5

I have not changed my profile picture or any other information in my profile. Today a different identicon appeared as my profile picture.

enter image description here

I have not changed my email or a single bit of information in my SE network profiles or did not join any new community. Unable to understand the reason behind this change.

Additional Information:

  • Not logged in from any different location in last 10 days.
  • Accessed the site from different location and ip few days back.
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  • Did you previously have an autogenerated icon like now, or did you upload a personal picture? – Byte Commander Aug 31 '16 at 15:43
  • I did not upload any picture. It was another auto generated image just like now. Auto generated images only change when one change some profile information like email etc. see this – souravc Aug 31 '16 at 16:30
  • See: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/283643/… – Seth Aug 31 '16 at 16:35
  • Or this one: Keep a user's identicon profile picture consistent, which has an answer that explained "We primarily use a hash of your email for gravatar. [However] ip address is used as a fallback." – clearkimura Aug 31 '16 at 16:53
  • Thank you. Well the change in identicon refers to some change in SE network profile(s). I have not changed my email or a single bit of information in my SE network profiles or did not join any new community. Unable to understand this change! – souravc Aug 31 '16 at 17:00
  • Did you login from somewhere new? – TheWanderer Aug 31 '16 at 17:01
  • The image changed today only. Not logged in from any different location in last 10 days. Accessed the site from different location and ip. But ip should not affect the identicon as long as email is there, right? – souravc Aug 31 '16 at 17:11
  • This happened to me today too! My IP hasn't even changed! – You'reAGitForNotUsingGit Aug 31 '16 at 19:47
  • @Zanna thank you for your efforts. I have put my email address in my profile from the first day in AU. So the reason you mentioned does not apply to me. isn't it? My public ip did not change. It is true that I had accessed the site from two different ips 5-6 days back. But in last 3-4 days I am using the same ip I always use and the identicon changed yesterday only. – souravc Sep 1 '16 at 10:55
3

I had noticed that my profile picture also changed automatically this week. The following screenshot combo is showing the difference for my profile picture (upper half showing older ones).

Combo snapshots showing different profile pictures for clearkimura

Similar to OP, I have been:

  • using auto-generated pattern image and never uploaded any personal picture;

  • using same login method i.e. Google account with same e-mail address;

  • using same computer and same location i.e. from home

Initially, I thought...

Then this week, all of sudden, I realized that my public IP address has been assigned to significantly different ones. While it is known that the public IP address could change from time to time [1,2], it is the first time for my computer to be assigned with different range of public IP address.

The difference is significant such that it affects my login experience on Ask Ubuntu (profile picture changed) and Google Mail (precautionary two-factor authentication was activated).

Later, I figured out...

I reviewed this FAQ post on meta SE, regarding the default profile picture (identicon). It seems that IP address is not relevant for registered users (including me).

When you're not registered (when Stack Exchange does not know your email address), this is based on your last known IP address so might change when your IP address changes

Then, I found this related old post on meta SE. The OP included a URL of hashed e-mail address that links to Gravatar site, as following:

http://gravatar.com/avatar/[md5sum-of-email-address]?d=identicon

So I tried to reproduce the current profile picture (identicon that has more patterned geometry) by running echo -n YOURADDRESS | md5sum in Terminal. Replace YOURADDRESS with actual e-mail address i.e. example@gmail.com. The -n option is required to remove the newline.

$ echo -n example@gmail.com | md5sum
e820bb4aba5ad74c5a6ff1aca16641f6  -

Then, copy the checksum and replace [md5sum-of-email-address] in the Gravatar URL.

http://gravatar.com/avatar/e820bb4aba5ad74c5a6ff1aca16641f6?d=identicon

Finally, copy and paste URL into web browser to view the identicon.

And, bingo! I got the same identicon as my current profile picture.

What does this successful reproduction of identicon mean? Most likely, the changes had occurred on Gravatar site, and not Stack Exchange sites. The changes might have something to do with undisclosed algorithm to generate the patterns, without altering the hash of e-mail address itself.

TL;DR It was nothing to do with IP address for registered users. Something has changed on Gravatar service site, which caused pattern generation to be different compared to older ones.

References

  1. Why does my public IP address change?

  2. Why Do ISPs Change Your IP Address?

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  • But my pic changed today as well, and my public IP stayed the same. – You'reAGitForNotUsingGit Aug 31 '16 at 19:54
  • @clearkimura I appreciate your efforts. In my case my public ip did not change. It is fact that I accessed the site from two different ips in last 10 days. May be that is the reason. But the last known policy was that ip should not affect the identicon as long as email is unchanged. Is there any change of policy? – souravc Sep 1 '16 at 3:27
  • @souravc Yes, you were right. IP address was not relevant for registered users like us. Updated answer as above. – clearkimura Sep 1 '16 at 13:37
  • @clearkimura Ah, now it became clear. Thanks for all your efforts. I am quoting from the post by m0sa "we are salting creation of hashes for generating identicons for users that do not have a gravatar account. This is because there were some concerns that the gravatar identicon urls leak email addresses." Old identicon can be retrieve by registering with gravatar. – souravc Sep 1 '16 at 14:04

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