In the communities, you'll see a few different symbols. Here's what they mean:
The numbers in the balloons on a thread topic are the numbers of answers, and the numbers of comments. (Answers are directly to the question, answered at the bottom of the thread. Comments are made in response to another answer, using the smaller boxes in the middle of a thread.)
The stars in a small circle represent Top Answerers. These are also called badges, and they represent that these members are top contributors to that community. Members can have 1 to 5 stars. Please note that this does not guarantee accuracy of answers, just that these members have been active and contributed to that community.
The purple compass represents a Community Leader. For more on Community Leaders, click here.