Moderation, dedication, and an unpayable debt to the volunteers who keep this site at an astounding level of quality.
The 'radical' idea that all ideas are welcome, so long as they are worded with decorum and respect.
The passion and enthusiasm of the users from pollinators to first time posters is evident.
These are ingredients in Permies.com's success. Leavened with long hours and I'm sure, money.
Paul. I've worked for organizations where 'company' finances are an off-limits subject, I've also worked where the staff are fully aware of the bottom line and financial health of the company they work for. I've always found that the open book organizations have more buy-in and participation from their employees... In cases where the money news is not looking so great, the self-interested and moochers tend to flee, it's almost a self regulating system.
Your system of rewards for quality participation are right out of the social media playbook, but not in their narcissistic vein. Getting Apples (or pie!) instead of 'likes' or 'views' feels more tangible and more like a true reward rather than a shared opinion circle-jerk.
I came to Permies for the quality of information, I've stayed because of the community; but it's not a tight knit group of auto-diktats telling the world how to be 'perfect'; like they are. It's a diversity of opinion and thought that weaves the strength into the fabric of Permies, as rough and homespun as it sometimes is.
Inclusion, diversity, openness, civil discourse... we the world are thirsty for these things, whether we know it or not.