I think you’ve kind of unwittingly made @Jabba 's point. I agree with you that not many are actually taking part in the conversation; the question is why? I’ll get to that in a minute.
I think @Jabba 's point is made more apparent with the numbers you’ve provided. We’re not talking about the same post topic.
The original topic “Forum update forum mods and new forum guidelines” was up for 2 days on the front page and received 370 views; 165 views per day, taking an average of your log on numbers, viewed by 87% of the logged on users.
This forum topic has been up for 5 days in meta and has received only 291 views; 58 views per day, by your log on numbers, viewed by roughly 30% of the logged on users.
If people can’t see it, they don’t know it. If people don’t know it, they can’t comment on it.
(This is not a scientific study: there are other aspects, such as the fact that the original topic’s numbers might be skewed because it may have been posted on a weekend (higher logons then, so my calculations would not be correct, as the % of views would fall), while this one may have not. Also, you could argue that everyone browses meta, and so they all saw this topic, but weren’t interested in it, and that’s why the % is so low. Still, 30% of people took the time to view this topic. Of those numbers we can be sure, and that’s actually quite a significant number to me.)
On people becoming engaged/involved:
I don’t think anyone can know for sure why so few are getting involved in the discussion. I’m sure there will be a silent minority who agree with the issues raised, while there will be another who disagree, and yet another that simply don’t care (voted for government lately?). The point is that, on the one hand (and as mods have made clear) we can’t assume that they agree with the ‘dissenters’, but on the other hand, we also can’t assume they disagree, either. By the very same logic. Having approximately 30% of the logged on people check out this topic (which I admit may not be accurate statistics) would be reason enough to assume that people are at the least interested in the conversation, IMO.
I think @happybeing touched on an important issue: that of the tone of the conversation. Many who view this and other topics may agree with the issues raised, but when they see some taking those issues and essentially inflating them to imply the mods are tyrannical, untrustworthy, power-hungry etc etc, they may then think “What?”, and disengage. This could have the effect of polarising the membership to some extent, which is the mechanism by which we reach that aforementioned ‘us vs them’ situation. It’s not usually the message that bites you, but the delivery of that message.
Internet forums are hardly a place where people excel in providing well-thought-out views that are measured in tone and considered in content. But on that score, I think this forum for the most part is doing very well, mods and most users included. Given my feelings when I started my ‘environment’ topic a while back, I was pleasantly surprised at the reception by the mods to my ideas and concerns.
On that point, and the ‘mediator’ issue raised by @happybeing above, yes I didn’t come back with a write-up. First, I fell ill, badly (my health is, well, cyclical), and then, upon getting better, I reviewed the situation and thought “Well, if people aren’t going to see it, then why bother?” (it was decided that it would be in meta, so most would probably not be aware of it anyway). Also, the goal was to have a trusted member of the community perform the role; I don’t believe most here even know I exist, and so I didn’t really feel like I had the right to simply step into the role.
Also, although I think if enough people got involved, we could make something like @Jabba 's above (excellent) suggestion work (some kind of ‘Constitutional Conference’, so to speak), frankly, I don’t see it happening at this point. I think the moderators tend to be open to suggestions, but when they become more solidified, they are the judges of whether the idea is
and often the answer is
As it was with my idea.
To be perfectly clear, I do not believe that moderators here are particularly terrible, or evil, or tyrannical, or inconsiderate, or heavily biased. I realise that they are overworked, underpaid(!), harangued, cajoled, criticised, and feel under fire. I do not envy them.
But I do think that while there does exist an openness to ideas here, moderators are not willing to put their money where their mouths are and allow the proposals a fair hearing for a couple of weeks, or heck, a month or two (for a guidelines rewrite), on the front page*, where everybody can see it without hunting through the backwoods of this forum. And I think this kills the potential of the ideas themselves.
(EDIT: By ‘on the front page’, I mean discussion topics for consideration, not votes. People need the discussion before the voting.)
- (I understand the issue of not ‘clogging’ the front page with stale administrative content, which would push the network itself into a subordinate position. I think the design of the front page is the weakness for the purpose of putting ‘sticky’ posts about meta discussions. A sidebar for stickied posts would help, although that would, of course, change the design, perhaps to the overall detriment of the site. Then you could leave the main subjects untouched. I’m not sure if it’s Discourse itself, or the design of the front page that is the real issue.)
(As a further note to participation levels in the discussions and taking votes on issues, the assertion has been made in the past that if most don’t vote, then the vote is not worth doing. Should we follow that logic with government also? Surely not, right? By definition, those with an opinion on the topic either way will participate in the process. Those who don’t care are seemingly unaffected by the current issues, and so of course they wouldn’t bother voting; they would leave that to the ‘politically involved’. So I don’t accept that argument. Just because most people in certain cultures accept, say, female (or male) genital mutilation, doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go. Those affected by the practise may see things differently. Jim Crow affected the minority in the USA. During slavery, not many slaves felt like they could stand up and add their voices to the conversation, and so the majority ‘will’ accepted slavery, even among slaves, according to this logic. Western liberal principles attempt to recognise that the protection of the minority sometimes necessarily supersedes the will (or lack thereof) of the majority, lest that minority suffer. A balance must be struck, of course. Recent events in Europe are a great example of this.)
And finally, while I am appreciative of mods’ contribution to this forum, and sympathetic to the challenges they deal with on a daily basis, I find myself asking, “What did you expect?”. The reality is plain to see that moderators of any forum will be criticised, fairly and unfairly. That is the price of taking an authority position. So while I think it is entirely reasonable for moderators to ask for people to show respect for them as fellow human beings, I also think it’s just part of the job, sadly enough. That doesn’t mean that mods have to, or should, accept being treated like garbage.
On that note:
Reality isn’t the way you wish things to be, nor the way they appear to be, but the way they actually are. Either you acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit, or it will automatically work against you.