I found the previous writeup a bit disappointing. Not because I disagreed with it, but because it wasn't very well done. E2 is all about writing, creating, and communicating, and it was not a good example of that. So...
The Other Users nodelet shows you all of the other users on-line. You would expect this to be a pretty straight-forward function, but there has been a ongoing kerfluffle over the correct way to order Other Users. Originally, it was ordered by who had the most xp -- whoever had the most was on top. Later on (years ago) it was changed to random order, and then still later, it was changed to be ordered by who had posted a writeup most recently.
As far as I am concerned, the Other Users sidebar is but a dim grey light on the gigantic control panel facing users, a control panel crowded with a multitude of brightly colored flashing lights. It is probably the last thing that they bother about. While I do like that it is no longer random, and I agree that ordering it by xp would be one good way of doing it, I do not think that it is an important issue. However, since this is important to many people, here is a general overview.
Ordered by XP
Pro: xp does measure something, and, if we have the site set up correctly, it is measuring something of real worth -- a user's experience on the site, which should be correlated with general knowledge about E2 and its expectations. You can't get a high rep if you don't get E2. Con: There are a number of users who have high xp because they have been posting lower-quality writeups for years, or who posted writeups that were well-loved a decade ago, but are not really in line with what we expect from an E2 node today. The site changes too fast, and an ancient M-noder may not know any more about what is going on with the site today than either a decade-long lurker OR an observant new user.
Pro: There is no real pro, other than discouraging people from taking Other Users too seriously. Con: If we are going to have Other Users, it's nice to have it contain more information, rather than less.
Ordered by the Last Writeup Posted
Pro: This encourages those who watch Other Users to node lots of stuff, and we want people to node lots of stuff. Con: The last person to post a writeup is right there on the new writeups sidebar. This isn't really a new source of information, it's just there for the bragging rights. And we don't really want Other Users to be about bragging rights, do we? And if we do, shouldn't you have something better to brag about than 'I posted a writeup'?
Ordered by Contribution to the Site
Pro: This would get back to the original ideal, but find a way around the traps inherent to xp. Con: We don't really have a good way to measure recent overall contributions to the site. Perhaps the last person to get a C! should be at the top? Those with a writeup in the Cream of the Cool? Perhaps it could be sorted by reputation of most recent writeup? Perhaps sanctifications? Any of these would target good E2 participation skills better than the current system -- but all of them would leave someone unhappy.
Ordered by Usefulness:
Pro: if the Other Users is intended to help new users find help and inspiration, perhaps Content Editors should always appear at the top, with the rest of the users ranked by the rep of their most recent writeup. This would give a good idea of who to look to for 1. help and 2. inspiration. Con: this is rather different than anything else we have done before, and limits most users ability to reach the top of the list.
Ordered by Alphabetical Order
Pro: a good, predictable, and easy to use ordering. It just makes sense to everyone. Con: this is rather different than anything else we have done before, and limits most users ability to reach the top of the list.
Ordered by Whatever You Want
Pro: You get what you want, by means of selecting your preferred options in user settings. Con: this would probably be hard to code, heavy to load, is rather different than anything else we have done before, and limits most users ability to reach the top of other user's lists.
However Other Users is done, it should be done for a clearly stated reason, and done in a way that will perform the stated function effectively. Any suggestions should focus on the how and the why, and should not focus on changing things back to the way they were in the hopes that everything will be just exactly the way it was.
Generally speaking, this sort of thing can go in suggestions for E2, rather than a letter to the editors. But this is a case of special interest to many noders, so the discussion was started here instead.