Some good points Nick.
Here is my 2CW.
To me the BPL forum is not what BPL is about, while the forum is important it is the actual magazine that is most important to me and is why I am a member, it is the gear reviews, most of which are without peer, especially Wills and Rogers scientific approach to testing, it is the trip reports most of which are in areas that a lot of us can only dream of going to, it is the MYOG articles, most of which are inspiring and makes me want to make all of my own gear.
BPL is the only magazine that is willing to publish truthful reviews about crappy gear, that is because they do not have any fear of having some their advertising revenue pulled and I think some here on BPL forget that BPL main stream of revenue is from membership which allows them to do this and without this members revenue BPL may cease to exist. Australian bushwalking magazines are so frightened of upsetting there advertisers that their reviews are pure rubbish, the so called reviews, are obviously written by the advertiser itself and are just another name for advertising feature.
These days a large part of the BPL forum is Chaff and I do not read it and I do not want to read it, as far as I am concerned Chaff is a total waste of my bandwidth and if I could I would like to be able to turn Chaff off. I also think that sections of the BPL forum should be restricted to non-members, the Editors Roundtable and member’s trip reports should be members only.
As far as I am concerned the survival of BPL is the most important, and it has to do what it has to do to survive, as long as BPL does not loose its honesty with gear reviews, I am all for BPL making changes to help it to keep being the best backpacking magazine around.