I like what you guys are trying to establish. I also believe that the negativity is driving some people away from writing more extensively. A couple of suggestions:
1) Create a seperate forum strictly for individuals that want to have their writing critiqued (or to help critique others). Access to the forum could be made by request to admin, and monitored by admin. Anybody crosses the line, they get banned from the forum. That way only people interested in being critiqued from a journalistic point of view would be involved. The understanding is that comments in there are more of a clinical nature.
2) Push more member articles to the front page. I enjoyed the article about the guy and his annual pack of cards. You might see more in-depth writing from members if the "carrot" was a little more pub.
3) You could create a "Blogger of the Week". Every week pick somebody who has been blogging semi-regularly, ask them a few canned questions to show people what they are all about, and put in on the front page. Again, would give individuals more publicity and a louder voice.
4) A "Question of the Day" thread would give your regular debaters something to, well, debate about on a regular basis.
Thanks guys and keep up the great work!
#1 - I'm not sure exactly how to make that work, but the point is taken. Though I really believe that if done right, criticism is welcomed.
#2 - Agree. That would be part of our goal of this club.
#3 - Good idea
#4 - Another good idea, but I would put it on the forums.