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Just been bumbling around on GIS SE and I noticed that some users have a shaded affect around their image next to their user name, whilst others do not, what does this shading indicated? I'm not talking about the grey box that the image, name and badges sit within, just the image. I searched the Help for the word "shaded" before I posted here but found nothing, hence my question.

like this?

enter image description here

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This shading indicates that you can mouse over the image to get a summary of a higher reputation user's profile.

The feature is known as a user card mouseover popup and appears to come in at a reputation of 1,000, but only if the users profile is complete and long enough - see How does the User Card popup work?.

Many, but far from all, of our highest reputation users have shaded gravatars.

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