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A few minutes ago, I asked an anonymous question while purposefully not logged into Stack Exchange (it was about a sensitive topic and I intended it to be anonymous).

When asked for an email, I gave an email that I didn't expect to be associated with an existing Stack Exchange account. However, when I posted the question it attached my avatar to it. This has the potential to deanonymize me.

I received an email after posting asking me to "verify my email address," so I did with the hope that I would be able to reclaim my question, but I have not been able to do that. I may have to merge my account, but I am concerned that it will take a long time.

How can I delete the question or remove the photo associated with the question? Can I edit or delete an anonymous question after asking it? Is there a way for me to do this without merging the accounts?

Why did it use my avatar when I am not registered on that specific stack exchange site (alternatively, why did it use my photo when I was supposedly posting as "Anonymous")? Will there be a permanent record of this question associated with my photo?

  • Did you use an email that is already associated with an SE account on any site? Doesn't have to be the site you posted on. – ArtOfCode Dec 10 '18 at 0:09
  • @ArtOfCode Apparently, which is presumably why it auto-added the avatar. – jstrieb Dec 10 '18 at 0:24
  • Yeah, that's the cause. If you re-use an email address, your account gets automatically merged. – ArtOfCode Dec 10 '18 at 0:27
  • A valid complaint, it took me less than a minute to find - the first two words of the question are: "I have". Solomon's answer is correct. – Rob Dec 10 '18 at 4:38
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To be clear: whether you have an existing SE account makes absolutely no difference here. If an avatar appeared on an unregistered account, it's because you have a Gravatar account set up and displaying a specific image for that email address. It's assumed that if your email is set up there that you want the image to be used anywhere the email is seen and the service is supported. If that's not true, you should really consider deleting the image or email at Gravatar.

We don't auto-merge unregistered accounts for security reasons. If you've logged out of the unregistered account or otherwise lost the cookie tying you to it, the account is considered lost and can only ever be recovered with the assistance of staff.

There are a few ways you can go about fixing it. As suggested, you can flag for a moderator. You can also use the contact us form requesting it be removed. Either of these options will have the same effect - someone will edit your profile and change the profile picture to be a forced Identicon. If you explicitly want the unregistered account to be merged into a registered account, you'll need to use the contact form. Moderators cannot do that part.

  • I removed the image associated with my Gravatar and it worked, thank you! I will be using the contact form shortly so that I can try to still have a profile picture with my regular account, without it being associated with the post (and without deleting the post, which has received helpful responses). In spite of being able to fix this, I think that the "Ask a Question" page is unintentionally misleading -- it suggests that my email will never be shown, so I assume that it won't be used in other public ways either. – jstrieb Dec 10 '18 at 20:25
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Did you flag the answer for moderator attention? If not, delete the answer if you want, then flag it for moderator attention with a clear explanation of what you want to happen.

  • I cannot delete the answer. Logging in with the email I used to post the anonymous question did not automatically merge my account. – jstrieb Dec 10 '18 at 4:32
  • Did you at least flag it, though? I don't know why you couldn't delete it. – Solomon Ucko Dec 10 '18 at 4:34
  • I do not know why logging in with the email address used to post the question did not merge my account. I cannot flag the question because I do not have enough reputation on the Stack Exchange site. See: stackoverflow.com/help/privileges/flag-posts – jstrieb Dec 10 '18 at 5:49

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