I've been reading the posts in this thread with great interest. I gotta say, though, at times I feel the same frustration of the OP. Certainly more with the new forum and loss of a few really great people. I've made posts I thought would generate more responses than they did. Disappointment sets in. I try hard to fit in. This is a great place with great people. I bought Jeff's rub and sauce recipes both to support the site and to see if I liked them as much as everyone else does. I became a premier member to help support, not only the site, but the changeover to the new forum. I've asked questions in other threads that relate to the original post and no answers were forthcoming. I've defended the new forum, even when a lot of criticism was being thrown all around. Still, after spending the money, it seems that I'm not really a part of the "collective". I can also understand the frustration about the off-site links. When I joined, I was under the impression that they were, well... frowned upon. I'd really hate to see SMF become a walking billboard for another group. I signed up for what I can find here.
With all that said, I sit back and think about the things I tried to teach my boy. OK, so he's not really mine, but I did raise him for longer than his biological parents did. We had some tough times, but more importantly great times as well. I tried to teach him, for a lack of better reference, the points of the Boy Scout Oath and Law, things I truly believe in and use to help guide my life as a two time former Scoutmaster, Assistant, and other things. I try, I contribute, I help when I can. Those are the things I want him to learn... try your hardest, be someone's friend, help when someone needs it.
During these times of reflection, I understand that not everyone thinks the same as I do, some will really like or dislike what I post. Also, I understand that I don't post as much as others. One thing that keeps popping into my head is that I see a lot of true friendships here. Witness (forgive me Ron), when RonP got to take a short vacation. I'd bet there were hundreds of well wishes and prayers for him, mine included although I don't know him. Hopefully, some day, I will be able to develop the same kind of friendships many here share. I have them in real life, thinking back to the extra car needed to load all the flowers and balloons from my own "vacation".
Perhaps, in the fullness of time (thanx little guy from Mad Max for the line) I will develop the same kind of friendships with the people here. Then, I will be truly happy.
In the mean time, I'll continue to smoke meat, take some to my boy, and teach my nephew everything I know and everything I can find here. He loves it as much as I do.
Good, bad or otherwise, you guys are stuck with me. You're all friends I haven't met, yet. All I ask is that we all remember everyone likes to see responses to their posts, even if the "experts" have already chimed in... Everyone has something to contribute, whether they've been here since the beginning or just joined a minute a go. Yes, we are a busy site. Let's keep it that way, maybe even pick up the pace and blow all the other sites into the dust!
Just my thoughts...