I've been continuing to read this thread and thinking a lot about the direction that BPL needs to head in now, especially since the focus on selling gear has gone. For my part as soon as I have more time after the summer vacation and beginning of the autumn semester teaching schedule, I'd like to offer something for the articles: trip reports, etc, and possibly, if it's accepted, a cartoon series.
One thing that has really stood out is the necessity to strengthen the community much further, to keep the interest up by participation rather than just passive reading. That means somehow providing platforms for members to contribute directly to the main site, rather than just the forums. The entire BPL website should grow into a worldwide community effort, with the emphasis on "community" rather than just a reader's educational site. There should be an element of fun and anticipation that lures people here and makes them feel they are part of something. There should still be an "experts'" section, but why not also a more visible members' photo gallery, or a MYOG workshop section with rotating instructors, or a podcast station with interviews of both famous ULers, but also of members, weekly or bi-weekly columns that are regularly and consistently published so that a following is built up and people look forward to the output of a popular writer or artist, a regular food and recipe section for a notoriously difficult subject in UL backpacking to get one's head around, or even a local chapters section where members can coordinate and set up BPL gatherings in the local areas, but managed under one roof.
The community is what makes BPL what it is. So much potential is lost by not fully recognizing that. Use its potential and energy. There's so much talent and knowledge among members. And so much knowledge that is forever lost because, 1) of the time sensitivity of forum posts 2) of the clunkiness of the forum search engine. That one single change, a better search engine, would transform the forums into a place of easily sought out wealth of knowledge.
But if members are going to be segregated and deprived of incentive and not given value for becoming members, what's the point? And if the leaders are unwilling or unable to see this, and don't want to participate in the group effort, then how can there be a revival of the spirit of the whole site? People need leadership and vision, but they also need to feel that they are actually doing something, too. Otherwise they are just spectators, and the initial dazzle eventually dies away with the same old same old.
What makes a group trip in the mountains so exciting and that entices people to come back again and again? If it's just the leaders having all the fun, then eventually the others will lose interest and go somewhere else. It's the same thing here. Appeal to the emotions, beyond just the intellect. Make it fun and exciting here. Create a sense of belonging.