Just to clarify about my own smiley use :
Yes, I do use the "@_@" stuff, but this is at least text-based. And I do clarify when asked.
Sometimes, I do use the image based smileys, but mostly the small-sized ones.
My problem is more with, as I said, flashy and big smileys. Especially when they replace words or syllables (yup... one of the guys I've just started talking to as "oi" as a smiley code... which hurts) .
Examples of things that get annoying very quickly when over-used :
Or this, a little bigger, a little flashier :
I even used to use "n_n" a lot. Except people didn't get it, so I started using a MSN-sized one that meant the same thing (aka very small) .
As far as my own smiley use, though, I will admit to sometimes (but not often, because I do follow my own principles) using these :
Basically I'm not against people using smileys as punctuation. Mostly. Ending a sentence with a smile never hurt anyone, right
? If I speak with the same person again I'll just have to take a screencap. I'm sure you'll understand.
And I swear I do limit the use of the smileys when asked, and I adapt myself to the people I'm speaking with ^^