a very good Question, that also touches on the root cause of what i'm talking about...
so let's take your Question and add to it the Concern @pang raises about growing a Community within the realm of our Discussion...
and, after all...Discussion and Conversation are the Essence of what i'm trying to get at when i refer to Community building
so let's begin with the concerns pang raises....firstly..i never said that having outside Forums and websites was bad, or that they adversely impacted these Forums..i merely stated the obvious, that the activity level here has dropped since it's peak... can we agree on the basic objective facts as derived by the metrics?
ok then....then allow me to make a point....the outside sites are symptomatic of the decay in participation here on the official Forums in this instance...folks felt that they could not discuss and express themselves here...for whatever varied reasons, and thus shifted their attention to somewhere they felt more comfortable....is this reasonable to everyone?
ok..that being said we get to the next portion of our discussion...how does one fix it, and the unspoken bit....should anyone even try?
my Answer to the second part if ...yes, thus why i came back *here* and am typing right naow....i DO think it's important
THIS is the place the Devs look at, THIS is the place built solely as the official place FOR the Game, by those building the Game...and thus to me, has quite a bit of importance
ask yourself "why are Forums important?"
i see two big Reasons....Feedback and Community building
the first is obvious, as stated, if this is the place the Devs scope out, then this is the place they will take their Feedback from....yes?
as for the second, i've always thought that one of the largest factors in the health of any Game was it's Community...allow meh to elucidate with a bit of an example..
take the SB community....such a tight knit group that even after 8 years of the Game being closed, there are still fights over the two active emulators as well as the Meta arising form the in-game/Forum politics that continues to the present Moment in every way (need i remind folks that it was a simple and mi9ld discussion in the SB forums about that Meta that got me fired in the first place?)
soOOOOooOOOOooooo...you ask "ok Doc, be that as it may...how do we fix it?"
good Question, but without any simple Answer....the long and short of it is that Trust is the Foundation of Community as well as a good relationship betwixt Devs and Players....and that begins with Respect that flows both ways....
and it DID flow like a River for a while....in both directions....up to a Point
that loss slowed things down tremendously....it can possibly be repaired, but it will take both effort and a kind of Forgiveness....
we'll see how it goes, eh?