Obviously people like the Alerts .. so vBulletin copied them ... but vB's implementation just doesn't feel the same.
Implementation is everything !
I was just browsing google news today and noticed their new "hover over the title" dropdown popup !
It was discrete (not visible before hovering) but quick to popup when I wanted it. Just like Xenforo alerts .... it just works well.
This could be something to emulate for "Thread tools" in xenforo.