Lots of great suggestions and thoughts in this thread. I haven’t read every single post but from those I have read, I hope some ideas will get implemented.
However, I’d like to talk about this thing called rep since its causing quite a stir in the community. Honestly, its really not hard to understand the ebbs and flows of rep and why it shows up. Despite accusations being thrown my way every now and then, I agree with most that its gotten quite out of hand recently but I have my theory about that which I’ll mention later.
Anyways, keep rep or lose it is ultimately upto the powers that be. But here's what I know about it -
Rep has often been a source of contention here at GOG and for the most part, the people who talk about it publicly are mainly those who play the “victim” card and think in their heads that they've done nothing wrong and someone(s) in the community has it out for them for no reason. To me though, rep has always been pretty easy to understand.
Everyone seems to have their own personal views on when to hit the +/- buttons that give or take rep from somebody else. With a system like this, no one is going to agree upon how and when it should be used.
Personally, I use it to uprep valid generosity and downrep constant and unmistakable greed. I’m not the only one who uses it for this purpose. When I say “valid” generosity, I mean people who give with nothing expected in return: Xyem, Ian, dampsquid, Tarnicus, Azrael, Homer, K1269, wpegg, rodzaju, et al that I missed.
I don't confuse valid generosity with other forms of generosity, namely those who drop used codes or those who recycle won/ninja keys only to “give” them away again at a later date to appear generous when all they’re doing is taking advantage of another’s generosity to mislead the rest of the community by portraying themselves as giving back. Its quite easy to manipulate this type of deception and judging by many of the comments when this happens, it works quite well. Its not that hard to see who these people are if you've spent any sort of time on the forums, in those respective threads. I have no concrete proof of this other than watching their behavior, how they conduct themselves and being confident with my ability to judge character.
Spartan17 was one such individual I got a bad feeling about the moment he started to post here. He eventually got the attention of others and his account started to get downrepped but I'm guessing he's back with another alias because as I've said over and over, the allure of free games here is greater than anywhere else on the internet (as far as I know). And with increased popularity and publicity, more and more have been joining - just look at all the new people in the ninja thread.
As to downrepping. After participating in the ninja and the gifting threads way back when, and under the impression that the GOG community was no doubt the finest gaming community in all the world, I began to notice that there is a seedy underbelly within it. Someone took advantage of me and others during the holiday sale 2012 for me to become aware of it. It is the internet after all and these things happen but to have it happen here really really bothered me. At the time, I wasn't as proficient in calling out bad behavior and gift abuse as I am now :) but I should have made it a bigger deal than letting it blow over.
From that point on, I began noticing trends within the community. Some people day after day, week after week, always wanting more and more games and living inside any thread on GOG where a possible code or free game might drop. Jumping into any new post and if a game had been offered (even in a random thread), refreshing constantly and posting immediately to get that game. The same people asking for a free game anytime GOG had a promo or Steam had a promo and posting that it’s a game they've long since wanted or some excuse of why they couldn't afford it. (Heck, one guy was asking for a game he couldn't afford while saying in the same post how much he and his girlfriend were enjoying holiday in America). How the hell could every single new and different sale bring about a game you wanted, no matter the genre, no matter the age or the platform or anything. Obviously, its worked before. Hell, it worked on me. But they know it worked on me so they look for another unsuspecting sort the next time and then the next time and so on. This is why they keep doing it, and why they stay on GOG. Its not for the great community they espouse. Its simply because they can continue to be gifted from any number of people who want to believe the GOG community is the most generous and the best in the internet world. The community does stand apart but its that type of thinking that’s allowed the greed to prosper because no one gets called out on it the way they would on other internet gaming forums, where there generally is moderation, either from mods or from the member community. I’m positive if these leeches didn't have the sheer abundance of free game opportunities here on GOG and be allowed to do so time after time, they would have moved on long ago and not cared one iota about this community.
(I would really like to see a stat on the number of free games some forum members have gotten here as opposed to spent their own money here. Some have taken to say the downrepping is bad for GOG's business but its not like they themselves are actually spending money with GOG that there would a noticeable change in GOG's bottom line. I can think of at least 5 people right off who have at least 50 games here and whose collections are at least 90-95% freebies (some get at least 5-10 free games a week and never spend a cent here!). They are not supporting GOG and are simply leeching from and constantly kissing up to those who actually do support GOG and bundle sites.)
So, to continue, quite a while ago, these people who lived every waking moment in the gifting and ninja threads started to get downrepped. These people gave no appearance of ever playing the dozens and in some cases the hundreds of free games they've garnered from GOG members because they were still ALWAYS here, not wanting to miss out on the next freebie or asking for something in the next promo.
Then, people started to publicly say things like "why are people downrepping when all I'm doing is asking for a game". Or "at least have the guts to say why you downrepped instead of hiding behind a - button". I thought it was obvious why they were getting downrepped but I answered. For better or worse it was a comical reaction. I gave them a reason, I told them why, and I quickly get accused of doing nothing else with my time other than making as many fake accounts as I could to downrep everyone that I don't like here.
I even said to show me a downrepped post and I'll explain exactly why it was downrepped. Disappointingly, no one did this and to this day I still get accused and am thought of as one of the ones who wants to stop gifting on GOG and wants to downvote everyone in the gifting threads into oblivion. How people equate being intolerant of excess greed and wanting to stop all generosity is beyond me. But victims will play any card they can when called out on their own bad behavior.
Anyways, I'm getting tired of typing and many have already stopped reading.
To summarize, the +/- buttons have a place here. But yes, currently as it stands, it is being abused. My theory on that is those who have been downrepped are the instigators of this current downrep spree that is happening. The greedy ones, the scammers, the people who are just here to get free games with no reciprocation just want to hide out and be free to garner as many free games as they want w/o having a negative number attached to their name. Everyone and I do mean everyone who has gone negative has done so for a valid reason. Its just because a big bunch of them showed up recently around the same timeframe and all started talking about rep and why theirs kept going down is why rep has become such a hot topic here. I'm pretty certain that they themselves are going on these downrep sprees. What better way to try to get rid of the one impediment to their greed than to make it look like its gone out of control. What better way than to point out, "see, it is being abused, look at azrael and blakstar and dischord, and all these gifters being downrepped! The horror! We must get rid of rep!!".
GOG has full transparency to see who is actually downrepping in these sprees and of the generous gifters here and I'm so certain that the greedy contingent are themselves behind the wave of downrepping that's been happening here lately. It draws attention away from themselves and tries to shift the focus to some other invalid reason. Its not a coincidence the timing of these downrep sprees and the large amount of people who recently showed up here started to publicly express anger and frustration with their downrepped situations.
But I tell you what, if rep goes away and there continues to be no moderation on these forums, the wakalo's, the spartans, the maestros, and a huge amount of others who aren't as bad but greedy just the same will multiply and propagate on these forums. Gifting definitely has a place here, its what made GOG as great as it is but its being taken advantage of and has been on that downward slope for a while now. Especially when those who currently act as the voice of the community-at-large allow the bad behavior to continue and at times support it.
Stop being excessively greedy, stop taking advantage of other forum members and your downrepping will stop (yes, even those of you who started to do it years ago and are better able to hide it due to your higher rep numbers). It honestly and really is that freaking simple.