Even though my account doesn't show it I've been here since at least 1998 (I have actually tried to figure out when I started reading but I can't seem to nail it down more specifically than being here in 1998.) I'm a daily visitor, rarely missing a news update. Most days I'll stop by at least 3-4 times. Over the years we've had our ups and downs so far as comments and discussion go.
I remember when I used to use a script someone posted that could hide specific posters who we didn't want to have to read. There have been some real storms and wild personalities over the years. Things over the past decade have mostly mellowed out, but I'm of the opinion that the change is in part due to improved moderation, and then in a large part also because lots of people have been chased off. Moderation here is mostly good (and thanks to those who do that mostly thankless job!), but even good moderation doesn't solve issues with general lack of decency nor does efficient moderation inherently invite good conversation.
I feel that conversation sizes (i.e. stories with high comment counts) have for the most part tapered off, which is more or less consistent with these types of forums on most of the Internet, or at least I don't see the topics with over a hundred responses very often anymore. Maybe this is somewhat due to the posting culture here, but maybe it's just a sign of the times.
I have also noticed a lot of voices here silenced by intolerance. Some of them I agreed with, some of them I didn't. Dissenting opinions are rarely valued here. This doesn't make bluesnews unique in any way, as we all know this is the way of the Internet and most of the world right now. Few are those who are actually interested in conversing and expanding their ability to understand various sides of issues.
Historically I've never been a prolific poster because usually things I've thought to say or ask have already been said. However, that sentiment has diminished a lot the last 5 years or so. I'm not sure how feasible it would be to study such a thing, but I imagine a skilled analyst could discern a political trend or leaning of the remaining commenters here. It's not as open a forum as it once was. Some are probably happy with this; others, ordered content, have gone silent or left completely. I find myself regularly wanting to get involved in discussion, but past experience reminds me it will probably be more unpleasant than enlightening.
Overall it seems we discussed games less and other topics more. I prefer when bluesnews is foremost just a gaming community. I don't much care for politics in my games. That desire has become an increasingly difficult position to maintain. Everything these days is so polarized.
Regardless of all this, bluesnews remains one of the more civil sites I still visit. Kudos again to the moderators, and kudos also to all those who maintain their civility even when their opinions are challenged. I know I have lost my temper at times and embarrassed myself. Lots here have. It happens. Most of the time we seem to move on when these things happen.
I continue to read a lot of comments here, but many threads I only visit once, and after seeing the direction they are going I don't stop by again later on in the day to continue reading the responses because it's often clear regrets things are headed.
I didn't bother joining the Rittenhouse conversation. It was clear where that was headed from the first post. While I appreciate most everything Blue posts everyday, I do sometimes wonder if those sorts of stories are beneficial to the site at all.
I still love Bluesnews. I'll be really depressed if it every goes away. Seriously. It has a special place in my heart. Is it perfect? Nope. Has it been better at times? In some ways yes. But I still love being here most days. =P
edit: first post was from my phone. So much regret. haha. Primarily fixed typos.