It is his site, after all, and it's never really been a democracy of any sort. Rusty's just been especially forgiving and mature about the whole thing. Can't say I'd have put up with the shit for more than an hour or so; he put up with it for several months for some reason.
Having said that (and to get OT for a moment, and given Rusty's dark mood of late, I'm risking banishment here ;-D), this site expects to survive based on financial contributions from its userbase, and Rusty's never (at least publicly admitted) given any preference to "paying members." Based on what a couple of former subscribers have said, other than the neato features, they had felt like they were given less preference. Read back through some old diaries where people publicly voiced their complaints. If they mention that they're subscribers, you'll see Rusty spouting off "it doesn't work that way" all the time. Okay, Rusty; so what do you do for your paying customers? Spell checking? Hotlists? But when it comes right down to it, the people who cared enough to pay to keep the lights on don't matter when the decisions are made?
A print publication that took that stance wouldn't last that long. And since Rusty apparently doesn't really care about the opinions of the people paying him to keep the site open, what's my incentive to help keep the lights on?
On the same track, if we go to a system where becoming a member involves getting a current user to sponsor you, where do you see kuro5hin.org in 6 months? I see a site banner change on the horizon, because the serious readership of the last couple of years just likes to whinge about conservatives and the existence (and the annoying need in free countries to respect the rights) of Christianity. Nobody brings anything new to the table; all we'll see are the same arguments about the US administration, about this, that, and the other, all told from exactly one political viewpoint. I see kuro5hin.org turning into an intellectually dead high-fiving left-wing atheist forum. Nothing wrong with those political viewpoints, mind you (and I consider myself to be more to the right, even!) but it would get a bit dull when dissenting parties aren't allowed in anymore, because no current members whant them in, and who knows if our fearless leader will tolerate the dissenting opinions if other readers complain enough?
Instead of doing that, why isn't anyone (yeah, yeah; sorry, I don't have time, either :-}) working on changes to make this site truly diverse? The most annoying trend, and it's a long-standing annoyance, can be seen nearly every time, say, a fiction story is posted. What do we see in multiple editorial comments?
I envision a system where ratings in individual sections give/take weight away from your ratings and votes in particular sections. What do I mean by that?
Well, let's say you mostly comment in *gag* politics, and have even managed to get a few political stories posted. The ratings you get in Politics affect how much weight your votes and ratings count in Politics. Getting stories posted to section would increase your influence. Getting stories posted FP would increase it even more.
In a similar vein, you could give the reader the option to ignore certain sections (say, technology.) When you do that, you forfeit any weight and influence you ever had over that section. In this way (I think) people could come to kuro5hin.org for the sections that influence them, and wouldn't have to put up with the "crap" they don't like.
Finally, Rusty could implement a PBS-style membership package, with varying levels of contribution. The higher the contribution level, the greater influence you have over each section. This would be an idealized version of what happens IRL; if you honestly think that the opinions of contributors don't matter, you're deluding yourself and setting yourself up for failure. This would have to be tempered with a policy that people abusing their newfound greater influence would be booted without refund.
I really haven't thought that all the way through, but that's my proposal. :-D
[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
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