I know a lot of you love your points, but maybe we should see if no points really does generate better discussion rather than trying to find a way to create a point system.
PS: I think points is really tricky, it rewards people for great comments, but it also rewards those stupid-one-line-no-thinking comments. Maybe only show points for comments with more text... whatever, thats a whole other subject.
I have a tendency to use HN in a few ways:
* As a tech industry firehose: I review headlines in RSS (Reeder) and only 'v' through to headlines that really pique my interests.
* As a means to directly interact with smart people whom I would not otherwise meet (I'm in a small town in Florida).
* As a means to understand how people feel about the ideas I'm reading.
That last use case has been more or less squashed by the removal of visible points. I can only know how much the community agrees or disagrees with what I say, not those in disagreement with me. What's ironic is that agreement/disagreement wasn't the purpose of the karma system at HN to begin with. That's just how it was frequently used.
You can blame this on the fact that the attribution of karma points on HN was supposed to be driven by causes that many people simply don't think about. Put another way, voting the way we're intended to isn't intuitive to most people. This situation is made worse by the fact that virtually every other site with a similar voting system uses it to express agreement/disagreement, rather than conversational contribution/detraction.
The benefit of transparency is offset by the many well argued counter-points. The perception of this issue has a lot to do with one's personal use case. I'm happy to keep two out of three, but for someone who plays more of a spectator role, I'm sure the loss of the point system is a big hit to the utility of the site.