We've been through this discussion several times on several threads.
This is a forum for people to entertain themselves, share information and share opinions. Many people on this forum may not remember what it was like before the current system was put into place. Like too many other sites, it was positively brutal, with a handful of bullies making drive-by comments that were not only insulting, but often had more than a little tinge of racism, sexism and name-calling, often using derogatory terms for persons with disabilities.
Since the current system has been in place, the number of these incidents has dropped significantly. Sure, there are still some jerks on the forum who take delight in denigrating other people's viewpoints. But, as internet forums go, it is one of the more civil ones out there.
I'm not saying that the Karma system is the sole reason, or even the main reason. But I don't think it is purely a coincidence. I believe the fact that everyone can see a participant's total score does encourage civility.
If some discomfort with the Karma system is the price we pay to keep the forum generally constructive, while allowing vigorous debate, it is well worth the price in my opinion.
As I've said in previous discussions, the Karma system is a bit like a public opinion poll. And, like any poll, it isn't valid with a small sample size. If your total applauds and smites aren't well over 100, I wouldn't worry the least about the numbers. I would say, though, that if after a year on the forum, you've collected 150 smites and 20 applauds, you might want to look over your posts.
There are no doubt a handful of people who are incapable of accepting other peoples' opinions and they probably go on smiting attacks every once and awhile. Unfortunately, a few participants on the forum have been victimized by some targeted, personal smiting attacks. That's wrong and my sympathy to those who have suffered these attacks. On the other hand, I think some of these victims know that they are just being targeted by an individual or two and take it in stride, recognizing that as attacks go, these are fairy innocuous.
Most of the participants on the forum use the Karma system constructively, as a passive way of signalling that a person's demeanor could use an adjustment.
I've never had any problem issuing a smite to someone who is rude to others, posts drive-by attacks or otherwise engages in trollish behavior. It is a handy way of saying I disapprove without engaging in a long, frustrating, fruitless dialogue with persons whose mothers never taught them any manners.