For three months until today I have used the photo of my Beloved as an avatar. I am the author of this photo, I as the photographer, I have copyright of the photo. But today I was blocked on the Russian Stack Overflow, in particular, for this photo. I was compelled to replace my avatar.

Where I can read an official position on admissible avatars in the Stack Exchange projects? Thanks.

  • 5
    Can you share the picture and the message you received from the moderator suspending you? May 5, 2016 at 15:27
  • 6
    @routhmedia if you think your edit isn't good enough, then don't make it. It is not primarily a way go get reputation! May 5, 2016 at 15:29
  • @PatrickHofman, information on my blocking. Thanks. May 5, 2016 at 16:10
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    Well, I certainly don't think people believe I'm a plush hippo... And I have seen loads of people who use characters from films or TV shows as their avatars... So I'm not really sure why you're having the issue you are.
    – Catija
    May 5, 2016 at 16:13
  • @Catija, I wrote information on my blocking here. But a spesific question «Official position on use of images on avatars» I don't discuss the blocking imposed on me. I want to learn about a position on pictures in images. Thanks. May 5, 2016 at 16:56
  • I just love it when people come here telling one side of the story, expecting sympathy, when there is another side which tells a totally different story. sigh May 5, 2016 at 18:13
  • @Catija would you say the same if somebody used your name and photo on their SO profile? May 5, 2016 at 18:15
  • @ShadowWizard, Rashomon :) May 5, 2016 at 19:00
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    @NickVolynkin I don't see how those things are related (outside the OPs apparent obfuscation of some of the facts of this specific event). The official rules seem to be that you can have any image you like as long as you don't pretend to be someone you are not. If I spent my entire SE life trying to convince people I was a plush hippo, that is different than simply having a plush hippo... or famous person... as my avatar... or even a not-famous person, for that matter. You seem to be conflating the two issues.
    – Catija
    May 5, 2016 at 20:34
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    @Catija, I always wrote about himself in the masculine gender. I could not think, that someone thinks I'm a woman. For the first time for me, as a woman, talking in chat Russian Stack Overflow before there was my block. In chat I said, who is depicted in the photo + I asked chatting about the possible responsibility for the information in my profile. I never tried to convince the community of Stack Overflow, I am the person depicted in the photograph. Thanks. May 6, 2016 at 4:01

2 Answers 2


I am the moderator who wiped impersonating information and suspended the user.

First, this issue has nothing to do with using images on avatars. It is all about impersonation. So please don't get mislead.

To me impersonation is a serious issue that can lead to, or be an instrument of, harassment and offence. And it's prohibited by the Terms of Service which has already been cited here.

The user has been using the following personal information of another person. There's nothing that I disclose by myself, all had already been mentioned here.

  • A photo
  • Name and surname (the user claims to have the same once so they were not wiped)
  • Link to VK.com profile (analogue of Facebook)
  • Link to GitHub profile, itself having a link to same VK profile and another photo of the same person.

During all the time the user was present on Ru.SO nobody ever raised a warning. That's probably because most users didn't even suspect impersonation. At least nobody in the mod team did.

Second, I had warned the user and asked them to remove any impersonation by themselves (chat messages 1 and 2). I did it in chat because there had just been a conversation about the user's identity. To me my warning was a summary of the conversation.

I waited for a response or action and got nothing. So I did the job by myself.

Why did I block them? Because it's certainly a violation of ToS and probably an offence. First warnings are for excessive comments and repeated low-quality questions and not for such issues. By the way, the suspension duration was 3 days, which is less than standard 7 days for a first serious issue.

  • [1] > I waited for a response or action and got nothing. For what term you waited? I saw your message when it was already blocked. May 5, 2016 at 18:14
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    @ShadowWizard. Oh, so many mistakes. Thank you ) May 5, 2016 at 18:16
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    All good, thanks for coming with your side of the story, it's vital in this sort of questions. May 5, 2016 at 18:18
  • [2] > impersonation is a serious issue — I directly reported in a chat that I am not the person represented on an avatar. May 5, 2016 at 18:21
  • This room was placed in timeout for 10 minutes. At this moment I left a chat to be engaged in affairs. When I returned, already received blocking. Thanks. May 5, 2016 at 18:25
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    @СашаЧерных by joining the site and community you have confirmed that you've read, understood and accepted the Terms of Service, which you'd been violating for three months since joining. May 5, 2016 at 18:25
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    > this issue has nothing to do with using images on avatars. — Yes, I understand. But in this question I asked about pictures in avatars. Nofate, and then and you, started discussing blocking in a place, for this purpose not intended. Thanks. May 5, 2016 at 18:29
  • I apologize, I have to sleep as to me tomorrow early to get up for work. Tomorrow I will try to answer questions if they follow. May 5, 2016 at 18:38
  • @ShadowWizard , I support the principle «audiatur et altera pars». But I didn't want to argue on the blocking imposed on me in this place because under the regulations I had to ask at first opinions of other moderators of Russian Stack Overflow on blocking before addressing to further instances. And here I asked about avatars. May 5, 2016 at 18:57
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    @СашаЧерных thing is, avatars are not relevant at all in your real issue here. You can use any avatar you want, as long as it's not against the Terms of Service. Simple as that, and trivial as that. May 5, 2016 at 21:50
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. May 6, 2016 at 6:12
  • @СашаЧерных, meanwhile your account was unsuspended.
    – Nofate
    May 6, 2016 at 8:58
  • @Nofate, for what time I am unblocked? May 6, 2016 at 9:21
  • @СашаЧерных permanently
    – Nofate
    May 6, 2016 at 11:36
  • @Nofate, thank you very much! May 6, 2016 at 14:34

Moderator who banned @СашаЧерных (not me) refered to this paragraph from Terms of Service.

Under no circumstances will Subscriber use the Network or the Service to (a) send unsolicited e-mails, bulk mail, spam or other materials to users of the Network or any other individual, (b) harass, threaten, stalk or abuse any person or party, including other users of the Network, (c) create a false identity or to impersonate another person

Profile of @СашаЧерных contained not only a photo of another person, but also links to a personal site and profiles on github and social networks of that person. This looks quite like what people mean by false identity and it caused a kind of ambiguity in communication among other users.

@СашаЧерных is rather active on our Meta (which is good) and his profile gets enough attention, so people could try to contact that impersonated woman on social networks what could lead to further complications.

Anyway, some clarification from Community Team would be useful.

  • 1
    [1] In my profile there was a link to my account to GitHub, but not on an account of other person. May 5, 2016 at 17:06
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    [2] I specified in my profile that I Love the Person the reference on which was contained in my profile, but I didn't identify myself with Her. May 5, 2016 at 17:10
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    @СашаЧерных and your github account has a link to that person's social network profile... Well, you see how things are getting more complicated.
    – Nofate
    May 5, 2016 at 17:10
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    [3] Before my blocking I directly reported in a chat that I am not the person who is represented on a photo in order to avoid misunderstandings. Perhaps, you have access to remote messages. May 5, 2016 at 17:13
  • [4] Before my blocking I asked Grundy chat about, whether is admissible to use my image and the reference, and about legal consequences. Anybody till this time didn't do me remarks on my information in a profile, I didn't know that my profile contains the forbidden content. May 5, 2016 at 17:18
  • [5] I recognize that in my profile, perhaps, contained the forbidden content. I challenge not this fact, and that blocked me, without having warned. Your words: Если конфликт еще только назревает, участник получает устное предупреждение. I independently would remove the forbidden content. Thanks. May 5, 2016 at 17:24
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    > and your github account has a link to that person's social network profile... — All right, I removed the link to Her profile in GitHub. May 5, 2016 at 17:31

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