Hi I noticed this morning that my Avatar has been or is changed. I did not do it and no one asked me if it’s okay to change it ? Not that I'm attached to the old one but just "out of the blue" a new one ? Without any notice ? Where are we going or what is next ?

asked 09 Sep '16, 09:13

Hendrikklaas's gravatar image

accept rate: 5%

edited 09 Sep '16, 14:34

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦

Do you mean the "gravatar" that is displayed at the top-left of https://help.openstreetmap.org/users/3443/hendrikklaas ? I think that mine might have changed too (but I've never been bothered by what it was, to be honest).

(09 Sep '16, 09:27) SomeoneElse ♦

Yes, it is the only one I got some time ago in OSM. Therefor there some remarks I got one, Whos changing it and why ? I believe it was green with a lot of details. But looking and noticing is not the same.

(09 Sep '16, 09:33) Hendrikklaas

My guess (and it's only a guess) is that it might be related to one of these issues:


(09 Sep '16, 09:47) SomeoneElse ♦

Hi thanks, but that’s what I mean, talking and reading on a lot of platforms. There have been remarks about people reading some or not all. I d like to go out and map, by reading I’m sitting in a chair. So you’re right I could have read about it. But still changing without notice ?

(09 Sep '16, 10:25) Hendrikklaas

This avatar is a so-called gravatar (see http://gravatar.com). It is generated based on your email-address. Your email address is never published but your gravatar is, thus it is still possible to identify you between different websites even if you use different user names. Also the use of gravatar makes it possible to identify your email address via bruteforcing. I think that's one of the reasons why this mechanism has been changed. See https://github.com/openstreetmap/openstreetmap-website/pull/519 for further reading.

Still I would have expected some announcement about this change since it is a major change regarding user's privacy in my opinion.

(09 Sep '16, 10:26) scai ♦

Hi Scai, thus it is still possible to identify you between different websites even if you use different user names. I only use one name in OSM AFAIK Also the use of gravatar makes it possible to identify your email address via bruteforcing. Then theres trouble in my history, the Gravatar has been changed ?

(09 Sep '16, 11:57) Hendrikklaas

@scai while it wasn't explicitly spelled out, there were posts on the talk mailing list https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk/2016-August/076647.html, the German forum and it was mentioned in weekly OSM.

(09 Sep '16, 14:31) SimonPoole ♦

@SimonPoole Thanks! I'm usually reading weekly OSM but maybe I skipped one issue or overlooked this discussion.

(09 Sep '16, 15:12) scai ♦
showing 5 of 8 show 3 more comments

Definitely nobody has changed your gravatar if you mean the gravatar provided by gravatar.com. If you ever registered the e-mail address you use for your OSM account with them then you should still be getting it displayed.

The changes to the OSM website (see https://github.com/openstreetmap/openstreetmap-website/pull/1036 ) result in gravatars being enabled only if you actually have an account with gravatar.com and no longer the old behaviour that turned them on for everybody (the code will re-check the settings when you change your e-mail address). There has been a long term process running that does the same check for existing accounts which adjusts the settings if necessary.

You can check in your OSM user account if the gravatar display is turned on or not (it is naturally possible that a glitch in the script erroneously turned it off, however it seems rather unlikely). You can simply turn it back on if you want to get whatever gravatar generates as a default for your e-mail address (as already said, it will only get re-checked if you change your e-mail address), however you should be aware that it has serious privacy consequences both for you and anybody looking at your account.

PS: the code for help.openstreetmap.org was not effected by any of the changes and still generates and makes public the hash for your e-mail address.

permanent link

answered 09 Sep '16, 12:51

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦
accept rate: 19%

edited 09 Sep '16, 14:20


In other words: The avatar changes for all users that don't have their email registered at gravatar.org. Is that correct?

(09 Sep '16, 12:59) scai ♦

No, you simply get the same as if you had previously had gravatar support turned off, which undoubtedly a lot of people did. Querying gravatar.org will always return an image even if you don't have an account registered with them (see help.openstreetmap.org) except if you set certain options which the OSM website JS code does not.

(09 Sep '16, 13:10) SimonPoole ♦

A quick visual scan of the Gravatars listed in the users list, gives me the impression that, although I did not study the material, several Gravatars have been changed. And yes it’s possible that I did not make a Gravatar account, why should I option in at Gravatar.com for a gravatar on an OSM account ? So if a Gravatar is a link to the accounts as Simon explained, there several keys lost.

(09 Sep '16, 15:03) Hendrikklaas

Obtaining a gravatar image is a service provided by gravatar.com, keyed on the hash of your e-mail address. Websites are not allowed to cache the images (that would impact the tracking) so you were always opting in to at least gravatar.org tracking you, you just weren't aware of it.

The changes rectify the mistake made when the facility was introduced and as already pointed out if you want to re-enable simply turn gravatars back on in your profile.

As mentioned the help site has not changed. any changes to the Gravatars there are likely gravatar.com doing.

(09 Sep '16, 15:10) SimonPoole ♦
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question asked: 09 Sep '16, 09:13

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last updated: 09 Sep '16, 15:21

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