First, to make it clear Stack Exchange does not allow animated avatars, the Can I have an animated profile picture? feature request has been declined by SE staff back in 2016.

However, as of today, users who upload animated gif as avatar have the animation showing in their profile, e.g. this user. (on all sites)

Can this please be fixed, or if there was policy change, can the above feature request be changed to instead?

Note, this also affects the newsletter, which show the animation in the email, and this can become pretty irritating.

  • 11
    Fortunately, the animation works only on their profile and not on Q&A pages ... – Glorfindel Jan 16 '19 at 14:30
  • @Glorfindel yeah, but who knows... if that specific thumbnail is broken, other might break as well without notice. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 16 '19 at 14:32
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    I vote for disabling animated profiles consistently. The profile-pic and post-pic should not have two different behaviors. – Robert Cartaino Jan 16 '19 at 15:15
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    @RobertCartaino that is not technically possible, I'm afraid. SE is relying on imgur to disable the animation by creating smaller versions of the uploaded image (called "thumbnails"), which have no animation, then use those thumbnails all around, by adding the ?s=[number] to the URL of the original image. But now looks like a problem in imgur side cause them to serve the original image instead of the thumbnail version, hence the animation. The bug is likely on imgur side, but SE has the means to contact and poke imgur to fix it. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 16 '19 at 15:49
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    Interestingly enough this only happens on the full site. The app and the mobile site show a static image even on the profile page (iOS). – Laurel Jan 16 '19 at 16:09
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    I'm not sure I want this fixed... – Pika the Master of the Whales Jan 16 '19 at 17:37
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    I like the idea of an animation only in the profile. It would be distracting anywhere else, but in the profile I kind of like it. – Eb946207 Jan 16 '19 at 23:45
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    only vaguely related, as it is a bug in how imgur handles things - I like the fact that my avatar looks different at different sizes :-) – Rory Alsop Jan 17 '19 at 8:42
  • As far as I can see, any question about relation between SO and imgur to SO employees leads to completely silence. Maybe @RobertCartaino can answer to break my assumption? I've asked ruSO community manager in chat, but with no results as expected. – αλεχολυτ Jan 21 '19 at 16:21
  • @älёxölüt CM has little chance to know about those things in detail. Only developers who work with code related to imgur can probably really know. And Shog. ;-) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 21 '19 at 19:32
  • @ShadowWizard I don’t want any details, just a general resolution, for instance: “we asked imgur, they said wait 6-8 weeks to fix” or “we’re planning to switch from imgur to home brewed service”. But now I see NO ANSWER at all. Just silence. – αλεχολυτ Jan 21 '19 at 20:02
  • @älёxölüt Well... Took me many years to accept the fact that many times that is the situation and that it doesn't mean they don't care. They just have different priorities and their own time line to do things. We should not take it personally. :) – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 21 '19 at 20:47
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    FYI from comment in 2013: "I'm afraid we're not going to support animated gifs. The ability to upload them was a bug that has been fixed." – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog Jan 21 '19 at 20:57
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    @SonictheIntrovertedHedgehog heh. Either he was wrong to begin with, or this has changed at some point. But I am 1000% sure we could upload animated gifs to SE imgur and they kept the animation for years. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Jan 21 '19 at 21:02
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    @älёxölüt sorry not sure what you mean. If you mean bumping with useless edit then it is forbidden and I consider it as abuse of edit privilege. – Shadow Wizard Wearing Mask V2 Feb 4 '19 at 14:08

So... this looks like it was actually caused by the same server outage that was making it so that image resizing wasn't working as it should. So, when that was fixed, this was also fixed... YAY! Uploading a gif now should behave as expected.

I briefly uploaded the same gif from that user's profile to my own and it became a static image. If you want to check for yourself, it's worth noting that when I tested it out, the preview looks like a gif but after you actually save your settings, the resulting image on a profile page is static.

Unfortunately, it has the same side effect... content uploaded during that window is the way it is, so removing the gifs now would require the user re-upload the image.

  • Are moderators able to replace animated avatars in case the user refuses to? (IIRC animated avatars are against policy, and a prior case where it was allowed was deemed a bug and fixed.) – Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog May 10 '19 at 16:14
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    As with any profile image or username, moderators can always reset to the default when they feel it's appropriate. – Catija May 10 '19 at 16:16
  • PNG animations still work; I’m sending you a profile with an example. – Martijn Pieters Oct 5 '20 at 22:51

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