I'm not in the pantheon of high-count posters, but let me give some uninformed and probably muddled answers:
I don't want to sound overdramatic, but I'm wondering whether or not the message boards are a valuable part of the site... They certainly add pageviews and google click-throughs, so this is not a financial question of value, but rather a community question of value.
I've never actually understood the purpose of the site to begin with, but at least you've reduced it to the question of the boards, and community service. The short answer is no, the message boards aren't providing much service at the moment...I think you know that, or you wouldn't be asking.
I'm curious why most of the 40 or so message board regulars do not post more comments to the pieces we post on the main site? Even regulars opt to take the discussion back to the boards "to allow more for an argument." What is it about the boards that makes them seem better for that?
My guess is that not everybody clicks on every main site piece...people often just click on the things that interest them, and are probably aware that others are doing the same.
The big question is: How can we make the message board and the main site better? How can we best serve you, our loyal readers?
I truly enjoy the semi-random things you put up on the main site, and the commentary of the contributors...I just don't have much to add, usually. So you shouldn't assume they aren't adding much.
As for the boards, the only answer is that I'd like to see more active discussion of music. Yeah, I know...obvious. But I think most of the posts have been reduced to "yeah, I like that too!" or "no, edie brickell really sucks!"
And the second question is: How can we attract more people to get the action moving again so we're all posting more than just obituaries?
Message boards are like endangered species...once you get below a certain number of posters, death may be inevitable no matter how hard you try. And the problem is circular, because people who visit will go away again when they see the board is dying.
As we muddle around trying to provide answers, Jake, why don't you tell us what you
want from this site. Very often this feels like a labor of love (because you so obviously enjoy talking about music and its history), but what's the purpose of gloriousnoise.com?