mulder Nov 30 '14 at 21:37
  • @David yeah, emailz. Thats the base of gravatars and thats why I don't like them. – nicael Nov 30 '14 at 21:39
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    Well, I like having a generic avatar on all sites where I post a comment, however I prefer having my full name and serious avatar on only a couple of sites. – David Mulder Nov 30 '14 at 21:41

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