I posted this on another thread, but think it may be an idea worth discussion. I am not saying it should be done, just warrants consideration.
Instead of upvotes for comments, I propose that we change it to an upvote the poster. Once you vote on the poster it applies to every post they make, it just indicates how you feel about them. So it would always be up, down, or neutral. It would also be able to change depending on the ever changing nature of the interwebs. You may not like one thing they said, but they may be able to redeem themself with future comments and you can change their downvote to an upvote. The helmet stickers could still be tracked, but now it would just indicate how many people generally like what you have to say, and it would be a much better way of attributing that someone is a good and valuable poster rather than just sheer volume. Additionally, it would allow someone like me that forgets user names a way of tracking whether or not I like what someone has to say without having to remember everything everyone said and their usernames. Finally, it would eliminate serial downvoting, when someone says one thing you don't like, and then just downvote every additional comment they make in the thread.