All good points Max. The core issue is clearly the trust-factor with the small handful of moderators who get to handpick items to get promoted to the homepage. A more specific FAQ that outlines the steps or at least guidelines as to what factors those people take on board that qualifies them to select one startup over another, would help.
My takeaway from Ryan Hoover’s message was not a PR deflection stunt however, I think you’ve mis-read into it. It’s clear that Ryan doesn’t HAVE the solution yet. And he’s trying to make the point that PH is about community. It’s how the whole site started, and it’s what powers it. So he’s put the e-mail to contact with ideas, and doing that live call on Dec 29th is him saying that he wants to hear from the community, hear all our ideas and points, and then he’ll take all the feedback on board.
It would be foolish of him to jump to conclusions so quickly after ONE article criticizing the site became viral. That was one person’s opinions. If he pulled a knee-jerk reaction to every negative opinion of his site, it would be redesigned almost daily lol.
The move of putting all the cards on the table, admitting that there is a problem, and then turning to the community for ideas I think is the smart move.
The solution is still to come.