Let me start by saying if you're a veteran still playing Star Wars Galaxies, you deserve an Achievement...or to have your head examined, depending on whether you still like the game or not. But I digress. Star Wars Galaxies has an achievement system of sorts called Collections. Essentially this is a series of tasks that are not visible until you discover one of the requirements for them. For example, one of the easier collections is to gather fifty perfect meat fillets (or something like that). However, you don't even know this exists until you harvest a creature's meat and have the luck of getting a perfect meat fillet to drop. You then have to run around harvesting the meat from every creature in sight and then some to eventually get 50 of them, and get a decorative smoking rack as a reward.
As I said, that is one of the more straight-forward and easy collections. There are others that include everything from getting all the different colors of creature juice (or whatever they call it) from slain mobs to slaying ridiculous amounts of enemy fighters in space. These collections function is virtually every single way as WOW achievements, but for one exception: you actually get something for completing each and every one. And occasionally these things are useful.
I will take this time to state that, though I don't know the exact release date of collections in SWG, I do know that they predate the release of Achievements in WoW with Wrath of the Lich King. I do, however, suspect that Blizzard could care less what SWG does, similar to how I feel about flattened possums I pass on the road. It is clear that if Blizzard was attempting to copy SWG (which, given the raw amount of achievement systems that reward useless points in other games is doubtful), they failed miserably. Only a scant few of World of Warcraft's achievements are good for anything but bragging. A handful give a unique title, tabard, or mount, but most are just a carbon-14 of ones nerdiness. Blizzard could learn something by the nature of SWG's collections, namely to reward the player base for playing the game in a way, but also give a reward that makes sense for the task done.
I will concede that Blizzard's achievement system for WoW can only be as good as the engine it is built around. Because there is no player housing, or guild halls, or anything that can be decorated, Blizzard is forced by the design of their game to make achievements give rewards that are blatantly visible (mounts, titles, and tabards) rather than physical items for decoration of the absent housing or guild halls. This also explains why achievements are able to be compared in game and on WoW's armory.
It would seem, though, that these two seperate systems could learn from one another. Blizzard clearly needs to give some sort of reward for most of the difficult achievements (some do have rewards, but most of the truly difficult ones only have rewards for completing it along with a bunch of other similarly difficult achievements). SWG, meanwhile should have their collections visible from the begining. Also, there should be some consistency between the difficulties of various collections. Collecting vials of creature goo is ridiculously easy compared to shooting down massive amounts of every kind of Imperial starcraft.