And I'd "Ignore" topics, too. But that's hardly intuitive. People will have to learn how to make this work for them. And I think a lot of us won't ever figure it out.
I have faith that they'll figure it out. Red thumb down: bad! You already know how to use it despite your doubts. ;-)
About the ability to turn off the other people's effect on you, you wrote:
Again, that's not intuitive. Most people won't get it. Or we'll forget.
If you are concerned with what others will do I'm not sure how happy you'll be in such a hyper-personalized environment, there's just not that much top-down control so it's going to be very different from person to person. But if your concern is the effect on you I am confident that you can figure out how to make it work for you if you try.
Do we still have mods? (I hope so!)
Yes, but the hand picked part may change for scaling as well, and there might be user participation in the selection process. That's all far away and very undefined so I'll leave it at that but put it this way: the quality came at an extreme cost in quantity. A few busy mods and we were basically modless and it would have collapsed without change in the process anyway.
Ah! I have power! (Nice touch.)
Honestly, I don't think this system is intuitive, and I think you'll have to keep explaining it ad nauseum, and a bunch of folks will still never get it. But we'll see.
It really depends on who you ask. There is a generation of web users who have used these tools on rising social networks. For example, I believe the voting images were copied from Youtube, and the self-managed community movement has been going on for years.
Hell, even old dinosaurs like slashdot gave it their try. If you ever heard about "web 2.0" this is one of the things people used that vague label for. Those people often find all of this intuitive. Many here are new to it.
I don't think everyone needs to get it for it to be useful to those who do, but I do think that anyone who wants to get it can, and that we'll do very well at tweaking the UI to make it more intuitive. This is still rough, for example we have a graphic artist making the images for the voting badges. Right now it's using the "programmer" version of the design where we just give it a border and color through css.
We'll make it as intuitive as we can, but it's an optional part of the site anyway and users can get as into it as they want without getting too far in the way of the core posting/replying features.