Thank you Pieter, this is a very interesting subject to raise. And I feel I must comment as I am one of those who a couple of days ago changed their signature to a lobbying one as you can see below. I wasn't sure it was a good idea to do it but decided to for a short time because I couldn't see what, if anything, was being done on my particular area of concern.
In some ways a feature auction is a good idea in that if people like me really really need a feature they should be prepared to pay towards it, it will bump it up the to do list and it will help Wikidot's revenue which then helps us all. The private category feature is potentially worth quite a bit of money to me in that I could start to deliver the joint website/intranet sites which quite a few companies over the last few weeks have told me they want in order to reduce the cost of having 2 sites to develop and maintain. It is something that would take Wikidot ahead of its competitors by some margin. I will give some thought to how much I would/will pledge for it.
But the worrying aspect is that those who can't afford to pledge a large amount might think their genuine needs are being put to the back of the list. There would need to be careful management of this to ensure that feature requests with a high vote count but a low dollar amount do still get attention from the developers.
So I'm sitting on the fence here.
Actually we might not need to go down the auction route if we had a clearer idea of what features are being worked on, what phase of development each one is at (alpha, beta, RC, dead-in-the-water etc) and what the current anticipated go-live date is. That would take care of some of the lobbying. Personally I have very little idea of which features are actively being developed, which ones have been promoted or have dropped down or off the list. We get occasional little nuggets of information on the various forums which sometimes give a hint to what the developers are working on, and this was the case with private categories in a forum post you made Pieter on 11 August, but with no follow-up and no master list to consult I don't know whether anything has happened on this in the last 6 weeks. And the clock is ticking on a contract I've won that needs this. The Pro site wishlist is basically a waste of time as it never seems to be updated and again there is no indication that anything is actually being done on any of the wishes. It seems to have been replaced by the weneed list but we don't know how that list is used within Wikidot and, again, there is no status reporting.
So I'm going to come down off the fence and say please don't set up a feature auction, instead set up a proper wishlist reporting tool which you or one of the team, Rainey perhaps, updates each week giving current progress and status on every wish in the weneed list. I might not be pleased to see where private categories are on the development list but at least I would know the current status without having to ask or to lobby.