Personal tags are interesting, but I notice that you are creating entire new tags out of them. So I see posts of yours that have: #music #music.thenewgreen, which seems redundant.
I do like the idea much better than subreddits, though. People muted in #music.thenewgreen are only muted on your posts. You, the content poster, have control over the tag which is really cool. Instead of a set of moderators that may or may not actually post in that subreddit. You get banned from /r/news and boom you aren't ever commenting on news posts anymore. It's awful, too much power in the wrong hands.
I really like you guys approaching things from an "everyone is a user" standpoint. It really is enlightening.
I have two ideas with it to solve some things. Whether or not they are plausible due to existing people relying on this feature is up to you guys to decide. #music.thenewgreen could also automatically show up in #music, therefore the second tag is open to posters to use for something else. This is useful, but it removes the more private tag from existing. Creating a second feature that does what I'm saying while keeping the original is going to cause confusion (such as #music.thenewgreen means one thing while #music=thenewgreen means another), so that would be a bad idea from a user standpoint.
Another idea is a combination system. I could as a viewer (not a poster) subscribe to:
#music + thenewgreen
bbc.co.uk + #privacy
thenewgreen - #someradicaltagbutotherwiseheisareasonableguy
These can be chained together to be more than just 2 things, and create more customized subscriptions.
None of these actually solve the comment problem, though, and I have a really extreme approach that might solve the issue: web of trust. This feature would be a major overhaul, but it might be worth it. Here's my quick 20 minute thought out proposal (so take it with a grain of salt).
Each comment would be scored not on how many random people voted it up (reddit style), but on a checklist that helps scoring their trust level on a per user basis. For instance (scores are subjective, you'll have to tweak them they are just simple quick examples):
Tweaking this a bit would produce a trust rating for each user. What do you do with it is display it on content posts, comment posts, and on their profile for easy lookup. This is fundamentally different from reddit scoring and karma, as those are always the same when you look from any user. In fact, your karma can be looked up by a non-logged in user. My trust level for you might be +153, but some guy who hates your guts would have you as a -803 or -9999999 if he went to the extreme of muting and/or ignoring you.
my followed users: +99999999999 (always positive)
my followed users' 2nd connections: +50 (pretty strong metric)
my followed users' 3rd connections: +25 (fairly strong metric)
my followed users' followers: +5 (weak metric)
my followed users' 2nd connections' followers: +2 (very weak metric)
my followed users' 3rd connections' followers: +1 (very weak metric)
my muted users: -99999999999 (always negative)
my ignored users: -9999999999 (always negative)
my muted users' followers: -50 (pretty strong metric)
my muted users' following users: -5 (too subjective, must be a low value, possibly not used at all)
my ignored users' followers: -50 (pretty strong metric)
my ignored users' following users: -5 (too subjective, must be a low value, possibly not used at all)
my followed users' muted users: -50 (very strong metric)
my followed users' ignored users: -25 (fairly strong metric)
my followed users' muted users' followers: -5 (weak metric)
my followed users' muted users' following users: -2 (very weak metric)
my times poster's comments upvoted: +2 per post (weak metric individually, strong metric cumulatively)
my followed users' times poster's comments upvoted: +1 per post (ditto)
my times poster's posts shared: +5 per post (ditto)
my followed users' times poster's posts shared: +2 (ditto)
An important thing with dealing with comments in this system: do not have a threshold for displaying comments. All comments will always be visible. This trust rating could be used to sort comments (activity, time, wot, wot+activity combined metric).
This could also be used to change the "mute" feature to combine with ignore. That way people aren't completely censored from posting (kind of extreme IMHO), but just relegated to a negative trust level.
For actual filtering of comments, you can do the same as the filtering on feed or take a step from Slashdot's commenting system. You can adjust your threshold on the fly for each thread, but instead of moderators voting, it's all based on your personal trust levels of each user.
For comments exclusively an additional modifier could be used... not certain on my opinion on this part so you guys make some comments. These need to be low scores because you might not be following these users; you could be viewing global or have been linked from another post):
There are problems with this idea, mainly being how recursive some of it can become. If you research WoT a bit there are solutions to the recursion, but calculating out the scores for each comment can be CPU intensive. I have a couple of ideas here.
poster's followed: +5 (weak metric)
poster's followers: +2 (very weak metric)
poster's muted: -5 (weak metric)
poster's ignored: -2 (very weak metric)
One: You'll have to switch to SQL straight up no matter what. I know you guys are using flat files right now and that you are migrating to a newly developed system. Please tell me you are using SQL in some way :)
Two: Trust levels can be calculated nightly. To solve SQL transaction issues, a DB dump could be made at X:Y o'clock every night. From this dump, you independently calculate everyone's trust value in relation to everyone else while the current DB is still active and not locked by a flood of transactions. This then gets updated in one big batch at X:Y+Z o'clock every night after the calculations are made as one transaction. With a database you could even log all the trust values over time and graph them, which would be neato but not immediately necessary when launching such a feature.
None of this by the way is in any way urgent. This is clearly a long term solution and discussion is necessary to see if everyone likes this idea, hates this idea, or whatever. None of the comment filtering/valuing is really necessary right now since the community is still small. This could change in the future, though, so being prepared is good. I like that you guys are at least thinking of the social scaling and preparing for the future, but know that anything like this is a long ways off. Hubski is still small, and that's it's benefit in terms of comment quality at the moment :). Preserving the community is extremely important, though, and this idea might skyrocket this community into a fully scalable network where large community issues are just plain not an issue at all. Meme's can exist in one area of the WoT, comments like the ones we see today would be grouped together in their own WoT, crazy people in another WoT, etc. I personally think this would make this site more powerful than any social communication site ever invented, but then again it's my idea and I'm bound to think that.
What are your thoughts on this?
Sidenote: For new users I think a place to explain the hubwheel in terms of commenting needs to be explained a bit furthur. Is it just a simple upvoting mechanism? That's all I can derive from the documentation (Primer and such), but it might work slightly differently. I'll leave it as "upvotes" in the table above though.