Re: @Alexander J. Martin
Red Vultures are staff; the other colours are for people with too much time on their hands... erm... valued contributors!
In November 2012, The Register introduced gold, silver and bronze badges for commentards, along with forum privileges for each badge.
The qualifying thresholds for badges are:
Bronze - More than one year members and more than 100 posts in the last 12 months.
Silver - Silver badge holders meet bronze requirements and have more than 2000 upvotes.
Gold - This discretionary badge is awarded by Reg staff to commentards who have been very helpful - to us, through news tips and beta testing, for example - and to their fellow readers, through their posts.
Forum privileges are awarded according to commentard handle - not by user account. This means that if you change your handle, you will lose your forum privileges. Also, votes on your anonymous posts do not count towards you gaining badges.