How about an ELO system supplemented with badges...
ELO would reward consistency and decrease separation between top and bottom users that is inherent in a completely vertical points system. A system like this would allow adjusting points distribution over time to change focus with less community friction.
Add to this a badge/flare/cosmetic system to reward things like consistency (add a "veteran" title beneath their name, or have their name in a different color), taking on new questions (give them a "desert warrior" badge), etc.
As a user it would go something like this. "Oh, one of the contributors name is just slightly orange instead of black like all the others, I wonder what that is all about." Check the profile and see badges that say he's helpful to newcommers, an expert in Python, thorough and explains things in a simple language. "Cool, so when this person talks about Python, I should listen".
It gives contributors something to gain by being helpful and doesn't create authority that's infallible only because of insane amounts of karma points (see mrbabyman/karmanaut).
With this system you can get points relatively easy and understand what your strengths are as a contributor, but the real accomplishments come from being recognized by the community.
Btw, I'd avoid calling them badges. Better call them something like "known for", "accomplishments", etc. Less gamey sounding although that's exactly what it is.
Also, this way contributors could be in charge of their domain, maintaining things that they are knowledgeable and updating them as they evolve instead of jumping around different subjects searching for points. It would reward deeper knowledge instead of wider overall knowledge.