I don't have the ability to comment, so I'll "answer" with agreement that the 50-reputation point requirement is a high bar, and I think it's too high.
(EAMann, I don't quite understand what you mean by linking to another StackOverflow/StackExchange site. I don't see anything in the FAQ about that. Do you mean literally that if I create a link to or from stackoverflow.com in one of my answers, I'll get 100 points? I'm a little puzzled by that.)
This is a very technical site. It's a little bit of sweat and blood for me to have the 17 reputation points I've got so far. For instance, I poured a lot of time into my first answer, and then I found the question gone the next day, alas, no points there. I'd gain more out of the site, and I think the site would gain more out of me, if I had the ability to comment. For now it sort of seems you need to be a WordPress superstar to be part of the conversation.
EAMann, I understand your perspective, but keep in mind that you're up there in the reputation stratosphere. It's a different view from down here. I do think I'm qualified to comment, but I'm just not there yet, and it'll take me a good while. Actually, I think I'm probably more qualified to comment (I've been a web developer for many years) than I am to answer (I'm new to WordPress development).
In sum, here's another perspective, and recommendation to lower the comment bar.