It seems to me that threads can vary widely in the amount of readership they attract (and number of votes they accumulate). Threads that get "front-paged" to The Monastery Gates
tend to collect a lot more votes, regardless of any other factor. So basing anything on just the raw reputation scores is going to risk missing some good material that happens to be in relatively obscure threads.
Something that might prove effective would be a variation on the color-shading that we see in the Recent Threads display, where node age is the property of interest, and things are bolder/darker the more recent they are.
If the prominence scale for display is based on something like "relative node value within the thread" (possibly weighted by the overall magnitude of positive votes in the thread), the most prominent search results will usually (or often) be those that gave the best solution to a given problem (with perhaps some bias given to nodes/threads that attracted a lot of appreciative attention).
Given that this has already been done for node age, it might not be too hard to do it for node reputation.
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