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Recently on mathSE, my auto-generated avatar (gravatar) was changed.

What is the reason for this? Can I get my old avatar back?! I liked it better.

Edit 1: It looks like my avatar has changed in my profile and in the icon at the top of the page, but not in posts. That seems very odd.

Edit 2: I haven't recently changed my email address, or username, or anything like that. So this didn't answer my question. It could also be this but that was in 2013. And it doesn't explain why I have two different gravatars displaying in different places.

Edit 3: I'm accepting arjafi's answer, but refer to the metaSE thread for any updates and news about this ongoing problem, which has not yet been fully resolved.

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    $\begingroup$ I was going to ask the same question when I found yours; thanks for asking it. I dislike the bright red colour of my new avatar, I miss the calming colour of the previous one. $\endgroup$ – Alex M. Sep 1 '16 at 8:13
  • $\begingroup$ Wait! How come that your gravatar associated to posts hasn't changed, too? Mine has. My gravatar change was total, i.e. not only did it affect all of my presence on MSE, but also my presence on all of the other sites in the SE network where I have an account. $\endgroup$ – Alex M. Sep 2 '16 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexM. Haven't you learned? Always blame caching. $\endgroup$ – Simon Forsberg Sep 3 '16 at 9:19
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexM. Yeah that's still unanswered. Just to clarify, though, I recently manually changed back to my original gravatar. So now it's the same everywhere. $\endgroup$ – 6005 Sep 3 '16 at 9:20
  • $\begingroup$ @6005: Surprise, surprise! Yesterday I got my old avatar back, and it seems that you got yours, too. Weird... $\endgroup$ – Alex M. Oct 3 '16 at 8:08
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexM. Good to hear that update! No, I manually changed my avatar back a month ago, so I wouldn't know if it went back automatically or not. $\endgroup$ – 6005 Oct 3 '16 at 17:01
  • $\begingroup$ @6005: Yeah, but just a few hours later, the change changed again, so my avatar reverted to the "wrong" one. Is there a monkey, maybe, randomly pushing buttons at Gravatar? If so, they should give it a typewriter. $\endgroup$ – Alex M. Oct 3 '16 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @AlexM. Haha, definitely something very weird going on. $\endgroup$ – 6005 Oct 3 '16 at 17:13
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I think this might be an issue with Gravatar and not Stack Exchange. I'll explain my reason for thinking this later in this answer.

First off, there is possibly a way to get your old gravatar back, adapted from Caleb's answer on Meta Stack Exchange:

  1. Go to the Wayback Machine.
  2. Enter the URL for your profile page. If you're lucky, it's been archived there. Go to one of the previous archived versions with the "right" gravatar and save a copy of your profile image from there.
  3. Edit your profile page and manually change your profile image to this saved one by first uploading it.

As for why I think this is a Gravatar issue, for interest, I looked at your case.

  • The URL of your profile image as it appears in your profile is https://www.gravatar.com/avatar/fd9e6c1e2c743da81cffdda6b01985f0?s=328&d=identicon&r=PG&f=1
  • I found a copy of your profile on the Wayback Machine from March 8, 2016. The URL of the profile image from that page is https://web.archive.org/web/20160308085014im_/https://www.gravatar.com/avatar/fd9e6c1e2c743da81cffdda6b01985f0?s=328&d=identicon&r=PG&f=1

So the Wayback Machine archived a copy of your avatar from that date, and the URL associated with the gravatar is the same as it is now.

In case people are seeing different things than I am, here are the two images I see:

The really important part here is the string fd9e6c1e2c743da81cffdda6b01985f0 which is the MD5 hash generated from your email address plus a little salt. Since the two hashes are the same, Stack Exchange has not recently altered the salt and you've not changed your email address (or at least the two changes magically cancelled each other out in an extremely unlikely scenario), so they are getting the gravatar from the same place. But the archived copy of this image is different from the current one. This suggests, to me at least, that the Gravatar identicon image for this hash has somehow changed, and likely that Gravatar has altered the algorithm for generating identicon images.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks! very helpful detective work. $\endgroup$ – 6005 Sep 1 '16 at 6:32
  • $\begingroup$ This is very helpful! I assume this has happened to multiple users then? I saved an image of my old one, so I'll try revert it myself. $\endgroup$ – snulty Sep 5 '16 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ @snulty It appears to have happened to a lot of people. At least, I've noticed several people whose avatars have changed colors. $\endgroup$ – 6005 Sep 7 '16 at 2:21

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