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As of just a few hours earlier, the profile image icons for all of the 27 main sites I am a member of, and the network icon (i.e., showing in the upper right corner of my sites list), was

Original icon used on all of my sites

I've always had this same icon on every site since I joined each one. However, I just saw that my icon changed for this site, as well as for the Stack Overflow main site (but not its meta one), to this one instead

New icon, now used on 2 main sites

Note I have not done anything unusual recently, especially related to making any profile page changes. Also, I haven't bothered checking any of the other child meta sites I'm a member of to determine if any of their icons have changed, but I assume they have not.

FWIW, I'm using Microsoft Edge, version 113.0.1774.35, on Windows 10. Also, I'm using just a plain version of Edge, i.e., I haven't made any setting changes, there are no installed browser extensions, I don't have any user scripts, etc.

I did a site search to find Today my global User Icon changed. Why?, which was closed as a duplicate of Why is my profile image different? (from almost 7 years ago), but with this apparently being a somewhat different issue. Also, in the "Related" section, there's the quite similar Gravatar spontaneously changed this morning - only on Stack Overflow, but that's from almost 11 years ago, and the answers there don't apply to my situation. Finally, as starball's comment indicates, two other related questions are Identicon changed for no apparent reason and Unexpectedly changing identicon, plus this same problem has also just been reported on Stack Overflow Meta at What happened to my profile picture?.

The Stack Overflow Meta post & its comments, as well as a few comments below, indicate this issue is happening to at least several other members. Does anybody know what might be going on, as well as how to best resolve this?

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    But why is this a "problem"? If you want a static image that never changes, just don't use an avatar service that produces an arbitrary one? Commented May 11, 2023 at 23:36
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    I take it you've not changed your email address (the seed for the hash-gravatar). Your best bet if you're attached to the old one would be the SE archive: at archive.org. They've not notified us of any change in algorithm.
    – W.O.
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 23:42
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    @Stuckat1337 It's not so much that I want a static image which, as you stated I could get by supplying my own image but it seems something might be wrong, perhaps even due to an underlying relatively important bug. As far as I know, the image should not usually change on its own, especially just for a couple of sites, and I'm not sure how many other people this might be affecting, so that is why I wrote and posted this. Commented May 11, 2023 at 23:43
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    @W.O. Note I have not changed my e-mail address. Thanks for the information about how to get back my old icon, but I'm not particularly worried about that. Instead, as I explained in my comment above to Stuckat1337, I am instead more concerned about the potential underlying issue, and scope of the problem, that caused this to happen, just in case it's something more significant. Commented May 11, 2023 at 23:46
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    Mine chanced as well here on MSE and SO, but on AU I have my old one…. Not sure what happened
    – cocomac
    Commented May 11, 2023 at 23:58
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    Mine also changed here and on SE but not on other sites.
    – Mary
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 0:06
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    your search for related posts missed some: meta.stackexchange.com/q/250172/997587 and meta.stackexchange.com/q/204523/997587. also posted today on MSO: What happened to my profile picture?
    – starball
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 0:16
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    Well, it's at least weird. And not a "simple" algorithm change, since I now have different avatars for MSO, MSE and SO while they all have the same mail address (2 different new ones), so something must be happening that's making it inconsistent
    – Erik A
    Commented May 12, 2023 at 5:55
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    I recognize people quickly based on their icon/picture, this going to make that harder. You may argue that you shouldn't pay attention to who is saying something, but rather what is being said, but recognizing users gave a sense of community. Commented May 12, 2023 at 11:10
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    @AaronBertrand It's very rare that people change their avatar here in my experience, and even when they do, it's just one person you have to "re-learn", as opposed to everyone all at once. Is this going to keep happening? It kind of breaks the way I use the website (relevant xkcd) Commented May 12, 2023 at 14:23
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    I find it strange that the avatar changes without notice. My first thought was that someone had hacked into my account and changed the profile picture. But since it affects several people, it could also be a security problem in general. that an avatar interface was hacked. however. It is not normal. Commented May 12, 2023 at 17:55
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    Voting to reopen. The announcement didn't exist yet at the time this was posted (it was deliberately posted late as pointed out there), and I'd rather that the author's question record not be dinged just because the team decided to post the announcement late. (Due to this being closed, the question is counting negatively toward their question record, which is supposed to measure a user's ability to ask good questions, and this wasn't within their control per se.) Commented May 12, 2023 at 21:56
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    Hm. We do encourage closing older posts as newer posts if the newer post is better, and generally a user with 10+k is considered in good standing. I am not voting either way but don't think the dupe closure is entirely bogus Commented May 12, 2023 at 23:02
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    @JourneymanGeek That may be true, but it has the side effect of levying the same penalty towards a person as when someone asks a question that isn't a good fit for the site or one where the author failed to find a prior post on the topic. If a question was a good fit and not a duplicate at the time it was posted, the author shouldn't be penalized at all, even if their record is already high. The case is worse if the author posted other well-received questions on the same day - a single downvoted, closed, or deleted question invalidates other well-received questions posted on the same day. Commented May 13, 2023 at 8:20
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    Continuing: Ideally, there should be a way to mark a closure as "procedural" for cases like these where the question is "answered" by a new announcement question (another use case would be if a site's scope changes and the question was within the scope at the time it was asked but not the new scope). Oh, wait, there is already: just wait 60 days after asking, as if the most recent closure (or deletion) date was more than 60 days later, the question won't be counted as negatively-received (unless it was downvoted). Commented May 13, 2023 at 8:22

1 Answer 1

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This change is due to us forcibly changing all identicons across the Stack Exchange network.

We've done this for security reasons and you can read more in this MSE announcement: We're regenerating all identicons.

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