The Gawker Network has been experimenting for a while with this "star system" in which starred commenters get to be "featured" commenters and promote other people's comments. And it's up to each site in the network to figure out how to make this system work. We're trying to move towards a fluid system where we use the stars and featured comments to make the conversations on the site more dynamic, interesting and ever-changing.
To that end, you're going to see us starring more commenters coming up. We'll also be un-starring people sometimes. We don't have a set of rules for how people get starred or un-starred, it's just based on a subjective sense of which people are making the conversations more fun (both by commenting and by promoting other people's comments) at any given moment.
If you get un-starred, please don't take it personally. Neither starring nor un-starring is a judgment on you as a person, or even necessarily a response to any particular comment. We try to pay attention to who's making discussions better, and often we star or un-star in response to a week or two's worth of comments by a particular person. At the same time, we're not going to spend hours agonizing over whether someone deserves a star — it's going to be a snap judgment on the spur of the moment, as we go through thousands and thousands of comments every single day. We don't have time for a lot of hand-wringing here.
Bottom line: We can't feel free to hand out stars in a fairly easy-going manner, unless we know that we can take them away later. If we felt like we could only star people we were absolutely certain we would never have to un-star, then stars would be much, much scarcer. So if you lose your commenter star and it makes you feel like you've been dissed, please email us and we'll be happy to talk to you about it. But please remember that commenter stars aren't meant to be permanent — people gain them and lose them all the time, depending on how the conversations are flowing.