TR used to encourage it. they did a points and (reward?) system once to get people to complete profiles and upload an avatar. I know people's avatar's as I would recognize faces in the real world. TR once wanted to encourage use of avatars and completing profiles (as many good sites force you to do before posting) as it cuts down on spammers. People won't post spam links and run if it is a more involved registration process, thus you build a better community with fewer 'post and runs'.
Now you have a choice, register with a new host, upload and reformat an avatar, welcoming more junk mail and spam, or don't have an avatar. If the latter, why have them at all ,if they are all going to be blank avatars then there's simply no point at all in using them to begin with, just list by user name.
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