re: Points policy change thoughts
First of all, thank you for this wonderful community you have created and all of the thought you put into keeping it active, fair and healthy!
I like the system the way it is. My decrease in mooching is due to three factors I don't think you can fix- a lot of the books I want are simply not available, I am behind on my reading, and my inventory is not in demand. I was much more active in the beginning as my high demand books were mooched immediately. Now things have slowed as quite frankly, my better books have been snatched up already. The initial points are part of what got me into the program! Perhaps if necessary, you could cap the initial freebees at 5 points, or only x number of points for listing inventory per month. I have never had more than 20 points hanging around at a time, so I do not understand how could anyone wind up with 200 points in reserve. When I have extra points I am more willing to squander them on a book I would not otherwise want, but part of my willingness is knowing I can get points for re-listing it when I am done with it.
I echo the sentiment against the sliding scale mooches. Rarely do I find more then two books I want from the same person, although I do look. Bundling more books together is more economical, but they are still heavier and it still costs more, so I would want 1 full point for each book I send.
I would not be against a yearly "tax" on long standing members to keep things going, or splitting the point received to .5 for marking it sent, .5 for it making it to its destination.
I have been vexed by abandoned or inactive accounts that have books I want- they keep coming up as available and it is cruel that I cannot have them! I think putting people on hold after 3 months of no activity at all, and having a way to report abuse of the system would help. Perhaps limit the number of mooches a new member can request until they have built up some positive feedback.
I think the most prudent course would be to not make any big changes to the points economy at first and start with incentive programs- perhaps extra points for speedy mailing and recruiting new members ( hopefully with higher demand books!), with a better recommending system. I have mooched a lot of books from the recently added widget that caught my eye, but were not on my wish list. Perhaps choose a few users or genre each week to "spotlight". This would get things moving a bit. Live journal has a spotlight sidebar that loads when you log in. They choose a few communities to promote and drum up a little traffic for something that has been overlooked.
It could be fun to have "biography month" or "fun trashy read month" and let people submit a book or two each from their inventory with a short teaser to entice moochers to try something new, and have it under "browse-> monthly highlights"