As of this writing, there are over 5,600 active issues in the Drupal core queue. About half of those are listed in the 2,650 active issues for Drupal 7. And the "patch queue for Drupal 7 -- those issues that have at least *some* code to fix them in various stages of completion -- clocks in at 1,040 issues.
These numbers are, quite frankly, staggering. Discouraging, even, some might say. With so many issues out there vying for attention, how are we to find those ones that are really important, such as killer new features, powerful API enhancements, and critical bug fixes? While Drupal 7's development cycle doesn't have an expiration date on it yet, we all know that day will come, and probably sooner than we'd ideally like. What can we do to make sure that important patches are raised to the surface and receive adequate developer and committer attention?
To succeed, we'll need to employ a two-pronged approach: taking out the trash, and digging up the treasure.