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Hey Bio. Your post seems entirely geared towards nitpicking, as opposed to having a honest and fair discussion. But I'll post a detailed response in the hope that I'm wrong :)
Regarding circlejerking: Any popular discussion forum has way more content getting posted, than they have space available at the top/front. So any discussion forum needs some way of ranking all these different posts. There are generally 3 ways that discussion forums organize content:
1) Latest post/comment is at the top
2) Moderator curated content
3) People voting for the content they like
There's nothing specifically wrong with 1, but it leads to a high volume of low quality, flame-bait posts. Anyone can post something idiotic (eg, dick pics), and they will get put right at the top, just because it's new. Anyone can do this over and over again, and hog the top spots, simply because of how active they are. High quality posts on the other hand, can also drop out of the top very quickly, unless people post repeatedly just to say they agree with it. If you like this kind of high-noise environment, that's great, there's plenty of other sites out there for you.
2 is a great option as well, but I would counter that if you like this option, you would be better served reading newspapers and magazines. After all, that's exactly what they are: content sourced from many different sources, and curated by editors. I read magazines everyday, but when I go to a discussion forum, I prefer one where power isn't centralized in the hands of a few moderators.
Which brings us to 3. Any system based around user voting is going to suppress, to some extent, unpopular content, hence why your criticism is unfair when targeted towards a single site like Caucus. Reddit in particular, is especially guilty of this, because of their extremely primitive scoring algorithm where any post with equal numbers of upvotes and downvotes will never be ranked highly. On Caucus, we have a scoring algorithm that allows controversial posts (large number of both upvotes and downvotes) to be scored just as highly as posts that are universally popular. We do filter out posts that have large numbers of downvotes and no upvotes, but this is going to be true for any system that utilizes user voting.
It's true that because of the culture/history of some communities, the majority of power could end up in the hands of people whom you dislike, or don't want to be around. For example, if you're a Men's Rights Activist, this is exactly how you would feel in a Feminism-themed community. There is a simple solution for this problem: Leave the community and find one that better matches what you're looking for. On a fundamental level, each community will have its own character, personality, culture, and rightfully so. These characteristics will make it a great home for some people, but not for everyone. Trying to force a community to be everything to everyone will simply lead to a worse outcome for everyone.
> If you arrive several hours late, everyone has already seen the post, and there is nobody else left to comment in the first place, even if you put new comments as a higher weight, it isn't going to well promote new content.
Posts often have a long tail of viewership. A large burst of people see it in the first few hours, but a large number of people will continue to view it over the next 1-2 days as well. For highly popular post, this tail can extend all the way to multiple weeks. Hence why it's valuable to rank quality comments highly, even if they were only posted a few hours "late."
> Themed communities
On sites like Reddit, there can only ever be one /r/politics, /r/news or /r/bitcoin community. Which means that everyone interested into those topics get shoehorned into a single community, even if the community and/or its leadership is toxic. This has been a huge problem for /r/bitcoin in particular. Caucus allows multiple communities to form under the umbrella of any theme. This prevents any one community from becoming the de-facto "standard" for that topic. If one /bitcoin community becomes toxic or unappealing, people can thus easily migrate to a different one.
> Promote/Sponsor features
Users can promote/sponsor content posted by other users. When doing so, the OP gets a tip for their efforts, and the post gets a score boost as well.
> No ads. No corporate sponsorships
Running a site like Caucus is dirt cheap. I'm also confident that if we build something that people enjoy and benefit from, we'll find adequate ways to make money and keep the site going.
If you want to have an open and fair discussion, I'd be happy to talk further. If your goal is simply to nitpick and insult, well, have fun with that :)