Avatars greatly increase the noise on a page while providing absolutely no signal. They make page loads even slower (and LQT already has issues on mobile devices). They're distracting, add needless whitespace with short comments (which are a majority of comments in a discussion), and in general are an incredibly poor use of finite development resources.
Topic on Talk:LiquidThreads 3.0/Design
Avatars are unacceptable
I think avatars are a nice feature to have as it provides visual identification without unreadable signatures. Perhaps the size of the avatars could be reduced drastically though.
I'd point out that unreadable signatures are usually prohibited by local policies.
I confess I'm far from keen on avatars too. But can we at least all agree that there will be absolutely no animations in avatars? That would truly be a hideous development.
I think that is an easy thing to agree on.
- Avatars are going to be a headache in terms of moderating offensive images.
- Avatars add graphic distraction to pages that were previously content-only.
- Avatars may increase the personalization of Wikipedia and make people more friendly.
- Avatars make short messages which take up minimal vertical space impossible. In effect, they create a message-size floor of several lines, where previously single line messages were possible (and they are very common all over WP).
I think the last issue is the biggest problem with Liquid Threads. It is not conservative with vertical space. Fix that and you've got a great improvement to Wikipedia.
So I know this is an old topic but I couldn't help but chime in. The term "graphic distraction" is an interesting one. I think if you ask most "usual" web surfers, they would state that they'd rather see a web page with both images and text rather than a text-heavy page with no images. Where one says "content-rich," I think, man, I really have to read all that? Images help give your eyes something different to look at and connect the text you are reading with something visual, making the connections stronger in your mind. Images make a page fun to look at.