I think I'd rather have the forum running faster than have a 'thank you system'. If there is only a marginal difference in loading time, I suppose it wouldn't really matter that much though.
I think it really depends upon the individual as to whether or not a reputation or 'thank you' system fosters competition and ill will. I don't think it is going to make a difference if you simply change the words around. If you are vying for rep points, then you will do the same over 'thank yous'.
The only thing I really don't like about the rep system is that it forces me to rep 20 other people before I can rep the same person twice. There is, however, a really simple way around this. Just thank them directly or through a private message. You don't have to operate within the 'system' to show your appreciation and I'd hope that most people around here can judge the quality of a person's words and character outside of the rep system.
The only difference I could imagine is an increase in 'run by thanks' where people sort of just absent mindedly thank people if they resonate with a post. But personally, I'd prefer to know why someone likes my posts. I'm not a mind reader. After awhile, one too many reps or 'thank yous' that provide no context whatsoever start to feel meaningless.
Originally Posted by Criseyde
The thing about rep vs. thanks is that rep is a built in vBulletin feature, and thanks isn't. I think there's a vbul hack that will allow you to give thanks, but remember, the more hacks/plugins/etc on the site, the more slowly it loads for everyone.