I’d say this is more a decision for the F-Droid community, than the team. Sure, I have more access to F-Droid systems than most, but I do not want to do anything regarding tracking without a feeling that there is a consensus on the topic.
So I agree both with the principle that F-Droid should never track users. I also agree that usage statistics can be quite useful. I believe it is possible to have both at the same time, but it is not easy to do. I do think it would be quite valuable since F-Droid could serve as a model to the internet as a whole for how to get usage statistics without tracking any users.
For anyone who wants to work on figuring out private ways of generating usage statistics, I think the place to start is looking at the issues mentioned at the beginning. For example, set up a test based on the data following this setup https://gitlab.com/fdroid/admin/issues/37 I think it is possible to derive something that could be called “Trending” based on that download count data alone.
There is then another issue of whether we really want to make the user experience use all these tactics to “drive adoption” or “increase engagement”. Those kinds of things lead to pointlessly additive software, from the user point of view. Google Play and iTunes push ever more apps since they take a 30% of all sales. F-Droid does not, so we have the luxury of considering the user above all. The developers who ship apps in F-Droid are some of those users as well.
F-Droid is an open ecosystem, so I think it is OK to make download count data available that is confirmed to be anonymous. Then people who are interested can use it. People who want a user experience based on this data can easily make a fork.