From time to time, people complain that unpopular suggestions on Meta get effectively censored by downvoting: questions with a net score under -7 vanish from the front page. Most recently Nicol Bolas:
The problem is that, on polarized topics, fast mass downvoting can quash any idea that is not popular with the most active members. After all, the most active members are the ones who are most likely to be online and see it. If a bunch of MSO regulars see it and downvote it, it goes away.
now, I'm not sure I agree there really is a problem here. Most -8 suggestions I've seen were beyond saving, no matter how long it would have been on the front page. By and large, I think the system works.
However, it's impossible to deny that the existing vote count on a feature request prejudices people, and there are some really bizarre voting patterns from time to time - ie. it sometimes feels like there's a fair portion of people who won't actually read a contribution before voting on it; much less think about it. Also, the -8 "censorship" will always be an argument for those who claim things aren't entirely democratic around here.
Hence my suggestion is this. On Meta, give new feature request some protection for the first 24 or, better, 48 hours of their existence, namely:
do not push them off the front page because of their downvotes, or raise the downvote threshold
0instead of the request's vote count. When the users clicks on the
0, they see a "vote count visible in x hours" banner.
If a question gets closed, it loses all protection immediately.
for the truly harmful content, some other mechanism could be used for quality control: For example, closing a question could remove it for the front page. Really egregious suggestions are usually shut down as "not constructive" anyway.
What good I think this would do:
It would recognize the poll character that these feature requests have.
Suggestions going against our Meta groupthink have a fair chance, and can no longer complain about unfair treatment.
People would be further encouraged to think before they vote.
For this to work, any rep gain or loss would have to be hidden for the first 24 or 48 hours as well - otherwise you could see how the question is doing just by looking at the OP's reputation graph. - or not, as suggested by Michael Mrozek: if somebody really wants to find out how the question is doing, let them troll the OP's profile. Just hide the vote count from plain sight, which probably also makes it much easier to implement this.