I guess that Joe is spot on, as it seems to have sort of faded into the background since it was taken off the front page, so to speak?
I still believe that it has its defensive uses, given that we are a 24/7 International site. Sure we have a lot more moderators now, but they have other things to do, and the timezones can still be a pain?
I also believe that they have a useful function in allowing one to say "thanks" without apparently postwhoring (not that anything has ever inhibited me) and in encouraging starter members.
Just a couple of thoughts