There are far too few people watching the 'new' feed now. Isn't there some way to improve the incentives on issuing the first few votes?
Making the "new" link on the header bar much more prominent?
Democracy says that this place is peopled with hackers and if the hacker citizens upvote a story then it is, ipso facto, of interest to hackers.
Mobocracy says that demi-hackers trickle in and start upvoting stories and posting comments that attract quasi-hackers. The quasi-hackers then attract non-hackers and you eventually no longer have a narrow community. The stories that appeal to the lowest common denominator then rise to the top, due to sheer statistics.
1. Not all hackers share the same interests. Just 'cause some hackers upvoted a story doesn't imply that the story is of interest to (1) hackers as a category, or even (2) the hacker community found at Hacker News. You're conflating two uses of the word 'hackers' with your "ipso facto": one referring to a specific subset of hackers, the other referring to hackers as a whole.
2. Mobocracies are just democracies characterized by unruliness and impulsiveness: it's perfectly feasible to have a mobocracy composed entirely of hackers. You don't need demi- or quasi-hackers to cause the problems we've been seeing, and it's not clear that this is in fact the cause for deterioration in relevance of submitted stories. I wouldn't be surprised if most of it comes from hackers who just aren't being thoughtful about what they submit.
Personally, I reserve a down vote for comments that are particularly stupid of 4chan-y.
I too wanted to comment on the salmon is/are thing. I enjoy the vagaries of all languages, programming or otherwise.
i think our original community values are getting diluted.
This is the community, if one exists that has the ability to create the technical hacks necessary to create social change. We can create tools/systems to solve problems like these, e.g., measuring externalized costs that prices do not/cannot account for. Until we more accurately represent costs/effects in our behaviors/purchases, it will be difficult to effectively promote positive behavior, i.e., solving the big problem.
(Move along. Nothing to see here. All of you redders and diggers can go back home now.)