Do you guys really think that an avatar detracts from content?
I would say "distracts" from content, in direct relation to how eyecatching it is.
why do you care about what image I use for my avatar?
I don't, but I don't want to be forced to look at it.
There have been reasonable suggestions posted above to make viewing avatars optional, and I wouldn't argue against them (off by default, naturally).
But it is not me that has to do the work involved, or to be convinced it is a worthwhile idea.
That might seem a little incongruous in a discussion about copyright.
And apparently some might believe it was an actual photograph of you, which may not be desirable.
Seriously, I am well aware that such images are in use as avatars all over the web, but it is ethically dubious and the moderators here will have to make value judgements about acceptability - how many Tony Sopranos equal one Adolf Hitler? How about Charlie Chaplin as The Great Dictator?
WebmasterWorld would need a written policy for the moderators, but I have yet to see a draft.
Yes it's vanity
Commendable honesty, and it may be that pandering to such vanity would bring an increase in active members and be deemed a wise business move.
Those in favour might want to push that argument (I have yet to see another good one, and the onus is on those who want to change the status quo).
My own view is that there are enough vain members already, but my interest is academic, not financial.