I think this would be an important improvement to the Ardupilot community. Unfortunately I think the nature of the beast does not lend itself. I think the people who have spent the effort to learn Ardupilot have a significant investment in the community even if they have never “given back”. I think because of this investment, as well as additional time spend helping others, testing code and hardware etc, should justify a “user advisory panel”.
The devs are smart capable people but they live in their own world. GIT is probably a terrific programmer tool but it creates a block for casual user contributions that is significantly reducing the effectiveness of a community with lots of volunteers contributing. As lordneeko pointed out the documentation editing system is barbaric. Something a programmer would come up with.
But to change these things would require a major contribution by a “civilian” to create a better documentation system and to manage a fair but organized user feedback system. Which would not be a minor effort to just bereferee to a large group of users with wildly differing needs. As an example I have zero interest in a change to Mission Planner. I really like it just like it is. But I would really like and need UAVCVAN/UC4H support. I have zero interest in racing drones and think it is a waste of dev time to play in that sandbox. Everyone’s needs are different. Who is going to run the "House Sub-committee on drone enhancements"and advance certain ones to the floor.
Then no matter what users want they may not get it because the resources, both money and people, along with some self interest may get in the way. The development process is, and always has been, influenced by moneyed interests. 3DR contributed a lot in the beginning to make what Chris envisioned happen. So each dev is driven by what they are interested in, what they can get paid to do and then some vague sense of what the whole group of devs think. There are politics internally, as there are in every group of humans, with conflicting interests.
But I personally believe that the commercial world is leaving Ardupilot in the dust because Ardupilot is so focused on porting flight controller code that the usefulness of the eco-system is being reduced. I just picked up a Parrot anafi which at 320g can fly 25minutes in 30 mph winds. HD video to the smartphone on the ground, 4K recording, 180deg pitch gimbal with Mission control and simultaneous rc controller override during missions. Optical/gps follow me on a 30mph vehicle. 3x zoom camera. It can automatically take and stitch 360deg panoramas etc etc
I could not build an Ardupilot based aircraft with anything close to those specs at anything close to the price. A lot of the features would not be possible at all.
My two cents