While i don't like the idea of going so far as to ban the pics, i do wish less people used photos of themselves for the user pics. Not for the reasons fondue mentions, though; just because using photos of yourself is boring. It's the wussy way out. It would be nice if there were some way to encourage creative user pics; pics that are artistic, like Templeton's, or random, like pseudo_intellectual's. And this doesn't necessarily mean that all the photos are bad; Nate's kicks ass, and is creative. I don't think at all that all person pics should be stopped. It would just be nice to cut down on the number of meaningless inane grinning headshots. There should be some way to make it matter whether the user pic posted is nifty or bland.

The obvious solution, albeit a kind of stupid one, is to allow some sort of vote up/down on the user pics. I have no idea how this would be implemented in terms of what those votes would mean, or whether the pics would have rep, or what would happen to the pic's rep if the pic changes, but it's worth thinking about. I guess anyone who has a certain option enabled in their preferences (since seeing the vote apparatus on high-ranked home nodes would get kind of irritating) gets to vote user pics up or down, and the user's XP changes accordingly one point for each vote. The problem with this is that user pics really are a gift-- something that person has earned, and thus something they should not lose XP for. So i think that if such a system as this is implemented, it should be a carrot, not a stick-- people should not be allowed to lose more XP than they gain from pic voting, and excess downvotes should not be applied to the XP count. Pics would, of course, be absolved from the nuke system.
It's an interesting idea, although, as i said, it is a stupid one, which is why i'm putting it here instead of Suggestions for e2 where it belongs.

Tregoweth: yes, your user pic is one of the cool ones. -_- Gamaliel: Yes, i know it's way too long-winded, but read the second paragraph again: if my stupid suggestion is given any serious consideration whatsoever, it should be _purely_ to reward the _good_ pictures, not to punish bad ones. Only a carrot, no stick. Any situation where downvotes outnumber upvotes on a pic should be treated by the system as no votes whatsoever. And it's a stupid suggestion anyway.

This writeup has for some inexplicable reason been voted way the hell up, so i guess i should make it more overt: this is a horrible idea. Think: Most things on this website are about being selfless. Most things on this website are about putting the better good first, about considering what would better the quality of the database first and what would serve yourself second. Most things on this website are about thinking of the needs and wants of the readers, not the noders, of this website.

And the level powers are the one exception. The level powers are the way of indicating the noder has Earned Enough Bullshit (hmm, interesting idea-- referring to gaining levels as a measure not of noder self-worth but merely as a measure of how much bullshit one has earned. I think i'm going to start publicly referring to XP as "Bullshit") that they can, for the moment, be freed from selflessness. That the noder has given enough of themselves into the database that the database will make them the most important thing for just that one short moment. That for that one short moment, the database will make them the one in control, because they have earned it.

And so anything that puts a score, a form of feedback, positive or negative, on those powers-- on the quality of c!s given or user pics-- is a horrible horrible thing, because by doing so you kill it. Anything that causes the noder to make the decisions of the use of these privileges earned back from the database based on what others want, rather than their whim at that moment, turns it into not a power at all, but just another obligation, another thing they must think about before doing..

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