The OP brings up some interesting points. Sorry to bring this back to the topic, but perhaps Joe and Michael could start another thread about their issue. :)
Will Fly said:"So where will we all be in ten years' time - assuming we're still here - and what will Mudcat look like as the membership subtly changes? Was it all very "cosy" ten years ago - cosier and friendlier and more of a community than now - and, that's the case, will it be even less friendly and cosier in the future?"
I'm thinking that the core strength, "cosier and friendlier" if you like, comes from there being a vital reason for interacting. I've been involved in numerous communities since Fidonet and early mailing lists. I think the ones which are vibrant and friendly are the ones where the participants are actively learning. There are questions to ask, to be answered, and exchanges of value. Two contemporary examples are the FreeBSD forum and the Vintage Computer Forum. These are strong communities which exist for a reason, and have interaction outside of the board.
Is it possible that the interaction here is becoming less relevant with time? I see good questions about songs and history being posted, and excellent ensuing discussion, but with less younger people participating I wonder if this aspect can be sustained. In the world of computers there is much for young people to learn from veterans and when you have a mix (as on the VCF) there is a strong community. Here, where it seems there is a lot of reliving of older events by those who were there, I become worried that what I'm seeing is a sign of changing times with less relevance. In my mind there is no doubt about this board being a great resource, and continuing to be so, but the ability of the "cosy community" to sustain itself is indeed in question.