I agree that rankings are useful to new users of the message boards, but I’m not sure how much. I always sort of thought people liked them (kind of a way to see how much you’ve contributed over time), but I guess not everyone is.
As far as listing an icon for every year someone has participated, I would say we’re requesting Stephen do some serious PHP work, which is a lot to ask from a free board. I do like the idea of eliminating one rank indicator, but I think it should be the icon, rather than the name. Just my $.02