The question is in title.

My wife notice that my avatar changed from the last time she saw it. Being blind, I did not pay attention to this.

Now, it is very pale yellow. Is there a way to restore it as it was before ?

Thanks in advance

  • $\begingroup$ This year-and-a-half old post on Meta, Profile image changes, suggests that email changes are responsible for many unexpected gravatar changes. It seems that many old images will not be recoverable at this point. I recommend uploading an image of your own choosing. I'll look into the Wayback Machine as a possible resource for old images. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    May 19 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath. I did not change e-mail address. Could you please restore it for me ? Thanks and cheers :-) $\endgroup$ May 19 at 12:43
  • $\begingroup$ I did not change my e-mail either. And not just my profile picture changed, my profile name changed for no reason. $\endgroup$
    – Idontgetit
    May 19 at 12:45
  • 12
    $\begingroup$ See We're regenerating all identicons on the Main Meta. In particular: “... we can give you back the image so that you may upload it as a custom avatar. Please contact us asking for it and we'll be able to give you the image.” $\endgroup$
    – Martin R
    May 19 at 12:48
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I found a dark blue gravatar for Claude at MathOverflow, which operates slightly independently from the rest of StackExchange. I saved the PNG image file and will email it to Claude. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    May 19 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath. Can't you put it ? I don't know what I should be able to do (I know what I shall be unable to do) ! $\endgroup$ May 19 at 12:51
  • $\begingroup$ @hardmath what about name changes? My profile name was supposed to be MathMath, not idontgetit. $\endgroup$
    – Idontgetit
    May 19 at 12:55
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    $\begingroup$ @ClaudeLeibovici You (or your wife) can go to math.stackexchange.com/users/edit/82404, click "Change picture", then click "Upload a new picture", then click "link from the web", paste the following link: [redacted] and click "Add picture". Finally, scroll to the bottom of the page and click "Save and copy changes to all public communities" $\endgroup$
    – TheSimpliFire Mod
    May 19 at 13:37
  • $\begingroup$ @TheSimpliFire There is no place to type in the user id into the url and get the corresponding identicon. How do you find a user’s old corresponding identicon? $\endgroup$ May 19 at 13:39
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @TheSimpliFire. She was able to do it !! Tanks $10^{123456789+\epsilon}$ times $\endgroup$ May 19 at 13:41
  • $\begingroup$ I am sorry to hear that you are blind :( $\endgroup$ May 20 at 5:18
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ @An_Elephant. Thank you very much ! The advantage is that I can dedicate most of my time to mathematics (no movie, no TV,...). But it is OK (even if it has been a quite hard time when the lights switched off). Cheers :-) $\endgroup$ May 20 at 5:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ClaudeLeibovici if you haven't, you may want to look at audio books :) $\endgroup$ May 22 at 13:11
  • $\begingroup$ @ClaudeLeibovici are you a specially abled person$?$ I'm so sorry to hear this. $\endgroup$ May 30 at 10:00

2 Answers 2


For those of you wondering "why?", the best I can understand the various conversations on StackExchange Meta is:

Previously generated icons used some of users' personally identifying information as part of the random number fed into the avatar generating algorithm.

This is now seen as a security problem, i.e. someone could take your avatar image and recover data about you they are not supposed to have. (I don't know if some hashing algorithm has recently been inverted, or they are thinking more seriously about security now, or what else has changed to make this a problem they are addressing.)

Regardless, they are currently recreating avatars that had previously been generated. I believe if you uploaded your avatar explicitly nothing will change, but, if you, like me, have just always kept the avatar they gave you at sign-up, you can expect it to change soon.

  • $\begingroup$ My avatar has changed with the one on Math.SE now being completely different to the one on Meta. Can you incorporate that into your answer as well perhaps? In fact all the StackExchange groups I am a member of have unique avatars now. $\endgroup$ May 19 at 16:27
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @JamesArathoon - Well, I'm not a spokesman for SE, I'm just reporting here what I've read elsewhere, so I'm not 100% what to add. The phenomenon you report might be due to them rolling out the change at different times on different platforms, but I've personally got no info on that. But if you'd like to edit this answer to add details, that's perfectly fine with me. $\endgroup$ May 19 at 16:32
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for your answer. This is the sort of trivial change that can get people flustered, but I find all this nonsense very amusing. Back to the psychedelia of the 60's hippy generation! $\endgroup$ May 19 at 16:42
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ Heh. I've actually grown quite fond of my randomly assigned little green blob, and have both saved off a copy and gone through the process described in the comments to explicitly set it as my avatar. $\endgroup$ May 19 at 16:52

This was linked in the comments, but I feel it should be preserved in a more permanent form: Profile image changes (Gravatar images won’t be recoverable after email change) . The relevant quote is

Why is this change even affecting Gravatar?

Stack Overflow uses a hashed version of your email address to access your Gravatar image. If your email address changes, we simply can no longer access that Gravatar URL. This wasn't a problem when your Per-Site Email was frozen in time. Now that your main email will actually affect that URL, your Gravatar profile image might be lost. We will keep displaying the image as long as you’re using it, but it will disappear from the image selector if you change your email.

See also We're regenerating all Gravatar identicons

We've recently discovered a vulnerability in our identicon generation process. To remedy it, we have changed how we approach generating them and regenerated all identicons. We do not have any indication that any personally identifiable information (PII) was leaked as part of this vulnerability.

Since 2013, we've been salting all identicon hashes, but still using email and IP addresses to generate them. Because of the sensitive nature of this type of data, we're moving entirely away from this method and instead will use an implementation going forward that does not involve any user-related information. Out of an abundance of caution, we're also forcibly changing all identicons across the Stack Exchange network, and chose to wait to communicate the change to you until the process was further along.

This is a result of the way in which SE handles email. There are two major concerns here:

  1. Gravatars were generated using a hashed version of a user's email address. Because of this, there are concerns that Gravatars might leak private information. There is no evidence that this actually has happened, but better safe than sorry.

  2. Because Gravatars are generated from an email address, if a user changes their email, their Gravatar will change. Historically, this hasn't been a problem, as SE has used one's original email address for all time. However, SE has recently moved away from this, and has made it easier for users to change their email address in the SE system. The problem is that changing one's email address could now lead to their Gravatar also changing. This, again, leaks private information (i.e. that the email address of a user has changed.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for the answer. but, as far as I know, I nerver used any other e-mail address on MSE. Cheers -:) $\endgroup$ May 20 at 0:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @ClaudeLeibovici Yes, but my understanding is that they are de-coupling the Gravatar generation from email addresses, hence it is likely to change. $\endgroup$
    – Xander Henderson Mod
    May 20 at 15:01

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