That explains a lot of the under story. Thanks, osso.
I do think the tenor of the site has changed but I don't think it's because of the new format. Some in this thread have said they post less because there are fewer interesting topics. I agree. But, why is that? I don't think it's the format but I do think it's because the trolls and the bullies (even the popular ones) run rampant over many of what could be interesting topics.
Questions tend to come from newbies and, more often than not, they or their questions are mocked and ridiculed before they get a reasonable answer. Discussions turn to inane name calling that shuts down any interest from anyone not wanting to sling mud. Both result in a lack of growth of new "regular" members. Those of us who prefer to have discussions and answer questions wont get embroiled in the mess and end up reading more than responding.
So, if I don't think the difference is the format then what is it? As strange as it may sound I think it's the fact that noddy isn't here keeping an eye on the behavior of the regulars and welcoming the newbies. She was often one of the first three responses to any newbie (outside of politics), if not the first. She encouraged discussion and set a warm, welcoming tone. Hers was also the master of quietly, but very emphatically, letting someone know when they were out of line - especially one of the popular trolls. She didn't get involved in the politics threads - I think she left those open as fair game - but soz, nimh, joe, thomas and others would keep the discussions going on those threads so that they didn't get overrun. They all seem to be here less now as well - a function, I think, of the blog sites opening.
A2K is different, both in format and form. We're asked to police ourselves now. That means different things to different people. But just as the bully in the playground will be given wide birth by those who would rather not be troubled, the troll and the bully in the forum will find themselves talking to other trolls and bullies.