We've now devoted a month to looking at where we've been during the past five years, and where we might be going in the future.
I hadn't paid too much attention to the site's numbers before writing the introductory essay, but that seems to have gotten me into a mindset of looking at them. I was kind of surprised to see the number of messages posted to the discussion of this Salon - there are about 150 (an average of 5 a day). It was also surprising to see their scope - they include a substantial digression into Belouch group prayer rugs, for instance.
We got significant constructive criticism from several participants. One suggested that we allow users to upload image files. If I could be sure we could prevent mischief, I'd put it into place. It would make things easier for the users and it would save Filiberto and me the time we use in resizing and uploading images for others. For now, at least, adopting it looks too risky.
We had some conversations about how to attract more participants from the pool of readers. It appears that this will happen gradually, and we have no good methods to accelerate the process.
I raised the matter of the relatively small number of people who prepare Salon essays. The more people there are doing this, the more varied and interesting the scope of this site will be. The Salon format seems to be working rather well, though, and the Show and Tell forum complements it very nicely.
We had a brief discussion of the line between moderating messages and censorship, and the consensus seems to be that we are not too far off (if at all) the goal of moderating just to the point of maintaining civility and preventing the site from becoming a venue for promotional material.
To everyone who participated, I thank you for your thoughtful input. With luck, we'll go through this exercise five years from now. It will be interesting to see how things change.