I have to say. I agree with the OP, Being english I rely on a member keeping their avatar so that my deteriorating memory can play catchup when i enter a thread. After staring at an avatar for around 5 minutes soaking it all up, I'm ready to go and i know who I'm talking to which serves me well pending that the member keeps their avatar.
we all look at the quality of the posts (and hit like), but i am not looking for fancy avatar too. A stable one would be fine for me.
you know why I post this thread in XF not in vb. Because, in xenforo most pages has the user's avatar bigger then his name . Therefore, it's easier to navigate.