Recently, some users that have their avatar generated by (or just imported from?) Google have a broken avatar, since Google no longer provides an image at the given URL, but a 404.

See https://cs.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/1581/my-picture-is-missing-on-my-profile-page, for an example.

Now, this isn't really the fault of SE, but there may be a large amount of users that are impacted by this (for whatever reason Google did this).

So, how can or should we help these users? I can think of two types of solutions:

  1. We can inform the impacted users somehow and provide guidance on how to fix their avatar. This should be easy, but this may leave a large amount of figures that will remain broken.

  2. If the URL has changed to something predictable, an SE developer might be able to run some update and fix everything automatically. That is nice, but may be next to impossible.

What should we do?

  • I'm not sure whether this is a bug or discussion, feel free to fix that if it is wrong. Jan 22, 2019 at 15:57
  • 2
    This is a bug, Stack Exchange should change the code for importing the profile picture from Google+. Jan 22, 2019 at 15:58
  • There's nothing wrong with the Google images. If that link is returning 404, it's because the user deleted their Google account, or otherwise did something at the Google side to make the link not work anymore.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jan 22, 2019 at 16:02
  • @animuson so it's dupe of this one? Jan 22, 2019 at 16:19
  • @animuson I am going to verify whether the user at Computer Science is aware of some deletion action on the Google side. What you say may be true, but it may not be obvious to an user. Jan 22, 2019 at 17:22
  • @Discretelizard From their comments on the original question, it sounds like some sort of Google account merge took place. Their URL changed completely. We don't ever update picture URLs for external services like that, so they'd have to just change to a different profile picture method.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jan 22, 2019 at 17:25
  • 2
    @animuson twitter.com/Nick_Craver/status/1087755529387155456
    – user302202
    Jan 22, 2019 at 17:53
  • @MySharona I honestly don't see any evidence of that - may have just been an incorrect assumption. Users are still registering with Google accounts with images that work just fine, and the user in question does have a working image URL - it just changed from what we had recorded previously, because something weird happened with their Google account to change the ID. It might make sense to re-check the image URL on subsequent logins to catch weird cases like this, but nothing appears to be broken on our end.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jan 23, 2019 at 2:41
  • @animuson Among the employees, meta.stackexchange.com/users/395495/dylan-nakahodo and meta.stackexchange.com/users/394114/khalid-el-khatib now have 404 avatars (both Google), so it's not an isolated case.
    – user302202
    Jan 23, 2019 at 3:46

2 Answers 2


Here's something that might help: I also made an account using google, but for some reason, my profile worked at one community, but didn't at another.

I examined both URLs and found something very interesting:

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/a-/AAuE7mCaphEn7MW6pOuPy_8MdEss0VGPGhlMIHtyWd1w40Q=k-s128=k-s128 [BROKEN]
https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/a-/AAuE7mCaphEn7MW6pOuPy_8MdEss0VGPGhlMIHtyWd1w40Q=k-s128 [WORKINg]

The only difference between is a second repetition of the last string, "=k-s128"!

  • Sounds like a good chance to run all those URLs through the wayback machine!
    – Nemo
    Feb 5, 2020 at 13:52

This was fixed last April.

The fix has recently been expanded in Invalid size parameters break avatars served by Google to handle a more broad range of URL parameters.

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