As mostly a user/visitor of forums over the years I have found the mini user-profiles that often appear next to posts quite useful. Mostly just to check their join-date and post-count as a very rough and quick way to see how dedicated/active someone is within the forum.
It’s also useful when someone says something interesting or that you agree with to glance across and see where they are from (if they have put a location) or if they’ve added a web-link or twitter handle for example. The “rank” is also useful on support sites so you can see who is an official representative/employee of the organisation running the site.
One good thing about this is that it’s fairly consistent across sites so when you find sites through searches with answers or comments relevant to your search query you can quickly get a rough feel for the person writing the answer.
I realise this has many dangers too, such as elitism and power-freaks, post-count alone is a poor indication of quality, etc. etc. but in my short time here so far I’ve missed that mini-profile a bit - it helps me get to know the community a little.
Maybe this has been discussed already and I didn’t find it in my searches - but could there be a mini-profile to get quick-glance info about the people in a site without cluttering up the nice clean interface and without making people try to game the forum for post-count or other such lunacy?