When doing research questions, there are different ways a question body can be useful. For example: "Explain what Witten is doing in equation 3.14 of paper so and so" might be important, but it will not require original thinking to answer, and it will not be difficult for anyone who understands the paper. On the other hand "Can you give an example of where this model of superconductivity will break down?" might require extensive original thinking to answer, and is of a qualitatively different nature of problem.
I think that it would be useful to have two categories for questions and two categories of upvote for answer:
questions: ()difficulty, ()interesting-ness
So that you can upvote one, or the other, or both attributes.
for answers: () correctness, () completeness
(taking dimension 10's criticism to heart, perhaps for answers there should only be only one voting category for answers, correctness/completeness merged together--- then the total rep can be difficulty*(answer-score * interestingness. The important thing is to give research level questions a hugely greater value than run-of-the-mill student questions, and to give original answers much more credit than unoriginal material--- this is how you make a research level site)
So that you can upvote both categories separately. The voting system can assign you a score which is the difficulty score for the question times the completeness score for the answer, plus the interesting-ness score for the question times the correctness score for the answer. This type of thing is a simple way to ensure that answering difficult research questions will give a crapload more reputation than answering student questions.
I was wondering if people think this is a good idea. There is an issue with feature creep--- once you introduce categories, there is always pressure to make the categories expand, and if they expand too much, the site becomes useless. But I think this might be sufficient.
Perhaps "originality" is a third category one can add to questions/answers. The moment you add "originality" voting, you become equivalent to a journal, and if you multiply the reputation gained for answers by their originality score, you attract top contributions immediately, because originality is the most important thing for a researcher. The best researchers will flounder around, but after figuring it out, they will give original creative correct answers to research level questions, and should be rewarded for it much more than a person who gives unoriginal rehashes of old stuff, or literature-summary answers to fluff questons like "what are some promising avenues for spintronics research?". So that if someone asks "How can you calculate the temperature of loss of superconductivity in High Tc?", and someone produces a new model which gets it right, which is not in the literature, the originality score might go sky high, although the model might not be complete and correct.
This way, a person who contributes only a few answers, but correct and original ones, can get a large amount of reputation, simply if those answers are original and complete answers to questions which are assessed to be difficult. This will prevent people from asking hundreds of bogus stupid low-level questions, answering them, and then getting a large amount of rep, since then someone who does research can easily accumulate vastly more reputation by answering one difficult question with a penetrating original analysis.