In the most recent example of the power of the OBTs, version 7 of the site layout has been pre-released to the OBTs. Many of them found exception to the lack of customisable buttons in the top menus. A couple of days later, the deviantART logo drop-down menu had customisable buttons for quicker access to different parts of the website. What the OBTs said directly affected the site's appearance and features.
Also during the Beta Testing of v7, the OBTs pointed out the lack of an arrow next to the deviantART logo drop-down menu and the fact that invisible reply buttons might be difficult for the newer users. Both of these features were promptly edited. The dA staff listened and followed through on what the OBTs said.
Official Beta Testers aren't the only people that the dA staff listens to, though. Every deviant on the site has a voice, whether they have a premium membership or not. Most deviants would reference the oh-so-recent switch up of the resizing feature change that deviantART made, but dA's ears stretch much further back than that.
There was a time when non-Premium Members (to date this, they were called "non-subscribers" at the time) did not have nearly as many features as they have now. Most websites would be okay with this, as these are members of the site who do not pay for services. Typically, those are the members with the least amount of features. dA, on the other hand, listened to the wants of its non-paying members and added some features that were previously solely for the Premium Members.
This led to a chain reaction of the Premium Members voicing opinions about paying for things they could get for free. The dA staff listened and added more features that were available for the Premium Members. In this situation, both paying and non-paying members of the site affected directly how the site works.
Some people may even remember a time when userpages all looked exactly the same. There was one piece of art that you could display separately, there was a small gallery preview, a journal, favourites, deviantID, friends, and a recent visitor section. There was no customising to of which to speak. The userpages were set up one specific way and everyone's page looked just like the last. Over time, deviants persisted in telling the staff that they would much rather prefer to customise their pages, and why not? This is an art site, after all. These are very creative people who do not like being reigned in by limitations! Lo and behold, deviantART released customisable pages.
A large portion of the dA community has for quite some time been involved in gathering members who enjoy similar things in what were previously known as "clubs". There were no special features associated with clubs, they were just basic dA accounts that numerous people had the password to. There were no special features enabled to help the club staff and club members be on the same page, plan things in private, or send out messages to all of the members. dA was aware of this and listened to the needs of community, releasing Groups, which allows for separate log-ins, a backroom with forums and a member-only blog, a public blog, customisable front pages, and much more. The very large percentage of dA spoke and the staff listened closely. To add, while using Groups, there were a few immediate problems that people came across and dA has gladly altered these features to better suit the needs of the Groups.
There was a time when a scam artist had found a way to get usernames and passwords from deviants by linking them to a site that told them they had been logged out of their dA accounts. If they just simply re-entered their usernames and passwords, they would be let back on the site. This of course led to people losing their accounts. dA saw what was happening and implemented a warning for links that led to offsite pages.
Now, to date, there have been at least three hot button issue changes that have caused uproar outside of the resizing issue. Overtime, dA has changed the Mature Content filter, Share links on deviations, and how the message centre works, most notably the Stacks feature, without warning the dA population. On most sites, this would be an atrocity. For example, Facebook changed the entire layout of the site without warning, people complained, and nothing changed. dA is different.
The Mature Content filter caused quite a few of the younger deviant population to complain because they could no longer view certain deviations that they could in the past. There were some mature deviations that were less severe and the filter was just there to serve as a warning to the younger audiences. dA removed the warning altogether and blocked all under 18 users from viewing any content with a filter. After listening to the complaints of the users, dA switched to a more user-friendly set-up where the artist could choose between a warning and a strict mature content filter.
Another feature that deviants were not warned about was the Share links on deviation pages. These are a feature that allow other deviants to link to your deviation on sites such as Facebook instead of people copying and pasting pictures to their Facebook galleries to share with friends, essentially (even if not on purpose) taking credit for the work. There were some deviants who would have rather not liked this feature to be used on their deviations at all, and dA removed it as a compulsory feature, allowing the artist to have the choice to switch Share links on and off.
The message centre is a second home for a lot of deviants. One can view deviations, replies, comments, journals, polls and other things from here quite easily. Over the years, deviants have always wanted a better way to do all of this. Recently, dA released a feature it believed would help with this in Stacks. Stacks simply group all of the deviations, journals, etc from one person in a group for easier viewing/deleting. When it was first released, there was no way to turn this feature off. Some deviants were not very fond of the Stacks feature and so voiced their opinions. Now there's a button to turn Stacks off, not just for the entire message centre, but for each segment.
To conclude, the dA staff is filled with people who love the site with hearts of gold. They would never do anything to harm an artist's rights because they themselves are artists. They believe that there is always room for improvement and go out of their way to make deviantART the best website it can be for its purposes. This may occasionally tread on some toes, but the staff has shown countless amounts of times that they are willing to listen to those who have been hurt and make appropriate changes to better benefit everyone.
The next time a new feature is implemented, before you go write nasty comments on a staff member's page, take some time to think about what exactly they have done for you. Before you threaten to deactivate your account, take a deep breath. I'm not saying you shouldn't voice your opinion. I'm saying you should take the time to calmly collect your thoughts and write them out in a constructive fashion. Staff members are people, too. They have feelings. Be considerate of that fact and dA will always take care of you.