OK. Here’s the report on what the user reputation feature is all about. The primary function appears to be educating newbies as to which members are considered experts by their peers. A secondary feature is that it helps moderate and increase the utility of the forum by rewarding positive contributions and punishing deleterious behavior. This is accomplished using two measures – reputation points and reputation power. The dinking we played with either increases or decreases each user’s reputation points. As you gain points, you gain power. As you lose points, you lose power. This power can be translated into rewards such as increased permissions. For example, as you gain more power, you could be assigned more PM space or the ability to post larger attachments. Conversely, you can lose posting privileges that vary in scope depending on the depth of negative points you sink into.
The more power you gain, the more influence your "dinking" has on others. For example, users with average power can only add or subtract 1 point from a user with each dink. Trusted users with the highest power could add or subtract as many as 10 points with each dink. This, and a number of checks and balances, has been put in place to prevent abuse. Only trusted, high reputation member can really influence the reputation of others. To begin with, newbies are not allowed to dink anyone. You have to have at least 100 posts (all such thresholds are editable by me) to be given permission to dink, and then it is at the low level. There is a restriction on the total number of posts per day that a member can dink (currently set at 10) and there is a restriction on the minimum number of other users you dink before you can dink a given user again (currently set at 20).
Right now, I am agnostic on whether this whole reputation feature is worthwhile and I will leave it to a member vote to determine if it is to be tried here.