What are the titles, ranks, and stars?
Board-set titles and ranks are based exclusively on a user's post count. They are automatically set by the board software once a user hits a certain number of posts.
What do the titles (such as "Citizen" and "Grand Master") mean and how does one get them?
These titles really do not mean much other than showing the post count of members in a creative fashion. You get them automatically once you hit a certain post level.
How can I get a custom user title?
You can get a custom user title only when you reach 40 posts and have been joined for over 30 days. Once you have reached this requirement, you may change your user title through your UserCP by going to the Edit Profile section. Your profile will automatically display a "Custom User Title" section right before the Birthday field. Obviously, no inappropriate content is allowed.
What are the stars under my name and how do I get them?
The number of stars you have is also directly related to the number of posts you have. Once you reach a certain post count, your 'stars' are automatically added. Here is an image showing the current post counts needed to achieve a certain star level:
With under 1000 posts your post count is shown in black stars, from 1000 to 9999 it is shown in gold stars, and above 10,000 it is shown in large red stars.
Do I get special privileges as I get more stars or different titles?
Unless you have reached a post count of 1,000 and have been here for at least 90 days, there are no privilidges given out to you as you progress. Consider these things as a fun way to present your post count to members. Once you reach 1,000 posts and have been here for 90 days ("Grand Master") you are automatically promoted to the "1000+ posts" user group and have several cool additions.
What are these 'special features' I get when I reach the post count of 1,000 posts?
Once you reach the post count of 1,000 posts and have been here for 90 days you gain the following privileges: Ability to see "invisible members." These members will appear with an asterisk (*) at the end of their names in the member's list on the front page. They will also have their 'online or offline' signal next to their names in their posts set to red. Once you become an 'advanced member' you also have the ability to change your user title (refer to "How can I get a custom user title?" question for more information on how this is done). And finally, members with 1,000 posts and 90 days of membership are automatically given access to the "Controversial Forums" for which others have to apply for.
Can I change the number of stars (or asterisk) that are displayed under my name?
No. This setting is changed automatically by the board and cannot be changed by you (or the moderators).
Why do some people have their name in italics, bold, different colours, and some just regular above their posts?
This condition is based on permission levels as well. The default setting for all members is to have the usernames appear in normal text. A member's name will become italic when their post count reaches 1,000 posts and 90 days have passed since the join date. Just as with stars and other questions pertaining to the permission level of a user, you cannot, and we will not, change your permission level. The software does this automatically when you satisfy the necessary requirements.
The moderators' names appear in bold. There are four levels of moderator - facilitators are shown in bold purple, moderators in bold blue, mediators in bold green, and administrators in bold red
There are also a number of ministers whose names appear in white on a blue background
Does it mean that someone is more knowledgeable/respected because of their title/rank?
Absolutely not. The respect and recognition comes from quality of posts, not quantity.