I know this is horrible bikeshedding, so I apologize in advance, but… even though I am more of a square vs. rounded kind of web guy, I find that I consistently prefer rounded avatars in the topic list. Every time I see someone doing it, I think, “hmm, that looks a lot better.” And I’ve been thinking this for a year now.
Compare for yourself:
I think it’s a couple factors:
Rounded edges give a bit more “breathing room” around the images when there are avatars close together like that.
Rounded edges feel a bit more organic and human. When we’re talking about avatars of people, human is good.
Rounding these images sets them apart from the many other square elements of our default design a bit more (buttons, nav, etc)
I know we want styling to be minimal for the default design, but I feel the rounded style is clearly better, at least in the topic list, and I want to experiment with it as a default.
Feel free to chime in @awesomerobot