Version 5.2 and Above
User status is the one user group which a member is part of which is ranked highest by the administrators. In the Admin Panel, this order can be set under the group settings. Groups which should never be used as status can be marked so as well.
There is no actual impact of the user status. It is purely a visual setting.
A user's status basically is nothing but membership of the default user groups. The 'highest' group of those is used as status.
The line between the group itself and the associated status is somewhat blurry. Arguably, the status is pointless, and for developers, it should be considered deprecated (so don't write any new code depending on this setting). The plan is to get rid off it and solely work with group membership in the future.
Here's a list of where the status is still used:
- displayed in user profile (and next to posts)
- account banning
- checked when admin appoints forum-specific moderators
- ugly hacks in group membership handling and profile editing in admin panel (this would actually become easier if status were scrapped)