I feel like I’m always harping on about this everywhere, but I really think it’s best to have the icon always pop up the user card instead of clicking through to the user profile. Clicking the user’s name takes you through to the user profile.
Today I was on a skype call to Sierra Leone walking one of our moderators through discourse, watching his screen, and was just blown away by how painfully slow it is to load up various crucial things, including the menu, search, notifications which take 20-60 seconds (!!) to load up.
We were looking at the list of users who had been awarded a badge, one of which shows a list of 54 staff members, and I expected that clicking on a user’s avatar would open up the user card to let us get to know a user… but instead it took us away from the badge list to the user profile. This was annoying because it required a click back and another long page load to get back to the badge user list.