The forum avatars are currently very non-personal and you really have to look at the name to recognize who is writing a post.
Not necessarily a big problem, but it's a bit boring.
It can be understandable if ANet doesn't want to host avatars that people upload. It can be a security risk and it can be messy and it can lead to them not getting the visual theme they want on the forum and other things.
But I have a suggestion for a solution.
An avatar generator would be a nice solution to all this.
It that takes the current equipment and style of a character you pick from your account.
It poses it and generates an image file out of it that is used on the forum.
At a start, to get the system rolling faster, it could be a standard pose. As time goes on, more poses could be added to the system for more variation.
The generator could update the avatar automatically as a settable option for more flavor once a day or so, if equipment or style has changed.
This could happen at a time when the servers are less busy and not in as much use anyways or as part of server maintenance.
For some, it could be preferred to have more consistent avatars, to recognize them more easily.
But it'd be the same character unless the user swaps to another one, so it'd still be fairly consistent.
Users can swap avatars whenever they want anyways (potentially with some restriction to put less strain on the servers), so I feel it wouldn't be a problem if you leave it as an option for those that want it.
The current non-personal avatars would still be an option if you don't want to use your character.
And I'm sure ANet would add more of those as well.
This way everybody wins.
ANet gets safe avatars and get to control the visuals of the forum and users get custom avatars, look unique and the forum becomes more personal and homey.
It could give more of a feel that the characters from the game come to the forum to have a discussion as well.