I've been here for a few years and admined a few of those as well, and I'd like to touch base on the forums. The purpose of the forums, as far as I can tell, was the following: To create a backbone, a hub for people to gather and interact; to make it easy to have cross-community conversations; to organize activities; to keep an archive of our important and not-so-important dialog; to create a space for associates to be introduced to our community;and to make it easier to suss out candidates (both via their posts and comments). I may have missed one, but I think that's the general gist. To be honest, it's not great at those things anymore. I'm old enough to remember Usenet. I think a lot of older members are too. And yet I don't think a single one of us would be advocating for us to keep a MadCast Usenet Newsgroup as the central end-all-be-all of our community in the 21st century. Microsoft's Zone Arcade is gone. The world turns, time's change.
If I want to have a conversation with any Madcaster, Discord provides it. DM, Group Chat, or text channels- cross-community or not. I've stopped using PMs already. I go on the website every day to find things to read or comment on still because of habit, but I do 90% or more of my conversation on Discord. I don't think Discord has any meaningful disadvantage for organizing events, either- once people are taught where to look, it's fine at that too. To be frank, its likely superior at those things.
It is not, however, a useful onboarding experience to a community. It does not keep good logs and archives, and it does not provide a meaningful history for an individual user to help SFMs vote. Those are things that are important to our community. But look at the site today. The front page is, compared to the modern looks, busy and difficult to navigate. We have four categories, with 19 forums, and 33 sub-forums (not counting 11 archive forums and the admin forums). The forum is a busy mess full of a ton of splintered data everywhere. I don't know if there is a right answer for how to organize a multi-game community forum, but we've clearly found the wrong one.
Personally, I think we need to cut the chaff on the website. There needs to be like, 10 forums max, not 19, and we don't need 33 non-archival subforums basically ever. Or if we do, we need to have a Games Subforum area, and a 'Topical' Subforum area, where we can collapse the vast majority of these every now and then forums (like the tech forum, or a less popular game) into a side-bar on a specific forum. We just don't need the organization we have now for the size of our community, and for how much daily chit chat has migrated to discord.
If the website was slimmer and spiffier, it'd be a good place to A) onboard new people and B ) have these kinds of discussions. The last thing, candidates, is a bigger problem than I can address on my own. We've been letting candidate quality be a real fuzzy bar for years now. I mean no disrespect to anyone who wears tags- most people who don't fit tend to ship out or fade away or get themselves banned anyway- but the buck has to stop with SFMs. If you don't know in your heart that the candidate is up to snuff, say no. Make MadCast exclusive- don't say it is and then let in anybody who didn't fly off the handle at their first lost game of league or hots. I don't know if better quality candidate comments are the thing to aggressively push, or event participation, or what- forum is an objectively better record of all things including candidates, but I 100% do not consider the forum integral to the quality of our candidates because the quality of our candidates has been a running average that looks like a rollercoaster. If the forum isn't doing that job, I don't consider that a good argument for keeping it.