Just a day or two ago, James Bach showed up on the site. This name, along with names like Joel S, Alan Page, Lisa Crispin, etc, are all well known names and recognized experts in the field of software testing. It seems odd that they would have to go through the same reputation earning pattern on the site.
Completely disagree. The reputation and badges are merely an indicator of your ability to provide expert answers. The reputation and badges are what make people recognized experts on this site.
Furthermore, what criteria would there be for 'recognized expert'? How much reputation is their expert status worth? Or with the badge route, would there be a corresponding silver badge for "Domain Level Demi-god" and a bronze badge for "Domain Level Mortal"? And how do we know their expert status outside this site would translate into the ability to read individual questions and help solve people's problems?
As a final point, I don't think it's odd at all. Consider Alan (I hope he doesn't feel awkward by me doing this) - he has the highest rep-per-answer ratio of any of the top 10 users, ahead of the second highest by over half-again. I think this speaks for itself for the quality of his insight. (I should also note that he has 0 questions asked, unlike the rest of the top 10. This further inflates the other rankings, and underscores the post-quality.)
It is quite obvious by reading the posts of high caliber authors that they're experienced and willing to share it. I think we should simply let those posts speak for themselves. They will accrue reputation and badges in due time as they post excellent posts. I suspect there are few people here for rep and badges - we're here for learning about better ways to engage in software quality assurance (teaching or being taught, we can learn through both.)
"It seems odd that they would have to go through the same reputation earning pattern on the site."
Why does it seem odd?
The reputation earning mechanism here is for this site, it has nothing to do with a reputation earned elsewhere.
I'd assume that recognized experts in the field of software testing might choose to come here and contribute, and earn whatever reputation points/badges come their way just like everyone else. No need for special treatment, and no different than all the other "slightly less recognized" experts that I see posting here.
As I understand it, the recognized experts in the field will build reputation here very quickly by the quality of their responses, so, no, I don't think there needs to be an automatic reputation boost for the experts. So far what I've seen is that the responses the top figures in the field are giving typically are more accurate and thorough than anything I could do (my only real basis for comparison here).