Whenever possible I have asked for the opinion of the members on future steps to take, and I have listened and taken your advice. This case is different. Residing in our comfort zone won't alter the level of involvement of the membership. That will only come with change, and a clear understanding as to why it could be good for everyone.
Linux continues to grow, and as it does, users, developers and systems administrators will find themselves increasingly having to integrate and interact with other operating systems and their users.
There is recognition of the fact that the adoption rates of open source software will be higher if it runs on all platforms. This is clearly evident from the success of Apache, Firefox, and though not completely open source, Java.
I feel that for the forums to be both different and relevant, they will have to recognize these trends. An open source forum that welcomes curious proprietary users could provide a healthy environment for discussion.
It is not a question of "open source" versus "proprietary". It is a question of a different type of openness, one that tolerates, one that that welcomes proprietary users and exposes them to an ever improving and growing open source movement. It is a question of openness in recognizing the worthy features in proprietary solutions, and incorporating equal or better ones in open source. With this in mind, OpenFree's focus can remain on Linux.
There are many forums out there that have started with enthusiasm, and slowly faded as they failed to adapt. In the early days the LJR membership was relatively new to Linux. There was lots of curiosity and the members had the time to investigate their passions. The forum was vibrant. The curiosity still thrives, but as we get older, the time that can be dedicated to our favorite pastimes becomes reduced due to the distractions of work, family and the development of other interests. The more senior members pass by daily to see how they can help the newbies and also each other. This provides a sense of fulfillment which I am sure you all cherish. The problem is that if the membership stays static, then the number of new challenges for the members diminishes and overall activity trails off.
A growing membership provides rejuvenation. Answers to posts from newer members like omidkamangar have been instructive, challenging and rewarding. We need more like that.
You mentioned the revenue. I'll be frank. The forums earn about $2.00 a day from advertising and I spend an equal amount on Google Adwords to help attract more visitors and expand the membership. Server hosting costs are additional. It is not, and probably will never be, a revenue stream of any worth.
So why do I bother? The reason is simple, I like conversing with the membership, and I like playing with Linux. It's a labor of love and that helps to keep me aware of what's going on in the community.