Before XenForo, when I was on forums, I use avatars to keep track of who's who. If I see a blue blur that I don't like in the postbit (legacy or otherwise), I skip over the post or skim it only lightly. However, this is was nothing compared to what I do now in XenForo... I've noticed myself not reading threads if the icon was not from some of the regulars, or if the title doesn't look appealing enough. I'm also finding it hard to justify a change in avatar because I'm under the impression -- false as it may be -- that my avatar is how people identifies me.
What are your thoughts? Are you noticing you're becoming more and more reliant on the avatar than before?
Same with me - thread title, followed by a glance at the avatar to see who wrote it. If I don't recognise the avatar I check the username. It's very rare that who wrote a thread will put me off reading it (I might be inclined to automatically disagree with the content though hehehe)
Really though, I find myself paying more attention to the avatar to prioritize reading, at least here. On my own forums, I will read and attempt to respond to everything (Unless I have no clue, or little clue on what they're going on about, in which case I'll stay free from it).