@Craven de Kere,
Thanks for the detailed explanation. I still have some reservations about the wisdom of the voting feature, though I do appreciate the features you are developing to limit its misuse.
The old system gave equal space and visibility to the comments of all posters - a varied lot that for all of us included full spectra of; folks we usually agree with; others for which aggreement was occasional; still others whith whom we disagreed on a lasting basis on many issues; and finally others who are regarded as annoying cranks. The components of these individual spectra varied from user to user, though there was a small residue of posters who were probably regarded as annoying cranks by most users. The result though was that every "voice" had the same potential to be "heard", and, perhaps more importantly, each of us had to consider the potential reactions of all posters to what we put here. I believe that enriched the experience, though I will readily concede there were a few persistently annoying and (in my view) destructive participants in the crowd -- just as there are in almost anything we do in life.
The new system will provide the benefit of gradually suppressing the "voices" of those persistent annoying and destructive users - just as you described. Importantly, you have also incorporated features that will limit the potential for more convivial but intolerant users to abuse the system by, in effect, silencing others they simply don't like. However this benefit comes at a price that affects every other aspect of the site: that is the equal access of every user and the potential for every "voice" to be heard. I believe that is a very high price indeed.
You have already incorporated a separate feature that independently accomplishes much of the same purpose - the "IGNORE USER" feature that lets us all suppress the posts of any user we may find particularly intolerable. I like that, in that my own choices in this area are not imposed on any others here, and I know what "voices" I have suppressed - for me.
My question then is that, given the IGNORE feature, what additional benefit does the voting feature confer on the site and its users?
That is my case. I don't know enough about site design and the long-term effects on the behaviors or satisfactions of users to be certain of my conclusions here. However, I offer it for your consideration. You have long had a very good thing going here, and like so many others, I continue to appreciate your efforts and the features of the site you have created.