I'm making this thread as I think there is some confusion amongst some members about how decisions are made on HUKD and how members fit into the decision making process. Hopefully this thread will be able to explain how site decisions are made.
The first thing to understand is that HUKD is not a democracy. To understand that is not necessarily bad thing is to first of all recognise that not really any site on the internet is a democracy (in the sense of members voting on all site decisions and the majority rules) and also that not being a democracy doesn't mean members do not have freedom to influence the decision making procedure. Despite what certain countries may say democracy does not necessarily equate to freedom and lack of democracy to lack of freedom ;)
Those are all fuzzy terms anyway so not that useful but I thought it should be addressed as a common internet whinge is "oh xyz site administration is a dictatorship - we have no freedom" as if there were a common alternative, that a dictator is bad and that freedom doesn't exist on an open internet forum.
Second, everyone here has made a decision to come here and nothing forces you to remain. The site itself is like a framework and the members give that framework life - but essentially all the members who initially brought that framework to life did so because they agreed to operate by the fundamental processes of that framework. No one was born into HUKD or is bound to HUKD, everyone here has made the choice to come to the site, get involved and become part of the site's life. So there is an implicit agreement when coming and getting involved that members agree with the fundamentals of the site, how it is operated and who is ultimately in control of the framework. No-one is ultimately in control of individual members.
In this agreement to get involved there is the implicit agreement that you agree to play by the rules of the site while you are there. It doesn't mean you have to personally agree with the rules but that you do have to abide by them. These rules could be anything from the rule that says clicking on the HOT button makes a temperature go up, that responding to a thread bumps it to the top of a forum, that the Hot Deals forum is for deals and the Freebie forum is for freebies, that posting pornographic images is not allowed, etc. etc. basically all the rules which make up the site's framework that members operate within. If a person doesn't like those rules they can leave at any time, there is nothing that binds them to the site.
So ultimately from that basis we have (a) members who make up the life of the site and (b) a framework by which they have agreed to operate. The framework itself is built and determined by myself - this was not thrust upon anyone, it was the existing arrangement when any member came to the site and decided to take part and at any point a member can say "You know what, I don't like this framework anymore, I'm leaving" and simply close their browser window, delete the bookmark and never come by http://www.hotukdeals.com
Now according to this agreement I could do whatever I want with the site's framework and members can do whatever they want with being part of the site or not. So in the same way that this informal agreement says I get to make ultimate decisions with the framework - members also get to make the ultimate decision in whether they want to participate or not. I could decide tomorrow that let's make all the buttons work in reverse or put all Cold deals to the front of the site or ban every member whose name starts with "B". Doing that is of course within the agreement and doing that would probably result in members exercising their ability to end their participation.
Now the thing is when it comes to making a decision about the site it has to be acknowledged that the members who give life to the framework may also be taking it in ways other than that originally thought of. The truest kind of life is one which results in unexpected things. So when I'm sitting here making decisions about the site's direction and functionality I need to be sensitive to what the life of the site (i.e. the members) want and think. If I don't listen to the life of the site then one day I may think everyone on the site wants only cold deals on the front page or everyone who starts with "B" wants to be banned, take this action, and then end up losing all the members as they take off somewhere else.
So despite the practical fact that ultimate decision making power is in my hands it is actually in my interest (that is if my interest is in growing the site and making the best site possible for members) to listen to members and consider their input .
This is an important point. Members do not directly make site decisions however the input of members, their thoughts, their views, their criticism, directly feeds into the decision making process and is an integral part of it. And further it is in the sites interest to carefully consider and act upon the information and needs that are brought forward.
Now where this can introduce friction is that it is not based on votes, it is not majority rules, it is not transparent (in the sense that 51 members say do x and 50 say y thus we do x). However, the purpose of taking consideration on board is to carefully weigh that advice and make a final decision based on this. That means if any member looks at the site and says hey I've got a clever idea that will help us all in what we need to do - they don't need to go around stumping up votes - rather all they need to do is come to the Comments forum and make a good argument as to why the site should do that. It's the quality and depth of criticism and advice that is going to make a difference, not the number of people that happen to agree at that point.
Further, the implicit agreement between members and myself is that there is an expectation I will make decisions that are positive for the site as a whole. If I fail to do this then members can exercise their power and leave. This means that sometimes a member may really really really passionately believe in their idea or criticism but I may decide not to follow that advice/criticism. As the decisions are made for the site on a whole as judged by myself this may be frustrated for an individual, however they still have their right to exercise which is (a) trust the judgement of myself or (b) leave the site.
That's about it really. Hopefully that helps to explain how the site works, how important member feedback is to the decision making process and why decisions may not always accord with the feedback received.