I don't want to clutter this site with questions, but I do want to add weight to good answers.
I wanted to ask this question on meta, but no, I can't.
You don't have to ask a question, you can also increase your rep by answering them.
You might think of it as a meritocracy. In my opinion a fair system, but you do have a point: it does have a bit of a threshold at fit, which might scare some people off at first. Then again, SE sites do try to engage their new users by adding playfulness, e.g. in the form of badges (like the one you received after posting your first question).
It encourages participation, although getting started is a bit awkward on these sites sometimes... I have had 3 awards and only 6 points starting out, can't vote till You have 15 or more points. Seems kind of odd at times, but works well and keeps out the trash.
See the "What is reputation" section of the FAQ. A reputation of at least 15 (2-3 upvotes on questions or answers) indicates that you have an idea what this site is about and we can trust you to cast informed votes.