Is there a way to hide these annoying auto-generated avatars that consist of the first letter of one's username at all? I can't find a way to do so in settings. It would be a useful feature, if it was implemented.
Don't know if I would like such a feature. As annoying as they are I do find that they make it fairly quick and easy to identify frequent posters.
One lucky user, Norfolk Southern if I recall correctly, has somehow managed to create and retain his own unique avatar. While that ability would be preferable to the current coloured blobs it would require some external oversight (i.e. censorship). The mind boggles just thinking about the designs that some users would come up with.
The circle and the letter are generated by the CSS stylesheet used by the new forum software. The admins can change that stylesheet if they wish or they can enable the permission to allow users to upload an image themselves. At the moment they have chosen to do neither as they are focused on getting the function of the forum working correctly rather than the visual presentation of it to our liking. Perhaps once everything is back to normal, they will again offer a range of locomotive icons for users to choose from as their online face. Instead of side profile of locomotives, they could have head on images of a range of locomotives from which to choose. Somewhere recently, I stumbled upon the request from Auran for those old locomotive images to be submitted by users. It specified the size allowed and other rules. Auran chose which were suitable. Of course, they could run afoul of trademark restrictions if a logo was visible on the front of the locomotive.